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Amount of thumb pressure

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#1 Mothi Ghimire

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 01:59 AM



I am doing Home on the Range fast track using all barre chords. So on the track, the song goes for two times. The first time I could do well. But once it starts the second time, my thumb (rather the muscle between my thumb and the wrist) starts hurting. I have been practicing on it for about a week and there's no improvement in less pain. People say it is wrong to put a lot of pressure on the thumb, but once I loosen the thumb from my normal pressure, the strings start buzzing. Or if I balance the thumb pressure with the forefinger pressure, giving more pressure on the forefinger, the guitar neck starts moving towards me and it starts getting out of balance. I watched the Ben Eller YouTube video on barre chords and tried his suggestion but still, my thumb hurts once the song finishes its first track and repeat to the second one. If you had the same problem, please share me how you overcame that or if you have any opinions that might help me, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.


- Mothi

#2 db73



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Posted 12 January 2017 - 06:59 PM

Hi Mothi,


I had similar issues and you are right to be concerned.  For me, that pain developed into tendinitis and hampered me for months.


I'm sure others can explain it better than I can, but putting more pressure on the thumb really is not the way to go. All you are really accomplishing is pushing the thumb into the back of the neck harder.  The best way I can think of to describe what I do is "pulling" my fingers back into the fret board.  you are right the guitar neck may start to move back toward you but you can offset that by bracing harder with your other arm.  It feels awkward at first, and will take some time to master but it will come.

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#3 texaspackerfan



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Posted 12 January 2017 - 09:02 PM

Hey Mothi,


There will be some discomfort at first learning barre chords, just back off when the pain comes.  A couple of things you can do to make it easier on your thumb, First if your playing on a acoustic have the action lowered (setup) and try lighter strings.  Second, i found that if your index finger is to far from the fret for the chord you want to make it takes more pressure.  Try getting your finger as close to the fret possible and try over shooting and what i mean by this, your index finger should be slightly above the fret board.  Also you might want to make your chords between 3-10 frets at first to build the strength.  Its like running, if you've never ran before and try going out and running a mile you will be sore but over time you will be able to do them for hours.


Hope this helps. Have fun






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#4 tgnytg



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Posted 12 January 2017 - 11:37 PM

It may be that you need to use your thumb less and your body more to form barre chords.


This article has been linked in the forum before, and may be what you need to avoid tendonitis and chronic pain.


The title of the article is Little Jennifer's Secret to barre chords.  Give it a read and try the suggestions.  It may save your aching thumb.


Cheers,  TomG

I need more practice...

#5 quilter1958



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Posted 13 January 2017 - 01:24 AM

Jennifer's Little Secret is a great read.




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#6 triple-oh



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Posted 13 January 2017 - 10:59 PM

The only things I can add is (1)  to work on Barre chords in "small doses" don't spend an entire practice session on them.You can work on session 9 strumming and session 11 pentatonic scales to give your hand a break. Try the  4th string mini barre chords F G and A with index finger extended up, but only fretting the E and B string . I think you will see that less thumb pressure is needed for these mini barres and that's also about how much pressure you actually need for the 6th string barres. You might also find a simple  "Boogie Woogie" rhythm in E first position on "youtube" that requires the use of only the index finger on the second fret B and E notes and thumb in a barre position. It will help strengthen the index finger and fun to work on.. Barre chords put your hand in an unnatural position, so it just takes time to develop the muscles required to flatten the index finger. The important thing is not to cause any damage while learning.


Like someone else said make sure your guitar is set-up properly and try lighter strings. I am assuming you are using an acoustic guitar. Lighter strings will also make bending easier down the road.


Place a capo on the fret and see if its you or the guitar.

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#7 Mothi Ghimire

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 07:44 PM

Dear All, 


Thank you so much for the advises. I have tried to lower the pressure on the frets while barring and in the end, I found that I was putting a whole lot pressure not only on the thumb but also on the index finger. When I lowered the pressure on my index finger, I found, surprisingly, that the strings didn't buzz and sounded fine. Then I tried playing Home on the Range fast track for the whole song for two times and it went fine without much pain as before. Thank you again. 



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