Real Guitar Adventure for Grownups

How to Fix those Crappy Sounding Notes

in Guitar Basics | 0 comments

Video Transcript And Relevant Links:

I got a message from one of my YouTube subscribers who was trying to form a partial barre chord. I believe and she says in paraphrasing "Every time I tried to play this kind of chord, my notes sound muted or blunted and I can't find any kind of instruction on how to fix that. They all say, you know, how to make the chord but they doesn't sound good so what do I do with that?" 

Well, I want to make this video to help those who are having a similar problem and I want to start off by saying it's really very common. Most people who started out playing guitar I think everyone has the same problem in the beginning. And I know when I first started I was surprised because I thought if I put the fingers in the right place like somebody showed me it would sound good. Well now it takes a little bit of time, practice and adjustments.

But what I'm gonna do in this video is I'm gonna give you the kind of adjustments and the things to look for starting with open chords and then I'll go on to partial barre chords and barre chords. Now make sure you pay attention to the open chord part the first part because it's cumulative. I think I said that right. In other words,  everything that applies to open chords also applies to partial barre and barre chords. There's just a few other things to look for it so let's get started. Now what it all comes down to is getting your fingers in kinda just the right place and at the right angle to get the chord to sound good.

At first you have to pay a lot of attention to it and after a while it gets to be a habit. Your fingers just go there and you don't even think about it. So we're gonna  start off with a basic D chord. And the first thing I want to say is it's important to get your fingers close to the frets. These are frets and the fingers need to get as close as possible. You can't always get them equally as close depending on the chord that you're making but do the best you can for that particular chord.

Second of all,  you want to get to the best that you can. The tips of the fingers on the strings as opposed to the flatter pad part. Now that means that your fingers need to be kinda angled up and then back down. If they're too much aside there's no way you're gonna get the tips of the fingers on. So that opens up the whole issue of hand angle and elbow position and all that which I'm gonna do now.

Okay, #3  angle of the wrist. So the wrist should be kind of relaxed down. You don't want to push it too far up this way but you don't want that way back here either. Actually I see more people have it kind of back. Have it kind of just hanging relaxed down and you don't want to tensed too much not only will it make funny sounds but it'll tire you out fast and you won't be able to play for long.

Now #4 and it has to do with the wrists also. Have your elbow hanging down and relaxed. You want to be able to just let your fingers go slightly and your hand will fall, that takes a little practice. It’s natural to kinda forced things a little bit and then tensed up. But when you feel yourself tensing too much just relax, shake it out and start again. You want to break that habit before it gets too entrenched. 

Now finally with open chords when everything else is right you want to make sure you're pressing down hard enough but that's the last thing. You want to fix the hand, elbow position, the fingertips and all that first because you want to put as little pressure as you have to, to get a good sound. If you press too hard your hand and your fingers will get tired. You won't be able to play for long, you also develop problems later on.

​When you feel yourself tensing too much just relax, shake it out and start again.

Click to Tweet

So as time goes on, you'll find that you can actually with a little tweaking apply less pressure but still get a good sound and that's what you want to aim for. Now let's go on to partial barre chords. All the principles that I just described apply with partial barre chords. You also want to have your barre finger. It's only on a few strings as close to the fret as possible, as possible. Often you will have to angle it a little bit so that all the strings won't be equal to the finger but that's okay just do the best you can. Also you want that first knuckle kind of buckled in and the second knuckle up in the air. This is where sometimes you need to push your wrist up a little more this way forward as opposed to way back here. If you clasped it too far back here it'll be hard to get a good solid partial bar. So in short, you're aiming to get your finger as close as you can perpendicular to the neck as opposed to too much of an angle the best you can. You can't always get perfectly perpendicular and you want to have that second knuckle up in the air so that you can press down with that first part of your finger.

And finally barre chords, very similar to partial bars. You want to put your finger across the neck and the best that you can perpendicular to the fret not on top of the fret but just behind the fret in this direction. Also you want to push your hand a little bit forward this way so that you get a good rigid bar. If it's too far back your knuckles will collapse a little bit. I like to angle my finger just a little bit back that way so that it makes a little more ridges a little easier to get ridges as opposed to flat against the neck.

Now bar chords and even partial bars are one of the more difficult things to learn on guitar. Partial bars a little bit easier than bar chords. I would strongly recommend that you  prepare when you're doing barre chords or partial bars with some exercises first rather than jump right into a chord and get frustrated because the chord doesn't sound good. And above all, keep coming back at it. Make small adjustments. Use your ear and see if it sounds better and then keep refining it as you go. Take for granted that it's gonna take time and you just want to keep coming back at it persistently, you'll get it. 

I'm Tomas Michaud from Real Guitar Success. Thanks for joining me today. If you liked the video, give me a thumbs up and a comment. I'd love to hear what you're thinking wherever you're watching this video. See you again soon.

Tomas Michaud

Author - Tomas Michaud at Real Guitar Success
Tomas Michaud is an American born guitarist and music educator with a French Canadian heritage. He first developed the Starland Guitar System in 1982 when his 9 year old daughter asked him to teach her guitar. Since then he’s founded the Starland School of Music in the SF Bay Area, and RealguitarSuccess.com.

When he's not making guitar instruction videos or creating more music to record (currently 7 CDs including Beauty and Fire) he's riding his bike along the beach with his dog Marco Polo or traveling to interesting places with his lovely wife Pui.
Tomas Michaud

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.