Barring seems impossible :(

BiosphereDecay

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I have wrist tendonitis and weak atrophied muscles in general. I've tried barring in many different ways, but my finger simply isn't flat. Even if I push as hard as I possibly can, at least one string will still be muted. I have an extremely hard time with B major, and it's only barring two strings. I've watched several videos, and read some tutorials. I've been trying for months and it just isn't happening.

Can someone explain "mechanically" how to bar without muting any of the strings?

I think some one-on-one lessons would help a lot, but I just don't have the money unfortunately.
 
With uke the advantage is that you rarely need a full barre but often just the two high strings are sufficient with partial barre. An important chord is Bb that is used in the popular key of F, and a workaround that goes well in many songs is to use Bb6 (gm7) that can be done with three fingers.
 
First some mechanical issues: Hopefully, the action on your uke is ok and the nut is not too high. What size uke is it and what strings are you using? Some stings can be a bit lower tension. As far as technique, try to use a bit more of the side of your finger against the fret rather than the flat of the finger. That way, the firmer portion is better than the fleshier side. Also consider where your thimb is in relation to the finger so that it is not as much about strength as leverage.

Another video to watch-

 
Suggestion ... fit a capo and use an easier set of chord shapes?
 
What helped me was thinking of the bar chord more as pushing up with my thumb and less pushing down with my finger. This was something I heard Brad Bordessa mention in one of his videos. It has helped a lot.
 
These 2 videos are a lot more detailed than most. Maybe they will help better than the ones you have seen. If not, then I agree that one-on-one lessons will get you started a lot faster than what you are trying now.




Thank you for the tutorials. I learned one thing about how to hold it from the first one. The second one I'm definitely learning a lot, and he is explaining it mechanically like I wanted. It's just currently beyond me. I'll be practicing everyday though. I'm about 2/3 of the way through the video and my index finger and thumb hurt so bad. I'm probably going to have to watch this multiple times.
 
First some mechanical issues: Hopefully, the action on your uke is ok and the nut is not too high. What size uke is it and what strings are you using? Some stings can be a bit lower tension. As far as technique, try to use a bit more of the side of your finger against the fret rather than the flat of the finger. That way, the firmer portion is better than the fleshier side. Also consider where your thimb is in relation to the finger so that it is not as much about strength as leverage.

Another video to watch-


Nice video, that’s a real nice uke he has too
 
So that tutorial strongly advised to not roll your finger to the side when barring, but I see that recommended by a lot of people on this forum. I'm not really sure which is better; which technique should I be practicing?

He also said to put the first knuckle between C and E, which makes sense, but isn't particularly working so far. The E string always ends up muted unless I push hard enough to hurt my finger a lot. I'm using my right arm to push the fret up, and I'm positioning my thumb the way he said. Even when pushing hard with all three, at least one string ends up muted, usually E.
 
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I don’t recommend a full roll, like I wouldn’t be suggesting that you twist your hand so that your index finger is flat on its side. You might also consider your elbow position. There are some chords that are just easier for me if I angle my fretting arm a bit differently for a sec.
 
So that tutorial strongly advised to not roll your finger to the side when barring, but I see that recommended by a lot of people on this forum. I'm not really sure which is better; which technique should I be practicing?
In Chris' video at about 1:00 he talks a bit about finger position. To be honest, sometimes I think when it cones to technique, it is about what feels right or works for you. Everyone's hands are a little different.

I would see if someone can check the action on your instrument. Consider using a lower tension string or tuning down a half step (or a step) depending on what size and scale instrument you use. It might lower the tension enough to start getting comfortable.
 
I have two ukuleles. An Aklot Soprano (Aquila nylgut) and an Enya Nova low G tenor (D'Addario fluorocarbon). I'm practicing on both, but primarily the soprano for now. I don't really know how to tell if the action is too high. The soprano is very low tension, I don't think lowering it more would help any.

I've been at it for a few hours and I've done it successfully like a couple times. Everyone says you don't need to press hard, but I don't know what else to do. It doesn't work either way. The E is always muted. One of the tutorials said to put the crook of your knuckle between the strings, but it doesn't seem to help any. I have small hands and very long fingers. Could the unusually long fingers be the problem?

I also have a fairly severe tremor in my hands, which obviously makes everything harder.
 
Keep trying and you'll eventually get it. Barres can be hard period, especially on a uke that's not well set up or with hard thick strings. Try to find the ideal pressure without hurting your hands, you'll get there.


Here's thread on reddit of folks with Ehler-Danlos talking about similar issue:
 
Keep trying and you'll eventually get it. Barres can be hard period, especially on a uke that's not well set up or with hard thick strings. Try to find the ideal pressure without hurting your hands, you'll get there.
I guess my specific problem is not being able to apply even pressure to all the strings. Pushing harder doesn't help, I've already learned that.
 
I'm not really sure which is better; which technique should I be practicing?
The one that is (eventually) successful for you that doesn't cause you injury or pain. One of the biggest errors we beginners make is choking the neck in a death grip. You actually don't need a lot of pressure, which you've discovered. It's one of those things that you just have to keep trying very slightly different things until you get the geometry that works to allow the chord to sing. It is DIFFICULT until you figure it out. I don't struggle as much as I used to, but I still do struggle. But the thing I definitely do less now is I don't strangle the neck as much. I'm sorry, it is frustrating. It's probably something that benefits from practicing other things and getting better at the whole package, such that eventually the barre chord isn't the hurdle that it is when you start off.

ripock here on the forum mentioned using gravity as your friend. It's kind of hard to describe but you're using the weight of your arm to be able to provide the right pressure for the barre. I'm not doing it justice. I'll see if I can find his description.
 
Here's ripock's post:

 
I'm sure there'll be as many suggestions here as there are ukulele players, but I'll offer some thoughts anyway since I'm here :).

I struggled with barres for a bit (still do, to be honest) but a couple of things helped. One was the realisation that not everyone's fingers are the same shape, so when someone insisted my finger should be in a particular place and it didn't work, I realised that might not actually have been my fault. My left index finger seems to be bent in a really inconvenient way and so a bit of experimentation to work out where to put it was helpful.

The other thing might have been even more important: I think it was a Stu Fuchs video that explained that it wasn't the finger that should be doing the work but a combination of the arms (left and right because pressing the uke into your chest with the right arm does a lot of work in pushing the neck towards your finger) and gravity. I don't quite know how to explain this, but after remembering that gravity was helpful, and letting my arm just kind of drop in the right way, one day that Bb just rang out, and it was marvellous.

So I think my main advice (no doubt one piece of advice of many) is to remember that gravity is a thing and use it to your advantage.

Because of my unhelpfully shaped left index finger I still have to fiddle about to get it in the right place depending on where the rest of the fingers are going, but I no longer feel the need to have a death grip on the fret board. I find I can now barre even without having my thumb on the neck because my right arm has learned how to contribute, and I have learned to remember that gravity exists.
 
I'd say my tenor strings are about 1/3 inch, and the soprano is about 1/4 inch. It doesn't seem too high, at least not high enough for the amount of effort it would take to lower it. Am I right in this assessment?
 
I'd say my tenor strings are about 1/3 inch, and the soprano is about 1/4 inch. It doesn't seem too high, at least not high enough for the amount of effort it would take to lower it. Am I right in this assessment?
Both those measurements seem high to me. Do a search for sporano and tenor string height (action) measurements. I notice at my repair place, Eric's Guitar in van Nuys, CA when they check the action, they always press on the string as they look at it, and also use a very precise ruler.
 
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