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Ever since I've been playing, I've always fretted a B chord like this: enter image description here

Using my pinky to cover the D, G, & B string. However, while it works, it's never felt quite right. I've tried to use three fingers to do the same thing, but I've never seemed to be able to move them in to position fast enough for the chord to sound good.

Is this the "right" way to fret the chord, or should I be trying to use a three-fingered approach?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Wherever possible you should be trying to use a finger per fret, in the case of the B chord in your picture your fingering is wrong.

Your index finger should be barring from the A string on the second fret (B note), with your ring finger covering the D,G,B strings on the 4th fret.

The you should strum the chord from the A string, if you are having trouble with the strength of your ring finger then as previously mentioned, the three finger fingering is an option.

Its really mostly about hand strength; if you play these types of chord more often using both fingering then you will build up your hand strength to cope better with this and other types of chord.

Failing all of the above; you could always find and use a different and less stressful voicing for the chord, check this link out

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Thanks for the info and the link. I've always figured I was doing it wrong, it's just always been much faster for me and kinda worked so I went with it. I've got no problem with other barre chords, just these Bs, so I'll just have to work on that some more. –  Josh Buhler Feb 23 '11 at 16:54
    
No probs, that particular shape is a bit of a pain. –  DRL Feb 23 '11 at 18:58
    
I have trouble fitting all three of my fingers if I try to use the individual fretting technique. However, I don't use my pinky but my ring finger. –  JohnOpincar Feb 24 '11 at 1:49
    
I find it very difficult to use my index finger on the second fret and simultaneously on the 4th fret... –  Anonymous Feb 24 '11 at 18:23
    
@PSU - Apologies for the typo, fixed. –  DRL Feb 24 '11 at 20:42

In my opinion, if something doesn't feel right, try not do it. I would try either the 3 finger method, or using your fourth/ring finger in the same way as your pinky. Your ring finger is usually stronger than your pinky, so it will be a little easier. Using three fingers is great, because it means you can play variations on those chords, such as minors, 7th's or sus4's. With this, I'm afraid, it is just a case of practice, practice, practice! For me, it was like learning playing F-shaped barre chords. I could not get to that shape and position fast enough, but eventually I got there. It's just a case of learning to get in that position and making a clean sound. If you are finding it tricky to learn that, try not barring your first finger fully across the fretboard, just fretting the 1st string. That certainly helped me learn them.

Hope this helps! :)

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I use my ring finger, freeing my pinkie for fretting the B string to get a sus4 or the D string to get the 6, but this is valid.

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First of all! If you use the "three-fingered" approach you will be able to play more complex chords more easily. By using the pinky to press down all the three strings you will be very limited to playing only that chord and if you would like to learn more "interesting" chord progressions (i.e most jazz chords...), your technique wont work.

Then again as you say, your technique is faster, at least to a start, and a bit easier if you have fast and simple chord changes.

I actually use them both depending on what I'm playing. However I don't use the pinky to press down the three strings but my ring finger. I would recommend learning to fret the normal way. It will be a lot easier for you to learn new things from there... After all, bad technique will affect your "learning curve".

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In looking at your photo, I would suggest using a finger per string could help your fretting anyway. It makes it much easier to barre close to, and parallel to the frets, giving better tone.

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Agree with the "one finger per string" approach as a general rule. Ultimately, whatever works works!

One thing to look at is the size of your hands vs the size of the guitar neck and string spacing. For instance, if you have smaller hands, playing a B chord with one-per-string is probably not a big issue. If you have larger hands or fat fingers, it's a real chore. Check out some other guitars that have wider fretboards - where the strings are spaced farther apart. This will make it easier to fret because your fingers can "spread out" a bit more and not interfere with one another.

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I would find this too hard for my pinky.

There have been several answers suggesting "one finger per fret". In this case, it seems overkill to me, but my fingers might be relatively large.

My personal balance between control and easiness for this kind of barré is middle finger for 5th and tonic and ring finger for the 3rd, but if the piece is in a "don't give a f***" mood, I might just use my ring finger and whatever happens happens.

[UPDATE] Actually depending on where on the neck and whether I want to play the high E string, I might as well use the same form but with the ring finger and the pinky (thus covering the 3rd). So there you are.

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