How to Play Barre Chords on Ukulele: 6 Easy Steps and 5 Great Tips!

How to Play Barre Chords on Ukulele: 6 Easy Steps and 5 Great Tips!


Learning the right way to perform a ukulele barre chord could be one of the crucial challenging points of playing the uke. It requires loads of finger energy and finally a tonne of practice. In this article, we’ll talk about some ideas that can make the educational process easier for you.

A ukulele barre chord is utilizing one finger, most frequently the first or the index finger, to press all of the strings of the uke. Then use your different fretting fingers to make a chord form. You strum them identical to a traditional chord.

Why do ukulele barre chords exist?

Barre chords allow the ukulele player to play different tones on the ukulele besides the open strings. In addition, they let you play higher up the fretboard.

Take the A major chord, for instance. Within the chord diagram below from our article on playing A major, you’ll most likely immediately recognize the root position from the A Major chord. Nonetheless, you can even play it barred, as in inversion 3.

Root Position of A Major

A Root Position

Third Inversion of A Major

A third inversion

Barre chords can provide a variation in tones and make a bit of music extra attention-grabbing. One more reason to use them is that barre chord variations can simply be moved along the neck while holding the hand in an identical position. That makes it simple to play comparable chords.

A remaining reason is that utilizing barre chords lets you “throw away” your capo. Now, don’t take this literally, however, barre chords do give you an approach to playing songs that need a capo without a capo. For instance, take a tune that’s performed with a capo on the first fret and has an A major chord in it. You may simply get rid of the capo and play a Bb (A#) chord.

They allow much more possibilities as you may play chords further up the uke fretboard. Let’s take a better look at the right way to play them and how one can enhance them.

How do I play barre chords?

Barre chords could be troublesome to switch to and fret. It could take you quite a bit of practice before you may master barre chords on the ukulele.​ However, why learn the hard method? We are going to walk you through some steps that may make ukulele barre chords simpler.

  1. Put the center of your thumb on the back of the fretboard, it is okay if it sticks out slightly a bit. It will assist you to apply pressure to the strings while you use your barre chord finger.​
  2. Try to press down as close to the fret as possible. This will guarantee that you’re getting the correct leverage towards the strings and every string will ring out extra clearly.
  3. ​Use a full barre. Some chords like B flat require you to solely barre two strings as a substitute for all 4. Go big, or go home and go for the total barre. We think it makes it simpler to get the correct amount of pressure, particularly when you’re simply getting the hang of it.
  4. When you may, double the barre. This may not work for each chord, generally, it is useful to put your center finger behind your index finger when playing a barre chord. It will make your barre chords stronger and ring out clearly.​
  5. In case you have dead notes, attempt to isolate which ​notes aren’t ringing out. You are able to do this by plucking every individual string. As soon as recognized, you may play around with your positioning to get the most effective angle.
  6. Keep training! ​It takes a while to master barre chords. They require an excellent amount of strength out of your fretting hand. You’ll be able to work on finger workout routines to construct up your strength.
Ukulele Barre Chords

Tricks to Improve Your Barre Chords

1. Stretch your Fingers

This really must be a part of your warmup routine in general, however, it may be particularly essential for the difficult hand positions that barre chords typically put you in. Keep in mind, that your palms and wrists are made up of lots of ligaments, muscle groups, and joints and get stiff just like your back, knees, and shoulders.

Besides the index one, you will need other fingers as well to press every string individually good as the top one. This is the first lesson actually because when playing bar chords, every note needs to be played clearly by adding more pressure to the neck with the thumb.

2. Anchor Your Thumb

Most common chords don’t require your thumb to be in any explicit place, not so with a barre chord. Since you are pressing down on a number of strings, you’re going to need slightly more leverage.

To do that we like to place the thumb smack in the middle of the back of the neck. This could let you press evenly on the four strings and create a pleasant strong barre. Do not underestimate this tip, because you might get a different tone if you do not apply enough finger strength.

3. Press down the Fret

That is a pretty frequent recommendation, even when playing a traditional chord. The nearer you press to the fret the clearer the note tends to sound.

With a barre chord it’s much more essential, not solely will pressing down right next to the fret makes the note sound better, it makes the chord simpler to play and it’ll improve the probability you won’t have random dead strings and the note can be clear.

4. Train Sliding Down the Fretboard

In order you improve your ukulele barre chords, just try shifting from fret to fret and train inversions of the chords down the neck. By doing this you will be able to avoid basic and boring chord progressions and transpose a bit, and also try a different chord shape than the regular chords.

To play ukulele barre chords you need to train a lot and this is one method to improve. Don’t only practice full barre chords, try some partial barre as well. Partial barre is when you are not pressing all the strings, but still pressing multiple strings with the index finger or the ring finger.

5. Use Your Middle Finger

We simply got carried out saying the index finger is generally the finger used for barres, so now we’re going to tell you to break that rule.

Some chords are simply easier to play if you use your middle finger because of the bar. Most of the chords that require the highest note held down within the fret after the barre are simpler to play. That’s why it might be a better practice to try and use both the middle and the index finger next to each other for more pressing power.

Two fingers barre chord

Conclusion on How to Play Barre Chords on Ukulele

Barre chords actually could be something that puts individuals off the ukulele or any instrument for that matter. Guitar players have an equally troublesome if not harder time getting to grips with them.

Even when pressing partial barres, you might have some difficulties, depending on which strings are included in it. If you need to press the G string and the C string on the second fret or the third fret, for example, you need to be aware not to press the E string and A string and produce muted notes.

We urge you to keep it up, even after only a few weeks of practice and you’ll be well on the way to success with them. Once you learn to apply extra pressure, you will enjoy your song and chor a bit more and you will get a clear chord.

Charles Steinhoff

Charles Steinhoff

Charles is here and I am guitar and ukulele enthusiast. Been playing these instruments for over 10 years now and I decided to share some of my knowledge and expertise with the world in terms of these stringed instruments and it's accessories.

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