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  1. #26

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    I have a rather stiff acoustic guitar that I bought only to play simple chords, nothing else. After adding some of those exercises in the gym that I talked earlier, I don't avoid playing anything that I'd normally play on my comfy electric anymore.
    But you really have to check this out for yourself. A few weeks exercises will increase the strenght by 50% easily. Do the right ones that actually would help and.. yeah - it's too easy to not to try.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #27

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    Dont play barre chords if you can avoid them, a fairly common theme I have seen in CG master classes involves the teacher reworking a fingering to eliminate a barre. You dont need barres for most 3-note voicings, playing a natural 5th is definitely not worth the effort of a barre chord

    if you do barre, use the weight if you arm to help - this involves correct LH position - wrist straight, guitar slightly tilted back etc.

    Also don't use high tension strings

  4. #28

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    I find that when playing jazz standards I rarely play a full bar chord and hold it for any length of time. A few weeks ago I pulled out a flat top and I was quite surprised at quickly my left hand got fatigued when playing simple strumming styles where you hold a chord down for a few bars at at time and then do the same for the following chords.

  5. #29

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    I think emanresu is on to something; the muscles to do this are not on your fingers remember. Using the arm is important; so you can thinking about strengthening the arm.

    I find it takes me a bit of getting used to on the nylon string. But I do get used to it.

    Again technique is important. Lessons from a classical player might not be a bad idea.

  6. #30

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    Alternatively, if you don’t need to project acoustically, get a lighter setup with lower tension strings.

  7. #31

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    Classical guitar is my main instrument and I sometimes play jazz on it. I suppose my only advice might be to analyse how much strength you actually need to hold a barre on your classical. It might be less than you think. Also, ensure you have warmed up a little before you try any difficult barre positions. That’s my twopence worth!

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I think emanresu is on to something; the muscles to do this are not on your fingers remember. Using the arm is important; so you can thinking about strengthening the arm.

    I find it takes me a bit of getting used to on the nylon string. But I do get used to it.

    Again technique is important. Lessons from a classical player might not be a bad idea.
    With some training, you should get more muscles than you'd ever need. Just have to be smart there.
    It's no secret, anyone who goes to the gym the first time will see great gains in strength, not muscle mass, but strength increase in those first weeks. 50% is there to pick up with ease. The rest is way harder. But the first gain in strength is so easy yet so... noticeable

  9. #33

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    It’s a bit like playing an instrument I guess

  10. #34

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    Yes of course it’s strength, albeit not brute strength. It’s small muscles and bones - but strength most assuredly.

    Just as one example, have you ever seen the difference in the size of Pat Metheny’s left forearm vs. right? I had been a semi fan for 30 years and saw a picture of him playing and noticed it and thought - huh, well yeah that makes sense. It does for me too. Mostly because of those damn chords.

  11. #35

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    Though I'm very late to this thread, I'll simply say to anyone still listening and having this problem..Do the following :
    1) Get: Aaron Shearer's "Slurs Ornaments and Reach Developement Exercises" book.. Do as much of it you can.
    2) Get: a hand grip exerciser; the rare metal rack kind and/or the small curlicue kind and work those.
    3) Get: "Segovia 20 F.Sor etudes" <(title may vary)..and master, aside from as many as possible, #16 in G and #19 in Bb...
    4) Get: "25 Melodious Studies" by Carcassi.... Master as many as poss....
    If you are sticking to jazz on the classical guitar (as I mostly do for jazz but play classical), You still need to play jazz type chords and way way less barre chord types...Therefore:
    5) Get: (Old 60s) "Mickey Baker's Jazz Guitar" (title may vary)....Was a Yellow and black cover then..Pub.?........

    These 5 things will get you there... M

  12. #36

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    Hi, I'm new to this forum. I think grahambop and md54 are saying good things on this. And as grahambop mentioned a lot of times great guitarists do put tunes in more guitar friendly keys (the great Baden Powell does play Round Midnight in Em rather than Eb minor). Baden Powell is a great exemplar of some ways to sort of combine jazz and classical techniques - he began as a classical guitarist and moved towards jazz via choros and then bossas of A.C. Jobim and the work of other great Brazilian jazz guitarists such as Garoto, Bonfa, and Bola Sete. One thing you'll notice in their playing and arranging is use of guitar friendly keys, not many flats (bossas generally stick to some of the same keys as I'm sure you know). Use of open strings and playing without barres is another tool used in their styles (bear in mind in Brazil the guitar was typically the bass instrument in choro ensembles and seven strings are popular - Powell played a seven string nylon string guitar). To build on the idea of just avoiding barre chords using open strings is to bring in a concept known as campanella - letting notes in melodic lines overlap on each other. For example, starting an ascending G major scale on an open third string one may play up the A on the second fret, an open B, then go back to the third string to play a C on the fifth fret and keep it fretted as you play a D on the third fret of the second string, then an open E on the first string then an F# on back at the seventh fret of the second string (so the B rings over the C, which then fretted still can ring over the D, then E rings over and remains ringing as you play an F# and then G). This isn't just a technique to be employed in jazz, it goes back even to Baroque performance practice - harpsichordists use a similar idea called "over legato". Bearing that in mind one needs to be able to damp effectively when harmonies change, and recognize what pitches are just neighboring tones in more complex melodies like if playing the melody in the opening of Night in Tunisia. Generally, barre chords aren't so ideal for classical/nylon string guitars, but when playing them, as stated already in the replies here using proper technique keeping the thumb loose and behind the neck, and using the weight of your arm as it pulls the instrument naturally towards the body are good ways to practice. Also, being each barre and what is being done with it, where it is coming from and where it is going are important matters, and so if making an arrangement or practicing licks it helps to practice slowly, making sure no unnecessary tension is held (not just in the left hand but entirety of the body, trust me it makes a difference) and making sure your finger tips land right up against the frets at the ideal place is a big help. To a degree it does just take practice and a building of strength in the hand, but again using the weight of your arm pulling down and in towards your body and practicing slowly at first, feeling the best way to position the hand to play the barres, is the way to go. Obviously players like Baden Powell, playing on seven string nylon string/classical guitars would have even more trouble with an even wider neck to play barres on, and so again using campanella technique, open strings, and hinge barres also really helps. I'm first and foremost a classical player myself, I started off playing piano then picking up the guitar, a classical guitar, I was torn as to whether I wanted to audition at schools for jazz performance or classical guitar performance, and ultimately I chose classical, but I kept up my chops and further developed them on both piano and guitar. You'd be surprised (maybe, actually probably not) at how many classical guitarists out there can take very difficult classical pieces and sight read full notation no problem, but can't comp chords in rythm or make arrangements reading chord melody tunes. Last note, practicing playing chords, including barre chords, is a bit different than playing them in context of a jazz arrangement or classical piece of music, sometimes the position of the hand and fingers needs to change ever so slightly depending on where you're coming from on the fret board and where you're headed to (keep the next change in mind and use guide strings to shift up or down to them). Ultimately, a general rule of classical guitar technique is use as little physical energy as possible, using a minute of motions as possible, staying relaxed with no unnecessary tension in the hands or anywhere in your body, and making shifts as slowly as possible will help play faster and clearer. Hope this helped and again I'm new here on this forum and thought I could help shed some light, but the other replies so far seem to offer great help as well.

  13. #37

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    I haven't posted anything in a long long time but felt compelled to here after the incorrect statements below about avoiding barre chords in classical guitar playing have been made.
    ~ The reason a barre is played is usually when there is a high note such as C on the 8th fr, 1st str, requiring a low C in the bass with harmony in between, or when there is a b9 atop of a say, B7 (which is a C nat.) with a low B in bass...In other words, barres occur due to compositional needs, voices going hither and dither, not because a player just wants or doesn't want all 6 strings sounding...They happen because they wind up being that way on the staff. They are not random and so can nonchalantly be avoided.. They are forced into being by the ranges of the contrapuntal lines of the composer..Barres are all over the place in C guitar music...No one avoids them in favor of (what ?) open strings !..Closed and open strings are called into play by necessity and are found all over Barrios, Terrega, Bach (transposed from keyboard), Villa Lobos, Dyens, Carcassi, on and on and on.. It's nonsense to claim grande barres and half barres are avoidable in classical guitar..You wouldn't have three quarters the amount of compositions for guitar without full and half barres...And though they exist way less in jazz, even in there you find them, especially on the final chord..
    I'm not at home and so don't have my hundreds of classical pieces, books, sheet music, methods, etc. in front of me. But if I could show them all to you you would see immediately how ludicrous it is to claim barre chords are avoidable in classical guitar !
    They are in some ways the life blood of the genre. Without them you have very little left remaining. Did someone say "Leyenda" ? !
    M
    Last edited by MarkInLA; 06-25-2021 at 06:05 PM.

  14. #38

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    Sure situations exist you must use a barre, but often they are not needed. Students often employ too many in their fingerings. Watched a Jason Vieux master class where he helped a student rework the fingering of a Lauro waltz to eliminate the barres as there is a cost, both in stamina and flexibility to using barres (although partials are not so bad) and in many cases better fingering options can be found. And the A section of Leyenda only requires one full barre btw
    Last edited by BWV; 06-20-2021 at 10:37 AM.

  15. #39

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    A few last minute ideas:

    1. Composers write in keys that give the fullest sound to their compositions. And, they write for specific instruments as Tarrega, Sor, Coste, Villa Lobos, LLobet, Torroba, etc. who wrote for the guitar, or Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann who wrote for the piano. So, there are some technical instrument-related considerations in the compositions but they are not the overriding consideration when composers write.

    2. Composers don't think "barre chord" when writing but rather what combination of notes give their music the intended musical effect. It is the job of the musician to transform those notes in a visceral manner using technique, historical context, and personality at the highest level.

    3. String tension is a personal matter. However, some string basics are:
    a. the higher the tension, the greater the volume of sound
    b. increasing string tension requires progress in moving upwards in tension/muscle memory over time--not immediately. As muscles are developed-- you will, theoretically, move up in string tension.
    c. the bottom line, however, is that some musician's hands are not capable of playing efficiently at High/Extra High
    string tension in which case he/she would be always struggling with sound/technique and should play lower tension strings. This, however, is very rare. Muscles can be strengthened and trained. I began with medium
    tension strings, switched to high tension and then to extra hi tension. However, the extra HT restricted fluency
    and overall control and I have been playing HT strings for the last 28 years. I hope this helps.


    Play live . . . Marinero

  16. #40

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    A lot of classical guitars have no radius on their fingerboards. Totally flat. It's not ideal for bar chords. So you might search out one that has some radius in it. They are usually pretty mild radius (like 20") but it might make a big difference.The cheap Yamaha I have has none. I've built a few with 20" and they are a lot nicer. Generally classical should be easier to play. The strings are a bit higher but if it's set up well it should be easier because the tension is so low. Shout out to the Hannebach 815mt's which are really great strings.

  17. #41

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    Just last night I was playing "Natalia" by A.Lauro and noticing the dozens of barres in it...This piece and a thousand others would not be able to be executed without full and half barres...I don't know how BWV and others can claim that barres could/should be avoided !!! Where in the solar system are you from ?
    Again, barres are not randomly chosen and thus can be voluntarily passed up or gotten around.
    In order to play the top and bottom strings at the same time or arpeggiated with harmony/voices in between, a barre has to be used.
    Play the old A7 on the 2nd fret; the one with the open E and A on the bottom, open E on top and open G.. Now give me the same arrangement of notes all a half step higher, sounding a Bb7..You HAVE TO Barre it ! There is nothing else you can do this side of rearranging the the way the notes/voices are stacked... Now raise it to B7, C7, Db7, etc. keeping the original A7 'shape'..
    You HAVE TO barre it. Why ? Because, hello, you can't move the nut up !
    All this hoopla about strength, tension, relaxation, whether valid or not has ZERO to do with whether or not a Grande Barre or half barre is employed..The barre is an indispensable hand formation in classical guitar music, replacing the un-movable nut !
    M
    Last edited by MarkInLA; 06-20-2021 at 06:12 PM.

  18. #42

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    Never said barres could be totally avoided, but often with classical pieces there are better fingering choices. Barres require a lot of LH tension and it’s ergonomically costly to move in and out of one.

  19. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by BWV
    Never said barres could be totally avoided, but often with classical pieces there are better fingering choices. Barres require a lot of LH tension and it’s ergonomically costly to move in and out of one.
    How dare you suggest that guitarists should avoid all barres ever!!!!!

    Etc etc

  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    How dare you suggest that guitarists should avoid all barres ever!!!!!

    Etc etc
    Perhaps, C, they prefer to drink at home.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  21. #45

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    "The barre is an indispensable hand formation in classical guitar music" MarkInLA

    Five Stars!
    Play live . . . Marinero

  22. #46

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    I hope OP gives us a one year update.

  23. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    I hope OP gives us a one year update.
    Haha!
    I kinda lost track of this with lockdown and life in general but I enjoyed reading the posts I missed!
    Hear is the truth of the matter. I am a pretty useful jazz player and I am a good band player including reading etc. I enjoy making guitar arrangements of tunes but I do stick to the jazz keys. I am fully aware of the fact that playing a pre learnt arrangement is a whole lot different to actually improvising a ‘jazz’ tune in the style of Joe Pass for example. It takes a lot of balls to improvise solo and I don’t have enough hours in the day left to master the skills required. The thought of getting halfway through a piece and then my left hand failing puts me off attempting it.
    BTW Martin Taylor uses 11’’ gauge strings and always on a 24 3/4 scale. This helps but I am never going to be able play like him. I suspect that most of the classical ‘experts’ contributing to this post can’t either although I am sure that they play arranged music very well. So I have gone back to playing an archtop and stopped beating myself up!

  24. #48

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    I think it should be possible to play jazz on a classical guitar if you stick with it. It shouldn’t take any more hand strength to play jazz on it than it does to play classical pieces. In fact with jazz you have the option to do whatever you like to change things and make them easier, e.g. to reduce the number of barre chords you could play some rootless/partial chords for a few bars, or play some bars of single-note improv. Or make the barre easier to hold, by only playing the bass note and the melody note and leave out the chord notes in between. You can’t really get away with doing things like that in the middle of a classical piece.

    Occasionally I do play a bit of solo jazz stuff on my classical guitar, and I think the only thing that I have to make adjustment for is that I can’t easily pop my thumb over the 6th string for bass notes. So that requires a few more barres, but that’s ok.

    But it’s true that the classical guitar seems to need almost daily playing, or my hands start to lose the necessary strength. Whereas I can leave the archtop unplayed for a few days and pick it up again without much problem.

  25. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    "The barre is an indispensable hand formation in classical guitar music" MarkInLA

    Five Stars!
    Play live . . . Marinero
    How dare you insist that guitarists always use barres!!!!!

    etc etc

  26. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    How dare you insist that guitarists always use barres!!!!!

    etc etc
    I hope you are not saying that I, Mark, insist guitarists always use barres !! Please don't put words in my mouth !
    I am saying that barres are occurrences which happen due to the way a composer has stacked his notes...
    "Leyenda" is a perfect example...There is no alternative way to play it without barres..
    Almost every concert level piece of guitar music and most etudes as well all have half and grande barres in them..
    It's the person who says they could/should be avoided who is wrong...They can not be avoided if the composition is forcing their necessity...
    If on the other hand you are strumming first position 6 note chords in a folk or country music setting, of course you have a choice there; to play the kind which have both open and fingered notes or to barre them if you wish...
    But if a composer has you playing an VIII Pos. C7 with C on bottom (6th str), G (5th str), C on top (1st str), Bb below that (2nd Str) and E in middle, all on the same beat, say, you HAVE to barre it..Even if arpeggiated you likely have to barre it.

    I've typed my ass off enough now over this ludicrous discussion..Say what you wish for or against me..I'm done here !! M