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I know it's a popular question and already there is a question about this on this site. But, I'm looking for a different answer that's all.

I'm a beginner and recently started practicing barre chords. But, before playing barre chords I focused on making sound with all the six barred strings. All the strings make a sound except for the G string. Now I've gone through and tried everything that I found by googling and on YouTube. Nothing helped.

My problem is that the middle third of my index finger is not putting enough pressure on the G string.

Now, my question is: Is this normal? Will I be able to overcome this by practicing? Will the middle third of my index finger change(toughen)?

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  • @DrMayhem , yes I did. Have been doing every practice for last 5 days but there isn't any noticeable improvement. Jul 14, 2014 at 12:15
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    5 days is nowhere near enough time. As @slim points out, in a year or so you will have lots more strength in your fingers and this will be easy.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jul 14, 2014 at 13:24
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    Have you tried Y-fronts ? or maybe boxer shorts? <runs and hides> Jul 14, 2014 at 14:50
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    But really. . Which barre chord shape are you playing ? The only one I can think if that wopuld hold the G string "open" aganst your finger is either a G barre chord (unusual) or C shape, in which case most of the other strings are fretted anyway so you only have to concentrate on 1 or 2 "barre" strings. Is there a particular barre shape that's giving you trouble ? Jul 14, 2014 at 15:05
  • I'm going to resurrect this thread. I'm still a newbie but I think I have an anatomic issue. I exercise so my hands are a bit strong and my problem is that the strings specially the G end up either in the crevice between the 2nd and 3rd phalanxes or the flesh in the third phalanx is too flaccid and mutes the string, do I need a different neck shape or strings?
    – jigzat
    Sep 5, 2023 at 5:56

4 Answers 4

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You will overcome this by practising, but you don't need to worry about it just yet. It's not that common to need to play all six strings barred.

Concentrate at first on the two most common barred shapes - the "A shape" (for example, a barred Bb) and the "E shape" (for example, a barred F).

With both of these shapes you barre across six strings, and fret 3 strings individually. This means that your index finger, barreing, only has to press down cleanly on three strings.

For the "A shape", your barre can be sloppy on the B,G,D strings. For the "E shape", your barre can be sloppy on the G,D,A strings.

It's actually better to not worry about these strings, because you would be stressing your hand to push down the string, for no reason at all. The important thing when playing guitar is to make the minimum movements necessary to produce the required sound.

Later on, you may encounter a chord that really is one barre across all 6 strings -- but by then you would expect to have gained finger strength and flexibility from playing "normal" barre chords a lot.

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Adding to slim's answer, the only time you'd need to be accurate with the barre finger on the 3rd string is when you play minor, minor 7th chords, using an 'E' shape, and dominant 7th ,minor 7th chords using an 'A' shape.As a beginner, as you get better on the barre chords that are not any of those, you will improve enough to cope. You may also consider rotating your barre finger, so it's not completely using the pad part, but the more bony side of that finger.

Leave playing minor seventh add four chords till you need them !

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As your wrist starts to strengthen through practicing bar chords, your positioning will become more supple and flexible to create a good contact between your finger and the fretboard. This will come from practice, but can also be enhanced by some practice techniques to vary the method slightly.

One thing I found useful was "building" shapes from the top 4 strings that are smaller sections of the complete barre chord. Not only does this help with finger strength in a more manageable way for people new to the technique, it also develops a knowledge of 4 string chords across the span of the neck, which are immensely useful in comping when playing rhythm guitar, particularly when sight reading.

Secondly, practice scale runs around shapes that allow you to barre a set of notes. For example, using pentatonic box 1 beginning on the 7th fret 6th string, and barre the 7th fret with your index finger and play the run with your remaining fingers.

If you start off higher up the neck, it will take less force to produce a clean sound due to the build of the guitar. This will allow you to build the strength in your fingers more and more as you move down the neck.

Hopefully this will be useful to you, and just stick at it!

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Okay, I know, old thread, but resurrecting this to chime in because I’ve had the same question in the past, and have searched a number of times over the past >10 years of playing(went from more casual-playing to serious in the past year), and I’m sure other will come across this at some point as well.

I had the exact same concern; it felt like an anatomical & mechanical issue with the G string sitting in the crevice of the middle knuckle/joint, and “keep practicing” and “build strength” did not seem to be the answer, especially given the 10+ of (albeit casual) playing.

A few slight adjustments + a bit of practice with those adjustments solved the 10+ year issue immediately — with a degree of effort — and entirely within ~2 weeks.

  1. Place your Index Finger essentially directly “On-Top” of the Fret.
    • Visually, my intuition when trying with this positioning was to think that either none of the strings would sound or that the next fret down would sound instead, but I was wrong.
    • The Takeaway: You can position your fingers MUCH closer to the fret than you would think. Start doing that.
  2. Position your index finger further up vertically towards your face. Play around with how far up works accordingly for your individualized finger anatomy/size.
    • Personally, about 3/4th’s of the 3rd phalange(the phalange at the tip of my finger) extends above the guitar neck. For me, this results in fretting the A String just barely above the 3rd knuckle crease and the G-String just above the 2nd knuckle.
    • I’ve played around with this and found that there’s a good range of positionings with the finger extending past the neck that facilitate each of the strings sounding, fretting both just-above the knuckles and just-below will work
    • It just seems that positionings anywhere nearing having the tip of the index lined up/flush with the top of the neck will result in inconsistent pressure across the strings and buzzing.

Anyway, some intentional focus and practice in this manner with some experimentation for your own anatomy, I believe, is the way to go — instead of blind practice hoping it solves itself eventually.

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  • I've had this issue for 20+ years, waiting for the advice to just keep playing, to work. At some point I just stopped thinking about it because things I tend to play never need that string to resonate on a barre. Just figured it's my bony fingers. Your first suggestion fixed it immediately for me. I can't believe I never tried that, even accidentally. Thank you. Jan 25 at 0:25
  • I'll share one more thing that helped me. It's counter-intuitive, but try rolling the barring finger away from you a little bit. Jan 25 at 0:27

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