Friday, February 1, 2013

Ukulele E chord tips and tricks

Does this chord look familiar?  Perhaps it's because it shows up in your nightmares....the terrible terrible E chord.
Coming from a guitar playing background, this chord type wasn't all that uncommon to me when I started to play the uke...but just like with the guitar, it was and continues to be very unpleasant to play for me.  Not impossible, just difficult and unpleasant.  It's best to keep practicing with this chord and train your fingers to form it...but in case you're a bit more impatient like me, here are some ideas on how you can produce this chord and avoid this exact structure.

You can try reproducing it by playing 1-4-0-2 (that's from the G string to the A string).  With this you'll be producing the notes Ab, E, E, B.  This has a neat chorus type of effect since you are producing that same middle E with
two different strings.  My fingers don't quite appreciate this stretch and for me, this variation is harder to play.  But hey, it might be easier for you, so give it a shot!

Another alternative, is to play it barred with 4-4-4-7.  Essentially, you bar your index finger across the 4th fret and extend your pinky to the 7th fret on the A string.   This gives you the notes of B, E, Ab, and a high E.  For whatever reason, this variation makes the most sense to my fingers and is usually what I end up playing when I encounter an E major.  I also enjoy the flexibility that it gives you when switching from this to an Emaj7 (just drop the pinky off the 7th fret and place your ring finger on the 6th...4-4-4-6) or an E7 (same idea except with the middle finger on the 5th fret...4-4-4-5).

You can also go a more unconventional route and replace that E major with an E7 (1-2-0-2).  I'm a big fan of 7th chords and end up utilizing them in almost every song I write or play (whether they really need them or not).  I guess I go a little 7th crazy at times.  This is definitely cheating...but just use your artistic license.  Sometimes it will work and sometimes it won't, but the ease of which you can play an E7 chord makes it worth the investigation.

Another way that I've learned to "creatively adjust" on the E chord is simply to bar across the forth fret with my index finger, but with a little bit of lift off on the A string.  With this idea, you are effectively muting the A string and playing 4-4-4-X.  The notes would be B, E, Ab. 

If none of these ideas are working for you, it might be a good time to investigate an alternate tuning.  There is no rule that you HAVE to use standard GCEA tuning for every song you play.  Consider tuning your uke up a whole step to A, D, F#, B.  This makes the E chord a piece of cake.  The formation is the same as a D chord in standard tuning...2-2-2-0.  Just keep in mind that you'll have to adjust your thinking on all the other chords in the piece.

That's all!  Hope this helps you out a little bit on your E chord quest.  Happy Uke'n!

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