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Thread: Four finger B flat

  1. #11
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    Like many others I’ve struggled with barre chords - to a small extent I sometimes still do - and, in the past, I’ve used the four finger Bb chord too. Over the last few years there have been some good threads on Bb chord problems, if you can then it’s worth looking there too

    There is no magic bullet for easy barre chords it’s just a case of Uke set-up, practice, technique improvement and using what works for you. On that latter point (what works for you) that’s technique(s) and instruments too, I’ve sold on Ukes with low frets as they don’t work well enough with my fingers. Make sure that string height at the nut is low, correct set-up makes a big difference to playability. Try to keep your finger flat and remember that it’s only the a and e strings that matter (the c and g have fingers on them). The fleshy part of your finger needs to act on the strings, or else turn/rotate your finger such that the edge of the bone acts on them. Also take the point (in someone else’s post) about getting your fretting finger just behind the fret too.

    Good luck, do what you can, experiment, examine and think about what you are doing, enjoy what you can do and don’t feel too bad about what you can’t do.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 06-14-2019 at 01:03 AM.

  2. #12
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    BBegall, I feel your pain. I’ve been playing for about 10 years now and still don’t have a great barre chord. It’s ok on uke but weak on guitar. Over the years, I’ve read countless articles and watched tons of youtube videos. I have some arthritis but I believe it’s more technique than physical limitations. I was most struck by a guitar teacher who saw first hand how many students struggled with barre chords and realized that if a random 6 or 7 girl can make a good barre and an able-bodied 20-something young man can’t, then it has to be technique.
    Knowing that and spending alot of practice time on the issue, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily resolved. No magic wand here. I try to keep all the suggestions in mind and am still trying to figure what works for me. I still often use that 3 fingered major7 for F on guitar (too bad it doesn’t always fit). Keep at it, it can be a long process.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBegall View Post
    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.
    Most people use banana finger for Bb (see the bottom figure). Even Ohta-san uses this weird finger shape. I don't think banana is faster than four fingers though.


  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by yahalele View Post
    Most people use banana finger for Bb (see the bottom figure). Even Ohta-san uses this weird finger shape. I don't think banana is faster than four fingers though.

    Note his thumb position.. just sayin’

    Quote Originally Posted by Col50 View Post
    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.
    Well it ‘snot the first time I came off as snotty, and it’s likely not the last, either.

    My post was based on an observation about the large numbers of beginners that struggle with the Bb. It is one of the most common complaints I read, especially on the many Facebook groups I follow. While I understand many people do struggle with arthritis, myself included, that does not explain why so many beginners have a problem with the Bb, or with barre chords in general, for that matter.

    And with both Bb and barre chords in general, I stand by my opinion that thumb position is very important. In watching videos by countless beginning players, I notice they frequently hold the uke with the neck jammed down into the web between their thumb and forefinger. Many of them go so far as to wear a small finger puppet on their thumb while playing.

    In my experience, holding a uke that way makes forming a clean Bb very difficult, if not impossible.... so it’s my belief that it might very well be the main cause why so many beginners struggle with Bb and barre chords.

    Certainly I doubt there are many ukulele teachers that will tell their students that thumb placement is not important.
    Last edited by Swamp Yankee; 06-15-2019 at 01:38 AM.
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
    Concerts:Cahaya CY-0112; Kiwaya KTC-1; Martin C-1 (ca. 1947-1955); Musicguymic's Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
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  5. #15
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    Swamp Yankee is dead right about the importance of thumb position. Another aspect is that beginners are often struggling with a ukulele that needs the string height to be adjusted. If you are having to press the strings down too far at the nut, it makes the job unnecessarily difficult.

    John Colter.

  6. #16
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    I normally play like this. I think it is not right or wrong.


  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by yahalele View Post
    I normally play like this. I think it is not right or wrong.

    I agree thereís nothing wrong with your thumb placement as long as it does not interfere with your ability to play those pesky Bb and barre chords clearly.

    But neither is that the position I hope to warn beginners to avoid.

    Your thumb is not planted dead center in the back of the neck ( neither is mine, usually) but youíre also not jamming the neck down into the web between thumb and index finger in a power grip like you might hold a baseball bat. Itís that baseball bat grip that makes barre chords very difficult, in my experience.
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
    Concerts:Cahaya CY-0112; Kiwaya KTC-1; Martin C-1 (ca. 1947-1955); Musicguymic's Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
    Baritones: Cordoba 24B

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by yahalele View Post
    I normally play like this. I think it is not right or wrong.

    I too play it something like that. Instructions to keep thumb always behind the the neck in the middle go so against normal ukulele play for this partial barre chord. Might work well with a strap only.
    Something like Bb7 or D7 (not the hawaiian without root) are the few chords I keep my thumb more behind the neck. That is barring all frets. Then this Bb too, if you guys play it like that, with a full barre.

    Many times when I play cowboy chords my thumb first joint is not used at all much as a counterbalance. Instead it is pointing out like George Harrison's one, hehe.

  9. #19
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    Perhaps it is a matter of hand size. I've got small hands and, as far as I'm concerned, "normal ukulele play" means holding the pad of the thumb at the back of the neck - always. If someone insisted that I'm doing it wrong, and that I should rest the neck on the web between finger and thumb, I would find it impossible to play.

    I've never used a strap, and I prefer to perform standing up, though I practise sitting down.

    John Colter.

  10. #20
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    > Your thumb is not planted dead center in the back of the neck ( neither is mine, usually)
    > but youíre also not jamming the neck down into the web between thumb and index finger
    > in a power grip like you might hold a baseball bat.
    > Itís that baseball bat grip that makes barre chords very difficult, in my experience.

    I think these grips are those whom you call baseball bat grip.


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