View Full Version : Fretting/Chords/Muting Strings Question

03-30-2011, 07:58 AM
I just got my Mainland today and I'm looking through Ralph Shaw's Complete Ukulele DVD and I have a few questions regarding fretting and muting strings while playing chords. I'll use two chords as an example:

While playing an F chord, do you need to let the C string ring out or can it be muted by the finger playing the A on the G string? I have a hard time fretting the A and not muting the string below it.

Likewise, when playing a B flat chord, I have again a hard time playing the B flat on the G string on and not muting the C string below it while fretting.

So I guess the overall question is regarding when it is ok to not strum open strings in chords and how to practice fretting so that the finger on an above note doesn't block the string below it.



03-30-2011, 08:28 AM
I think you are talking a little more about using the muting to change the voicing of the chord. Am I right?

If that is the case, then it is totally appropriate to do it whenever you feel/hear that it should be done.

In regards to your specific chords, the "C" note in the "F" chord is somewhat important as it is the fifth of the chord. However, fifths can be omitted without any real troubles depending on the music you are playing. My experience is that omitting it in rock, however, doesn't always produce the best sound.

As for the "Bb", you are talking about not playing the root of the chord. Assuming you are playing the shape "3211" this is okay since you are also playing a "Bb" on the "A" string (in re-entrant those notes are the same octave). So, you have a complete triad. Therefore, muting doesn't change the voicing.

Hope that helps.


03-30-2011, 11:45 AM
It is very important that you learn to fret with the very tip of your finger. While some folks have a little difficulty with the Bb at first, the F shouldn't really give you any trouble at all. Are you fingering the F chord "correctly?" (I put "correctly" in quotes because there is no right or wrong, but doing it the conventional way will usually help you learn faster and play better.)

There are really two different cases where the F is played frequently that call for fingering the F slightly differently. (This isn't essential, but it does make it easier to play fast progressions.)

First, you have the key of C where you're playing the C, F, and G7 chords a lot. In this case you want to finger the F with the index finger on the E string, first fret and the second finger on the G string, second fret. This sets you up for quick changes F-G7 and G7 to F pivoting on the index finger.

If you're playing in the key of F you're playing the F, Bb, and C chords a lot. In this case I find it helpful to play the F with my second finger on the E string, first fret and my ring finger on the G string, second fret. WHy the difference? Because this leaves my index finger free so I can slip down to a barre to play the Bb. I.e. to go to the Bb I just slide my second and ring fingers up a fret (up = closer to body) whilst moving the second finger over one to the C string, and plant the free index finger down as a barre across the first fret. Going from Bb to F you just reverse the process.

THis probably sounds confusing, but once you've practiced it a little you'll see what I mean.

One thing that will help you come up with your own solutions to future challenges is to look at music as a collection of chord changes rather than a collection of chords. Mapping out those changes will show you how to finger the chords for the easiest way through that song.


03-30-2011, 05:23 PM
To get a full chord, its really important that all 4 strings are ringing out nice and loud. Fretting without hitting some other strings takes some practice. Thats probably the hardset part at the beginning. Unless you are playing a barre chord, you really only want to press with the tip of your finger, and bend the rest of the hand/fingers to they leave the fretboard at an angle that allows all of the strings to be played without muting. Keep practicing!! It'll come to ya :)

03-31-2011, 03:51 AM
All of the above + an advise from me.

If you are not the kind who bites off you fingernails for breakfast, lunch and supper, keep your left hand nails so short as absolute possible. I mean absolute possible. Cut and file every second day. If the slightest rim of white on your nails, cut and file. It is amazing how the slightest of nails prevents you from using the very tip of your fingers. Using the very tips of your fingers may seem a bit unpleasant at the beginning, but they will harden.

Good luck, - it's fun.


03-31-2011, 04:08 AM
I'll second that. I'm teaching a young lady to play guitar and her biggest problem is that she won't cut her fingernails. After four lessons we are still having buzzing problems.


03-31-2011, 06:47 AM
Filing now...