View Full Version : Creative chording..

04-19-2010, 03:23 AM
There are a couple songs I been wanting to learn on the Uke, but have been relunctant because there is a chord I just can't seem to manipulate on the Uke. I have a hard time baring some chords, because my fingers just aren't flexible enough to arch like they used to be able to do. I have arthritis, and I am sure that is part of the problem. But, I decided to play with a couple chords I have a problem with on the Uke and come up with a solution. The "B" chord gives me the most problems, so I started with it. I have come up with a solution, and now need to play this way to see if it will work for me. Chord changes may be challenging, but at least I got a good clean chord out of it now. I plan to work with this modified chord method.

In lue are baring the 2nd fret, I hold down the #1, and #2 string with my index finger knuckle (yeah, ouch). Only then, I can arch my middle and ring fingers to the #3 & #4 strings. It makes a nice clean chord... I taped my index finger 1st knuckle because it freaking hurts like hell, and the tape really helps with that..

Has anyone else had to modify chords due to a disability, or limitation of flexibility?

04-19-2010, 03:43 AM
It's a good thing you posted a picture because I couldn't figure out what you were talking about (I blame Monday and the lack of coffee this early).

I haven't had to modify any chords for those reasons, but I think using the knuckle is a really good idea to solve your problem. I'm sure it'll thicken up a bit and stop hurting so much.

What about trying one of those band aides for blisters? They have some padding it them, so it may hurt a little less.

04-19-2010, 04:53 AM
dang...I just tried that, and it does hurt like a baddin'

I like to play alot of open chords...they dont work for everything, but I'm a fan of leaving em open. Plus it takes less fingers.
example: instead of barring a G chord 4232, I'll drop the B note and leave the open A 4230. I also play an open A alot for the moveable A 2100...so on a D chord up the neck I play 7650. I dont know if thats easier for you, but its a thought.

it doesnt really sound good on the B though

04-19-2010, 04:58 AM
I have some issues with hand strength which leads me to occasionally use alternate positions, etc.

All chords have more than one fingering that can be used. If you know a bit of music theory it's easy to figure them out.

In addition, for many chords you can add the 7, delete the 3, or even delete the 1 for ease of playing without affecting the integrity of the piece.

04-19-2010, 05:06 AM
I just tried that knuckle thing and you're right, it does hurt! Does it hurt your hand too much to hold the A & E strings with the pad of your index. I'm just asking because you said it was hard baring the fret. I might not be making sense. I think the main thing is it is working for you that's all that matters, as long as you can get use to it.

I've tried modify chords, like the E chord but the sound wasn't as clean as I would like. So I'm trying to practice baring the E,C,G with my ring finger. It's not very flexible but it's getting better all the time.

04-19-2010, 05:12 AM
Of course, there is the option of playing it up the neck. That would change what octave it's in, but often that adds to the song, gives it variety.

For example, B could be played x676 (the same shape as G but slid up four frets and leaving out the 4th string). You might find that easier (and prettier) if you can make the G shape reliably.

I cannot imagine using your knuckle would be good for your arthritis in the long run, though. Doesn't that require some serious wrist mechanics?

04-19-2010, 05:28 AM
I can use my index and middle finger tips on the 1 and 2 string. It works pretty good, but causes me to bring my pinky in, which is awkward. But, that said, not more awkward than using my knuckle. The knuckle is fine with some electrical tape on it. I am working with both the knuckle thing, and using my index and ring tips too.. Im just trying some alternate, and maybe not so standard methodology that might help others that suffer from arthritis like I do. I have played the bass for over 30 years, so my finger tips at one time were like concrete, hahha. Not so much anymore. I went a long time before playing and my fingers stiffened up. I think if I kept playing straight through all those years regularly, I might have more flexibility today. Using my knuckles aren't that bad on my arthritis, less so then trying to contort my fingers.. I think if I keep doing that, I will use tape on the knuckle, because I really don't want callus to build on my knuckle, I think that will lessen mobility along with the arthritis in the long run. So, tape, for knuckle playing to keep callus from building up there for sure. Not sure if it is gonna work. I just wondered if there are any other aging musicians out there that found themselves having to modify a few chords that a younger person with rubber fingers play with ease..

04-19-2010, 05:38 AM
The bottom line is; do what ever works for you. I remember a post some time ago by a UU member who was using creative chording techniques due to a missing finger on his left hand. If it makes it work, it's all good.

I think the knuckle method will be difficult to change into and out of quickly. Do you think your arthritis might loosen up a bit over time now that you are playing the uke regularly? I have some arthritis myself, in my hands, shoulders and hips. I find that regular excersize of those joints really helps loosen things up and extend my range of motion. I'm having much less trouble chording now than I did a year ago!

Good luck with it, and keep practicing!

04-19-2010, 05:50 AM
Has anyone else had to modify chords due to a disability, or limitation of flexibility?

Funnily enough, one of the most famous guitarists in the world could only really use two fingers on his left hand:




Keep at it: you should be able to find a way.

04-19-2010, 06:46 AM
Skrik... Thanks, so much, for the videos. Although I had heard of Django's virtuosity, and read about the guitars he played, I had no idea he had been injured and deformed. Very interesting and very inspiring....