View Full Version : Barre Chords --> Sore Thumb

08-07-2009, 04:11 PM
Whenever I try to play barre chords, my thumb gets really tired... like, so tired that it starts to cramp. And this is after about five to ten minutes of playing anything with a lot of barre chords. I've always had the same problem when playing barred fifth chords on guitar.

I watched some videos (including the barre chord video here on UU), but none of them seem to help/talk about sore thumbs.

Anyone have any tips? When I move the barre chord, should I move the thumb along with it? For instance, in a D-G-A progression, I don't necessarily have to move my thumb; my fingers can reach all the chords. But when I do try to move my thumb, it gets caught on the finish of the uke (as in, it sticks), and that always messes up my chords. Is there a way to get around this?


08-07-2009, 04:53 PM
Welcome to UU! There have been a couple of threads about this. The key point is that your thumb should be positioned directly behind your barring finger...and you don't need to press that hard. Here are a couple of links that might help:


I hope this helps. :shaka:

08-07-2009, 07:49 PM
The post above me is probably right, but even if you're doing it right, it can still make a beginner sore. Just keep practicing, and make sure you're doing it right. Eventually you'll build up some strength and it'll be a lot easier.

08-15-2009, 09:12 PM
Thanks! Those topics really helped... I could've sworn I did a pretty thorough search. I guess I'm not used to this forum yet.

08-15-2009, 11:23 PM
No Pain No Gain.

08-15-2009, 11:28 PM
I had this same problem... what I found helped was finding a couple of songs where I would be playing mostly in barre chords... a song with a lot of D's and E's next to each other is good because you're just moving two frets for the same shape. If you can get some B's, Bb's and Bm's in there as well, then you're on to something good. Whenever I practice, I make sure to play a couple of those songs as a warm up.

Here's an easy and very cool lesson by Musicteacher2009 for Otis Redding's 'Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay':


That will give you a relatively easy song that mixes barre and normal chords, so it won't be too hard on your thumb - you get an even workout. It will also give you a couple of other skills. I swap the barre E he prescribes with an E7, your choice.

The other barre heavy song that I'm playing at the moment is Eric Clapton's 'I've got a rock and roll heart' (chordie (http://www.chordie.com/chord.pere/tabfu.thudspace.net/c/clapton_eric/ive_got_a_rock_and_roll_heart.pro), reasonable acoustic youtube cover (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB2irIRBpaQ)), throwing in the barre E (barre D + 2 frets) makes it a good tune for practicing moving up and down the fretboard quickly, which is another skill worth developing.

If you're wondering, the other song that I mainly use for this practice at the moment is The Muttonbirds - Anchor Me (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPIhhqM4b4s). But that's another thread.

Hope this helped, and good luck :)