Strengthen That Bar
Note: Before worrying about strengthening your bar, make sure you can do bars correctly and easily. For that, our "Bar Chord Mastery" course is highly recommended (there's nothing like it!).
Even long time players often suffer from an undeveloped, or improperly developed bar. Not having a strong bar, one that does not tie up the other fingers, which limits their mobility, limits all of your playing. Special exercises must be practiced over an extended period of time and practiced correctly, or you will cause big problems.
Here is a great exercise taken from a classical study, Villa-Lobos etude #2. I practiced this carefully for many years, and use it often to maintain strength. It will train the other fingers to be strong and independent while the 1st finger is barring. Try it yourself, if you do it right, and do it enough, you will see big changes in your left hand (directions below video).
- Keep the bar down the whole time
- Keep a space between the fingers at all times. Do NOT let 2 or any other finger lean on or toward the bar.
- Release and rest frequently, and whenever you feel excess fatigue. Pain is bad, do not hurt yourself! Build it everyday, for a few minutes that's all.
- Do this up and down the neck. Start at 5th fret, or where comfortable.
- Principled Players, use the Basic Practice Approach.
- One last tip (about your fingertip) - it is a help to release pressure from the fingertip part of the bar when you are playing the upper strings. It greatly aids endurance. Re-apply pressure when you get back down there.
Half way up
On highest note, notice the space maintained between 1 & 2
Coming down, notice 4 stays out