Are you looking to step up your ukulele playing by learning how to play bar chords? You may just be dipping your toes into seventh chords or jazz and blues-style music. This article will give you the fundamentals to play either the D7 open position chord or bar chord. You get to choose! That is what makes this chord special, and beginners, as well as advanced players, can challenge themselves by learning about this chord depending on which ones they choose to use.
Open Position D7 Chord
If you are a beginner or you are opting not to learn bar chords yet, do not fret. You can choose to play the open position D7 chord. An open position chord is simply a chord that has at least one open string. When you play the open position D7 chord, you have two open strings which means you are applying pressure on the other two strings. This is the simpler of the two options when playing the D7 chord. This Uke Like the Pros (ULTP) video, What D7 Chord is Right?, will discuss both types of D7 chords and includes a tutorial on how to play them.
Finger Placement and Fretboard Work
Look at the diagram of the open position D7 chord. You should see two black dots that denote where you press down on the strings. You will be using fingers 2 and 3. Also, take note of the fingers which are numbered in the image below. You can see that you will be placing your middle finger (finger 2) on the G string right above the second fretboard line.
The strings are G-C-E-A (from top to bottom). You will then place your ring finger (finger 3) on the third string (the E string) right above the second fretboard line. Be sure not to press down on the line. You want your fingers to be right above that fretboard line that runs perpendicular to the neck. Strum with your right finger of choice, and voila! You have just played the open position D7 chord!
The D7 Bar Chord Version
If you are more advanced in your ukulele playing or if you are just up for the challenge, consider learning the D7 bar chord. This is a more challenging version of the D7 chord, but you can do it! You may need to put in some work to achieve playing this chord successfully, but probably one of the most important things you can do as a musician is to push forward and to take yourself out of your stale, comfort zone.
Logistics Behind the Bar Chord
In the diagram, you will see four black dots on the G-C-E-A strings with a curved bar over the top. This means that you will use your forefinger (finger 1) to press down on all the strings. This takes finger strength, something that you may not have right off the bat. So I do have some recommendations in the next section of this article.
Read more: Is the Ukulele easier than Guitar? FIND OUT!
Let’s assume that you do have finger strength. Press down on the bottom string (string A) with your middle finger (finger 2) while pressing down with finger 1 as stated before. This will be a challenge if you are trying bar chords for the first time, but there are some things you can do to ensure the chord rings clearly and accurately. Refer to this ULTP tutorial, How to Play the D7 Chord, for extra support.
Bar Chord Suggestions
In the following video, How to Play Bar Chords and Not Get Frustrated, Terry Carter provides suggestions for mastering bar chords without getting frustrated. It will take practice, so do not expect to have it perfectly down on the first few attempts. Here are some things to keep in mind when playing bar chords:
- Make sure the bar chord finger is parallel with the fret (you will be tempted to contort the finger placement)
- Press down right above the fretboard line (do not press on the fretboard line.
- Keep your elbow relaxed and as natural as possible (keep the elbow the way you do when playing ordinary chords)
- Your left thumb should be placed between the middle and top of the ukulele neck.
- Apply pressure to the strings, but do not have a death grip on any part of your ukulele.
Further Information on the D7 Chord
This chord is similar to the D chord, but it has one less finger pressing down on the strings. The D7 chord is useful in playing the blues in the key of D or A. The D7 chord is a seventh chord that has four different notes in it. It has no root note, or D note. Seventh chords can give you a more open, Blues sound, and it enables you to move down the neck of the ukulele more seamlessly.
The D7 chord is very versatile. You can keep practicing the bar chord version while using the open position version of the chord for songs until you build the finger strength and/or skill to play the bar chord successfully. I am in the middle of building my finger strength as well, and I encourage you to use the resources from ULTP to help you achieve your ukulele playing goals.
You can find this helpful book, Ukulele Practice and Technique Bootcamp Book, in the ULTP store, and it will give you step-by-step practicing techniques to build your finger strength and agility. Keep practicing, and know that you can do anything you set your mind to doing. Keep strumming!