We’ve all heard buzzes, clicks, and wrong sounding notes while strumming through our favorite songs. In this ukulele lesson we’re going to do some troubleshooting to find out where these may be popping up in your playing and try to eliminate them as much as possible. We will start by slowing your practice down a bit and then trying these tips to improve the sound of your chords on ukulele. Check out the video above to see and hear demonstrations of the suggestions mentioned here.
- Play one soft strum on each chord, listening for the chord to sustain and ring out clearly
- Play each individual note to ensure that no notes are being missed or muted
- Make sure your fingers are “tall” enough to clear the other strings
- Check the finger placement of each note to ensure each finger is centered or closer to the fret “the sweet spot”
Now let’s take a look at some common things to check out when playing basic chords like F, G7, E7 and B7. This includes tips for playing barre chords, which will make the B7 sound cleaner and make it easier to play.
- Check middle finger to make sure it’s “tall,” standing on “tippy toes,” and not touching the C string
- Check index finger placement to make sure it’s in the middle or closer to the fret line (not closer to the nut!)
- Use knuckles to squeeze!
- Use the same index finger technique for the E string 1st fret
- Put the middle finger and ring finger in the “sweet spot, close to the fret
- Turn your wrist towards the headstock so your fingers can reach the 2nd fret
- Use the same index finger technique for the G string 1st fret
- The middle finger and ring finger are in the same place as G7
- Practice the transition between E7 and G7, maintaining good finger position
- Practice barring the 2nd fret with your index finger, then adding on each additional finger for more weight
- Position your finger towards the fret line (away from the nut)
- Use the bony edge of your finger (whichever side feels more comfortable)
- Try to shift the hand up or down to avoid the knuckle grooves!
Tip for Holding Barre Chords
- A good exercise is to hold a barre chord at each fret and play it all the way up and down the neck. Notice that it’s easier to squeeze the higher frets.
- Try releasing your hand and placing it again to get a better grip on the chord
Lenny San Jose, AKA Ukulenny, is a musician and educator based in Oakland, CA. You can find him on Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram under the handle @ukulenny.
The Ukulele Owner’s Manual is the book that belongs in every ukulele player’s instrument case. Each chapter was written by the experts and performers at Ukulele Magazine, with topics ranging from commonsense instrument care to fixing rattles and buzzes to a pictorial history of the instrument. Book owners can also download how-to videos with step-by-step guidance on common set-up and maintenance topics.
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