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View Full Version : Stabilizing the neck when playing Barre chords



WKerrigan
02-22-2014, 04:18 AM
Up until now I have been mostly avoiding barre chords, and the neck of my uke is generally cradled in the crook between my thumb and forefinger. Perhaps this is bad form, but it has enabled me to keep the neck pretty stable when changing chords. Now I'm trying to learn a song with some barre chords, and I'm having trouble transitioning from G to real D7, from G to B7 to Em to Am. With my thumb pressed against the back of the neck, I don't have that convenient neck stability that I had when I kept it cradled between thumb and forefinger. And this is sitting down.

Any tips anyone can offer? Would a strap help me in this situation? And if so, what kind of straps. Any and all advice welcome.

PhilUSAFRet
02-22-2014, 05:41 AM
Only unstable because you aren't used to it. You need to work the muscles in your hand and wrist that would stabilize the neck when you press your thumb against the back of the neck. Make sure you aren't pressing any harder than necessary with that thumb as excess pressure could also destabilize that grip.

Doug W
02-22-2014, 05:44 AM
WK,

Neither the left hand nor the right hand should be holding up the ukulele. Doing either one takes away from what you should be concentrating on with your hands. The left hand makes chords and the right hand strums and picks. There is a little balancing act between your forearm and your left hand that keeps the uke in position but if you are actually entirely holding the uke up with either one, that is bad form.

You should be holding the uke up with a strap or by pressing it with your right forearm, with a bit of balance against your left hand.

check out this video by Aldrine Guerrero:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPxc2AN5sag

Straps: I sometimes use a uke thong, which provides just a bit of balance without actually totally supporting the uke, if you let go, your uke will hit the ground.
Uke Leash: made by one of the UU members, provides more support than a uke thong for sure, find it with a search.

Ukejenny
02-22-2014, 05:48 AM
I have encountered a similar problem when standing to play ukulele. It just didn't feel as balanced and secure as when I played sitting down. I ordered a uke leash. So far, it is helping, but I am still getting used to it. It does give everything a slightly different feel. I balance between my left thumb and my right forearm, but when standing, it just feels like I don't have a good hold on the instrument. The leash, I hope, will help it feel secure enough so I can move around on the fretboard without worrying.

Tim Mullins
02-22-2014, 06:20 AM
Up until now I have been mostly avoiding barre chords, and the neck of my uke is generally cradled in the crook between my thumb and forefinger. Perhaps this is bad form, but it has enabled me to keep the neck pretty stable when changing chords. Now I'm trying to learn a song with some barre chords, and I'm having trouble transitioning from G to real D7, from G to B7 to Em to Am. With my thumb pressed against the back of the neck, I don't have that convenient neck stability that I had when I kept it cradled between thumb and forefinger. And this is sitting down.

Any tips anyone can offer? Would a strap help me in this situation? And if so, what kind of straps. Any and all advice welcome.

Hi WKerrigan,

You might want to take a look at the Mobius Strap. It gives hands-free support without the need for any modification to your ukulele. http://www.mobiusstrap.com

peaceweaver3
02-22-2014, 07:12 AM
I agree with the "balancing act between hands" idea and learning to hold the uke hands-free if you will. I.e. use the right forearm for pressure. Yes, it takes practice and is well worth the time. However, I also agree with using a strap, in my case the Uke Leash, while standing. I do a combination of these, and that works for me. What I found with the uke Leash is that it provides more support than I thought. So when I don't use it for a while, I realize what I'm missing. :)

I haven't used the mobius strap, but I know that for it to work, the uke must have a waist.

Picklejuice Duce
02-23-2014, 01:27 AM
Up until now I have been mostly avoiding barre chords, and the neck of my uke is generally cradled in the crook between my thumb and forefinger. Perhaps this is bad form, but it has enabled me to keep the neck pretty stable when changing chords. Now I'm trying to learn a song with some barre chords, and I'm having trouble transitioning from G to real D7, from G to B7 to Em to Am. With my thumb pressed against the back of the neck, I don't have that convenient neck stability that I had when I kept it cradled between thumb and forefinger. And this is sitting down.

Any tips anyone can offer? Would a strap help me in this situation? And if so, what kind of straps. Any and all advice welcome.

As a fellow newbie, I experienced the same thing until earlier this week when I bought, on ebay, a strap button, some 1" leather strap, and 1/4" leather lace, and made my own uke strap. I had to predrill a 1/8" hole on the body for the button and then string the lace under the strings behind the nut. I think some players do not like the visual of this set up, or putting holes in their instrument, but for me it's a very stable set up that I will do to every ukulele I buy. I don't worry about resale. I plan to be buried with all of them.

DaleR
02-23-2014, 04:07 AM
cradle the uke a bit higher

WKerrigan
02-23-2014, 07:09 AM
Thanks, all! Some good advice here.

actadh
02-23-2014, 07:27 AM
cradle the uke a bit higher

I think that might be difficult based on some .. um... frontal issues.

PhilUSAFRet
02-23-2014, 08:20 AM
Don't know how this turned into a strap thread, but I thought the problem was the OP had problem with barring and was finding it hard to hold the neck steady enough to put adequate finger pressure on the fretboard to barre effectively and comfortably, and not to "hold up the ukulele" ?

Icelander53
02-23-2014, 10:19 AM
Only unstable because you aren't used to it. You need to work the muscles in your hand and wrist that would stabilize the neck when you press your thumb against the back of the neck. Make sure you aren't pressing any harder than necessary with that thumb as excess pressure could also destabilize that grip.

This!

I had the same issues but got past it with practice.