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Thread: Four finger B flat

  1. #1

    Default Four finger B flat

    Like so many others, I've struggled with the Bb chord since the beginning. For me, barring A and E while fretting C2 and G3 is near impossible. If my index is flat enough to barr A and E my other fingers won't arch enough. My first "solution" was to play Bb with an open A string. That worked, though not well. Later I learned to barr the whole fist fret which allowed me to fret C2 and G3. The problem with this method was slow transitions. Later I found that if I play Bb with all four fingers I get the best results of covering four strings and faster chord changes.

    I rarely see this 4 finger Bb recommended in tutorials or mentioned by players. Anyone else using all four? Is there a downside?
    Kamaka (S) Gold Label, Bonanza (C) Cherry Oreo, Pono (T) mahogany, KoAloha (T), Kala (B) Cedar top/Mahog laminate.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    I would suggest using a barr for the first fret since you can. Changing in and out of the full barr will come with time. Using a full barr will set you up for moving that chord up the neck. The same shape at the 3rd fret is a “C” for example.
    Keep Strummin'

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Stone Harbor, NJ
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    Practice (the key word here) playing the Bb full barre structure at the 5th fret. It's much easier to barre there. You will be playing a D chord. Once you are comfortable with that, move to the 3rd fret, same formation and play the C chord. Mastering the barre chords will increase your chord vocabulary ten fold. Also it will give you complete control of how long the chord will ring out. But as I said the key word is Practice. Enjoy the journey.
    DEPENDENTS:

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    Martin C-1K Concert, C Re-entrant Tuning 4/2014
    Pono MTD-CR Tenor C Linear Tuning 6/21/2016
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    Martin 2 Tenor Mahogany Style 2 C Linear Tuning 5/11/2019

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Adelaide South Australia
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    Hi, BBegall! Jimi does it like you!



    > I rarely see this 4 finger Bb recommended in tutorials or mentioned by players. Anyone else using all four? Is there a downside?

    I have seen some people do it on this forum, no worries. No downside at all, but stay cool!
    Last edited by yahalele; 06-11-2019 at 10:39 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
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    305

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    Most people tuck their elbow in towards the torso and use the side of the index finger for the barré. Using the underside or flat part of the finger results in an awkward position for the other fingers.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    SE Connecticut, USA
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    I don’t want to come off as snotty but I don’t understand why so many new players have trouble with Bb.
    The only thing I can think of is that they’re not holding the neck properly with their thumb pad placed more or less in the middle of the back of the neck. You should be “pinching” the neck, not clutching it like a bat with the neck jammed down into the web between thumb and index finger. In the “Jimi” hold, it’s dang near impossible to get a clean Bb...or to do many other chords.

    With a Bb, or a barre chord, my thumb pad is planted in the middle of the neck with the tip pointing towards the tuners.

    When switching chords I find it easiest to pivot my hand on my thumb so that the tip is pointing either parallel to the neck or at a 90 degree angle, depending on the chord, but the thumb pad stays pretty well planted on the back of the neck. So, with a G7th, for example, the tip of my thumb is pointing at my face, more at a right angle to the neck axis, and my other fingers arch up over the nut onto the fretboard.
    Last edited by Swamp Yankee; 06-12-2019 at 06:14 AM.
    Sopranos: Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
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  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
    I don’t want to come off as snotty but I don’t understand why so many new players have trouble with Bb.
    The only thing I can think of is that they’re not holding the neck properly with their thumb pad placed more or less in the middle of the back of the neck. You should be “pinching” the neck, not clutching it like a bat with the neck jammed down into the web between thumb and index finger. In the “Jimi” hold, it’s dang near impossible to get a clean Bb...or to do many other chords.
    You might want to consider that not everyone has the same hands/fingers as you or the same flexibility, bone structure etc. I'm not a new player and have been struggling with this for years. I can do many Bb's just not the recommended one. It makes no difference how I hold the ukulele or plant my thumb.

    The discussion here has convinced me to focus on the barred first fret instead of the four finger as I'm finding I can switch to or from either about as quickly.

    Thanks to all for the ideas.
    Kamaka (S) Gold Label, Bonanza (C) Cherry Oreo, Pono (T) mahogany, KoAloha (T), Kala (B) Cedar top/Mahog laminate.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Adelaide South Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBegall View Post
    You might want to consider that not everyone has the same hands/fingers as you or the same flexibility, bone structure etc. I'm not a new player and have been struggling with this for years. I can do many Bb's just not the recommended one. It makes no difference how I hold the ukulele or plant my thumb.

    The discussion here has convinced me to focus on the barred first fret instead of the four finger as I'm finding I can switch to or from either about as quickly.

    Thanks to all for the ideas.
    Yes. I think it makes no difference how we hold the ukulele or plant our thumb (See the photo below). Do what you want! :-)


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Mid-Atlantic region, USA
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    I've been playing for several years and still struggle a bit with this chord. I recently learned I tend to place my fingers a bit far from the frets (being mostly self-taught, it simply hadn't occurred to me that my finger position was making my life harder). Also I guess I just have weak fingers because barre chords are still a very exhausting and uncomfortable position for me (and inevitably one string is muted because I can't apply even pressure or something, particularly on faster chord changes). I'll get there someday...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    143

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
    I don’t want to come off as snotty but I don’t understand why so many new players have trouble with Bb.
    The only thing I can think of is that they’re not holding the neck properly with their thumb pad placed more or less in the middle of the back of the neck. You should be “pinching” the neck, not clutching it like a bat with the neck jammed down into the web between thumb and index finger. In the “Jimi” hold, it’s dang near impossible to get a clean Bb...or to do many other chords.

    With a Bb, or a barre chord, my thumb pad is planted in the middle of the neck with the tip pointing towards the tuners.

    When switching chords I find it easiest to pivot my hand on my thumb so that the tip is pointing either parallel to the neck or at a 90 degree angle, depending on the chord, but the thumb pad stays pretty well planted on the back of the neck. So, with a G7th, for example, the tip of my thumb is pointing at my face, more at a right angle to the neck axis, and my other fingers arch up over the nut onto the fretboard.
    Well you certainly came off as snotty to me.

    Barre chords are a pain, and by that I mean a physical pain.

    Try making a barre chord especially one where a two fret stretch is required when you suffer from osteoarthritis in your joints.

    I can no longer make the stretch on my guitar which is a reason why I took up a Uke but still a barre chord is painful for me and no doubt painful for all the others with joint issues.
    Col.
    From the UK with a bad case of MIAS.
    Korg PA700, Korg Kross 2, Gibson LP, Fender Jazz Bass,
    + Amps, PA, Boss GT100, mixer.
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