Joel Matthews
Product Expert
Ukulelemate.com.au



Have you ever tried to play a song that uses a lot of barre chords?

Chances are, you struggled in the beginning. If you want to develop your skills, there’s no way that you can avoid playing these barre chords. Love it or hate it, you have no choice but to learn how to play these chords to unlock a whole selection of chord variations and positions. 

Barre chords can be your worst nightmare if you are a beginner. Heck, even some seasoned ukulele players try to avoid them when they can.

The good news is that there are a few tricks that you can do to get through it with ease. 

So today, I’ll give you some tips that can help you play the barre chords easily and clearly. 

What is a barre chord?

A barre chord lets you use a single finger to fret all strings at the same time. Your finger serves as a capo that locks all strings on a particular fret in your ukulele (it acts like a moveable nut). It requires a combination of finger strength and a little bit of creativity for you to successfully play a barre chord. 

Take a look at the B minor as an example.

When you play this chord, you’ll need to press your whole index finger across the 2nd fret. What makes it more difficult is that you still need to press the 4th fret of the G string with your 3rd finger. For beginners, this can be quite daunting.

In order for you to pull this off, you need to make your finger comfortable doing the barre chord.

How do you do it?

You can begin with just one finger at a time. Let’s start with the one that is commonly used for barre chords - the index finger. Lay your index finger across the fret number 2. Now put your thumb directly behind your index finger by the neck. Your thumb will serve as a support in pressing those strings.

 

Take a look at the image above showing the index finger. Try to move the index finger from one fret to another while strumming. 

Strum slowly and make sure that all the strings sound clear. If you happen to hear a muted note, that means you’re not pressing enough on the fret. Use your thumb to help your index finger put more pressure on the strings.

Once you get the hang of it, go ahead and include your other finger to complete the chord.

Check the position of your thumb

Doing a barre chord will require you to use some strength because you are pressing down multiple strings on the fret-board. To give you more leverage, you have to make sure that you press your thumb firmly into the neck of your ukulele.

5-minute Interval

Expect your index finger to cramp up and tire quickly when you start practicing the barre chords. You may soon find yourself discouraged, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just take it slowly. If you feel some pain in your finger, stop and take a break. Practice in 5-minute intervals until you feel comfortable.

Practice regularly

I recommend that you keep working on your index finger and get your hand comfortable at squeezing barre chords on various frets. Commit yourself to practice every day. Just a few minutes of daily practice will make a difference in improving your skills. Be consistent and you’ll soon master the barre chords in no time! 

I hope these tips will help you improve your barre chord skills. Now go ahead and try it!


What to try next...

Learn how to tune your ukulele strings by reading How to tune the ukulele using different tuning methods.