Musical Comedy of Errors? Yep. It was.

Hoooo boy, guys. What a mess. I had my first non-comedy show last night, and it was cool to be able to perform some of the non-silly songs in an environment other than an open mic, but man, the tech problems! In terms of things working as they ought to, it was a complete and utter fail.

When I was practicing earlier in the day, out of the clear blue, my low E string started buzzing. It wasn’t a gradual or subtle thing. It was a really bad buzz on just that one string, and it was worse with the capo. So, there was some troubleshooting, and after some fiddling around with the capo and without the capo, and on different frets, etc, I eventually determined it probably needed a bit of a truss rod adjustment, so, out came the screwdriver. I got it squared away – at least sans capo, which was good enough for the upcoming night, since I didn’t plan to do any songs with the capo, and I figured I’d troubleshoot later. I suspected my capo might be a bit worn down, which might be contributing to the issue, so I figured I could pick up a new capo en route and check the theory later.

I knew there was a music store en route, so I decided I’d pick one up on the way. After all, I already planned to leave super-early. It was a nice day, if a bit windy, and I wanted to take a walk and enjoy the weather before the show. A minor detour to Sam Ash wasn’t going to hurt my timeline any.

I thought I was all good to go. I had my guitar. I had my low G uke and my little Andoer stick on pickup for said uke. Everything had been tested within the past week and was working just fine.

When I got to the venue, my friends were already there, so I ended up stopping before going for a walk. I didn’t rule it out once I had my things all settled, though. I figured a preliminary tune up while the venue was quiet was a good idea. Plus, I could test my capo theory with the new capo.

Turns out I was right on that front – no buzz with a different capo, so I guess my pretty green capo’s reached it’s life expectancy at this point. Buuutt…I heard something rattling when I picked up my guitar. WTH was in there? Had a pick fallen inside or something. Had my cats unwittingly swatted one of their toys up into the soundhole? (You laugh, but Cleo has absolutely thrown her toys so far in the air when playing that we’ve found them on bookshelves there is no way she could possibly reach. I have found toy mice inside of half empty tissue boxes. So, this was a realistic guess.)  No such luck, though. My input jack was loose and rattling around inside of my guitar. Well, fuck. There was no way to remedy that on the spot. There were no hardware stores nearby. I couldn’t reliably go back to the music store to see if they could fix it for me on the spot and get back before the show started. So, I decided my best bet was just to tape the thing inside the soundhole for the time being so it at least wouldn’t be rattling around and use the stick on pickup for both instruments. It seemed like it was going to be the path of least resistance, since I did have an alternative way to amplify my instruments on hand, even if it meant they were both going to sound a little tinny. I considered hanging the wire right out of the soundhole to plug in that way, but I couldn’t find a method where it wouldn’t bump into the strings, so vetoed the idea.

But, okay, fine. I was going to have to see if the hex nut was sitting on the floor at home, or go to the hardware store for a replacement, but there was nothing I could do about it short term, so I was focused on just getting things amplified enough for the space I was playing, and I was confident that once I found the sweet spot on the guitar for the stick on pickup, it would be fine. I would just have to hope I didn’t get any significant feedback. So, with the sound system set up, we plugged in the removable pickup and I stethoscoped my way to finding the sweet spot on the guitar. Fine, it was under the saddle, similar to the uke, but a little closer to center. Alright, good. That would work.

Or, so I thought. I’d tested everything (briefly) and it worked. …until I had to actually get up there and do it. The same thing that worked in testing was unresponsive when I actually needed it. I could hear the mic when I tapped it. It was definitely on and connected, but the venue’s set up wasn’t pulling any volume out of it. Even though it was on, it was no louder than if I was acoustic. …fuck’s sake. I know that’s not my little pickup. Cheap as it is, the lost cost is in sound quality, not volume. But, she just wasn’t getting more than a whisper out of it.

So, I had to give up and play acoustic. It was a small face, I gave a shout out to the room and the people in the back claimed they could hear the instrument just fine.   Now, knowing I’m going to be playing acoustic, the mic should have been turned down a bit to balance it out, but…no, that was not done, so I dunno, I think I really might as well have been singing acapella for all the uke and guitar you could hear.

So, it was a pretty mixed bag of a performance. I performed fine, but the tech issues made me feel pretty lukewarm to the entire thing.

Still, it was a learning experience. I learned that:

  1. Check over your damn instruments before leaving the house with them. Nuts and bolts loosen over time. Plug things in at home occasionally, even if you don’t need to, just so you’re sure it works when you need it to.
  2.  Even if all of your equipment has been tested and is in good repair, you can’t by default assume the equipment at the venue is in the same state of good repair. You also can’t assume that a venue that knows it’s hosting a musical performance is going to have an instrument mic on hand, because no, they didn’t.
  3. It’s probably a good idea to keep small repair items in my guitar case – a small screwdriver, extra battery, some nuts and washers, maybe some electrical tape, because my audio jack issue could have been fixed in about 10 minutes if I just had a spare hex nut and a screwdriver on hand.

 

So, I dunno. I guess going forward for future shows it’s going to be in my best interest to have my own amplification on hand. A battery-operated mini-amp and audio cable, or a mic and stand tossed into the back of my car ‘just in case’ would have saved a lot of headaches and the end result would have sounded better for the audience.  Live and learn, I guess. When it comes to tech, sometimes, even your backup plan needs a backup plan.  And, maybe I have an excuse to buy another guitar, you know, as a spare. 😀 (Kidding. If I buy another guitar it’s obviously just because it’s pretty and I want it. Let’s be real.)

And, oh yeah. The guitar is fixed. How the hell the hex nut ended up on my bathroom sink, I have no idea. But, I’ve decided to blame the cat.

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I did a thing. On bandcamp.

As a matter of fact, it’s a thing that I only decided to do yesterday and finished this afternoon. From that you can pretty much already deduce the quality.

The basic story is this: I have a friend, who I often joke is my 1 fan, and there is not a number in front of that 1. Well, the last few times he’s visited, he’s been trying to convince me to release a live album of open mic recordings. I don’t actually record myself at open mics because it honestly never occurs to me, and I also am lukewarm to the idea to begin with. But, the last time he was over, I had just finished the poetry project and mentioned that I had to decide what my next project was going to be. I didn’t MEAN a project of stuff to release. I just meant the next thing I wanted to work on. I was leaning towards opening one of my lesson books and upping my music game, or some repair project around the house. But, I guess I wasn’t clear and he pushed the live album idea again.

It’s sort of been banging around in my head since then. I don’t really feel ‘ready’ to release music, but I also know, at this stage, making music with the intent of release is a logical next step, and one I shouldn’t dismiss out of hand, whether I don’t feel like I’m there yet or not. I’ve always been a pretty harsh critic, and if the guy who’s secretly been recording my sets in a basement open mic is pushing an album, then I owe it to someone who seems to actually give a crap about my projects to consider releasing SOMETHING.

I’ve also been recruited for another little comedy set next month, and I guess it would be nice to say yes when asked if I have anything anywhere for a change.

So, all of that congealed in my brain until I thought ‘well, some of my rough recordings are passable’. I’m talking about the recordings of new tracks I sometimes post here, or that I just record for my own benefit to listen to them back and see if they’re working, or find out about how long they are.  By and large, these are not tracks I would share with anyone, ever. But, sometimes a draft of a track lands pretty close to the end result. Those tracks became the bandcamp thing.

Is it a great album? No, not at all. It’s literally a bunch of rough tracks recorded on a cell phone. How good can it be?  But, if you like weird singer-songwriter tracks played on instruments that are not always as in tune as they ought to be and songs that sound like they were recorded from the bottom of a tin can, maybe you’ll like it, and I think that makes you weird, but who am I to judge? And, anyway, since I know how bad it is, it’s pay what you want.

I think, ultimately, it’s a good release in a way. Releasing something that I think is kind of crappy out of the gate takes the pressure off of a first release, so when the time comes that I want to do the best homebrew tracks I can, well, I already have one crappy little album out there, so it won’t feel as intense. It won’t be the FIRST, and it can only be an improvement. I think, ultimately, it’s more important to do things than to do amazing things, because if you need everything you do to be amazing, you don’t end up actually doing anything. So, I didn’t do an amazing thing, but I did a thing, and that’s a start.

LxL cover
Available on bandcamp:  https://shelzeke.bandcamp.com/

 

Now, back to practicing so the next thing will be better. 🙂

F Chord progress

Well guys, I’m writing this one while on hold with a certain vendor that I currently want to stab in the face so just how coherent this is going to be is up for some serious debate, but I need to do SOMETHING other than listen to their shitty hold music.

I am attempting to write you a coherent post about my progress on the F Chord, but I am also listening to static-ridden hold music after having been transferred to “someone who can help me” THREE TIMES. I have now been on the same phone call for over 20 minutes with no resolution even remotely in sight, after spending a good 50 minutes on hold elsewhere, so I WANT this post to be about guitar things, but I’m pretty riled up, so all bets are off.

Okay, here goes:

As you may know from my last post, I’m snail-pacing my way through Guitar for Dummies again, and currently smack in the middle of a lesson on C Family Chords, which, naturally, includes the F Chord.

Now, in Guitar for Dummies, what they teach you at this point is what I’m going to call “Baby F”, and looks like this.

baby F

They don’t mention at this stage that there are other, more common variations of the F chord, but these days, the F chord we mostly talk about looks like this:

f barre

(Images taken from Guitar Chords World, as that’s what came up first in google image search. I’m not affiliated with them, but I also don’t want to jack their images without giving them credit for them.)

There’s another version that’s sort of a hybrid of the  two, a baby F, but with the 3rd and 4th finger positioned like the more common version and the low E not played. I can’t quickly and easily find an image for that one, but it was in one of the youtube videos I watched, so can’t possibly be all that hard to find. I don’t remember what video, but they referred to it as an “old school F”, if you’re really that interested in tracking it down.

What I’m finding, strangely enough, is that the ‘baby’ version of the F Chord is actually the hardest for me to get a clear sound out of. It can be done, but I’m notably less consistent with it. Something about keeping my pinky out of the way and holding the barre makes it feel oddly cramped. It’s also a fairly thin sounding chord, comparatively. I’m sure there are certainly places you would use it, but by and large I think the ‘old school’ and the barre are fuller and just seem like they’d be more versatile, so I’m mostly making use of them. It’s not JUST because the baby is the hardest to play, I swear!

What I’m noticing in my practice is ultimately that what we’re calling the Old School F theoretically is easier to transition in and out of when you’re working with C family chords, but the F barre chord is easier to pull a clean sound out of.

People always talk about how barre chords require ‘strength’, and I always take exception with that because I think it does way more harm than good to tell beginners that they need to be stronger. It only makes someone who doesn’t really understand yet how guitars work press harder, which causes excess tension, which makes switching between chords harder, makes chords sound muddier, and encourages them to exert way more pressure than is needed to do ANYTHING.

Let’s be realistic here – it’s in a beginner’s nature, when you use the word strength, to assume you mean ‘press harder’. And, while it may be true that you do need a little bit more pressure for a barre chord than for an open chord, and that a barre chord uses some muscles you may not be using much to play your basic open chords, the person you’re teaching that barre chord to is very likely using too much pressure for their open chords already, so they don’t actually need more pressure than they’re currently using to play a barre. If anything, learning barre chords is helping me lighten up on my open chords. After all, if I only need X amount of pressure to form a barre, and that amount of pressure is not more pressure than I’m using to play open chords, then I am obviously using way more pressure than I need for open chords, which I honestly already know, but what my brain knows and what my hand does are not always on precisely on the same page. My hands tend to lag behind my thoughts.

So, ultimately, what I’m finding is that the F with the full barre, seems to pull a reasonably clear sound out even when I’m a bit off, but the old school F sounds like garbage when I miss my target. It’s the opposite of what you’d think to look at them. The F Barre chord looks really fricking intimidating. It’s a barre chord, and you’re using 4 fingers to form it, but since the margin of error seems to be larger than the margin of error on the old school F it’s actually an easier chord to play, in and of itself. And, it’s got a fuller sound because of the use of the low E, which I just plain think sounds nicer.

Now, having said that, a chord is never ‘in and of itself’. They’re really only as useful as moving in and out of them is, and that’s a stage in the process I haven’t mastered on either version yet. I’m at the stage where I don’t have to look at my fingers to form the chord, but still have to think about where I’m placing my fingers. It means I can’t quite switch in and out of either one naturally yet, but I’m using a C Family progression from the GfD book to practice. So, in the interest of practicing both, I’m alternating and my current practice regimen is something like C-Am-Old School F-Dm then C-Am-F Barre – Dm. And, I sort of go back and forth like that until my hand gets tired.

I’ve got it in my head to look for a song that uses and F chord to learn to mix up the practice regimen and keep working on the F, but honestly, the suggestions that I’ve glanced so far for F chord songs to learn are uninspiring. In an effort to choose accessible songs that people will know and want to learn, it seems the internet has basically chosen a bunch of songs that either I’m not interested in or outright dislike. I’m definitely not going to waste energy trying to learn songs I hate, lest I have another Kumbaya-in-my-head experience, so I dunno, I’ve got to dig a little deeper to find a song that uses F that actually interests me, I guess. Or, barring that, write a darn song using F and force myself to master it that way. Whichever.

Progress is being made though, in that I am able at this stage to get both versions of the F Chord sounding clearly – with results being slightly better on the version with the full barre. But, there’s still a ways to go, since I haven’t developed a muscle memory for either version just yet. So, I’ll be around page 50 of the lesson book for a while longer yet.

 

Argh. F Already?

I won’t lie, guys. I have been living with a fear of barre chords. I’ve attempted to get the feel for them a few times, but there’s that part of my brain that says ‘but this is the hard shit!’ that has made me kind of shy away. I know I need to learn it, just like I know I need to learn several other things, but my modus operandi when approaching an intimidating lesson is too often ‘uh, I’ll do that later. I’m not ready for the hard things yet.’

The problem with being ‘not ready’ for the hard things ‘yet’, is that if you don’t work on them, you’ll never be ready, as I well know. But, the part of my brain that manages logic is often at odds with the part of my brain that handles motivation, so there you have it.

Still, ‘Guitar For Dummies’ isn’t pulling any punches. Fifty pages into a 300+ page book (that is to say, on chapter 4 of 19), I  find myself facing down my old nemesis once again as it introduces C family chords. There’s a part of me that’s like ‘F is the estranged member of the family, dammit’, but I’m currently buckling down and trying to work my way through it.

What I’m saying here is that I’m gonna be stuck on page 50 for a while. 🙂

In all seriousness though, it isn’t as intimidating as the last time I looked at it, which I guess is saying something. That doesn’t make it easy. As things stand I seem to be able to form the chord properly, but not maintain it long enough for it to be of much use. And, I can see how incredibly easy it should be to go from C to F – they are literally next door neighbors, but being able to see your neighbor’s barbeque over the fence is not the same as going over and saying hello, so to speak.

So, I don’t know. I guess the odds are high that I’ll be going into radio silence again for a while while I work through it, unless getting this chord down goes way better than I expect it to.

Still, it’s been more than 24 hours since I’ve opened this darn book, and I’m still using it, which, by my standards, is definitely progress.

Onward!

Alright, let’s dust this thing off…

Both the blog, which has been used for nothing but announcements of poetry crap for a while, and my gosh darn guitar lesson books. Yeah, both need to be dusted off. As I write this, I remain absolutely terrible at maintaining the attention span necessary for book study. I used to be so good at it as a kid, but lesson books are such a snore I find myself far too easily distracted to get much out of them most of the time. That’s the fault of my brain, not the book, but facts are facts. I’m an interactive learning sort of gal, and sitting down to study always, ALWAYS feels like a chore. No matter how you dress it up, there’s a part of my brain that says ‘dammit, I’m too old for homework!’

But, I’m trying, once again, to buckle down and have cracked open ‘Guitar for Dummies’ again. I’m going to try (and probably fail gloriously) to spend a good 15-30 minutes a day with it. If I plan for 15 minutes, that just sounds so much more bearable than planning to do x # of pages, or a chapter, or whatever. 15 minutes is just 15 minutes, and if I spend more than that with it, then go me, I had an attention span for once in my life. And, if (cough-when-cough)I fail at 15 minutes a day strictly dedicated to book learning, if I at least manage to do it more days of the week than I don’t, I should still make some decent progress.

I didn’t start all the way at the beginning, but I am pretty close to it, so a lot of what I’m looking at is mostly recap. I already know the chords they’re teaching me, but there’s some value in going over it, I think, and trying to get my stubborn brain to absorb things like “chord families” and something vaguely resembling the minutest corner of basic theory.  Also, playing different patterns, because I’ve found lately my hand seems to be locked in the same rhythm and I need to do something out of the ordinary to escape the trap I’ve fallen into with that, or I’ll just be writing the same song over and over again into infinity.

And, as a result, I’ve just spent over 5 minutes playing Kumbaya, of all the dumb songs in the world. Seriously, though, I legitimately hate ‘Kumbaya’, and played it for over 5 minutes anyway. Okay, maybe I played it while singing ‘this song is so lame/yes it is’ instead of the real lyrics, but the point is in the exercise, dammit.

What I’ve found interesting, having the tiny amount of knowledge that I have, and going back to really just the barest of bare bones stuff like this, is that what little knowledge I have changes things and fills in some blanks. The book is not at upstrokes yet, but my ears and brain just somehow know that this part here should absolutely be an upstroke, because it just IS. My ears know it. My hands know it. It’s somehow obvious in a way that can’t be easily explained.

What’s also kind of neat is that, for someone who doesn’t read music at all, (I’m so fricking unfocused. I really want to learn, just…apparently not enough to actually buckle down and do it.) is that knowing how the song goes, and what my ears know, there’s a very small way in which some of the music symbols reveal themselves.  You can’t tell a lot about how the song is meant to go just by the slash marks counting out the beats, because those slash marks are not necessarily all individual strokes. But, if you know what your ears are hearing and telling your hands to play, you can tell the notes are sort of saying that.

Like, okay, I can’t tell what the notes are, in and of themselves, but my ears tell me what the count is. (In this case, it’s sort of… 1-2-3-and-4, 1-2-3.) So, from that I can look and see, ‘oh yeah, see, three notes, a pause, then two strums and the second rings out.  So, it seems like that means a big curved line between two notes means ‘let this ring out’ and a dot after a note is functionally like a period at the end of a sentence saying ‘pause here’.  I don’t know, maybe that’s wrong. If so, further reading will, theoretically, correct me, but what seems to be the case is that, while my ears can’t teach me which note goes on which line, it can sort of teach me the part of reading music that involves timing and duration, provided I use my ears and know how to count, which are two things, at least, that I can handle just fine. Playing along with additional songs will confirm or debunk what I seem to have learned tonight…provided this information sticks inside my brain long enough to do me any good.

Until next time, I have a lesson book in front of me, dammit! What’s the world coming to?

Gear: Muzjig Pick Cutter

This post is almost kinda sorta 50% about my cat.

2017-07-19_20.19.35.jpg
This cat. The picky little maniac who attacks my guitar strings every time I change them.

See, here’s the thing. She’s 1 yr old, and picky about treats. She loved these turducky dental treats I was getting from a local pet shop, so naturally, now that I found one she likes, I was no longer able to find them anywhere. That meant it was onward to Amazon. I’m not against buying her treats online if she eats them consistently enough. But, I also didn’t want to pay shipping on a single bag of cat treats, so I went through my Amazon saved for later list to find some ‘free shipping on amazon’ stuff to fill it out a bit, and decided I would finally fork over for a pick cutter.

I’ve wanted one for a while. I’ve been making my credit/gift card picks by hand, which is something I knew I didn’t want to do indefinitely, but it also wasn’t any sort of emergency. I do love home cut card picks, though. There’s a sound they make that I haven’t been able to replicate with any pre-purchased pic I’ve tried (and I’ve tried tons. I love trying new picks). Mind, there are picks I buy that I like quite a bit. I had an orange tortex dunlop phase. A phase where I was in love with wood picks. Right now I’m a fan of the 50mm clayton raven picks. I have a good mix, is what I’m saying, and they all have their uses, and produce their own unique flavor. My preference in picks can change based on what strings I’m using at the time, but I’m consistently a fan of repurposing old gift cards because they just sound so darn pretty.

So, it seemed like as good a time as any, when I was looking to fill out my cart. Let’s take a look, shall we?

2017-07-19_21.23.37

Ultimately, I chose the muzjig cutter because it came in a case, which I figured would minimize how much I could beat it up. Also because, based on pricing and comparison, it was the best deal – it came in a box, with more strips than a lot of the others in the same price bracket.

On arrival, the first thing you notice is the box is pretty cheap – not to be unexpected for the price, but if you’re expecting these little plastic clips to last into eternity, that’s not very likely. Inside though, everything is packed snugly, and durable.

The box contains the pick cutter, a package of assorted punch slips, a file, and a stick on pick holder. Not too shabby for twenty bucks.

First, I pulled out the cutter itself. It’s hefty. It feels sturdy with plenty of weight to it and a rubberized bottom to prevent slipping. Seems pretty durable.

The slips are, actually, about the same weight and feel as your typical gift card, and when I use these on my guitar, I’ll tell you, the sound is pretty damn close to my card-made picks. Impressively close.

The included file is a basic nail file, so easily replaceable when you’ve used it up.

Now, to put it to the function test. It does require a bit of leverage to punch. I found it more productive to stand up and press down with both hands. Of course, I might just be a wimp. It’s not a job you need an excess of muscle for, I’m not saying that. But, a small child might not be able to get enough weight behind it to punch picks. The average adult won’t have a problem though, once you realize you do need to give it a fairly strong push to get through thicker plastic.

I had a pile of used gift cards and old credit cards, so I punched several different sorts in trial. Overall, the results were good. Only two of the cards required any filing. This is not the fault of the cutter, but rather that some cards are made out of a slightly cheaper material, and those cheaper cards tend to leave behind a few glossy clear plastic shards that need to be filed off. My old Rite Aid card (the ones they don’t accept anymore. no idea if it also applies to their newer ones) was one of these. So was my Pet Supplies Plus card. Everything else I punched through came out smooth on the first try, so I don’t expect I’ll need to replace my file any time soon.

Overall, quite happy with it. I’m resisting the strong temptation to pick punch everything in sight, now that I have a new toy.

As an aside, the cat treats? She won’t touch the damn things now. WTH, cat? You loved them a week ago!

More thoughts on the F Chord, and Barre Chords in General

Well guys, it’s 3 AM as I write this post. Yes. 3 AM. The time of night when any sane person is unconscious, but I’m shaking off barre chord practice because that’s just apparently how I roll on a Saturday night. The house is quiet, Roomie’s asleep, and I’m not far behind, but as long as I don’t use a pick, I can keep things quiet enough to not disturb anyone.

Earlier tonight I threw out a sort of unproductive, frazzled post, because at 9:30 it didn’t really seem like I was going to get anything particularly productive done, but in the end, I do seem to have made some progress, so I wanted to write up my thoughts now, before I go to sleep and forget them.

So, here’s a list of dumbass things I did that I now realize were problems.

1. Getting my shoulder in on the act: I’ve had this habit of dropping my shoulder as if that miraculously would make the rest of my hand work better. I knew I was doing it, but only really ‘after the fact’. I had to really pay attention to start to break this habit. My shoulder isn’t fretting strings, so the idea that I have to move it into a different position for my fingers to work properly is just silly.

2. Trying to use strength: This is a bad habit I’ve had all along, really. I have this terrible habit of subconsciously thinking ‘press harder’ is the answer to bad technique. It’s not, obviously, but when notes don’t ring clearly, my hand tries to apply more force before my brain catches up. It’s absolutely no help that tutorials all say that barre chords, and chords in general require “strength”, creating a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Barre chords don’t require “strength”; no chords do. What they require is muscle control and accuracy. Learning how to use the small muscles in your hand with precision has fuck all to do with how strong those muscles are.

3. Forming the barre too far from the fret. This is the one it took me the longest to notice. It requires infinitely less work to hold a clean barre when the barre finger is almost on top of the metal fret. Every millimeter behind it makes it harder to get the notes to sound clearly, and easier to tense up/try to pinch the fret/apply too much force to compensate/etc. I’ve had it in my head that a 4 finger chord with a barre, like F, was going to test the limits of my ability to stretch my not-very flexible fingers, but that has been in part because I was under this false idea that my finger needs to be completely behind the fret, that the front or side of my finger need to be utterly flat there, and that’s just not so. It’s actually a remarkably small strip of skin that’s forming the barre, so if my finger looks like it’s overlapping the fret, well, it’s not, and that’s right about where I want it to be to get a nice, clean sound.

What it really comes down to, I think, is that we beginners tend to make things way more complicated than they need to be. I am still running into some issues with my pinky knuckle locking/flattening, and muting the string below it, and I have to train some muscle memory into my hand. Tomorrow (er…today…) I’ll do a bit of practice with just forming the chord, taking my fingers off, forming it again, to train a bit of muscle memory into it, and probaby by next week I’ll start practicing switching in and out of it with some other chord.

Ultimately, what it looks like from where I sit tonight, is that barre chords are hard to learn because the process forces you to break the bad habits you didn’t notice when you were working just with open chords, and those bad habits you’ve formed – whatever they may be – get in the way of learning barre chords until you can identify and overcome them, but from where I sit tonight, I think I’d probably say “barre chords aren’t hard to play, they’re only hard to learn to play.” And, I think, hopefully, from this point, now that I’m able to play a clean F chord 9 times out of 10, progress should be steady, rather than the stops and starts I’ve had up to this point.