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Thread: Which is harder for beginners? Bb or barred D7?

  1. #1
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    Default Which is harder for beginners? Bb or barred D7?

    Hi, I teach ukulele lessons. When I first started teaching I assumed that a partial barre chord (Bb) would be easier for a beginner than a full barre chord (D7 for instance). It seems like Bb would be a good way to ease into playing barre chords. However, I have had students who seem to have a harder time with Bb than something like D7. I don't have a ton of teaching experience and therefore not a lot of data to go off of. I was wondering what others' experience has been, either as a teacher or as a beginner themselves. Basically this is helping me to figure out the order in which I introduce chords to students. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I can only offer my experience of learning a couple of years ago and hope that it helps.

    Initially the D chord by itself was a problem, how to squeeze my fat fingers into three adjacent frets, etc. Eventually I figured out moving the G7 formation across and staggering my fingers which solved the problem. D7 is just a D with a little finger added to the first string and a fret higher up the neck, again its easy once you know how.

    IIRC barre chords did start with the D7 and were difficult to start with but the D7 chord, being further from a badly adjusted (high) nut is easier than the Eb7. (Edit. I'd ment to say Db7 / C#7) The Bb Chord was a nightmare and only within the last 6 months do they come right first time. For me the answer was getting nuts and actions sorted out first and the concentrating on keeping a flat finger (not curled) fretting the E and A strings - the finger position is also different too, being near hard-up on the neck for the Bb. Fingers fouling adjacent strings in the Bb chord was also and issue for me, the fingers have to come down vertically and it helps if you have thin fingers and short nails .....

    So, I suggest to you that you start with D7 first, and that you expect nothing but problems with the Bb chord until your students have the nuts on their Ukes correctly adjusted after which they have a fighting chance.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 09-08-2017 at 12:42 PM. Reason: Factual correction

  3. #3
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    I would say Bb personally. But some helpful things are to twist the wrist either forward or backwards to get extra grip/tension. That one really helped me.
    Also, I think the big key is to make sure new players start on properly set-up instruments! If the action is too high, it's always going to be an issue.
    Also, worth mentioning is that the bigger the size of the uke (soprano -> concert -> tenor) the higher the string tension required to get to the standard GCEA tuning - assuming re-entrant tuning on the tenor.
    I started on a non-setup Kala Tenor with high string height and nearly gave it up initially. Then I got a Flea soprano and it made a huge difference.
    "If a lot of people play the ukulele, the world would be a better place to live."

  4. #4
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    I often play D7 with all four individual fingers which with my dainty hands is easy. I remember the Bb chord eluded me for a while when I was learning it; not so D7.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubulele View Post
    I think you meant Bb or Bb7. Eb7 is farther from the nut than D7, and thus easier for the reason you state.
    You're right in that I did give the wrong name: Eb7 should have read Db7 / C#7. I will amend my earlier post in case anyone reads it in isolation and gets incorrect details from it. Thanks, and thanks for pointing my error out so tactfully. The point I was trying to illustrate is that the same Barrie chord finger arrangement becomes more difficult to use effectively next to a badly set up nut.

    It was an interesting refresher to read your comments about the alternate chords leading from A7 being pushed up the neck with a Barrie finger behind it. The A chord gives Bb, C, C# and so on as you move up the neck with a Barrie finger behind the first two. I rarely use the alternative chords/fingering but that's mostly because there's so much to learn, and it's usually easier just to use the fingering suggested in the chord boxes that come with the song being sung and strummed.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 09-04-2017 at 01:50 PM.

  6. #6
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    Hi, wrestlingmatt51!

    I'm just teaching one friend, hence my experience is very limited. He was bit struggled with Bb to master and he had no problem with D7.

    I taught him two ways to play Bb, one is banana type (See the figures below), one is rotation type. He plays rotation type. I prefer rotation to banana, because banana looks bit ugly to me. But I know many people play banana type.



    There are some tips for this short barre.
    1)Rotate ukulele frontward (red arrow on the figure below).
    2)Do not see fret board in order to frontward rotation (yellow arrow).
    3)Push ukulele frotward (green arrow).
    4)Put the strap on our right shoulder in order to frontward push (blue arrow).
    Freddie King is the blues master!




    We can observe banana, rotation and inbetween well in WS64's video. Enjoy!

    Kamaka HF-1 100

  7. #7
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    I can get to D or D7 faster, but I found out today that D hurts more, on my tenor banjouke. Even after having the neck thinned. I think it's time to get rid of the fat Aquila strings.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  8. #8
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    I stole a technique from Ukulele Mike, who introduces barre chords by starting at the 5th fret, and then playing up to the 1st fret (all barred) and then back down again.

    I have my students do this from the very first day...and it becomes a warm-up, along with walking each finger up and down each one of the strings (through the 4th fret).

    Both of these exercises prepare them for a barre chord...but I don't call it that (yet) or make a big deal about it...it just is.

    As a result, I would say that the D7 is logically the easier chord, because it requires, at minimum 2 fingers*, whereas the Bb requires 3 fingers all the time, regardless of how it is played in first position (full or half barre).

    Incidentally, research shows that many beginning guitarist quit at the F chord. Why would Bb be any different on the ukulele?

    *Some people barre with a second finger supporting the barring finger, which would make a full barre D7 require 3 fingers
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

  9. #9
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    I found D7 easier. Easier than D without the 7th too.
    I don't find Bb particularly hard to play, but for me, when I get the barre grib wrong, it is usually the first or second string that is off. It has something to do with where my finger joint is located.
    With Bb these two strings are the ones where the barre is important, and hidden below your other fingers.
    With D7 the trickiest string is taken care of with another finger.
    Ohana SK30M mahogany super-soprano, Cort UKEBWCOP Blackwood concert, Fluke Koa Tenor, Hora M1176 spruce Tenor

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zztush View Post
    Hi, wrestlingmatt51!

    I'm just teaching one friend, hence my experience is very limited. He was bit struggled with Bb to master and he had no problem with D7.

    I taught him two ways to play Bb, one is banana type (See the figures below), one is rotation type. He plays rotation type. I prefer rotation to banana, because banana looks bit ugly to me. But I know many people play banana type.



    There are some tips for this short barre.
    1)Rotate ukulele frontward (red arrow on the figure below).
    2)Do not see fret board in order to frontward rotation (yellow arrow).
    3)Push ukulele frotward (green arrow).
    4)Put the strap on our right shoulder in order to frontward push (blue arrow).
    Freddie King is the blues master!




    We can observe banana, rotation and inbetween well in WS64's video. Enjoy!

    Cool! Thanks for all the effort in your answer.

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