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View Full Version : Which is harder for beginners? Bb or barred D7?



wrestlingmatt51
09-04-2017, 10:02 AM
Hi, I teach ukulele lessons. When I first started teaching I assumed that a partial barre chord (Bb) would be easier for a beginner than a full barre chord (D7 for instance). It seems like Bb would be a good way to ease into playing barre chords. However, I have had students who seem to have a harder time with Bb than something like D7. I don't have a ton of teaching experience and therefore not a lot of data to go off of. I was wondering what others' experience has been, either as a teacher or as a beginner themselves. Basically this is helping me to figure out the order in which I introduce chords to students. Thanks!

Graham Greenbag
09-04-2017, 10:56 AM
I can only offer my experience of learning a couple of years ago and hope that it helps.

Initially the D chord by itself was a problem, how to squeeze my fat fingers into three adjacent frets, etc. Eventually I figured out moving the G7 formation across and staggering my fingers which solved the problem. D7 is just a D with a little finger added to the first string and a fret higher up the neck, again its easy once you know how.

IIRC barre chords did start with the D7 and were difficult to start with but the D7 chord, being further from a badly adjusted (high) nut is easier than the Eb7. (Edit. I'd ment to say Db7 / C#7) The Bb Chord was a nightmare and only within the last 6 months do they come right first time. For me the answer was getting nuts and actions sorted out first and the concentrating on keeping a flat finger (not curled) fretting the E and A strings - the finger position is also different too, being near hard-up on the neck for the Bb. Fingers fouling adjacent strings in the Bb chord was also and issue for me, the fingers have to come down vertically and it helps if you have thin fingers and short nails .....

So, I suggest to you that you start with D7 first, and that you expect nothing but problems with the Bb chord until your students have the nuts on their Ukes correctly adjusted after which they have a fighting chance.

igorthebarbarian
09-04-2017, 11:01 AM
I would say Bb personally. But some helpful things are to twist the wrist either forward or backwards to get extra grip/tension. That one really helped me.
Also, I think the big key is to make sure new players start on properly set-up instruments! If the action is too high, it's always going to be an issue.
Also, worth mentioning is that the bigger the size of the uke (soprano -> concert -> tenor) the higher the string tension required to get to the standard GCEA tuning - assuming re-entrant tuning on the tenor.
I started on a non-setup Kala Tenor with high string height and nearly gave it up initially. Then I got a Flea soprano and it made a huge difference.

jimavery
09-04-2017, 11:36 AM
I often play D7 with all four individual fingers which with my dainty hands is easy. I remember the Bb chord eluded me for a while when I was learning it; not so D7.

Graham Greenbag
09-04-2017, 01:15 PM
I think you meant Bb or Bb7. Eb7 is farther from the nut than D7, and thus easier for the reason you state.


You're right in that I did give the wrong name: Eb7 should have read Db7 / C#7. I will amend my earlier post in case anyone reads it in isolation and gets incorrect details from it. Thanks, and thanks for pointing my error out so tactfully. The point I was trying to illustrate is that the same Barrie chord finger arrangement becomes more difficult to use effectively next to a badly set up nut.

It was an interesting refresher to read your comments about the alternate chords leading from A7 being pushed up the neck with a Barrie finger behind it. The A chord gives Bb, C, C# and so on as you move up the neck with a Barrie finger behind the first two. I rarely use the alternative chords/fingering but that's mostly because there's so much to learn, and it's usually easier just to use the fingering suggested in the chord boxes that come with the song being sung and strummed.

zztush
09-04-2017, 01:58 PM
Hi, wrestlingmatt51!

I'm just teaching one friend, hence my experience is very limited. He was bit struggled with Bb to master and he had no problem with D7.

I taught him two ways to play Bb, one is banana type (See the figures below), one is rotation type. He plays rotation type. I prefer rotation to banana, because banana looks bit ugly to me. But I know many people play banana type.

https://s26.postimg.org/8ru4qn9d5/combine_images4.png (https://postimages.org/)

There are some tips for this short barre.
1)Rotate ukulele frontward (red arrow on the figure below).
2)Do not see fret board in order to frontward rotation (yellow arrow).
3)Push ukulele frotward (green arrow).
4)Put the strap on our right shoulder in order to frontward push (blue arrow).
Freddie King is the blues master!

https://s26.postimg.org/pgvkmk5yh/freddie.jpg (https://postimages.org/)


We can observe banana, rotation and inbetween well in WS64's video. Enjoy!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cer9AzGh6Rg

Nickie
09-04-2017, 05:21 PM
I can get to D or D7 faster, but I found out today that D hurts more, on my tenor banjouke. Even after having the neck thinned. I think it's time to get rid of the fat Aquila strings.

Choirguy
09-04-2017, 05:58 PM
I stole a technique from Ukulele Mike, who introduces barre chords by starting at the 5th fret, and then playing up to the 1st fret (all barred) and then back down again.

I have my students do this from the very first day...and it becomes a warm-up, along with walking each finger up and down each one of the strings (through the 4th fret).

Both of these exercises prepare them for a barre chord...but I don't call it that (yet) or make a big deal about it...it just is.

As a result, I would say that the D7 is logically the easier chord, because it requires, at minimum 2 fingers*, whereas the Bb requires 3 fingers all the time, regardless of how it is played in first position (full or half barre).

Incidentally, research shows that many beginning guitarist quit at the F chord. Why would Bb be any different on the ukulele?

*Some people barre with a second finger supporting the barring finger, which would make a full barre D7 require 3 fingers

UkingViking
09-04-2017, 08:09 PM
I found D7 easier. Easier than D without the 7th too.
I don't find Bb particularly hard to play, but for me, when I get the barre grib wrong, it is usually the first or second string that is off. It has something to do with where my finger joint is located.
With Bb these two strings are the ones where the barre is important, and hidden below your other fingers.
With D7 the trickiest string is taken care of with another finger.

wrestlingmatt51
09-07-2017, 03:08 PM
Hi, wrestlingmatt51!

I'm just teaching one friend, hence my experience is very limited. He was bit struggled with Bb to master and he had no problem with D7.

I taught him two ways to play Bb, one is banana type (See the figures below), one is rotation type. He plays rotation type. I prefer rotation to banana, because banana looks bit ugly to me. But I know many people play banana type.

https://s26.postimg.org/8ru4qn9d5/combine_images4.png (https://postimages.org/)

There are some tips for this short barre.
1)Rotate ukulele frontward (red arrow on the figure below).
2)Do not see fret board in order to frontward rotation (yellow arrow).
3)Push ukulele frotward (green arrow).
4)Put the strap on our right shoulder in order to frontward push (blue arrow).
Freddie King is the blues master!

https://s26.postimg.org/pgvkmk5yh/freddie.jpg (https://postimages.org/)


We can observe banana, rotation and inbetween well in WS64's video. Enjoy!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cer9AzGh6Rg

Cool! Thanks for all the effort in your answer.

wrestlingmatt51
09-07-2017, 03:10 PM
I stole a technique from Ukulele Mike, who introduces barre chords by starting at the 5th fret, and then playing up to the 1st fret (all barred) and then back down again.

I have my students do this from the very first day...and it becomes a warm-up, along with walking each finger up and down each one of the strings (through the 4th fret).

Both of these exercises prepare them for a barre chord...but I don't call it that (yet) or make a big deal about it...it just is.

As a result, I would say that the D7 is logically the easier chord, because it requires, at minimum 2 fingers*, whereas the Bb requires 3 fingers all the time, regardless of how it is played in first position (full or half barre).

Incidentally, research shows that many beginning guitarist quit at the F chord. Why would Bb be any different on the ukulele?

*Some people barre with a second finger supporting the barring finger, which would make a full barre D7 require 3 fingers

Wow, yeah that's a great idea

wrestlingmatt51
09-07-2017, 03:11 PM
I think you meant Bb or Bb7. Eb7 is farther from the nut than D7, and thus easier for the reason you state.


The partial barre requires pulling the index back with respect to the other fingers, backbending a bit at the first joint, which some people have trouble with. I'd teach the full barre form, at least as an alternative. If the uke is well-adjusted, the full-barre Bb may be easier than D7 because you only need pressure on the first two strings, not the entire length of the barre, and you have the most leverage on that near side.

After C, G is probably the most used key, and in that key D7 is needed for the second most common chord, V7. So regardless of which is easier to form, I'd start with D7 (particularly since I dislike the sound of the "Hawaiian" D7 2020).

Another option is C7 in third position: 3433. This puts the barre one fret higher on the neck than D7, and the middle finger is more naturally placed. If they already know songs which use C7, they can practice dropping this barre chord in place of the one-finger chord. Once they can form C7 solidly, D7 should be a snap, and they can move the shape down to practice the harder Bb7 (and, adding another finger, Bb and a higher C).

I think it's important for beginners to see early on that the same movable shapes form different chords, to help them avoid the mental fixity too many people have between shapes and specific names; also to see that the same chord name can be played in different voicings. And, of course, I think it's important to teach the root location in each shape from the very start, since roots are the most important handles for everything to come. But I'll get off my hobby horses.

That's a good point. C7 would definitely be easier than D7 (in my opinion).

wrestlingmatt51
09-07-2017, 03:12 PM
Thanks everyone!

lelouden
09-07-2017, 06:45 PM
I believe most learn the D or D7 first. Usually you will find the D - D7 in more common songs for beginners. The Bb is in the key of F, and the Key of Bb - B and those have the dreaded E shape and we all know that is the least loved shape.

Here is a silly 10 minute education about the subject of how to play bar chords and more. Lots of great useful information for great habits.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGSU3P77RTQ

UkeInTW
09-08-2017, 07:01 AM
I would tend to think the Bb is harder due to requiring 3 fingers on 3 frets and 4 strings, whereas the D7 requires 2 fingers and uses 2 frets and 4 strings. I would say as a rough rule of thumb for me, the more fingers and frets and strings, the harder the chord, but of course, which specific combinations are also a factor.

Iza
09-08-2017, 12:19 PM
I play both with full barre, unless I want to move from D to D7, so I just put the pinky down. In the beginning I tried to do the half barre for Bb but it was more difficult. I don't mind barring 4 strings, but 2 or 3 can be tricky for me, depending on the position.

ripock
09-08-2017, 07:47 PM
I play both with full barre, unless I want to move from D to D7, so I just put the pinky down. In the beginning I tried to do the half barre for Bb but it was more difficult. I don't mind barring 4 strings, but 2 or 3 can be tricky for me, depending on the position.

Agreed. I always play Bb with a full barre, using the proximal phalanges to fret the E and A strings. It is so easy. And the D7 I have been able to play since the first moment I touched the ukulele. Again, very easy--much easier than trying to fret the two notes of the Hawaiian D7 with its rootless blah-ness.

captain-janeway
12-27-2017, 08:31 AM
Agree. There are so many chords I'll use full barre on if the chord will allow it. I have really small hands and covering both those AE strings then getting the other two is really awkward for me.
I'm new, and I'm finding transitions like between Bm and Bb are making me crazy. I'm trying to learn smooth transitioning before anything else. I've been running through Uncle Ron's Boot Camp. Made sense to me to learn the alphabet before learning sentence structure.

http://ukulelebootcamp.weebly.com/

Jarmo_S
12-27-2017, 09:33 AM
It is a necessity to be able to play Bb, it belongs to F-key and is maybe next to C or G the most important ukulele key. Guitarist have a much tougher ordeal with barreing 6 strings. I also use mostly a full across neck barre even though only first 2 strings need be barred.

Speaking of Bm, same idea on the second fret. Other important chord in that key is F#7 as a dominant chord. I play that also barred, like F barred and adding little finger. So 3121 becomes 3421 and certainly could be played without any barre, but because Bm - F#7 change this is most convenient. Notice it lacks the 5th, but it is really not needed in my opinion, and if it is just play F#.

D7 can be played in so many ways. D of course, lifting finger you get hawaiian D7. I usually play the real D7 instead, many times playing C note with 3rd finger instead as many using 2nd finger. There is always the possibility from D to get D7 by little finger on C note. This is a no barre hold.

Nickie
12-27-2017, 11:34 AM
I have a lot more trouble with the E chord, than either Bb or D. Bm is no picnic either.

Sven-Uke
12-27-2017, 12:57 PM
If you want to know what it is like to start all over again playing chords just flip over your ukulele and try playing left handed.
You will find out immediately which chord is easiest.

besley
12-27-2017, 01:15 PM
As Chris pointed out, a lot of guitar students give up when they get to the analogous F barre chord. Well one difference for ukulele students trying to learn a Bb barre is that there are seem to be a lot more really cheap ukes out there than cheap guitars- or at least ukes with really poor setups. High action at the nut can make playing first fret barre chords really difficult. I had someone play one of my ukes the other day, and he commented on how easy it was to play. In this case that's because I set the action at the nut to 0.020", while most ukes are set to 0.030" or even more. That slight difference of 0.010" or 0.020" can make a LOT of difference when you're learning.