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How do I play the harder chords on the ukulele? I'm self taught and am having a hard time with B.

marked as duplicate by Richard, David Bowling, Tim, neilfein, Dom Jan 14 at 4:32

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    How are you trying to play the B chord and what exactly is the problem? – b3ko Jan 11 at 14:43
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B major is a chord that requires every note to be fretted, so I've seen two main ways to do it.

  • Barre the E and A strings at the 2nd fret with the index finger, then middle finger frets C string at 3rd fret, and ring finger frets G string at 4th fret (4-3-2-2).
  • Barre across all strings with index finger, middle frets C string at 3rd fret, ring frets G string at 4th fret (4-3-2-2).

If you like skipping strings, (x-3-2-2) works. Note that the B chord is like the B♭ chord, but a fet higher. Other voicings up the fretboard include (8-6-7-6), (11-11-11-9), and other B6 voicings also might work depending on context. I would advise against workarounds like those, however, as that chord shape is so useful and you'll probably need to learn it eventually.


I too am self-taught, and I can play most of the harder chords on ukulele, and from experience, I can say that it's extremely useful to work on using the pinky finger to fret notes. It takes practice, but if you can play 4-finger chords, you'll be able to play pretty much any kind of chord. Apart from that, I noticed that at first, weird shapes like A♭m (1-3-4-2) felt alien and I had to position and reposition my fingers over and over again. After a while (~a few hundred tries and a week or two), I noticed that I could suddenly do it just as well as any other shape I already knew. So don't despair; stick with the harder shapes, and eventually you'll be able to do them with your eyes shut and on command.


For more information, see this question. It covers a lot of what you've asked. How to play B major? What is the finger placement?

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B is a difficult chord to learn on both ukelele and guitar because none of the notes in the chord are available on the open strings[1]. So you must fret all the strings or mute unwanted ones.

You can fret a B chord as 4-3-2-2. If barring the top two strings is difficult, you can try muting the top string and just playing the lower three.

Never be afraid to play just partial voicings, especially if you have other instruments to cover other parts of the sonic space. Even on a guitar with up to six strings sounding at once, letting just three ring out is very effective as the extra muting adds to the percussive attack.

  1. There is a B string on the guitar of course, but the voicings which use it are somewhat more awkward than using a barre-chord form.
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    B is one of the open strings on guitar, if I'm not mistaken. – user45266 Jan 11 at 16:24
  • Although as I understand it, the B chord shape on guitar does not use the open B string, correct? – user45266 Jan 11 at 16:39
  • @user45266 it is absolutely possible to play a B major triad on guitar while using the open B string - it's just not in positions most commonly taught (going off an E-shape or A-shape barre chord on the 7th and 2nd frets respectively). – James Whiteley Jan 11 at 16:42
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    @user45266 -- probably the first B7 that most are taught is x-2-1-2-0-2. Within easy reach are B6: x-2-1-1-0-2, BMaj7: x-2-1-3-0-2, or B: x-2-1-x-0-2, all using the open B string. – David Bowling Jan 12 at 5:05
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    Fine points all around, gentlemen. I have added a footnote which hopefully somewhat mitigates my blunderous answer. – luser droog Jan 12 at 5:40

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