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Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #1 
Ive been working through Ted's Modern Chord Progressions book and first had trouble with double stops, thinking they were nigh impossible, but now the real trouble is partial barres. I've watched Ted's (and many other guitarists') fingers be able to bend backward at the joint closed to the finger nail, allowing them to barre only 2 or 3 strings. I cannot do this. Ted uses this technique quite a bit, especially on 5-note chords. I've been stretching my joints back every day for several minutes but no progress besides besides pain seems to be occurring. The thing is, it's a ligament, not a muscle that allows a person to make such a movement.

Does anyone know if it's possible or healthy to stretch joint ligaments to enable partial barres?

To clarify, my index finger and pinky are double jointed, but if I pull my middle and ring fingers towards the back of my hand, they stay completely straight at every joint and only move at the knuckle. Partial barres are not happening.

Posts: 337
Reply with quote  #2 
As you say, the partial bar is a common technique and can be done with any of the four fingers. You do not have to be double jointed to do this and, in fact, that would likely make it more difficult.  You are really straightening the joint and ever so slightly bending it backwards.  If you press any left hand finger to the thumb, the joint can be straightened and flexed backwards slightly.  If you can do this finger to thumb, you can do it on the fretboard.

Posts: 1,773
Reply with quote  #3 
I agree with James - it can be learned if you spend the time.
Practicing it away from the guitar as he mentioned by pushing against your left thumb helps.

I struggled for years to get my middle finger to bend backwards for partial barres. Now it's simple and simply indispensable.
Now I'm finally making some good progress with bending my little finger backwards.
Ted often requires this for an add 9 chord, such as for Dadd9 (or D/9 as Ted notates):
strings 5-1:  5,4, 2, 5, 5.  The top 2 strings is with the 4th finger. This is a great chord, but takes some patience and work.

Good luck!!!!


Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for the replies and I suppose I'll keep at it then, but to reply to you, James, when I press my middle and ring finger to my thumb they do not bend back whatsoever, absolutely straight as an arrow as if there weren't a joint there at all, I think you underestimated the extent of my hypomobile joints!

Posts: 337
Reply with quote  #5 
Try this:  Push a finger against the thumb.  Not too hard!  Now lay a ruler or straightedge of some kind across the top.  It's pretty straight but the ruler actually only touches the end points.  There is a little bend in the middle where the ruler does not touch.  Nevertheless, it's pretty straight, as you say.

Now look at the underside!  The tip of the finger bends up a fair amount.  This plus the angle of the finger coming into the fingerboard is what saves you.

Be patient and keep trying with and without the guitar. Experiment with pressures.  As with all barres, you want just as much force as necessary and no more.  Most of us have to learn to back off on pressure toward more relaxation.

Think of it as finger yoga.  You see a yoga practitioner in an advanced pose who looks like a pretzel and think you will never be able to do that.  But you just do what you can do.  You try it to your own level and not too much.  And little by little, your flexibility increases.  You may not ever look like the pretzel yogi.  But you can do more and more for you.
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