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How to stop muting as I release barre chords.

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    The alternative to muting as you release is sound continuing as you release, and that would mean the open notes would sound, which you probably don't want. So muting as you release is probably good, you just want to learn to get to the next chord faster. That is just practice as Chris wrote in his answer. – Todd Wilcox Jun 6 '17 at 23:40
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You need to develop very crisp, accurate finger movements. This takes time and practice, but here is an exercise to help.

Start with your first finger on the first fret of the sixth string, and your third finger on the third fret of the fifth string. Sound these two notes, then alternate the fingers so that your first finger is on the first fret of the fifth string, and your third finger is on the third fret of the sixth string, and sound the notes again.

Repeat on the fifth and fourth strings, then the fourth and third strings, and so on. Do this all the way across the fretboard, at every fret up to at least the 12th fret, then work back down again, but starting from the second and first strings, moving towards the sixth and fifth strings.

Strive for smoothness, consistency and good timing. You should use a metronome for this, and don't rush it. This exercise is more difficult than it sounds, and will develop stamina, finger independence and coordination.

Do this in as many variations as you can think of: second and fourth fingers, first and second fingers, second and third fingers, third and fourth fingers, first and fourth fingers. Try skipping strings: sixth and fourth strings, fifth and third strings, etc. You should soon notice that your accuracy and quickness have improved when you are moving between chords, and chord forms that seemed difficult before will be easier.

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Time and more time! This took much perseverance for me but I eventually got there. Don't give up. Use the barre chords that are easiest for you over and over, it will help you get better for when you want to barre somewhere else on the fretboard.

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    Spending more time is always a reasonable idea - but spending time doing what? If one practises doing something wrongly lots of times, that sticks, and is even more difficult to correct later. – Tim Jun 7 '17 at 6:37
  • Good point. I appreciate your detailed answer. Mine isn't good – Chris Bier Jun 7 '17 at 20:25
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You're not quick enough stopping each chord! Each finger is coming off each string at a different moment, and the process is taking too long. It may well be the same when you start to make the next barre shape, too. Read all of this before judging!

A good practice is to try to get the barre shape ready before you play the chord. By this, I mean get your fingers into that shape, then practise hammering-on. It'll take time, between each chord shape, but sometimes that's what practice does. Snap the shape down onto the strings - no need to strum - and keep trying until all the strings sound out simultaneously. Hold the shape down and grin stupidly when the chord comes out cleanly.

Now to your question - having sort of solved it backwards. Stum a barre shape if you want, but then get used to holding for, say, a second or two, then release grip. Make it so that all strings stop dead at the same time.

Coupled with the first skill, you will now be able to stop a barre chord in its tracks, and be very rapid in getting to the next barre chord.You may want to try the two skills consecutively, but slowly, in order to establish the two actions melding into one, but do it slowly and deliberately, then gradually speed up the change. Maybe keep the same shape/chord initially, then go A (5th fret) to Dm (same 5th fret).

Remember, all this starts slowly (apart from the actual hammer-on itself), and will take ages. If the base of your thumb starts to ache, it's God's way of saying have a break.

  • I'm curious though. I'm watching as my barre releases. The mute is immediate. But a regular chord, say E chord still rings as I release? I don't quite understand. – rb1094 Jun 8 '17 at 11:42
  • Of course it will. There are three strings that you don't press down in a regular (open?) E chord. There you flatten your fingers across the top two opens, and somehow dampen the bottom. BUT - that's not a barre chord, and was not part of the question. – Tim Jun 8 '17 at 13:19
  • Of course I understand the un-fretted notes will ring. The fretted ones ring as well though not as long. The barre stops immediately. And actually it relates to original question. Seems to me quickness of grabbing next chord after a barre is a real feat to be mastered, else the mute. Or maybe I'm missing something very simple. Anyway, I'm trying the exercises suggested above. Going from Amajor to C#minor till I get it right. Then I'll keep pushing. – rb1094 Jun 8 '17 at 19:01
  • Thanks Tim! After months of working it’s coming together. I started with just Amajor going to C#minor over and over. Then kept extending. So it is so much better now. – rb1094 Jan 11 '18 at 19:15

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