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View Full Version : Barre Chords are making me blue :(



Pikagirl
06-10-2013, 02:39 AM
Any exercises/suggestion so that they can consistently sound like the music of the angels instead of dull raspberries?:(:(

teruterubouzu
06-10-2013, 02:58 AM
Wish I had advice for you. I can commiserate. The barre chords are really difficult for me too. Even when I can make them sound good, it is slow going.

addicted2myuke
06-10-2013, 03:05 AM
When I first started playing, I met Jake Shimabukuro. After his concert, he stayed to meet his fans. I made sure to be last in line to have the most time with him, and got the best advice from him reguarding barred chords. GO SLOWLY! Do them as many times as you can and piggyback for best sound. In case you are not familiar with piggybacking, it is using your middle finger to press down on top of your index finger while barring. If you watch any Jake videos, you will see him occasionally doing this. There are some barred chords that I still have a problem with when I need to stretch another finger a few frets down but overall barring is way easier after taking Jake's advice. Good luck.

teruterubouzu
06-10-2013, 03:10 AM
When I first started playing, I met Jake Shimabukuro. After his concert, he stayed to meet his fans. I made sure to be last in line to have the most time with him, and got the best advice from him reguarding barred chords. GO SLOWLY! Do them as many times as you can and piggyback for best sound. In case you are not familiar with piggybacking, it is using your middle finger to press down on top of your index finger while barring. If you watch any Jake videos, you will see him occasionally doing this. There are some barred chords that I still have a problem with when I need to stretch another finger a few frets down but overall barring is way easier after taking Jake's advice. Good luck.

A tip two degrees from Jake. Thank you! I'm going to try this.

Pikagirl
06-10-2013, 03:29 AM
Thanks.

Here's the thing I'm struggling with (if this helps). After watching Aldrine's videos and practicing, what I find is some of the strings are dead while others ring. For example, on the Bm, the barre without the ring finger playing the 4th string will ring - each note sounding. Once I add the ring finger to the last note, a couple of the strings will sound muted or dead while others ring.

So playing the D as a barre chord works but if add anther finger, something gets lost and those dead/muffled tones are there on some strings but not others.

I'm going to go mess with a concert sized uke today to see if that makes a difference over the soprano, but I'm just wondering if there are ways of exercising my fingers or various playing exercises to help with this.

redpaul1
06-10-2013, 03:34 AM
Another thing to try is to get your index finger as far across the fretboard as you can. Just like you don't use the tips of a scissors to cut something thick, but put it between the blades as near to the fulcrum as you can, try and use the middle and lower joints of your index finger to make your barre (your fingernail is on the top joint). And have your thumb on the back of the neck. That will enable you to apply greater pressure more easily; and both having your index finger way over and your thumb way back will ensure that your other fingers are coming down vertically on the strings they're supposed to be pressing down on, and not fouling the others.

Finally, practice around the 5th fret. There's less pressure required up there and you've still got enough room to get your fingers comfortably between the frets.

HTH,

Oh, and post a vid or some pics of how you play them now, so we can get an idea. At the moment we're kind of like IT Support on the far end of a phone line, trying to make educated guesses as to what might the problem be :)

PTOEguy
06-10-2013, 04:06 AM
Another good piece of advice I found on this forum was make sure you're holding the ukulele securely with your right arm - its hard to get enough even pressure on the barre chord if you don't have it securely held with your other arm. I've found this advice applies to a lot of chording issues - if you're trying to hang on to the neck to keep the uke from leaving and chord at the same time it makes it harder...

cantsing
06-10-2013, 04:29 AM
You might find this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CO7zryA668) helpful.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
06-10-2013, 04:31 AM
You can experiment to find the best angle for barre chords, too. When you barre a chord, try rotating your fretting hand's wrist toward your body a little, bringing your elbow toward your body. The finger you use for the barre should be pointing in the same direction as the frets of your uke.

mm stan
06-10-2013, 04:50 AM
Aloha Pica choo

sometimes is just building strength in your fingers and hands....it takes time....also it may be your neck thickness or wideness and action...the string height....that your uke to get a set up
and or find a uke with a narrow and thin C shaped back of the neck it certainly helps....what no pictures you playing your uke on your blog....sheesh...hee hee Happy Strummings :)

SailingUke
06-10-2013, 05:48 AM
Make sure your ukulele is setup properly, action and intonation.
Barre chords require some practice and technique.
You don't necessarily need a death grip on the ukulele.

jjjj
06-10-2013, 07:18 AM
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Go to ukulele melee this weekend at Brandeis http://ukulelemelee.tumblr.com/
2. Very useful video on ukulele ergonomics here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM_3Sb-xfXk (courtesy of jimdville)
3. I'm guessing that while you may share some characteristics with Aldrine (10 fingers: 5 per hand, etc.) you're not exactly the same shape as him, so some of his techniques might not match you perfectly. Cruise youtube until you find someone more like you.
4. Go slowly, it's not a race.
5. Experiment, it's not the end of the world if you strum a dull chord, and you might hit on a trick that works for you.

ukuLily Mars
06-10-2013, 07:44 AM
You might find this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CO7zryA668) helpful.

This is Ukulele Mike's tutorial for barre chords. It is very helpful. I used to use it every day, and practice A FEW MINUTES every day along with it. That was to, as mm stan suggests, build strength in the fingers. The barre chord positions are not positions fingers normally need to make in daily life, and even if you play guitar the 'uke is smaller and the movement is different. (By the way, I still "piggyback" with the middle finger, sometimes because I want the extra strength and sometimes just to keep the middle finger somewhere convenient for transitioning to the next chord or something like that.). I recommend playing along with is video every day for a week or so. As you practice, every now and then sound each string individually so you know what's going on.

Take your time, and be patient. Definitely a lot of good tips here from people who play much better than I!

hibiscus
06-10-2013, 10:02 AM
Good post, great advice~ thanks!

PhilUSAFRet
06-10-2013, 10:02 AM
Have to build up strength in your finger. I was able to make cleaner barre's by rotating my finger slightly so that I'm catching a little of the "side" of the finger rather than the all fleshy part. Something I read on a UU posst.

caukulele
06-10-2013, 10:18 AM
Just want to say that I'm enjoying this thread and it has been very helpful. I appreciate everyone taking the time to share their experience...This is why I love this forum...People take time out of their busy schedules to share advise and help each other....:)

mm stan
06-10-2013, 12:51 PM
Just want to say that I'm enjoying this thread and it has been very helpful. I appreciate everyone taking the time to share their experience...This is why I love this forum...People take time out of their busy schedules to share advise and help each other....:)

that is why I love the forums.....comments like these....

OldePhart
06-10-2013, 02:38 PM
I think the others have covered most of the bases. Of those, I'd say instrument setup, patience, and willingness to experiment with finger/hand position are the top three.

I'll just add that developing your barre chords is worth every bit of blood, sweat, and tears - there is no such thing as a "tough key" when you know your barre chords well!

John

connor013
06-10-2013, 03:31 PM
All good advice so far...

I found it helpful to practice scales up the neck, ie barre the second fret with your index finger and use the remaining fingers to play a C scale.

As an added bonus, your pinky becomes a regular player.

But like everyone says, just keep at it. That moment when you realize you get it is awesome!

Spud1$
06-10-2013, 04:06 PM
Boy I found this video helpful, thanks for sharing!!

Mercury
06-10-2013, 04:10 PM
Any exercises/suggestion so that they can consistently sound like the music of the angels instead of dull raspberries?:(:(
With index finger rolled slightly inwards towards the fret slide up and done the neck, starting at the 3rd fret, trying to just get all the strings to ring out clearly. Increase by 1 minute intervals (beginning at 2 minutes) every other day to build strength, speed and dexterity for the next 2 weeks (you should be at about 10 minutes of practice per day by the end). Once you have accomplished this feat introduce the actual chord forms (major, minor, seventh are the most popular). You'll be amazed at how cleanly your barre chords will sound - even where learning the shapes, now your index finger is properly trained. Do this for 5 minutes per day, from now on to increase fluency.

Also think of it all as a process. A guitarist pro friend of mine says it takes about 5 years for most people to achieve clean chord changes nearly every time (>95% accuracy) and 1 to 2 years to achieve just an accuracy rate of >75% - 95%. I wouldn't imagine it would be very different for the uke, but definitely my barring has improved tremendously over the past year practicing this technique.

Flip27
06-10-2013, 07:49 PM
I usually use my thumb for strong support and a firm press on the whole fret and just strum. Takes practice to get used to it, though.

aqualung23
06-12-2013, 07:19 PM
Perfect practice makes perfect. Make shure you are holding the entire chord down correctly by plucking each note. Every note should ring freely. I find that when I am trying to learn a new song it is easy to cheat and allow one of the strings to be muffled. Don't do this. Take the time to get it right and repeat repeat repeat. Chords that seem very difficult now will seem effortless in just a few weeks if you just keep at it every day. One more tip which works well for me is dont try to increase your chord vocabulary too quickly. Work on one or two difficult chords until you can play them well and transition. My $.02

BIGDB
06-12-2013, 08:21 PM
I remember when I just started playing guitar and they were so difficult everyone one around had them sounding so clean and mine sounded terrible. Just keep practicing and figure out what's comfortable and sounds good you will eventually find a technique that's comfortable and works for you.

Shastastan
06-15-2013, 11:56 AM
I remember when I just started playing guitar and they were so difficult everyone one around had them sounding so clean and mine sounded terrible. Just keep practicing and figure out what's comfortable and sounds good you will eventually find a technique that's comfortable and works for you.

That's excellent advice, IMO. I took some guitar lessons from 2 different instructors. Neither of them showed my anything about hand or finger position on the neck and frets. I haven't had much trouble in learning which strings to fret for particular chords. My problems have always been simple ones and it always seems to take me a lot of time to come to that "aha moment."

Spud1$
06-16-2013, 04:27 PM
I really identified with this post so I tried the link for ukulele mike and I have practiced his first excersise only each day and today.. Drum roll please I got each one correct the first time!!

bobO G
06-16-2013, 04:42 PM
Congrats , now you can teach me next Uke meet .
:D

ukuLily Mars
06-16-2013, 05:27 PM
I really identified with this post so I tried the link for ukulele mike and I have practiced his first excersise only each day and today.. Drum roll please I got each one correct the first time!!

Well done, Spud! Keep up the good work.

armchair_spaceman
06-17-2013, 01:03 AM
I'm just wondering if there are ways of exercising my fingers or various playing exercises to help with this.

I stumbled upon Ukelele Mike's barre exercises a couple of weeks ago and the they've helped a lot. No need to do them to exhaustion, a few minutes a day is good.

I've also been using this gadget:


http://http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/efe9/

not directly related to the OP's question about barre chords but noodling around with this little jigger is helping a good bit with finger strength.

Pikagirl
06-17-2013, 02:34 AM
I stumbled upon Ukelele Mike's barre exercises a couple of weeks ago and the they've helped a lot. No need to do them to exhaustion, a few minutes a day is good.

Those are great exercises and already helping greatly! Thanks to everyone who suggested Ukelele Mike's exercises. It was just what I was looking for. :)

ukuLily Mars
06-17-2013, 04:33 AM
I stumbled upon Ukelele Mike's barre exercises a couple of weeks ago and the they've helped a lot. No need to do them to exhaustion, a few minutes a day is good.

I would go so far as to say you should NOT do them for more than a few minutes a day, at least not at first. I think I went through the video once a day, pausing it if necessary to sound each string separately or something like that, and then I build up to twice a day, with an hour or two in between.

Remember, part of what you are doing is building up strength in your fingers. That really can't be rushed. I think Ukulele Mike talks about that in the video.

Very glad you started this thread, Pikagirl! It looks like there are a lot of new players struggling with this, in addition to you. This is what we are all here for, to make sure nobody is left all alone with their frustration! We have all been there.

Spud1$
06-17-2013, 03:00 PM
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Go to ukulele melee this weekend at Brandeis http://ukulelemelee.tumblr.com/
2. Very useful video on ukulele ergonomics here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM_3Sb-xfXk (courtesy of jimdville)
3. I'm guessing that while you may share some characteristics with Aldrine (10 fingers: 5 per hand, etc.) you're not exactly the same shape as him, so some of his techniques might not match you perfectly. Cruise youtube until you find someone more like you.
4. Go slowly, it's not a race.
5. Experiment, it's not the end of the world if you strum a dull chord, and you might hit on a trick that works for you.
This ergonomics thing was pretty cool, makes sense and definitely helps me with that death grip issue too. Between that and the Ukulele Mike link I've improved. Thanks