The time has come for you to open the door to the cooler chords! Yes, we’ve learned the basic C, Am, G7, F and G chords on the ukulele and, don’t get me wrong, you can play hundreds of songs with those chords, but when you learn the chord we’re about to teach you, you’ll see a whole new world of possibilities. Welcome to the bar world, and what better way to do so than by learning how to play the the Bb chord on your ukulele?
To master this chord you’ll need to press your fingers on all four strings. It may be challenging at first but this chord shape will reward you in ways which might surprise you. Let’s begin!
A Chord Across 4 Strings and 3 Frets: The Bb Chord
The Bb Chord is a triad, meaning it has three notes: Bb, D and F. We will double one of the notes (Bb) in order to use all four strings of the instrument. Across the 1st fret, finger 1 of your fretting hand holds down both the 1st and 2nd string. Finger 2 presses down on the 3rd string on the 2nd fret. Finally, use finger 3 to press down on the 4th string on the 3rd fret.
How does it feel? It may be difficult to line up your fingers across the 1st, 2nd and 3rd frets at first. Also, playing two strings with finger 1 may be a little strange. Apply gentle pressure with your thumb to the back of the fretboard until you find a comfortable grip. Relax as you practice accurately positioning your fingers.Remember that you can get a FREE Uke Like The Pros chord collection here so you can learn not only this chord but many other useful chords to play your favorite songs.
Once you have your fingers positioned in the Bb chord shape, it’s time to hear the chord! Press down and strum across all four strings. If all four strings produce clear tones, you are applying the right amount of pressure. If one of the fingers is too light or positioned too far from the fret bar, you will hear a dull “thud” or buzzing instead of a clear note.
Don’t get discouraged if the Bb chord does not sound perfect on your first attempts. You are spreading your fingers across three frets! Learning the right amount of pressure on each finger will improve as you listen and adjust your fingers.
As you strum, identify which string is not producing a clear note. If strings 1 or 2 are not sounding correct, don’t panic! You are using finger 1 across the two strings and learning to position finger 1 so it is parallel with the fret bar. Pressing down so the first string is receiving as much pressure as the second string may take some effort until your hand gets used to this form. On strings 3 and 4, you can press a little more firmly or move your finger closer to the fret bar. You might find that fingers 2 and 3 are angled incorrectly or are touching a string below. To correct this, arch the fingers slightly higher so the strings below can vibrate freely.
The Bb chord is a common chord, particularly for songs written in the keys of F, Eb and Bb. Beginners should note that the chord does not appear in the key of C major –a frequent key used for songs for new students. As a result, the Bb chord is a great way to explore new keys and scales beyond C major. These new keys are not that more difficult to learn than the key of C major. They are just different, revolving around different chords and notes. For example, in the key of F, all the notes are the same as in C except for Bb (replacing B natural). Without much effort, you have a whole new set of songs using the Bb chord, including:
- “Set Fire to the Rain” – Adele
- “Trouble” – Never Shout Never
- “Back to Black” – Amy Winehouse
Bb Chord as a “Chord Shape”: Moving Across the Fingerboard
Now that you’ve learned a chord where you finger all four strings, you are ready to unleash your Ukulele player super power: chord shapes.
The Bb chord spans the 1st, 2nd and 3rd frets. If you keep your fingers in the same position and then move your fingers one fret down, you are now playing the B chord. Your fingers now stretch across the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th frets. As long as you use the same chord shape, you can play a new chord simply by moving it up and down the fingerboard.
Congratulations! You learned the Bb chord but you also learned the chord shape to produce a new chord every time yo move that same shape down the fretboard: Bb, B, C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, G, A.
For more lessons on chords, techniques, and songs, check out www.ukelikethepros.com. We offer you a bunch of great ukulele content that comes hand-in-hand with an awesome ukulele community that will support you in this journey.