2

I'm trying to learn the song Under The Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I'm running into some problems with some of the chords though. There are sections where a barre chord on the 12th fret is necessary, and my hand is hitting the body of my guitar (there is no cutaway). I'm unable to play the chord without the sound being off because I can't physically get my finger into the right place. The only way I've been able to do it is if I lift my hand up really high, but then it interrupts the flow of the song.

The chord in question

----12-12  
----12-12  
13--13-13  
14-------  
14-------  
12-------

Taken from Ultimate Guitar Tabs.

How can this chord be played without buying a new guitar or interrupting the song?

To be clear - while I certainly want to know how to best play this particular chord, I also want to know how to play barre chords like this in general. So while I appreciate answers saying "don't bother, play these instead" I won't be accepting those.

  • The song was written for and recorded on a Fender Stratocaster-type electric guitar, upon which one can play chords up to the 20th fret. If you want to play the exact same arrangement, you will need an electric guitar of that design. Otherwise, figure out your own chord voicings that enable you to play the same chord progression and notes in a lower register, and/or transpose the song to a different, lower key. – user1044 Nov 12 '14 at 17:17
  • So I think your concern is that you do not know how to figure out your own chord voicings and inversions, or how to transpose keys, because you only know how to read tablature. Perhaps it is time to learn some basic music theory. – user1044 Nov 12 '14 at 17:52
  • And that is what we are here to help you with. – user1044 Nov 12 '14 at 17:52
  • My concern is that there are times that, for a variety of reasons, I might want to play this barre chord or similar ones. I know music theory - I know how I could transpose this or play it differently. I don't want to. That's why I'm asking here. – Dannnno Nov 12 '14 at 18:07
  • @Dannnno I think maybe you're a bot snookered - If your guitar doesn't have a cutaway then that'll make it pretty tricky to play barre chords that far up the neck. About your only option would be to change the way you apply your fingers eg pull the guitar right up close to your chest and curl your hand right around the body so that you're plonking your fingers down on the neck, or (weirdly) place your hand over the top of the neck (fingers down, palm towards you) - but then your forefinger is at the neck end of the chord so not easy. – user2808054 Nov 13 '14 at 17:02
2

On an electric or cutaway-acoustic this can actually be done in the obvious way. Without a cutaway, there's two things you can do, if you actually want to preserve that specific chord's sound, rather than just its harmonic function as the other answers instruct:

  • Omit some notes. Crucial is to know which ones are really needed urgently. In your case:

    • The high e'' in 12th fret. It defines the chord's high-pitched character and the root.
    • The g♯' on 13th. It gives the chord major gender.
    • If you're playing alone, then you need some kind of bass, so you want the low E. In this special case, you're quite lucky indeed: instead of 12th fret, you can also just use the empty E-string.
    • Some midrange is necessary to balance the thin high e'' and g♯', and though the fifth is generally a chord's least important note I'd go for the lower b.

    This would mean, the chord's "minimal configuration" is 12 X 13 X 14 0, which should be quite doable. Note that all the omitted notes are actually included as harmonics of the lower string, and the treble sharpness is preserved because you have the e''. You can voice the same notes (actually one more!) IMO even easier with 12 9 9 9 X 0.

  • Stick to the specified pitches on each string, but use a different technique for fingering.

    • Grab the low e with the thumb around the neck. Shuffle the other fingers around till you find a way to get the remaining notes. I don't like this kind of chord a lot, but many guitarists use them all the time.
    • Instead of one big barre, you can "double stop" only two adjacent strings with one finger. You can thus fret the high b' and e'' with 2, the g♯' with 3, the mid b and e' with 4 and the low e with 1.
    • Highly unusual on guitar, but sometimes really useful (though impossible in a low playing position) is to add the thumb from the lower side of the neck. This is best known as a cello technique.
1

Don't bother playing this chord because John Frusciante doesn't play it either. In this part he sometimes plays

x
9
9
9
7
x

and other times he plays

 x
 9
 9
 9
11
 x
  • While this is quite correct, it doesn't answer the question. Such a high note as e'' gives a chord quite a unique character that, even if not here, I would definitely try to preserve in situations where it's needed. – leftaroundabout Nov 11 '14 at 21:22
  • @leftaroundabout: If the tabs weren't wrong, the OP very likely wouldn't have asked this question. The OP stated that he/she wants to learn 'Under the Bridge', and I think it's more than fair to show the chord that is actually played. Why let him/her run into problems that do not even occur when the song is played correctly? – Matt L. Nov 11 '14 at 21:42
  • 1
    Actually I think the barre-12 version of the chord does appear in the studio version, if only once (before verse 3, as the first chord after the chorus) and not really as clear as it could be. Later in the song there are chords which definitely have notes above e''. But even if the tabs would be complete nonsense and everything could be played below 10th fret, it would reasonable to ask how higher chords can be played, independently of Under The Bridge – and that is the question here. — That you don't really need such a high voicing in the particular spot is a valid comment, but no more. – leftaroundabout Nov 11 '14 at 22:19
0

The chord you are trying to play is an E major and can be played barred on the 7th fret as follows:

7
9
9
9
7
7
0

You could also try just playing the e power chord at the 12th fret. It has all the notes of an E Major chord (Except for the third.)

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