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Attempting to learn barre chords and am having trouble with the G-string. What is happening is while I have sufficient pressure (at least I believe so?) the middle third of my index finger is extremely soft and the string still moves (as my flesh provides no resistance). Note this happens at all frets and I am only barring all 6 strings, not an actual chord per-say.

If I move my finger vertically, then whatever strings fall in that inner third has that issue. Then, testing this theory, I taped a penny to that section and tried - and it the barre played smoothly!

Which leads me to my question: overtime will I develop tougher skin where all 6 strings are pressed? Meaning just keep playing with the G string making a muted sound until one day it all falls into place?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It sounds like you might be pressing your finger at the wrong angle. Try rolling the index finger towards the nut (so your pinky rises away from the fretboard). You should be able to find a flatter part of the finger.

Unfortunately, the sweet spot is likely to be even more tender than the "center" of the finger. So it'll hurt more at first.

Edit: I feel compelled to remark (confess?) that I received this advice myself a few years after I started playing and it has made a world of difference for me. A year later when my thumb muscles developed, I was finally able to play Radiohead's Creep without resorting to root-position, "open-voiced* chords (to rest my hand).

Even now, when I flex my thumb to see the muscle bulge out, I call it my Radiohead muscle.

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1  
This works! Well, it does buzz slightly but that'll pass in time. If I "roll" about 30 degrees so its the flat of my finger the barre plays correctly. I'll be doing the exercises that Chiron mentions, with maybe decreasing the degrees every week or so until I can play properly. Thank you! –  WSkid Jan 1 '12 at 0:33

Barre chords takes time to and a lot of practice to do correctly and in a nature way.
Try this exercise:

Start with a capo on the -say- sixth fret, and try to play the chord with barre there. Then practice a bit with that, and take the capo down to the fifth fret.
Take sometime playing it there -with barre-, and keep going down with the capo until you get to no capo and playing the chord -with barre-.

The trick is not to use too much muscles power.

(I play Spanish guitar, I'm not sure if this exercise is applicable for other types)

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I can't seem to play any barre properly at any fret, even with using a capo at various frets. However, after doing this for about an hour I can definitely feel the muscle strain -- meaning it is helpful for barres in general but not helping with the elusive G string issue. –  WSkid Jan 1 '12 at 0:29

Make sure your finger is as close to the fret as possible, then even where your finger joints are should be enough to push the string down behind the fret.

The other thing to look at is to push harder - with enough pressure you will be able to press the string down enough.

Having taller frets makes this easier, but if you have a neck with very low frets it will always be more difficult.

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That's what I'm doing =) -- and this works for all but the one string pressing against that part of my finger. The string actually goes into my skin completely.. but it doesn't "hold" the string still even though it's completely enveloped. –  WSkid Jan 1 '12 at 0:31

I have exactly the same problem as this and I'm pushing and rotating and it still mutes the G-string. What I've started doing in putting a few blobs of superglue on that part of my finger which seems to work quite well as it hardens up the skin but doesn't stop me playing notes and open chords. Imagine what a fool I felt when I started playing before the glue had completely dried and I had to walk around with my guitar stuck on my hand for over 3 weeks. It really messed up my tennis.

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LOL! Welcome to Music SE. Great answer. –  American Luke Sep 24 '12 at 15:21
    
Yes, although perhaps not a sustainable one. I hope that that doesn't create long term problems for you :/ –  naught101 Oct 16 '12 at 13:26

You just need to press harder.

Press down as hard as you can, then strum the chord.

Then back away the pressure until you find the approximate minimum to sound the chord.

You'll probably develop a little callous, but it probably has a lot more to do with pressure than the texture of the skin.

Bite the bullet and push hard!

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That's what I'm doing =) -- and this works for all but the one string pressing against that part of my finger. The string actually goes into my skin completely.. but it doesn't "hold" the string still even though it's completely enveloped. –  WSkid Jan 1 '12 at 0:30
    
apply for hand modelling? –  bobobobo Jan 2 '12 at 21:43

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