There is a somewhat difficult chord near the beginning of Isaac Albeniz's Asturias:


The chord is difficult to form in time with the tempo.

Here is what I am already doing:

  • Low-action guitar.
  • Strings held at fingertips, close to the frets.
  • Nails are trim.
  • Side of index finger used for the barre.
  • Thumb is held relaxed but firm at the middle of the back of the neck.

After a considerable amount of practice I still can't cleanly form this chord as written.

I really can't foresee my current form improving much with additional practice so I guess I am doing something wrong.

Are there any tricks to playing this chord?

  • Anyone else who can't see the tab?
    – user2436
    Jun 4 '12 at 17:24
  • I can't see the tab, either. I've tried it in Safari and in Chrome, no luck with either one. Jun 4 '12 at 17:26
  • yeah for some reason it goes away, i'll just make it fullwidth Jun 4 '12 at 17:29
  • 1
    I can barely form this chord in 30 seconds and I really can't foresee my current form improving much with additional practice seem like completely incompatible statements. If this chord is new to you, you will undoubtedly improve tremendously with (much) practice. That said there may indeed be some tricks to it, though I'm not familiar with this chord myself.
    – user28
    Jun 4 '12 at 18:01
  • 1
    It is a tricky chord, but it should take you less than a second if you practice it.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jun 4 '12 at 19:43

You can learn to do this (but the other options are good, too).

Start with the 6th string using the "face" of your index finger, no the "tip". You sort of roll into the barre, stretching your pinky as soon as the lowest note is anchored. Lay the ring finger, then the middle, then the pinky. Only then do you finish the barre, completing the stretch.

It is very hard. I still can't do it super fast. But it is possible.

It's the same shape as the B7 in that Romance Anonimo that's in all the books. You're only adding the ring finger.


I want to remind you that Isaac Albéniz was a pianist, and "Asturias" was written for solo piano. Albeniz never published any music for guitar. There are now many different transcriptions of Albeniz' pieces for solo guitar, duet guitar, trio guitar, you name it, made by any number of transcribers.

So I say to you: If it's too hard for you to play that chord rapidly, then change the fingering of the chord to something you like better. Sr. Albéniz has been dead for 103 years, so he will not mind.

  • This makes a lot more sense... I was a little worried I was a terrible guitar player with my answer.
    – user2436
    Jun 4 '12 at 20:23
  • 3
    Albeniz' beloved guitar pieces were all written and arranged for piano, and Bach's famous lute pieces were written on harpsichord or Lautenwerck. Many transcribers have been working up their own different versions for years, and many solo guitarists make their own transcriptions. So if you are not literally-minded, you are free to make your own modifications to these classics--unless you're in a classical guitar competition at a conservatory where they are judging you on reading the exact notes on the page!
    – user1044
    Jun 5 '12 at 20:02
  • 1
    This is a good answer to why it is difficult on guitar (which is an important one), but there are other answers here which should also get credit, as they give options and advice to how to play it in a manageable way. The final accepted answer should be the one that gives the best "transcription" advice for this.
    – awe
    Jun 19 '12 at 11:02

The stretch from 8 to 12, while barring all strings is indeed tricky.

Depending on the song and the emphasis on certain notes in this chord, I would not play the complete chord. I would focus on playing the notes which are most emphasized.

I'd try:



This will strain your fingers less, and keep the high E note that I'm guessing is emphasized in this chord voicing. If its not emphasized, I'd say get rid of it; you don't need a whole lot of 3rd in a chord to make it sound major/minor. The important thing is you really should have that Bb (D string 8th fret) in the chord to get the C7 sound.

  • How does that strain your fingers less? In a good classical position (as you have with a proper barre) it's relatively easy to stretch the fingers so far; but distorting the hand to get the thumb around the neck makes it close to impossible at least for me. Jun 5 '12 at 23:04
  • For electric guitar players, I guess this is easier and more intuitive. This is a very "Hendrix" way to play a root-E major chord.
    – user2436
    Jun 6 '12 at 13:04

Google has been my friend to at least establish that I'm not the only one with this problem :)

It isn't so much making the chord, but doing so without compromising either the high E or the Bb. Even professionals tend to either duck the high E in order to get a nice full C7 (including John Williams, yes check it out!), or stretch to the high E and partially obstruct the Bb with the ring finger (most others). Rare is the performance in which there is a beautifully crisp C7 plus a ringing high E, at speed. The best on YouTube, imho, is Anabel Montesinos (www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8J5VxpvCQc). So it can be done, damn it.

I would agree with two earlier points: 1) there are multiple guitar transcriptions and fingerings of this piano piece, so no 'right way', and 2) unless you are in competition, nobody is going to notice an omitted high E or an accidentally damped Bb if the piece is flowing in other respects.

Personally I'm sticking with the std C7 and leaving the high E battle till I've got the rest of the piece well under control.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.