It Hurts

PereBourik

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Hi. I need some advice about lightening up my fretting. When I have trouble getting a clean chord I often try to over-pressure the chord, straining my wrist and the base of my thumb. (I have some residual pain there from cycling and arthritis, so don't blame the uke.) When I come up against something like a B-flat chord I have a hard time getting it right. That's when I try to muscle up on it.

How do you get clean chords?

How can I make relaxed fretting a habit?

(Biomechanically I can get a clean B-flat by holding the uke nearly vertical over my right leg and quarter-turned so that the back to side edge is facing me. Effective, but that will never work during the course of a song.)

I am using Uncle Rod's Ukulele Boot Camp. No need to refer me there.

Thanks. I'll give just about anything a try.
 

kiel9

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Try This...

That Bb gives a lot of folks problems. You could try this workaround: Take your G Chord and move it up three frets. It's just a re-voicing of the same Bb chord, but it might be easier on your digits. You really shouldn't hit the 4th string with this version, but if you do just call it "Jazz". :cool:
Bb.jpg
 

Loudster

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Hi. I need some advice about lightening up my fretting. When I have trouble getting a clean chord I often try to over-pressure the chord, straining my wrist and the base of my thumb. (I have some residual pain there from cycling and arthritis, so don't blame the uke.) When I come up against something like a B-flat chord I have a hard time getting it right. That's when I try to muscle up on it.

How do you get clean chords?

How can I make relaxed fretting a habit?

(Biomechanically I can get a clean B-flat by holding the uke nearly vertical over my right leg and quarter-turned so that the back to side edge is facing me. Effective, but that will never work during the course of a song.)

Would you be able to have someone take a picture of how you're holding that chord from a couple different angles? Where does your thumb normally sit while you play? On the back of the neck? Or does it wrap around to the top (to the point where you could actually fret the g-string if you wanted). When you play Bb do you bar your first finger all the way across the first fret or do you use your first finger only to press at the e and a strings. Can you do other barre chords higher up the neck or are those painful as well? By base of your thumb you mean the "meaty" part on the palm of your hand right? Or do you mean the pad on the end of it? Or shoot, now that I'm thinking about it you could also mean on opposite side of the palm at the base of the finger, at the anatomic snuffbox (where the thumb meets the scaphoid bone). Last question, not considering the arthritis pain, is this a new pain or has it always hurt when you played?
 

OldePhart

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Make sure when you do the Bb you are doing a full barre. I.e. move your hand up and make the barre with the fleshy part of your finger instead of trying to use the tip. It might be possible to make a Bb using the tip portion of your index finger to barre the 1st-2nd strings, but it's a lot easier and more comfortable to just do a full barre (and sets you up to use a full barre on chords that often appear with the Bb, such as a barred G).

Second item - make sure your uke is well set up. The lower the action at the nut the better - and a difference of a small fraction of a mm in string height at the nut can make a huge difference in how easy it is to fret the Bb chord!

A lot of people when they are doing setups just take the nut slots down until the strings intonate well at the first fret, then they move to the bridge saddle and adjust it (this is not intended as criticism, I used to do the same thing). Don't get me wrong...that is a good setup, and far better than you will usually find on most factory ukes unless they've been set up by the retailer. It's just not a great setup.

What I have found is, unless you plan on playing high up the neck (10th fret and above) a lot it is far better to get the action at the nut as low as you can go without buzzing - and leave the bridge saddle alone unless it is just ridiculously high. This goes beyond a setup that is good (intonation being good on the open chords) to great (playing like butter, requiring very little pressure even for the "tough" chords like the Bb). In my opinion, a good setup (good intonation) is essential - I simply won't play an instrument that intonates poorly in the first position any more. A great setup, one that plays like butter, is less essential but is certainly a joy to encounter.

John
 

PereBourik

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That Bb gives a lot of folks problems. You could try this workaround: Take your G Chord and move it up three frets. It's just a re-voicing of the same Bb chord, but it might be easier on your digits. You really shouldn't hit the 4th string with this version, but if you do just call it "Jazz". :cool:
View attachment 52664

This works!
 

PereBourik

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Would you be able to have someone take a picture of how you're holding that chord from a couple different angles? Where does your thumb normally sit while you play? On the back of the neck? Or does it wrap around to the top (to the point where you could actually fret the g-string if you wanted). When you play Bb do you bar your first finger all the way across the first fret or do you use your first finger only to press at the e and a strings. Can you do other barre chords higher up the neck or are those painful as well? By base of your thumb you mean the "meaty" part on the palm of your hand right? Or do you mean the pad on the end of it? Or shoot, now that I'm thinking about it you could also mean on opposite side of the palm at the base of the finger, at the anatomic snuffbox (where the thumb meets the scaphoid bone). Last question, not considering the arthritis pain, is this a new pain or has it always hurt when you played?

To try to clarify...
I feel the pain at the base of my thumb, near the wrist, and most tender on the back of my hand. It is a pain I've had from before beginning to play ukulele, but I've certainly discovered ways to light it up it when playing.
 

Kanaka916

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IMO, the 2nd position (or is it third) works but you should also be able to use the 1st position (3211) also. Just my dos centavos . . .
 

PereBourik

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Make sure when you do the Bb you are doing a full barre. I.e. move your hand up and make the barre with the fleshy part of your finger instead of trying to use the tip. It might be possible to make a Bb using the tip portion of your index finger to barre the 1st-2nd strings, but it's a lot easier and more comfortable to just do a full barre (and sets you up to use a full barre on chords that often appear with the Bb, such as a barred G).

Second item - make sure your uke is well set up. The lower the action at the nut the better - and a difference of a small fraction of a mm in string height at the nut can make a huge difference in how easy it is to fret the Bb chord!

A lot of people when they are doing setups just take the nut slots down until the strings intonate well at the first fret, then they move to the bridge saddle and adjust it (this is not intended as criticism, I used to do the same thing). Don't get me wrong...that is a good setup, and far better than you will usually find on most factory ukes unless they've been set up by the retailer. It's just not a great setup.

What I have found is, unless you plan on playing high up the neck (10th fret and above) a lot it is far better to get the action at the nut as low as you can go without buzzing - and leave the bridge saddle alone unless it is just ridiculously high. This goes beyond a setup that is good (intonation being good on the open chords) to great (playing like butter, requiring very little pressure even for the "tough" chords like the Bb). In my opinion, a good setup (good intonation) is essential - I simply won't play an instrument that intonates poorly in the first position any more. A great setup, one that plays like butter, is less essential but is certainly a joy to encounter.

John

Both my steady play ukuleles came from HMS. I assume that the setup is good. Since these are my first "quality" instruments I'm learning what a good setup is from these two.

I'm also learning to play from online resources, hence I don't get my technique fine-tuned by a teacher. Instruction is pretty thin on the ground here. I'd gladly take lessons to lay down some good fundamentals. Guess I need to cast my net a little wider.

kiel9's alternative B-flat will help a lot.
 

PereBourik

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IMO, the 2nd position (or is it third) works but you should also be able to use the 1st position (3211) also. Just my dos centavos . . .

I'd be happy to learn 1st position, but not at the expense of my wrist.

I can do D7 without problems.

I think the bigger challenge is that I tend to press all my chords too hard trying to make them clean. Technique. I need better technique.
 

Kanaka916

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I'd be happy to learn 1st position, but not at the expense of my wrist.

I can do D7 without problems.

I think the bigger challenge is that I tend to press all my chords too hard trying to make them clean. Technique. I need better technique.
All I was saying some chord transitions will be easier with the 1st position and some will work with the 2nd position, all depends on what you wanna do. If you can hold 2nd position C (5433), you should be able to do Bb. With practice comes better technique. Since you brought up D7, there are times when I use the "Hawaiian" D7 (2020) instead of the traditonal 2223. Another little trick . . .
 

PereBourik

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All I was saying some chord transitions will be easier with the 1st position and some will work with the 2nd position, all depends on what you wanna do. If you can hold 2nd position C (5433), you should be able to do Bb. With practice comes better technique. Since you brought up D7, there are times when I use the "Hawaiian" D7 (2020) instead of the traditonal 2223. Another little trick . . .

The numbers are fret positions on the strings, yes?
GCEA
2020 = 2nd fret G, open C, 2nd fret E, open A Hadn't heard it called "Hawaiian" D7 but that was shown at the first uke group I went to.
2223 - 2nd fret barre GCE, 3rd fret A
 

Kanaka916

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Yes . . . they are fret positions. Certain chords take time but a little bit of perseverance, you'll get it.
 

Bozz

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It shouldn't hurt-

A couple of points. Fret hand position- if you have a tendency to tilt the face or top of the uke toward your face so you can see the fretboard you are going to stress your wrist. the body of the uke should be parallel to your torso. Learning the shape of a chord by feel of the finger position will serve you better. Second, if the Ukulele has never been set up after it left the factory it may be time to have a good luthier look at it and determine if the string grooves at the nut are under cut. It takes a lot more pressure to get a clean sustain of all strings at the first position if the action is high. A good way to check for string hight at the nut is to fret each string at the third fret with your ring finger. One at a time. Observe how much space there is from the top of the second fret and the bottom of the fretted string. Your first or second finger can illustrate the "action" or space for the first position chords at the nut. If it is a lot of space, the nut slots are under cut and the action can be made lighter by a setup. You favorite strings will feel much better once they are set up for you. If you have not set up a uke before have a tech do it for you. You should note a big improvement. Checking for bridge saddle hight is similar at the 12th fret.I hope this helps.
Keep on strummin,
Boz ;-)>