More fun with Barre Chords

I hope my fellow Americans all had a Happy Thanksgiving. I have a fridge full of turkey and cranberry sauce, but imagine everything but the cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes will vanish in a flash with the Gigantor portions the roomie tends to eat.  And, the vegan cream cheese. I am going to have to get creative and eat a LOT of vegan cream cheese in the coming weeks.

We have a pretty small Thanksgiving crew – just me, Mom, and the roomie. (I will do some kind of belated visit with Dad over the weekend, most likely. We were going to meet up this evening after work, but postponed due to the gorgeous weather here in NJ. Apparently, it was a great day for fishing, which is fine. The day after Thanksgiving, I don’t want to eat much of anything, anyway, so some huge diner meal wasn’t really all that appetizing.)

While chilling at Mom’s house, watching the Disney Channel (an interesting choice, I know, but when your alternatives are football -which I’m indifferent to, and the roomie is not a fan of – and the Honeymooners, which Roomie is indifferent to, and I’m not a fan of, you end up watching Cinderella and half of Monsters, Inc.), I pulled out my ukulele to work on my barre chords in between playing with her tiny cat.

Yes, I brought my ukulele. The entire appeal of the ukulele is that it’s extremely portable, so there’s really no reason not to throw it over your shoulder. At the holidays, there’s always some down time where there’s not much chatting going on, especially when you’ve got a small group like ours. So, I barred to my heart’s content.  It worked out to be really productive.

I was having a really hard time with the B-shaped barre early on, but as I worked at it, it’s coming out clear most of the time now. I personally find it much easier to form this chord with a full barre. For me, personally, that requires less flexibility and less tension than barreing only the lower two strings. Obviously, I’m not that concerned whether or not the top strings are barred properly, since my middle and ring fingers are fretting the next two frets over, but I’m getting a cleaner overall sound out of the lower part of my finger than the higher, which I mentioned in a previous post.

Actually, in my practice, I noticed that in order to get a really flat finger, I have to hyper-extend a little bit. I guess that’s just calling back to my previous comments, too, about everyone’s fingers being a bit different. Apparently when ‘straight’ mine actually have a naturally very slight bend up by the first knuckle that’s been causing me some problems with barre chords. That’s okay. Now that I’m aware of it, I can work with it.

I’m still running into buzzing on the first fret due to the difference in pressure required there due to the higher string tension by the nut. This is a minor issue, and it’s really only a matter of time before I remember the appropriate amount of tension required up and down the neck to increase my consistency here.

Overall, I’ve made a lot of improvement just casually working on it for an hour or two while digesting my turkey.

In guitar-land, I’m still working on ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’.  It’s coming along, but I’m still fiddling around with the accents, trying to replicate that properly, or at least properly enough to make the song feel a bit closer to the original.  And, I’m still doing the usual – going too fast. I know I should get in the habit of using a metronome to practice slowing down, but I’d rather just iron it out enough to play along with the original track and get the pacing that way. If I can do it fast, slowing it down should, in theory, be the easy part, but it’s not. I’ll talk about that more once I’ve got the song in a more satisfactory and consistent condition, and have fully-formed thoughts on it. For now, I’m making progress, but my ability to discuss it is pretty half-baked, so I’ll revisit that subject later.

Until Next Time, still plugging away. Making a general sort of progress.

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8 thoughts on “More fun with Barre Chords

    1. I’m really just doing it on my own because there’s really no room in the budget for lessons, but thanks for the info. I’ll keep it in mind if that ever changes. I’m a pretty crappy student, anyway. :). I just go where the questions take me, which often is the bane of a teacher’s existence. I always do things in what appears to be a wildly out of order and disorganized way until it all comes together.

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      1. I often flow with where the students is going in terms of where they are and where they want to go. My creative side allows me to be disorganized as need arises, while my analytic side tends to see what the problem is and helps me to find solutions that work for the student!

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  1. You are an intrepid soul. The fretting between guitar, bass and ukelele is extreme! I think that your chords sounded fine. I think that the metronome is a good idea also, not for timing but for pacing. Keep it going!

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    1. I have one on my phone, just never use it. I guess I don’t see timing and pacing as inherently different. I’m not having trouble picking a pace and sticking to it, and when I’m too fast, I know I’m too fast, but at that point just figure ‘Fuck it, I have to own it now’. It definitely is a good idea, just one I haven’t actually committed to yet. Lol. If I’m honest, I can only handle the clicking sound for short intervals before it annoys me, so I guess I’ve been using the original track to the same end, instead. Of course, the latter only works if you’re sticking relatively close to the original strum pattern.

      My hands are relatively small, so uke fretting works out okay (bass requires some improvising, I still can’t span 4 frets, so have to work around that.), but I don’t spend much time above the 7th, so I end up too wide around the 12th and higher because I forget how tight things get there.

      The chords mostly are ok, but there’s definitely some buzzing, and awkward hesitation. I can’t switch in and out of them fluidly yet, but that will come when I need to actually use them in a song, which hasn’t come up quite yet. (But will, once I get to those pop-punkers I love so much. Lol). Just gotta keep pushing forward. I’ll have to learn to Barre all over again once I get to guitar. The way I’m doing it on ukulele won’t work, but it’ll probably be easier, having a basic understanding. Working with multiple instruments has that advantage – concepts travel well, even when execution requires some tweaking.

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      1. Barre chords were hard for me on guitar, because I didn’t have the strength or coordination with my pinky finger. Using my pinky on walks on my bass helped me articulate it, and that helped me with Barre hand/finger placement for guitar. Also, doing chromatic scales up and down the neck helped with fingering on my chords, too. As I sing more and more, I’m now using a capo at the third fret, as it is easier for me to sing at that placement. What I find is that it’s easier to use open chording the higher up the neck I place the capo.
        I agree, the concepts among the stringed instruments you’re playing do travel well, like having a universal key of sorts.

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      2. I actually notice the pinky strength with the one Barre form I’m working on on the uke. It’s like the pinky comes at the string at a bad angle, but I think this has as much to do with hand/wrist position as strength. Hopefully, ironing out the quirks will make it go more smoothly once I get to guitar, but there is definitely still going to be a learning curve on steel strings and a wider neck.

        I do some walking up and down the neck, but I’m a creature of whimsy, if I’m not in the mood for something like that, I’m easily distracted.

        I have a capo, but never use it. It was suggested as an essential beginner tool for bringing the strings closer to the neck, but my guitars have pretty low action, so I never needed it to that end, and so haven’t been using it. Some keys are definitely easier to sing to, though, I notice that with uke. Singing Wagon Wheel, for example, is really tough with the original recording, but transposed for ukulele it’s not a problem for me. There’s definitely an extent to which vocals can determine the tone of the entire song.

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