Exercises for Improving the Left Hand Technique on the Ukulele

Exercises for Improving the Left Hand Technique on the Ukulele

Beginners Lessons, Chords, General, Intermediate Lessons

The following exercises are to help you become more familiar with moveable chords and extend your dexterity down the neck of the fret board.

Exercise 1
Finger an A chord without using your Index Finger. Now as you slide up the neck one fret at a time add the index finger to barre any open strings as far as the 5th fret.

Moveable A major ukulele chordExercise 2
Next finger an A7 chord using your second finger (m) and take this up the neck in the same way adding the index finger to barre any open strings as you go.

moveable 7th ukulele chordYou can apply this exercise with any open chords you know, it is worthwhile to call out the chord names as you move down the neck, this way you will become familiar with where the different chords are situated and begin to put tonal variations at your command. In other words next time your ukulele group picks a song from the books you can sound different to everyone else playing the basic first position chord shapes.

Are the above exercises causing you pain or the notes not sounding clear?

The video below by Phil Doleman goes into clear steps on forming barre chords properly. From over 30 years personal experience and observation of players on stringed instruments, there is one common factor which was a Eureka moment for me when I discovered it 4 years into playing a steel strung acoustic guitar ……. The experienced player forms the barre shape but only applies fretting pressure when he strikes or picks the strings.


A great way to practise this is to squeeze the barre shape and release the pressure rhythmically as per Jazz. Gerald Ross shows this in his beginning swing videos below.


  1. Posted by David Brindley, at Reply

    Really appreciate you taking the time to post this excellent and comprehensive tutorial. Phil Doleman’s video on playing and pain was particularly relevant for me as I have been suffering neck pain quite a lot recently and I’m pretty sure most of it is due to tension when I play Uke in a 3 Hr session every week at the. club.

    • Posted by Guv, at Reply

      Glad it helped David

  2. Posted by Claire Margetts, at Reply

    Changing my left hand position has enabled me to play the dreaded E chord at long last!

  3. Posted by Ivor Rathie, at Reply

    Hi. Just started the uku and your video on left hand improvement was great. I have a problem with my ring finger which was badly broken and tends to get in the way of my middle finger making the playing of G and G7 etc very difficult .Have even thought about playing left hand but not so confident. Any advice apart from cutting the finger off ( have even thought about it ). Thanks.

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