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jaspergretsch
04-05-2011, 04:28 AM
I'm reading about moveable chord shapes and I'm really stuck on one aspect: Barring of the index finger.

I understand the concept, I just can not for the life of me get my finger to barre all 4 strings. I can press down the G & C strings cleanly but not the middle two unless I hold at a strange angle to unsure even pressure. But then when I try to bring my middle and ring fingers in to fret other notes in the chord, the pressure goes away.

I know there are tips for barring notes if you're just using one finger, such as putting your middle finger on top of the index. But that's not an option with the moveable chord shape.

Are there any other tips or exercises I can try to get me going with this? I've only been playing for about a week and a half, and I have always had a weaker index finger (I play bass as well) so I'm assuming it's just a matter of practice more than anything.

Mandarb
04-05-2011, 05:12 AM
Relax you arm and let its weight help keep the pressure on the strings - keep your elbow close to your body. Spend some time figuring out finger placement - either up or down so that your knuckle creases are covering the strings. Lastly, give it time - barre chords are tough. Good luck and have fun.

ukulelecowboy
04-05-2011, 05:23 AM
Make sure your thumb is supporting the neck. This will allow you to exert some pressure is the opposite direction. Check the action on the ukulele. Is it high? Can it be lowered if necessary? This will make barre chords easier.

For general exercising, I keep this with me almost all the time:

http://www.gripmaster.com.au/index1.htm

You can get different tensions (start with the easiest) It's great for strengthening the individual fingers and the thumb and loosening up the hand before playing. There are other products as well that do similar things.

Mike

Uncle Rod Higuchi
04-05-2011, 07:10 AM
When I first learned to barre chords I simply worked on the key of C fingering and moved up the fretboard.

C, Am, F, G7 = 0003, 2000, 2010, 0212, then barre fret 1 to get 1114, 3111, 3121, 1323, then barre fret 2, etc.

This will NOT introduce you to all the possible barred fingerings, however, it will enable finger dexterity and strength
practice, and permit you to play in several keys, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, 2nd position F, F#/Gb, G, until you run out of space
for your fingers.

After that I began working on the key of F fingerings from Open to up the frets one-by-one.

And YES, it's a matter of practice to gain finger strength and dexterity. I'll admit that I haven't paid attention to the actual
names of the chords as I proceeded up the fretboard. I simply took consolation that if I followed the fingering pattern for
that KEY I'd be playing the correct chords as I barred my way up the neck. Worked for me. I hope it helps you.

Keep uke'in',

Pueo
04-05-2011, 07:26 AM
Aloha Jasper,
Don't give up! Finger placement and technique take a long time to be comfortable with. You will find that hand and finger placement may seem very awkward now, but will become more natural with time. If it's impossible, then perhaps your technique needs adjustment. What Mandarb and Ukulelecowboy said is right on. You do need to use your thumb to oppose the force your index finger is placing on the neck, and you may need to relocate your arm/wrist in order to make fretting easier. Try to keep the plane of the fretboard as close to vertical as you can. This makes looking at the fretboard more difficult, I know, but makes fretting feel more natural and puts less strain on your wrist.
What I always tell people is to RELAX. Often people get hung up on pressing very hard on the fretboard, but you will eventually learn to only apply as much pressure as is necessary to get a clean tone - and it often is not as much pressure as you think you need. You may also want to make sure you are fretting as close as possible to the back of the fret without being on top of it - that will help ensure a clean tone as well.

Plainsong
04-05-2011, 11:15 AM
Another trick that will work depending on the chord shape, like for example this will work on a Bm and even more easily on a Bm7 chord shape, is to put your middle finger over the index finger when making the bar, to give the bar more strength.

jop
04-05-2011, 11:22 AM
What everybody else said. Also try to roll/rotate your index finger a bit to find the 'straightest' part. My personal index finger works best when rolled slightly towards the thumb side.

OldePhart
04-05-2011, 12:12 PM
+1 on what everybody else said, especially supporting the neck and rolling the finger a little. You'll find that rolling the finger may also position your other fingers better, which pays of in less "pulling away" on the index finger.

I'll add - lighter strings are going to be easier to barre then heavier ones. That's obvious. What might not be as obvious is that tenors are usually strung quite noticeably heavier than concert and soprano ukes. So, if you are learning on a tenor it's just going to take a little longer and a little more work - but, when you do learn on a tenor you'll have fingers of steel that will laugh at mere concert and soprano ukes.

If you move up the neck a few frets when you're first beginning you'll probably find it much easier to fret the strings. Barring the first or second fret typically takes quite a bit more effort than the fourth or fifth.

Finally, don't forget setup. If your action is crazy high at either or both ends barre chords are going to come hard.

John

ichadwick
04-08-2011, 05:37 AM
...I'm assuming it's just a matter of practice more than anything.
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And have a glass of wine.
Works every time.

Sunny_0ne
05-17-2011, 12:08 AM
Often people get hung up on pressing very hard on the fretboard, but you will eventually learn to only apply as much pressure as is necessary to get a clean tone - and it often is not as much pressure as you think you need.

I read this last night and have worked with using lighter pressure today and it has made a world of difference. I appreciate the tip!