Is there a way I can play barre chords?

pwh101pwh101 Posts: 2Member
Hi I have just started to learn the acoustic guitar and have learnt some basic chords and can strum some simple songs but, here is my dilemma I am right handed and have a right handed guitar but I have a fused right wrist with no movement. I am now at a point where I want to look at Bar chords but find it impossible to reach to cover all the strings. My question is, is there a way I can play these chords with my wrist problem or would you advise me to change to a left handed guitar. It would mean me starting again but I'm better doing it now rather than carrying on and eventually giving up. I am really keen so any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Paul


  • LesterLester Posts: 1,704Member, Moderator
    Hello pwh101. Warning: I am not medically qualified to make a suggestion.

    Is this arthrodesis, where the bones have been fused together? Does that mean you have no wrist movement at all or do you have a limited amount of wrist movement?

    As a guitar player of over 40 years I would say that beginners take some time to use less wrist movement as more experienced players do. You are learning so I expect that at the moment you need more wrist movement (from both hands) than you will in the future. Comments from others, expecially teachers, would help here.

    The fretting hand has a tougher job as the fingers contort to make chords far more than the change in hand shape required for either strumming or fingerpicking the guitar. But that is the job of the fingers, mostly. The wrist of the fretting hand should be almost straight at all times (there will be a change in its angle between fretting chords at the 1st fret and the 11th fret) whereas the strumming hand is in constant motion, albeit within a small range.

    My guess is that you will be better of staying with playing right-handed but that is a guess and it does depend on whether your strumming hand has absolutely no wrist movement and also what you find uncomfortable or painful.

    The lady that wrote this article wrote that she played 3 songs and her left wrist was more tired than the right. Aha, that backs up my thoughts, above. I am assuming that she is right handed. A reply further down says that the person now plays piano and guitar very little. I think the level of wrist movement you have and the discomfort of playing will determine how easy it will be to play.

    GPs can sometimes be useless when it comes to advising outside their sphere of competence. I don't know whether your orthopedic surgeon or physiotherapist knows who to refer you to for specialist advice.

    Finally, there was an interesting article about a darts player, here. I reckon the flexibility needed in a dart player's wrist will be similar to that required by a guitar player.

    All the best and let us know how it goes.
  • fatfingerjohnfatfingerjohn Posts: 8Member
    Whilst I don't thankfully suffer from a specific medical condition I also have very stiff joints which have made some fingering, and barre chords in particular, very difficult for me. As far as barre chords are concerned it's almost impossible for me to get my fingers in s straightish line without performing some wrist contortion which I can't do. I DO find that holding the guitar in a more classical position (neck more upright) helps, as does changing the guitar from resting on my right knee to my left. But that's hard to do in the middle of a song! You might like to try these however rather than a massive swap of hands.

    I really regret my inability with barre chords as it does limit what I play and what keys I play in. But, with some judicious help from the capo, and a few workarounds to avoid the full barre, I manage the problem reasonably.
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