View Full Version : Bar chord frustration

Kim la
08-09-2014, 08:12 AM
Any tips on bar chords? How long did it take you guys to get proficient at them? Working on D7 and it is a challenge. Thanks

08-09-2014, 08:18 AM
It took at least a few weeks for me. I had to get comfortable straightening my index finger since its not natural and also finding the right position in which the string(s) don't land at the fold of my finger. Once I figured out the position it was a matter of lots of practice :-)

08-09-2014, 08:20 AM
It took between 4 and 6 months when I initially learned them on guitar years ago. Don't think there are many shortcuts on a uke, unfortunately. There's a whole bunch of teeny little muscles in your hand that you need to train up. You are going for stamina, not power, so that means practice little and often, with lots of reps. Hand position is really important - supporting the neck of the uke on your thumb with a nice curve and not holding it in the fork between your thumb and finger helps a lot. Finger just behind the frets, and try and only use as much pressure as you need, or you tire out quicker. Some people suggest barring with the middle part of your finger (so you stick your finger tip out beyond the fretboard just a bit), and I think this does help get a bit of leverage.
Then practice, practice and practice. Nothing around that I'm afraid. BUT, it's the hardest thing you have to learn and once you've got it, you've got it for life and it makes loads of things waaaaay easier. You could be barring for Christmas with 10-15 minutes daily practice from now.

08-09-2014, 08:32 AM
try rolling your index finger forward a bit, too.

08-09-2014, 08:36 AM
Yes, I know it's a challenge. Just start out placing your finger down in the bar position, and plucking each string to make sure it's sounding properly. Make adjustments to the bar finger as necessary. Guard against using excessive pressure, when played correctly, bar chords are almost effortless. If you observe your your fingers turning white or cramping up, your using way too much pressure. Oh, and for practice, start with the C6, all open strings, bar, running it up and down the fret board. Once you can bar open strings comfortably, then adding fingers for other chord shapes will be much easier. I'm not sure I've described that right. Just use the bar finger across all strings, nothing else. And move that up and down the fretboard. Don't get frustrated. It will come.

08-09-2014, 09:05 AM
http://youtu.be/N3q_J2z4E_Y hope it helps. also watch other people's instructional vids to get more ideas or if you need clarification.

08-09-2014, 10:41 AM
Any tips on bar chords? How long did it take you guys to get proficient at them? Working on D7 and it is a challenge. Thanks
I think technique is EVERYTHING with barre chords. I find when it hurts and it does I have to make a conscious effort to think to myself hang on, this shouldn't be hurting if I'm doing it right. Then I adjust my playing until it isn't. I find its a constant battle but I am improving. I've been playing two and a half years now and I am playing much more up the fretboard now and try and push myself to learn chords in second and third positions. For me, a good low action Uke like my Martin S-1 helps I think.

08-09-2014, 11:35 AM
As others have said there's no substitute for practice. Just keep plugging at it.
Giving the uke an 'easy' action helps.

I've been building strength [and dexterity] by doing exercises with a squash ball. I pinch it betwixt thumb and forefinger as I would the neck of my uke to build those specific muscles and then 'flip' it as you see folks do with a coin. It's helped me lots having been away from playing regularly for a handful of years.
Also, having given up smoking over 4yrs ago it's given me something to do with my hands. :D

08-09-2014, 11:39 AM
Kim La ...just a little nugget of encouragement for barre chord persistence....once you got one barre chord cracked you have opened up the fretboard........

D7 at 2nd fret two frets up = E7 one more up = F7..two more up G7 two more = A7 after which it starts to sound a bit hinky on a sop ...but if you play bigger keep going .........

D played at 2225 becomes E (4447),F G and A as outlined ...if I'm teaching Grandma an ovum suction food method then I apologise....but you ain't just struggling with one chord ...you are mastering several.......

08-09-2014, 11:49 AM
Get the set up of your uke checked by someone who has experience in these matters. If the strings are too high at the nut, it will make playing bar chords much more diffficult than it should be.

John Colter.

08-09-2014, 11:52 AM
You Old Cosmonaut you !!! ...I thought I spotted your name earlier on another thread.....



Good advice though....

08-09-2014, 12:26 PM
I find it helps if my thumb is right on the other side of the neck of the finger I'm using to barr.

08-09-2014, 04:08 PM
If the action on your ukulele (the distance between the frets/fingerboard and the strings) is too high, that could cause you to struggle, so you might want to have it checked if you aren't sure that it's OK.

That said, it took me many months to develop the hand strength and technique required to get comfortable with barre chords. This Ukulele Mike video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CO7zryA668) helped me when I was starting out. Also, I sometimes roll my barring finger a bit--I sometimes get better contact on the side of my finger than on the bottom.


08-09-2014, 09:04 PM
I was lucky to start playing on a uke that was well set up. I didn't have any trouble with D7, but I remember that Cdim, played with a barre, was a challenge at first.

Hi, CeeJay! I regret chosing the daft moniker "Ukantor", but I don't know how to change it.

John C.

08-09-2014, 11:25 PM
Another youtube video that was extremely helpful for me when I started doing bar chords was this one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1E4Au0JeNmk), by Stuart Fuchs.

To my slight surprise, I am by now quite comfortable with bar chords, often preferring them to more complicated fingerings.

Kim la
08-11-2014, 02:32 AM
Thanks everyone! Great tips. I am going to keep working at it!

Down Up Dick
08-13-2014, 03:46 PM
One can play lots of bar chords, barring only the three bottom strings (i.e. Bbm - 3111). And if you study the chord shapes you can find other ways to keep from barring all four strings. Also, one can bar with the index finger while holding it down with the middle finger and using the ring finger to fret another string. Study the chord shapes and find an easier way to do it.

08-13-2014, 04:11 PM
Give it practice. Sometimes it helps to let the tip of the hang over the fretboard. Also snuggle up to the fret; that cleans up a lot of buzzing.
Give it tech. Have the setup checked, or at least have an experienced player give it a spin. Or there are some setup vids on YouTube if you're brave.
Give it time. Those muscles have to learn and stretch. 2 years in and I hit my barre chords more often than not. That's progress.

08-13-2014, 04:34 PM
Repetitions on top of repetitions, always trying to keep the frustration away, and working on tweaking the shape and placement of the fingers and thumb. Then, moving slowly and trying not to freak out - staying relaxed. Then getting frustrated anyway, and taking a break.

Lots and lots of that. Then, magically, my Bm appeared and it was awesome. Except, it wasn't magic at all, just lots and lots of repetition and tweaking.

08-13-2014, 09:24 PM
From an earlier reply by someone (that has since disappeared in the forum time machine yesterday) I understood that the link the to video by Stuart Fuchs that I posted was useful. :)

Here's (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVTrQiUF6YM&list=PLCA0F3CE98E98DDDE&index=12) another by him that I found invaluable; it's in my uke folder under 'buzz scale' and I had a difficult time finding it again on Youtube, because it turns out that term isn't mentioned in the title.

Kim la
08-14-2014, 01:32 PM
http://youtu.be/N3q_J2z4E_Y hope it helps. also watch other people's instructional vids to get more ideas or if you need clarification.

Thank you! This did help