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1) His guitar was strange. He could barely touch the string and get a loud sound.
2) His guitar was strange. He could hardly touch the string and get a loud sound.
His guitar was strange. He could touch it very softly and get a loud noise.
Are '1' and '2' grammatical with the given meaning?
Are they idiomatic?
If a guitar can be so strange that the only way you can play it,
is to just about touch the string to get a very quiet sound, then that
is what 1 and 2 mean.
"Scarcely" could replace "barely" and "hardly", without affecting
the meaning; and "string" for "strings" is good English - using one
item to represent many items must have a name in grammar.