Here is Another One of the Major Struggles on Guitar

So I recently did a poll of what was the #1 struggle out there on guitar.

I found another one that was really quite prominent.

If you missed my post from last week, check out the #1 struggle on Guitar. You can read it here.

But there is another.

And man, is it a doozy for many.

Sometimes the mere mention of these words strike fear in the hearts of many.

Ok, buckle up.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

Barre Chords!

I’m actually typing this on Halloween and I think that if there could be a guitar oriented horror story it could be title something like:

The Attack of the Sinister Barre Chord!

Ok, maybe not that, but you get the idea.

It can really be a pain for so many. Maybe you are one of them?

But also, I’m guessing that many of you have conquered that immense villain.

And that should be an encouragement to the rest of you because there is hope on the other side.

The real tonic to that poisonous elixir is this: practice.

Nothing can be a substitute for that very act of practicing.

But what you all should be aware of is that the amount of time needed to overcome this struggle is different for everyone.

While some may get it within days or weeks, others might take months to get it.

The key is to not give up. If you give up, you sealed your fate and gave in to that monster.

I have taught many players and see all kinds of awesome achievements.

And, if you are one of those that gets discouraged that others seem to get it quicker than you, I have news for you:

Odds are real good that there will something else on guitar that will come easier to you that others are going to struggle mightily on.

I see it all the time.

One takes a million years to get it on barre chords but finds scales are a piece of cake while another can grasp a barre chord like its breathing but can’t play a scale without immense frustration.

The key is to hang in there!

Also, if you are trying all of this on your own, it makes it that much harder. 

Find a mentor, a teacher, a friend, that knows what you are going through and has the experience to help you through it.

I can’t say enough about that.

Plus, find some online videos from reputable people to show some other tips and tricks to overcome your struggles. While it isn’t the same as private instruction, it can help and often be a supplement to your private help.

I teach all the time and regularly will point to videos (some mine, some from others) that will help with whatever a student is struggling with.

Here is one video I made to help those of you a little ways into your barre chord journey. It’s a cool exercise called Zig Zag. Give it a go:

What’s In a Chord? (Pt.1)

“No second chances in the land of a thousand dances, the valley of ten million insanities.”– Ry Cooder

“I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it.”– Jimmy Page

“BLAH, BLAH, BLAH..” – Alex Lifeson (Rock n Roll Hall of Fame speech)

Quick, without looking it up, play a C7(#9)

How did you do?

Try this one (seriously, try it without looking it up): C13


Ok, how about one more: C Maj9

How did you do?

Don’t “fret”, if you didn’t get any of them. There are a lot of musicians out there that can’t do it (until you look it up).

I can tell you from personal experience that I have been in situations where I had to come up with chords that I don’t normally play on the spot at a gig, rehearsal, or a tryout for something. It can be intimidating.

But there is good news, there are little tricks that I use to figure it out on the spot.

Over the next handful of weeks I’ll be inserting a trick or two in my tips.

This stuff is really good to know. It will really make you a better guitar player because knowledge is power.

The first trick that I will tell you about here is based on simply knowing a major scale. And I’m going to give you one that is easy to learn as the first major scale: C Major.

The C Major scale note order goes like this: C D E F G A B C

Yep 8 notes (the 8th one is the same as the 1st, it is an octave higher than the starting note)

The major and minor chords that most everyone plays in rock, pop, blues, country, etc. contain 3 notes in every chord. And, those major and minor chords use the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note in every major or minor scale.

I’m not going to go in heavy detail here (one could write a whole book on this stuff – and there are many out there). So let’s just look at major chords to give you an idea of what to do.

So, if I have a chord that is a C Major something“, I’m gonna look at the C Major scale and figure it out.

Wanna play a C Major chord? Well, I’m going to start by making a chord pattern from the C Major scale that has the following notes: C(1st), E(3rd), G(5th). That makes a major chord (remember, we are using the C Major scale in this example. If I had a C Minor scale it would be slightly different notes and would make a C Minor chord – that’s a lesson for another day…).

Many of you probably know this chord form and have played it. But now you know how it is made:

Now, I want to play a C Major 7 chord. A major 7 chord is a major chord with a ‘7’ added to it. What is this ‘7’? It is the 7th note in the scale. In this case it’s a B. So the notes in the chord look like this: C(1st), E(3rd), G(5th), AND B(7th).

Look at that chord diagram. What you need to do is find a way to add a B note to it. This can become sort of like detective work.

In this case it is pretty easy (to be honest, it isn’t easy all the time). I’m going to just lift up my ‘1’(pointer) finger and add that B string so that the chord looks like this:

Want to play a C Maj9? Here is where you have to know a little more about how a chord is made. All Major 9’s are Major 7’s that have one extra note added to it. In this case it is the 9th note in the scale. The 9th? Yeah, we simply keep going in the scale to find it:


Go back to the original diagram for C Major and let’s think it through: how can I add both the B and the D?

One way to do it is to move our fingers around a bit (yeah, many times you will have to do this):

See how this works? If you don’t know your scales, you are going to have to learn and/or brush up on them. Start with the C Major scale. Get this link here: C Major Scale

There is so much more to all of this, I’ll save it for a later tip. (don’t worry, I’ll get to the C7#9 (known as the Hendrix chord) and C13. Stay tuned…).

This should be good for a start to help you become a better player and know how the chords are made!

Replacing Guitar Strings: How Often Do I Change Them?

When was the last time you changed your guitar strings?

I’m waiting…. 🙂

If you are like me, many times I can’t answer that question.

Also, most likely if you can’t answer that question, it probably means that it is time to change them.

I think that as guitar players, this simple maintenance on the instrument is often overlooked.

I think I know why.

Boiling a Frog

Ever hear the fable about the boiling frog?

Whether it is true or not (I hear it isn’t), the lesson is very spot on. Simply put, the tale goes like this: if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will jump out; but if you put it in cold water and slowly turn the heat up to boiling, it will stay in and get boiled alive.

Yeah, not a fun story.

Now think of your guitar in a similar way: you pick up a guitar that has very old, dull strings. You play it. It sounds “ok” but not that great.

You change the strings on it. It then sounds so much better! the notes seem to jump out at you!

But then, time goes on.

And on…

And on…

You practice your scales. You play the guitar in your room. You jam with friends. You play with a band.

And the guitar, well, it still sounds good. Right?

Not really. At least until you change them again, for “whatever reason”. Then it sounds so much better and the cycle starts all over again!

So how often DO you change them?

It depends…

Yeah, it’s not the answer you were looking for but it really does depend on several factors:

How Often You Play

If you play a lot (gigging frequently or practicing several hours a day), it might be every couple weeks.

If you just play occasionally, it might be longer. Many times if you wait too long, the first thing that happens is you break the string.

Oh, and of course it will be in the middle of a rocking solo you are doing! (sorry, I have NO idea what this is like… LOL)…

When You Break a String

{See above}

{And below}

And really, don’t wait for this moment.


Bad Condition

If you leave them on for a long period of time, and they don’t break, the strings just get dirty, oily, scummy, etc.

I can easily tell just running my finger down one of the unwound strings. If it doesn’t move smoothly, it’s probably time.

Acid Hands

Yeah, this is a real thing. Some people have this kind of acid that their hands have that causes the string to wear faster. If you break strings a lot, and your guitar is fine, it’s something you might want to look into.

Here is an article from cleartonestrings.com that explains this stuff much better that me (and how to change to a healthier diet, yes, that means all of YOU who like Big Macs! LOL):

Why Strings Die So Quickly

Bottom Line

The bottom line is to be aware of when to change those guitar strings of yours. They don’t last forever and they do deteriorate in quality over time.

Don’t let your strings be the difference from you sounding “just ok” to sounding “incredible”!

Do It Yourself

I strongly recommend that you learn how to change strings yourself. It will save you time and money. Check out my article (and video) on how to do it:

Changing Strings Yourself

Oh and hey, can you do me a favor? I’m starting a mission to grow my You Tube Subscriibers to more than 32 (Ha!). No, seriously, if you can quickly hop over there and “Subscribe”, it would be so very awesome!

I promise that the videos (most of them at least) will be entertaining and informative!

Here is the path to arrive there:

Six String Corner