Can anyone tell me about Fretlight guitars?

Well, that was partially tongue-in-cheek, because one certainly continues to use barre chords. More aptly, one learns more interesting things to play than barre chords, and to use them less and less. Overuse of barre chords makes for boring rhythm playing. There is definitely a time and a place, though.

Watch a Stevie Ray Vaughan video, like his Austin City Limits show. I’d be willing to bet he uses barre chords about 10% of the time, maybe less. Not into blues? OK, let’s watch Tony Rice. Not many barre chords there. I think I caught Jimmy Page playing a barre chord once. Oh heck, you pick the player. Admittedly, those are the hot guys, and I won’t ever play like they do. But go see any good local band, and you aren’t likely to see the guitarists playing barre chords most of the time (unless you’re into garage punk).

Regardless, you have to go through the process of learning them, even if you never play them again, because they form the framework you use to see the fretboard and understand what you’re replacing them with.

For amp modeling, I highly recommend Scuffham’s “S-Gear”, which is $100 and is great. No, it doesn’t sound as good as the real thing, but when recorded, it sounds a lot better than I can manage with a tube amp and a good mic, without spending countless hours in room treatments and experimenting with mic positions and setups, not to mention waking the baby*.

  • No, there’s no baby in the house. But you get the point.

Oh – you’ll also need either a line input on your computer (a built-in has a good chance of being good enough), or else an aftermarket audio interface, which you can find in the $120 range (typically, USB).

Which I happen to be (among other styles)!

In most of the bands I’ve played in, I’ve carried a great deal of the load when it comes to providing the base upon which the songs are built upon. If you’re in a band with a truly superior rhythm section, this isn’t as much of a concern — nor is it if much of the focus of the band is on lead guitar pyrotechnics. But for a more song-based repertoire, I’ve got to be there.

Even in the acoustic duo I’m in now, my partner has a pretty wimpy style of playing where he doesn’t even hit the bottom strings half the time. For any songs with an F or a B in it (and others depending on the song and nearby chords), barre chords are essential if we’re gonna have any solidness to the backing.

And I can think of songs we do in which the intervals barre chords provide make a lot more sense that regular-position chords or jazz inversions. If I want a really solid and percussive C, I’m gonna play x3555x rather than x32010. Two roots and a fifth stacked on songs such as these will sound a lot stronger that two roots and two thirds.

So it’s all down to the style you’re playing in.

Wouldn’t you rather play a “D”?


I remember this thread, and how my post was the one that apparently killed it. :wink: Has it really been seven years ? I had wondered how Infovore ever made out, but I think he was looking for the secret shortcut to learning an instrument, and there really isn’t one or everyone would do it*. Infovore, I’m glad you did make a go of it, even if it didn’t last. Playing is a blast, even for just a while. I hope you had some fun at the very least.

ETA: the secret shortcut is to figure out what motivates you to play, and just keep doing that, whatever it is. :slight_smile:

Sure! It’s the coolest chord on the guitar, no doubt about it. Hence…

Oops, sorry! I assumed you were a musician. (snerk snerk) (jk)

It’s OK. I play blues, which is even easier than music.

For acoustic, I have a Martin HD28 with a killer bottom end. Any time I’ve played with another guitarist, their leads have a full backdrop (barre chords or not). When I drop out to play a lead, the bottom drops out, and once I’ve used both my licks, well … oh, never mind. You get the idea.


But when you grow up and want to play some real music, kid, lose those barre chords.


To further clarify, it’s not just barre chords you liberate yourself from, it’s chords in general. You learn to play rhythmic figures instead.

But there are still times for root position chords, and for barre chords, and for anything else you learn, and of course it depends on the style. Reminds me of an old joke that’s supposed to be true: some guitarist was auditioning for James Brown. James says, “Can you play an E9?” “Sure” the guy says, and plays one. James: “But can you play it for 45 minutes?”

Believe it or not, that takes musicianship. :slight_smile:

And Dm is the saddest. :frowning:

Oh, and coming from years of finger picking and flat picking acoustics, I came to prefer a 332010 C chord. I like a 5th in the bass better than a 3rd for alternating bass picking. And when my thumb begins to cramp from barre chords, I’d shift position and do a x33211 with my fingers and hang my thumb over to get the 1xxxxx in the bass.

I use both of these fingerings frequently. You don’t always want the low G 5th on a C chord, but it does work to fatten things up in a good way on many songs.

I also tend to play the F barre chord far more often with my thumb on the low E that I do barring all six strings with my index finger.

Maybe 2 years of music theory just comes back and bites me in the ass, but I’m not crazy about leaving a 3rd in the bass when the 5th is so easy.

I actually wrote an early version of the Fretlight software, they were based here in Raleigh at the time. They ended up using different software than I wrote - they used an off the shelf package instead of custom software. That was around 2004 I think. The guitars were like low end Fenders or Squiers. I did not think they would last. The founder/owner planned to talk to Paul Allen (founder of Microsoft) to get more funding but he ended up talking to someone who worked with Allen instead and he did not get any money. I thought it was a really interesting idea at the time.

I’m assuming you mean actually playing the open bottom E when playing a C chord?

I never do this. I either play x32010 or 332010 — never 032010.