I’m really green with learning CBGs (never played anything with strings before).

I’ve done okay learning a couple of simple songs, but I’m not have a lot of luck getting real clean notes when I try to use on finger across all three strings.

Any tips on hand/finger placement, exercises, etc for Barre technique?

I seem to be improving a bit by partially laying another finger on top of the one providing pressure.  The box of my guitar is small, so I’m playing it banjo-style in between my legs with the neck more upright—this seems to help my fingers get more easily parallel to the frets.  Maybe it’s just practice to build strength and flexibility—any suggestions appreciated.

thanks, TW

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First your fingers do not have to be parallel to the frets. Nor do you have to play a note directly in the center of any pair of frets on the fretboard. The only time you need to be completely parallel is when playing slide and you want to make a cord. Try this. Play a single note between any two frets. Now move your finger back and forth between those two frets and continue to play that note. It's the fret closest to the bridge that makes the note. Not where your finger is between the frets. Now take any finger on your left hand your comfortable with. Place it at an angle between two frets and strum. My only advice to you is this. Never take playing advice from who ever told you your fingers have to be completely parallel to the frets. There is way to much bad advice out there.

If your stings are really had to push down you may need to find a way to lower them closer to your fretboard. Or get lighter gauge strings. Why work that hard. 

Hi Tim, my suggestions differ from ratty', but that ok, the next member will have another different way.

When I'm showing folks to play I suggest that they do not rest the back of the neck in the palm of their  hand or the fleshy part of their thumb, but suggest they to put their thumb on the back of the neck.

If you use your index finger for barring cords, or just as a bar, with the thumb on the back of the neck you have far greater "clamping" pressure down onto the strings.

Also I find that if the finger is in line with the fret, but just behind it, you get a more even pressure on all strings. I find the further the finger is from the fret the less pressure on that fret.

last thing to mention, and it may seem silly is......look at the spacing of your strings. I have fixed the problem you describe buy changing the spacing due to one string locating into one of the joints in the players finger and not on a fleshy part. Another way to fix that is to move your finger over slightly or as ratty suggests angle the finger behind the fret.


from one tim to another.. do you need to use only 1 finger? i have found that the only time i barre is if i am adding another note or two to change the chord to say a minor... i seem to find that i use first finger on the thick string the middle finger on the middle string and the third finger on the thin string. sort of like if you play an open A on a standard 6 string. 

i find that it is easier to change to orther chord shapes that way . using a 1 finger barre seems too slow.. saying that i started playing 6 string when i was 13 , 45 years ago.. (still havent gotten any better) ...

To reiterate what Taff was saying, in Jr high orchestra Mr Davis our instructor told us to hold the neck of the instrument as if we were holding a very ripe peach between the thumb and fingers,  not our palm!

While we're on the subject of strings and fingers, any suggestions on how to toughen up the fingertips? Mine are so sore, that I don't want to play.

There's a technique that I teach. Place you finger on the string as lightly as you can. Then as you pick press down slowly. As soon as you hear a clear note lift you finger. Now press your finger down with only the pressure needed to make that clear note. Do this with all four finders on the left hand. Keep doing it till you remember the feel and can play this lightly automatically. 

Thanks rat, that works.

Awesome dude! Fastest way to learn to use all four fingers. 

Thanks for all the advice everyone.
I think I need to work on technique and finger strength...but I’ve also realized that the action on my guitar is very high. I’m going to see if I can sand down the bridge a bit to lower the strings.

Thanks again.


Hi guys,  

There’s probably a better place to post this sketch...but I bought a CBG and the string height seems high to me (but I’m new to this hobby).

Do you think it action, etc may be making bar chords more difficult?  

Or are these measurements ok?

Is it worth sanding down the bridge a bit under 1/8”?

thanks for any help,


hi Tim, I don't work in those numbers but anyway a couple of points that will help you under stand.

Question first.... Did you build this guitar or buy it ready made?  The reason I ask is if ready made the reason for this high action I have found is that the manufacturer finds it easier to leave the strings high than to do proper levelling of the frets. Customers ask me to lower the strings on their new guitars only to find they are up for a fret dress job as well.

So... to start with you need all your frets level, recrowned and polished.

To level the frets the neck/fingerboard has to be flat before you start.

Then you can look at lowering the strings at the bridge and at the nut.

The measurements should be taken from the top of a fret to the underside of the string.

Usually these measurements are in fractions of an inch [I think its called] at the 12 fret, for a six string acoustic guitar for example 7/64 bass string 5/64 treble. Electric guitars have lower actions than this. And there are many variations as there are players and guitars, but that's ball park.

Fretting the 12 fret and the first fret I look for clearance under the 7 fret of around .008"                 [8 thousandths of an inch]. That's if you have an adjustable rod in the neck. With a cbg you get what you got.  At the nut a starting point around 0.020 high. But often these tolerances are not achievable on some or all instruments.

String Hight effects playability and playing in tune. be careful lowering the bridge as that can lead to other issues.


I use a dime on 1st fret and a quater on 12 to start out and it puts me in the ballpark.

Thanks again,

By the coin standards:

the gap at the first fret—on the guitar I bought online—is bigger than the thickness of a dime...on the thin G string this gap is equal to a dime and a credit card.

the gap at the 12th fret is taller than the thickness of two quarters (at the thin G string the gap is two quarters and a credit card thick).

Too high ? Worth adjusting?

Thanks again,



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