A have a small nevus on one side of my ring finger tip. Not going to remove it because I heard of the people that died year(s) after removing it. I can play pretty much anything without it getting in contact with the strings. But I'm really concerned about A-shape barre chords (major chords with the root on a 5th string). When barring with my ring finger, and especially when moving it up or down on the fretboard it really gets in contact with the strings or frets. I tried to play them with "open A chord fingering" but it doesn't work very well as I go higher (smaller frets). Another option that have crossed my mind is to bar with my pinky finger but it doesn't have even 1/10 of the strength needed. Sure I can fret single notes with my pinky very well but not to bar.

I even tried to put my left hand "from the above" and "reverse bar" chord with my pinky and index finger. It sure does have some potential but looks so wierd :D

What would be your suggestions? Should I develop my pinky barring strength or try to practice "open A" fingering? Don't want to die at 22! :D

  • "It sure does have some potential but looks so wierd :D" - If it works, you can ignore the fact that it looks weird. The important is how it sounds!
    – awe
    Jan 7, 2014 at 7:13
  • I'm confused. The normal way to barre the A shape is to barre with the index finger, and use fingers 2,3,4 on strings 2,3,4, right?
    – slim
    Jan 7, 2014 at 9:30
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    @slim there are two normal ways. First is what you described and second is to "double bar" (use ring finger to bar strings 2,3,4). The first one is really uncomfortable, especially when you move the shape up and down the neck and as you go higher (smaller frets). The second one is really great but I can't use it. Jan 7, 2014 at 10:22
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    "Because I heard of...." is a very bad reason to make a choice about surgical treatments. I strongly suggest you have a conference with an MD or three to find out what the reality of your situation is. Jan 7, 2014 at 13:08
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    Again, only certain nevi are at risk for becoming neoplastic. Don't make stuff up: see your doctor. Jan 8, 2014 at 13:01

2 Answers 2


It sounds like the shape you're asking to avoid is this one:

Double barre

.. in which the index finger is a bit sketchy, but frets strings 1, 5, 6. Meanwhile the ring finger barres 2,3,4.

Instead of using one finger to barre 2,3,4, you can use all three of your remaining fingers, like this:

Conventional A shape barre (?)

I must admit I've never used the first form myself, and might give it a go. The second form is difficult at first, but certainly possible, even high up the fretboard -- I use it all the time.

I assume in the first form, you mute or omit the top E string. Using the second form, you can include that string in your chord.

I think, unless you come up with something really innovative, this is the only alternative available to you.

  • Thank you, I'll try to practice what you suggested. I highly recommend to use the first form if you can. Personally, I did really great with it and you could easily avoid muting high E string, it comes with practice. Jan 8, 2014 at 3:34
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    I personally use the first form and I don't mute the high E string. One just needs to curve the ring finger in the opposite direction a little. I bar with only two first phalanx of the finger, which allows me to avoid muting the high E. Well, at least I do it that way. Maybe it can help someone to try. I personally find this form much more useful and quick Feb 11, 2014 at 15:49
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    As for (not)muting the E string - I can do even more with this fingering - I'm able to fret not 3 but 4 strings with the ring finger, which gives me a 6 (sixth) chord. And sometimes it's fun to shift the form up to the 6 string where I can get a sus4 bar chord that way (if I bar the whole fret with my pointing finger and only 5, 4 and 3 strings with my ring finger). Feb 11, 2014 at 16:11
  • How do you manage the second one up the fretboard while keeping your index finger straight? I must have fat fingers. However, I can still play the high E string with the first form; it takes some practice to know where to bend your ring finger, but it's definitely possible
    – Cole Tobin
    Apr 11, 2015 at 5:52
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    I have a problem with the first shape because my fingers can't bend backwards, and the second because my fingers are too chubby. My solution is to use just fingers 3 and 4 to cover three strings; the string in the middle being partly pressed by both fingers. Jun 23, 2015 at 15:09

I agree that you need further medical advice; in the mean time, I've used the flattened first segment of my little finger as a mini-bar for "A-form" chords for years (it's just the right length to cover 3 strings, combined with a normal first finger 6 string bar.) Naturally, this works best if your guitar's neck action is not too high and uncomfortable.

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