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addicted2myuke
11-06-2011, 01:32 PM
Ok, so I've been playing everyday for 7 months, and I have yet to master the b chords. Especially the b-flat. My fingers are of normal size, but barring the a and e string on the first fret is not producing much sound. Just a muted sound really. I keep reading that I will eventually master it, but I have serious doubts. If that chord weren't in almost every song I play, I wouldn't worry, but it is, and it is seriously affecting my ability to get good sound from my uke. I have a tenor Kala with Aquila strings. Is there another finger placement that will give me the same sound, or should I just try to muddle through and hope for the best? Thanks everyone who responds with words of encouragement.

elisdad
11-06-2011, 01:38 PM
You can bar the whole first fret with your first finger instead of the bottom two strings. That might be a bit more comfortable to play the B flat.

OldePhart
11-06-2011, 02:04 PM
You can bar the whole first fret with your first finger instead of the bottom two strings. That might be a bit more comfortable to play the B flat.
+1 on this. It will put more force on those E and A strings while feeling less stressful on your hand.

That said, you might also want to look at a setup. It's not unusuals for Kala ukuleles (and Lanikai, etc.) to be delivered with the nut pretty high. This makes it hard to barre chords at the first position and often affects intonation as well. Sometimes a chord sounds "weak" simply because the intonation is poor.

You should be able to fret each string at the first fret without it pulling measurably sharp. I.e. when the A string is dead on center open it should be dead on A# when fretted at the first fret and so on.

John

mm stan
11-06-2011, 02:07 PM
Ok, so I've been playing everyday for 7 months, and I have yet to master the b chords. Especially the b-flat. My fingers are of normal size, but barring the a and e string on the first fret is not producing much sound. Just a muted sound really. I keep reading that I will eventually master it, but I have serious doubts. If that chord weren't in almost every song I play, I wouldn't worry, but it is, and it is seriously affecting my ability to get good sound from my uke. I have a tenor Kala with Aquila strings. Is there another finger placement that will give me the same sound, or should I just try to muddle through and hope for the best? Thanks everyone who responds with words of encouragement.
Try this...
Aloha,
Ah the dreaded Bb chord.....here's a beginners method..
1)sit in a chair
2)If you're right handed, rest the bottom right bout of you ukulele on your right upper thigh and tilt the neck of you ukulele at 45 degrees..
3)and with you left hand make a Bb chord position with your palm open facing upwards position and put your thumb behind the neck or first frets of the G and C strings...
4)Keep you elbow at a touching your body near your ribs..
5)now try to strum while holding the Bb chord...
Good Luck, and let me if it works for you...Happy Strummings..MM Stan

Susie A
11-06-2011, 02:17 PM
Try this...
Aloha,
Ah the dreaded Bb chord.....here's a beginners method..
1)sit in a chair
2)If you're right handed, rest the bottom right bout of you ukulele on your right upper thigh and tilt the neck of you ukulele at 45 degrees..
3)and with you left hand make a Bb chord position with your palm open facing upwards position and put your thumb behind the neck or first frets of the G and C strings...
4)Keep you elbow at a touching your body near your ribs..
5)now try to strum while holding the Bb chord...
Good Luck, and let me if it works for you...Happy Strummings..MM Stan

Great advice! The one thing that helped me was advice from a fellow UUer, she watched me try and told me I was holding my finger too straight on the bottom two strings, you have to slightly roll your finger to be able to adequately reach the other strings. Keep on trying, eventually it will click.

roxhum
11-06-2011, 03:05 PM
I gave up on Bb flat. I just skip the g string all together. I don't fret it and I don't strum it.

southcoastukes
11-06-2011, 04:42 PM
... I have yet to master the b chords. Especially the b-flat.... If that chord weren't in almost every song I play, I wouldn't worry, but it is, and it is seriously affecting my ability to get good sound from my uke....

Are you playing a lot of old Jazz tunes? They're generally written in B flat. If that's the case, tune your Tenor to B flat instead of C.

Those songs will be much easier to play (the C chord shape you play now will become your new B flat). The chords themselves will sound better and more natural on those songs and the range of notes in a B flat tuning resonate better than C tuning on a Tenor as well.

"B flat - the Jazzman's C"!

gyosh
11-06-2011, 05:28 PM
That said, you might also want to look at a setup. It's not unusuals for Kala ukuleles (and Lanikai, etc.) to be delivered with the nut pretty high. This makes it hard to barre chords at the first position and often affects intonation as well. Sometimes a chord sounds "weak" simply because the intonation is poor.

I'd check the set-up/action too. I had trouble with this chord until my Kala went through a thorough set-up by Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto. They explained that if the action on the "a" string is too high, it takes a lot of pressure to get good intonation. When they handed me the uke in the store, I could easily play Bb for the first time. Enough can't be said about a good set-up.

Pete Beardsley
11-06-2011, 10:10 PM
I've been struggling with Bb as well, but recently came upon a revelation! Basically I have found (through other threads on this forum) that arching my fretting wrist more and making sure that the pad of my thumb is behind the neck (don't let the neck sit in the "cup" between thumb and pointer finger) makes a huge difference and gives enough articulation to comfortably fret the B chords. It does feel odd for a while but with practice it becomes natural, just like all the chords did when I began playing.

Ambient Doughnut
11-06-2011, 11:18 PM
Can you play the same shape at other frets? If so then I'd second the setup suggestion.
I used to think it was a tricky shape until I taught myself to play 'They're red hot' using the same shape at the third fret and sliding it down though b and a. It now seems like the easiest thing in the world to just play a bflat.

Try this:
http://ukulelehunt.com/2009/04/19/robert-johnson-theyre-red-hot-chords/

Witters
11-07-2011, 12:48 AM
Southcoastukes,
that's brilliant!!!

They say you learn something every day and that's me done for Monday:)

Ambient Doughnut
11-07-2011, 12:57 AM
B flats are pretty common if you're playing any song in 'F' as it's the IV chord.

Retuning to Bflat will solve that particular chord but won't get you out of playing that shape - You'll now need it to play Aflat - or A for that matter.

philrab66
11-07-2011, 01:33 AM
Ok, so I've been playing everyday for 7 months, and I have yet to master the b chords. Especially the b-flat. My fingers are of normal size, but barring the a and e string on the first fret is not producing much sound. Just a muted sound really. I keep reading that I will eventually master it, but I have serious doubts. If that chord weren't in almost every song I play, I wouldn't worry, but it is, and it is seriously affecting my ability to get good sound from my uke. I have a tenor Kala with Aquila strings. Is there another finger placement that will give me the same sound, or should I just try to muddle through and hope for the best? Thanks everyone who responds with words of encouragement.

i was having trouble with the Bflat until I used first finger on e string 2nd finger a string you can play it like that even without putting your thumb behind the neck.

sugengshi
11-07-2011, 04:00 AM
B flats are pretty common if you're playing any song in 'F' as it's the IV chord.

Retuning to Bflat will solve that particular chord but won't get you out of playing that shape - You'll now need it to play Aflat - or A for that matter.

For a while I thought re-tuning was a good idea until I saw this comment from ambient Doughnut. I learnt something new again today. Thanks. :D

Ambient Doughnut
11-07-2011, 04:13 AM
Yeah, you can retune, transposem substitute chords - but sooner or later you'll have to play a shape you don't like. FWIW I don't mind b flat (or moveable A shape to be accurate) but I'm not a big fan of E (using the moveable D shape). I tend to skip the g string on that as it's not really necessary anyway and mute it with my thumb.

mm stan
11-07-2011, 09:03 AM
Great advice! The one thing that helped me was advice from a fellow UUer, she watched me try and told me I was holding my finger too straight on the bottom two strings, you have to slightly roll your finger to be able to adequately reach the other strings. Keep on trying, eventually it will click.
Yes on the E and A strings when barring them...go at an slight angle to the fret....

Shastastan
11-07-2011, 10:12 AM
Since you've been playing longer than me, I won't repeat what others have said. I'm still learning to change chords faster with Bb. One thing that has helped me in learning to change chords faster is that I added a mandolin strap. Seems a lot easier to move my left hand when I don't have to use it for support. YMMV

Uncle Rod Higuchi
11-07-2011, 10:56 AM
I'm glad someone mentioned the placement of the thumb in the middle of the neck between the 1st and 2nd frets.

I see so many beginners hanging their thumbs over the top of the neck which does not allow them to create the
space they'll need for chords like Bb.

While it is possible to play the uke with the thumb hanging over the top of the neck, I don't recommend it. To each
his own... and that's my take on it.

Keep practicing your chords and chord changes to develop finger strength and dexterity. It's grunt work, but it
will pay off... eventually.

Keep uke'in',

OldePhart
11-07-2011, 11:09 AM
"Is there an alternative to B-flat?"

Well...there is that old saw about crossing the street, "If you don't C sharp you'll B flat..."

Okay, altogether now, groan. :)

joeybug
11-07-2011, 09:20 PM
Hi :D

I've been playing 14 months and still hate the Bb chord, I, like you, asked for an alternative when I first came across it, but was told to keep practising and it would come...so I did, and now 50% of the time when I play it it sounds like it should, which is better than before when 100& of the time when I played it it just sounded muted and wrong so I'm getting there, so my advice to you would be to keep practising, your fingers will get there in the end and you'll developed muscle memory to help with it in the future!

Hope that helps! Good Luck :D

Joey :music:

ukulefty
11-08-2011, 01:49 AM
Can you play the same shape at other frets? If so then I'd second the setup suggestion.


Another tick here for checking the setup.

On my first uke I could play the B chord shape after some practise, but never could hit Bb properly and it was really frustrating me, turns out the string height at the first fret was way too high, like stupidly high.

As soon as I held a properly set up uke, the dreaded Bb became much easier to hit cleanly!

Kawaii
11-08-2011, 02:50 AM
Seeing these posts about people having trouble barring strings, I feel lucky for never having a problem with Bbs or bar chords.

If you want, you can bar the entire first fret, it may be more comfortable.

southcoastukes
11-08-2011, 10:02 AM
B flats are pretty common if you're playing any song in 'F' as it's the IV chord. Retuning to Bflat will solve that particular chord but won't get you out of playing that shape - You'll now need it to play Aflat - or A for that matter.

AD is entirely correct here. Retuning doesn't get you out of any chord shape.

It can, however, reduce the times you deal with it. That depends on the music you play.

a2mu said:


...If that chord weren't in almost every song I play, I wouldn't worry, but it is...

Of course that doesn't tell you much, but if these are B flat jazz tunes then you'll deal with B flat a lot.

My point was that in addition to the possibility of getting around a frequent uncomfortable situation with that particular shape, you generally get easier transitions and better sounding chords when you play in the key in which the song was written. Since most horns are B flat instruments, jazz tends to be written in that key.

Look at what you're playing, and the frequency of the B flat chord and, as AD pointed out, the the A flat chord. For a trial run, just take a typical chord progression from something you play now, slack your current strings down to B flat, and go through it with the new shape sequence.

The "lagniappe" (or little extra bonus), as we say in Dixie, is that Tenors sound better - resonate more fully, when tuned to (high re-entrant) B flat.

haolejohn
11-08-2011, 10:27 AM
Ok, so I've been playing everyday for 7 months, and I have yet to master the b chords. Especially the b-flat. My fingers are of normal size, but barring the a and e string on the first fret is not producing much sound. Just a muted sound really. I keep reading that I will eventually master it, but I have serious doubts. If that chord weren't in almost every song I play, I wouldn't worry, but it is, and it is seriously affecting my ability to get good sound from my uke. I have a tenor Kala with Aquila strings. Is there another finger placement that will give me the same sound, or should I just try to muddle through and hope for the best? Thanks everyone who responds with words of encouragement.

have you tried an A Sharp?










j/k:) Keep at it. It will come eventually.

mm stan
11-09-2011, 10:21 AM
another thing is that the groove for your nut is not deep enough..but I don't think its that...try to press the strings on the first fret individually..are they hard to fret??

Loupin' Flech
11-12-2011, 09:26 PM
I've got the same problem.It doesn't matter how I hold the ukulele or how I position my finger,I always get at least one dead string,usually more.So my solution is to miss out the A string and just play GCE.It sounds close enough I can usually get away with it.On baritone however,the difference between C and F is a little too subtle so I might have to think of something else there.

PatriciaPDX
11-15-2011, 11:44 AM
Thanks so much for all the tips here, everyone. I've been playing about 3 weeks now, and the B flat chord is the only one that's really giving me any trouble. I tried some of the ideas while reading this--they work! :)

mm stan
11-15-2011, 04:03 PM
Thanks so much for all the tips here, everyone. I've been playing about 3 weeks now, and the B flat chord is the only one that's really giving me any trouble. I tried some of the ideas while reading this--they work! :)

Pat, Three weeks eh, Wait till you try the E chord..

sweetiecino
11-16-2011, 01:50 PM
Another tick here for checking the setup.

On my first uke I could play the B chord shape after some practise, but never could hit Bb properly and it was really frustrating me, turns out the string height at the first fret was way too high, like stupidly high.

As soon as I held a properly set up uke, the dreaded Bb became much easier to hit cleanly!

:agree:....i've only been playing for 3 weeks, but as UAS has set in, I bought another uke recently which was set up. I received this a few days ago, and I have found it A LOT easier to playing certain chords, like the Bb chord! So setting up a uke is definitely a must!!

FlyedPiper
11-17-2011, 01:27 PM
I went from a tenor to a concert and I find the Bb way easier on the smaller uke. I don't have the biggest hands in the world. It still sounds muted sometimes but at least I can form the chord now.

Actually, most of the chords are easier on this size for me. Just food for thought.

engravertom
11-18-2011, 06:01 AM
Another advantage to Bb tuning on a tenor is you can use a capo if you want to switch back to C tuning for a certain song. Or D or Eb for that matter.

Shastastan
11-18-2011, 07:56 AM
I'm still having trouble with it, but it gets better the more often I practice it. I'll just force myself to get it down since it's so necessary for the F chord progression.

allanr
11-18-2011, 08:11 AM
This will sound silly at first, but I think it actually helps...

Instead of playing Bb (as memorized), play an A#... that is play your normal A shape, moved 1 fret up the neck by barring the first fret. I know that this bar-chord Bb has already been mentioned, but i think it really does help to think in terms of open chord shapes, just moving up the neck by barring.