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View Full Version : Generally accepted playing styles of ukulele



Ukejenny
10-07-2014, 05:04 PM
What are they? A thread from uke beginners has my interest.

For those of you in the know, can you please describe the various playing styles?

How many styles are there?

Campanella, for instance...

Icelander53
10-07-2014, 07:20 PM
Mine is called "by the seat of your pants" style. Hope that helps.

igorthebarbarian
10-07-2014, 07:44 PM
Mine is called "hack" - but it's all good. Whatever works.
Your acroynm could be GAPS (generally-accepted-playing-styles), which would be me because I would have lots of GAPS in my technique.

kypfer
10-07-2014, 10:25 PM
Basically there are two styles ... well or badly ;)

From there you can sub-divide :

Strumming well - or not
Picking well - or not
Clawhammer ...... etc. etc etc

I know where I stand ... YMMV :)

Brad Bordessa
10-07-2014, 10:52 PM
When someone says "I like your style," they usually aren't referring to campanella or clawhammer, they are referring to YOU. Every musician has a style. Well or badly, it's yours - OWN IT!!!

I'll leave the details to others, but more on track of the thread, I would guess that there are too many "playing camps" to even count. Every genre has at least a few styles. That's hundreds, if not thousands, right there. What if you apply a different picking technique to those genres? The possibilities just multiply!

CeeJay
10-08-2014, 01:22 AM
When someone says "I like your style," they usually aren't referring to campanella or clawhammer, they are referring to YOU. Every musician has a style. Well or badly, it's yours - OWN IT!!!

I'll leave the details to others, but more on track of the thread, I would guess that there are too many "playing camps" to even count. Every genre has at least a few styles. That's hundreds, if not thousands, right there. What if you apply a different picking technique to those genres? The possibilities just multiply!

Style is the way in which you as an individual play a method...so a strummer will have his/her own style....accepted.....but there are differing methods these days...when I started ,back in the historical mists of time ...strumming was the only way that we knew of (certainly in UK)...after a while I took a break, a big one, though I never lost touch with my little buddy. When I came back to it ..the methods of playing were many and various ...more fingerpicking and melodic styles (I have had to up my game )......so when someone says "I play the ukelele" the next question has to be ..."ah ,but how do you play the ukelele?"

Fingerstyle ...guitar methods/cherry picking /clawhammer/three finger rolls ala Scruggs,classical,campanella, etc

Strumming...Formby,Smeck, Randall ,Ukulele Ike, Tessie O'Shea.....etc

I advocate a mixture of all ....and one thing that really burns me is when people say "Oh we have moved on from the days of Formby.....I say...try and do it "

So what , in my half witted way am saying is that each of us has a style ..as Hippie Guy puts it ...but a lot of us seem to play different methods .....and that can cause mis-understandings in discussion . There is little point in a guy who predominantly strums having a technical discussion with someone who predominantly fingerpicks campanella.........or is there ...?

IamNoMan
10-08-2014, 02:23 AM
I'm in the camp with Hippie Guy and CeeJee.
There are different styles though. Hawaiian and English Music Hall, (ala Formby et al), for two.

I have my own Style. I call it "Smell the Roses". This morning just before moonset I went out and watched the total eclipse. It ended just at sunrise. I spun around on my stool and watched the sunrise. Did I have my Uke? You Betcha. I am learning "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" and "Here Comes the Sun". Beautiful Red Moon - you could see the rabbit; and an apricot colored sunrise. I think its gonna be a good day.

Ukejenny
10-08-2014, 06:51 AM
What I would like to do is research these playing/strumming/picking styles on a one by one basis. I'd like to try the Formby split strum. I need help on where to start, like a beginner's list of strumming/picking styles that are commonly used, taught and learned by ukulele players/teachers.

I've seen a video on Formby's split strum. I saw another video on the USSR strum. I'd like to know more about the campanella technique of John King. James Hill's technique...

I would like to learn these individual techniques. Technique is a better word than style, I guess.

Edited to add - and what other strumming/picking techniques am I missing?

kypfer
10-08-2014, 12:44 PM
what other strumming/picking techniques am I missing? Well, I'm a great fan of clawhammer. I'm really not very good at it, but it's a style that adapts to the re-entrant tuned ukulele very well and can be used as a "backing strum" for a sound that's a little bit different from the "usual" down-up-down-up that seems to be used, in it's various forms, for most ukulele backing accompaniment. With a little further effort, clawhammer can be used for melody as well as just backing, so can make for a nice instrumental "break" between verses without breaking the overall "flow" of the number being performed.

I'm not a great one for "pidgeon-holing" the various picking styles ... Travis picking, Carter picking, "Celtic folk style" etc. etc. all seem to be variations on one another.

If you really want a formalised challenge, try "classical guitar style". Takes a lot of dedicated concentration to start out with, but the net result can be worth it if you want to play complicated melodies ... and you can even use the techniques you've learnt for other styles of music ;)

YMMV, but enjoy the journey :)

Nickie
10-08-2014, 01:19 PM
I've heard people play Bluegrass style, and Classical style, and the techniques are similiar, as in hard to duplicate/learn. Blues style seems unlike any other, and jazz sounds like a lot of other things all jumbled together to me.
I guess there are probably untold techniques that can be applied to ukulele. So far my faves are Campagnella, Travis style, Scruggs style, and techniques that make the uke sound more like a harp than a guitar.
I find it quite impressive to watch Ken Middleton play clawhammer on the baritone, too.

Ukejenny
10-08-2014, 01:57 PM
Well, I'm a great fan of clawhammer. I'm really not very good at it, but it's a style that adapts to the re-entrant tuned ukulele very well and can be used as a "backing strum" for a sound that's a little bit different from the "usual" down-up-down-up that seems to be used, in it's various forms, for most ukulele backing accompaniment. With a little further effort, clawhammer can be used for melody as well as just backing, so can make for a nice instrumental "break" between verses without breaking the overall "flow" of the number being performed.

I'm not a great one for "pidgeon-holing" the various picking styles ... Travis picking, Carter picking, "Celtic folk style" etc. etc. all seem to be variations on one another.

If you really want a formalised challenge, try "classical guitar style". Takes a lot of dedicated concentration to start out with, but the net result can be worth it if you want to play complicated melodies ... and you can even use the techniques you've learnt for other styles of music ;)

YMMV, but enjoy the journey :)


I've heard people play Bluegrass style, and Classical style, and the techniques are similiar, as in hard to duplicate/learn. Blues style seems unlike any other, and jazz sounds like a lot of other things all jumbled together to me.
I guess there are probably untold techniques that can be applied to ukulele. So far my faves are Campagnella, Travis style, Scruggs style, and techniques that make the uke sound more like a harp than a guitar.
I find it quite impressive to watch Ken Middleton play clawhammer on the baritone, too.

Thank you both so much. I've never heard of some of these techniques, such as "Travis style" and "Scruggs style". Is this a reference to Earl Scruggs? I'll have to Google these as well as "Carter picking".

Nickie
10-08-2014, 02:06 PM
Thank you both so much. I've never heard of some of these techniques, such as "Travis style" and "Scruggs style". Is this a reference to Earl Scruggs? I'll have to Google these as well as "Carter picking".

Yep, good ol' Earl! I don't know which Carter he meant, maybe Carter Stanley, Ralph's late brother???

twentytabby
10-08-2014, 03:00 PM
Yep, good ol' Earl! I don't know which Carter he meant, maybe Carter Stanley, Ralph's late brother???

Maybell Carter. I learned Carter Picking about 45 years ago.

kypfer
10-08-2014, 10:30 PM
twentytabby wrote :
Maybell Carter. I learned Carter Picking about 45 years ago Exactly right :)

I've been using a variation of this style of picking on my guitar ever since when, but only became aware that it had a name a few months ago :rolleyes:

Aaron Keim has some free tutorials and videos covering this, clawhammer and "other stuff" on his web-site http://quietamericanmusic.com/ukuleletabsandvideos/ and YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/ackeim

Other tutorials are available ;)

YMMV, but enjoy the journey :)

Uncle Leroy
10-09-2014, 02:55 AM
Carter Style is a good way to describe it. My grandpa, my Dad and myself all played banjo. So I use finger rolls a lot. Hybrid maybe.

kkimura
10-09-2014, 04:52 AM
I like the sound of arpeggio. Don't know if that's a style or a technique. Maybe it's classical style? More likely a classical technique. Whatever it is, I like the sound of it.

IamNoMan
10-09-2014, 08:18 AM
Yeah Mother Maybelle Carter Picking Style, is too long a handle. Old A.P. didn't know but three chords. Didn't let that stop him though. "Scruggs" Style is also known as "Reno" Style after Don Reno. There is some ill feeling there sadly. They are both the same "three finger roll" style. Thumb down fingers up in different combinations. Charlie "Poole Style" and Doc Boggs style are three finger styles as well, each with their own distinctive sound. Charlie Poole only had two fingers to work with, but I still categorize this as a three finger style.

Clawhammer Style as discussed at UU is a misnomer. Often when the Ukers talk about clawhammer they are really talking about Pete "Seeger" style, (Not Mike or Peggy, Mike was a master of many styles). Seeger style is not clawhammer per say and it can be UDUD or DdDd. IT doesn't matter at root but it is a subtle distinction that confuses new Ukers who play the Banjo and newbs who mistakenly try combine the two techniques while calling it by the same name. These are "Two Finger" Techniques.

I further distinguish "Drop thumb" and "Frailing" as clawhammer techniques. Drop thumb is usually a two finger style but doesn't have to be. Frailing is pretty much the same as straight Clawhammer but utilizes occasional brush strokes that opens the right hand up. This is a no-no amongst banjo purists, but is also used in Doc Boggs style. Brush Stokes are a cheap and dirty way to handle 3/4 and 6/8 time signatures.

It think of all banjo plunking techniques as "Split Stroke" but I may be wrong in this assumption.

CeeJay
10-09-2014, 01:37 PM
Yeah Mother Maybelle Carter Picking Style, is too long a handle. Old A.P. didn't know but three chords. Didn't let that stop him though. "Scruggs" Style is also known as "Reno" Style after Don Reno. There is some ill feeling there sadly. They are both the same "three finger roll" style. Thumb down fingers up in different combinations. Charlie "Poole Style" and Doc Boggs style are three finger styles as well, each with their own distinctive sound. Charlie Poole only had two fingers to work with, but I still categorize this as a three finger style.

Clawhammer Style as discussed at UU is a misnomer. Often when the Ukers talk about clawhammer they are really talking about Pete "Seeger" style, (Not Mike or Peggy, Mike was a master of many styles). Seeger style is not clawhammer per say and it can be UDUD or DdDd. IT doesn't matter at root but it is a subtle distinction that confuses new Ukers who play the Banjo and newbs who mistakenly try combine the two techniques while calling it by the same name. These are "Two Finger" Techniques.

I further distinguish "Drop thumb" and "Frailing" as clawhammer techniques. Drop thumb is usually a two finger style but doesn't have to be. Frailing is pretty much the same as straight Clawhammer but utilizes occasional brush strokes that opens the right hand up. This is a no-no amongst banjo purists, but is also used in Doc Boggs style. Brush Stokes are a cheap and dirty way to handle 3/4 and 6/8 time signatures.

It think of all banjo plunking techniques as "Split Stroke" but I may be wrong in this assumption.

Personally I don't care what it's called ...so long as you can whistle the tune afterwards LOl

Tootler
10-09-2014, 11:01 PM
I like the sound of arpeggio. Don't know if that's a style or a technique. Maybe it's classical style? More likely a classical technique. Whatever it is, I like the sound of it.

An Arpeggio is simply playing the notes of chord one at a time rather than all together or strumming. When I finger pick, it's what I do. I hold the chord shape in my left hand and pick the individual notes with alternating thumb & forefinger. Other pickers change the fretting as they pick to play melody interspersed with harmony notes.

kkimura
10-10-2014, 02:24 AM
An Arpeggio is simply playing the notes of chord one at a time rather than all together or strumming. When I finger pick, it's what I do. I hold the chord shape in my left hand and pick the individual notes with alternating thumb & forefinger. Other pickers change the fretting as they pick to play melody interspersed with harmony notes.

Sounds good to me!

:D

Ukejenny
10-10-2014, 04:02 AM
So many techniques/styles....so little time.

Thanks, y'all, for the wonderful information.