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Plane Ignerints
08-18-2015, 02:18 AM
I'm still struggling with holding the uke properly and strumming. I know it will get better with practice, but I don't want to develop any bad habits.

I really enjoy UU's videos on YouTube.

Debby
08-18-2015, 02:32 AM
I'm still struggling with holding the uke properly and strumming. I know it will get better with practice, but I don't want to develop any bad habits.

I really enjoy UU's videos on YouTube.

I'm still fairly new to the uke, too, as I have not played for a year. It is tricky at first, especially if you don't use a strap. I don't use a strap. Depending on how im sitting (I rarely stand and play), I generally hold the uke in the crook of my right elbow kind of. It's under my arm, but I feel a balance in that area. The uke generally sits on my chest. When I sit and play on the couch or in my recliner, I generally rest it in my thigh and play, instead of up on the chest.

You just have to try different ways to see what is comfy for you. There isn't really a right/wrong way. You will find that there are also straps and leashes that can help. I've never tried any of those with my uke.

Welcome to UU and thanks for your service to our country.

Debby
08-18-2015, 02:34 AM
I tried to see if any of my vids show how I hold my uke, but my camera normally cuts most of my uke out...but there are many of us on UU that have youtube channels and it may help you to check out how different people hold their ukes. You may find a comfy way.

Lori
08-18-2015, 04:52 AM
A strap can be very helpful. I have been playing for 6 years, and nobody cares if you play with a strap or not. Most of the top professional ukulele players use a strap.

–Lori

johnson430
08-18-2015, 05:35 AM
I bought a strap that uses a single strap button on the butt of the uke and ties above the nut.
It has made playing much more enjoyable.
I would strongly suggest a strap. The thicker the strap, the more comfortable it will be.
I tried a neck style that hooks in the sound-hole but it wasn't comfortable with my Pono so I upgraded to a "proper" strap. I can send you a link to the one I purchased on Amazon if you would like. It was under $20usd.
Johnson

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-18-2015, 12:28 PM
please remember your thumb placement.

I believe your uke should NOT be resting in (or touching) the web of your fingering hand
(generally left hand) as your thumb should generally be hidden (from the front) at the
middle of the back of the neck behind the 2nd fret.

I see many beginners 'grasping' the neck with their fingering hand and not giving their fingers
enough room to properly form the chords, especially the 3 and 4-finger chords.

I'm not saying you may not or cannot hold your uke in the web of your chord-forming hand,
I'm just saying that if you're having difficulty forming chords and/or switching from chord to
chord smoothly and easily, it may have something to do with your thumb placement.

my 2 cents :)

keep uke'in',

ohmless
08-18-2015, 12:43 PM
I use a classical guitar strap similar but with a smaller hook than Jake Shimabukuro's(it goes under the uke and hooks onto the sound hole). I have to wrap the strap around itself to shorten it but it was cheap and locally available. It also wouldn't work for a pineapple uke as well if you have that style of body.

Uncle Rod's advice is gold, not copper. haha

actadh
08-18-2015, 02:45 PM
I just got my first tenor. I play all my ukes sitting down. I thought it would be like my concert - which is very comfortable to play with my left foot slightly elevated while I sit. I play it without a strap.

I was surprised that the tenor was really uncomfortable that way. I was having a hard time holding it no matter what I did. I had ordered it without strap buttons, thinking I would not need them. Maybe it was because I mostly play sopranos, but it just seemed big and ungainly. (Sounded good, though, when I was able to hold onto it for more than a few notes.)

So, I used the Mobius strap that I use when I play my vintage sopranos that are too fragile for strap buttons. It works really well on the Outdoor Ukulele tenor shape. Problem solved.

PreflightNut
08-19-2015, 12:44 AM
please remember your thumb placement.

I believe your uke should NOT be resting in (or touching) the web of your fingering hand
(generally left hand) as your thumb should generally be hidden (from the front) at the
middle of the back of the neck behind the 2nd fret.

keep uke'in',

I'm glad you said this. I'm relatively new to ukulele as well, and hold the uke as you described. I've seen so many videos where players hold the ukulele in the web of their hand that I began questioning if I was holding the instrument correctly. Thanks for the peace of mind Uncle Rod!

Plane Ignerints
08-19-2015, 01:17 AM
please remember your thumb placement.

I believe your uke should NOT be resting in (or touching) the web of your fingering hand
(generally left hand) as your thumb should generally be hidden (from the front) at the
middle of the back of the neck behind the 2nd fret.

I see many beginners 'grasping' the neck with their fingering hand and not giving their fingers
enough room to properly form the chords, especially the 3 and 4-finger chords.

I'm not saying you may not or cannot hold your uke in the web of your chord-forming hand,
I'm just saying that if you're having difficulty forming chords and/or switching from chord to
chord smoothly and easily, it may have something to do with your thumb placement.

my 2 cents :)

keep uke'in',

Thank you for this advice. I'm still working on things. I have really tried to take a basic, fundamental approach; last night I practiced strumming without even trying to make chords, just trying to get comfortable strumming.

Farp
08-19-2015, 04:15 AM
PI, you can take a more pragmatic approach. After all, you may have just begun down a happy trail to a life-long pursuit. The suggestions from others are sound, but I don’t think you necessarily have to practice with perfect posture and positioning.

My ukulele sits beside my desk or favorite chair, depending upon what I’m doing; and I pick it up to pick or strum a few notes or several songs as the mood moves me. Sometimes, I play while laying back in my favorite lounge chair. Often, I’m in my desk chair that has arm rests. At other times, I might be in various postures or positions and hold the instrument in any old way just to get at the strings. The only time I seem to be concerned with holding the ukulele properly is when I’m at the monthly ukulele club jam; and even then, I often slouch back, just enjoying the evening.

My point is, I think you can progress nicely if you just play without much concern about all the specifics of posture, etc. And play chords or notes while learning to strum, even if you are not all that happy with what you hear. You need to develop strength in your fingers, and harden the tips of your fingers on your chording hand. You also need to develop the coordination of the strumming hand so it will work together with the chord changes and varying music beats.

I’m far from being the best player, nor will I ever be, because I just don’t have the gift. Still, I’ve enjoyed the ride for the past going on 56 years. What I am saying is…just play and enjoy the ride. You will develop the skills to play close to perfect no matter if you just play.

Plane Ignerints
08-22-2015, 08:40 AM
Thank you for this counsel. I definitely am enjoying myself. It also helps that I invested in a tuner...so now the chords I play match what I hear in songs. My little monsters keep asking me to play the opening theme from "Adventure Time" which is the first song I learned.

WaylonUkulele
08-24-2015, 03:45 AM
I, too, use a classical type strap that clips onto the sound hole. I'm having a custom one knitted too.

When I was just starting out (which wasn't long ago) I found it to be a nightmare just getting proper instruction on the MECHANICS of strumming a ukulele. There are approximately 1 million videos on strumming PATTERNS, but very few good/useable videos that just show the basics of how to hold your finger and contact the strings with it up and down. I wasn't even at the point of patterns and rhythms yet. I just needed someone to show me how to work the thing first..

This video was so good for me when I was starting out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoalVl5ikL4

Pickinguker
08-24-2015, 07:01 AM
I install one strap button on all my ukes.

kohanmike
08-24-2015, 07:21 AM
At first I tried without a strap but it was so cumbersome that I added 2 strap buttons to all my ukes, and use a 1 1/2" leather strap, rough on the inside to keep it in place. Doesn't bother me one bit to drill holes in my ukes, no matter what the price of the uke. I even did it to my custom gypsy uke that was $780.

zztush
08-24-2015, 11:34 AM
If you don't want to develop any bad habits, strap is the best way. Because it brings us better condition to hold the uku.

I use a sucker instead of strap pin. The sucker is 5cm diameter. It was only $1 in DIY shop. It works very good and never had a trouble for me over 3 months. You can just try it to see how strap works.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=82696&d=1440148972&thumb=1&stc=1

Mivo
08-25-2015, 03:19 AM
I struggled with this as well, initially, and got quite confused by the conflicting advice that books and videos (not referring to any in particular) offered. The worrying about bad habits impacted by enjoyment for some time. The three tips that really helped and let me have fun again were: getting an Uke Leash, remembering to keep the thumb behind the neck, and holding down strings with the finger tips. As finger strength improves, the strap becomes less needed and more of bit of convenience (at least while sitting).

Tim Mullins
08-25-2015, 07:00 AM
I just got my first tenor. I play all my ukes sitting down. I thought it would be like my concert - which is very comfortable to play with my left foot slightly elevated while I sit. I play it without a strap.

I was surprised that the tenor was really uncomfortable that way. I was having a hard time holding it no matter what I did. I had ordered it without strap buttons, thinking I would not need them. Maybe it was because I mostly play sopranos, but it just seemed big and ungainly. (Sounded good, though, when I was able to hold onto it for more than a few notes.)

So, I used the Mobius strap that I use when I play my vintage sopranos that are too fragile for strap buttons. It works really well on the Outdoor Ukulele tenor shape. Problem solved.

Thanks, Laura, for passing on your positive experience!

CactusWren
08-25-2015, 07:59 AM
I didn't see any straps on the Hawaiian Music Supply videos, featuring some of the top ukulele players. They are playing tenors and seem to mostly use various parts of the left hand to support the instrument. Sometimes their thumbs are hidden, sometimes they protrude past the top. They do plenty of strumming in the first position, but are also doing extravagantly difficult position shifts in fast, complex music. For example, check out the link below to Corey Fujimoto playing some of the most difficult music imaginable on the uke without a strap. Troy Fernandez plays without a strap despite playing all over the fretboard. Maybe it is a Hawaiian thing. My guess is that if you play tons and don't confine yourself with rules about how you're "supposed" to hold the uke (for example, you're not "supposed" to use the palm of the hand to hold the uke--even though many of the finest players do, or you're not "supposed" to let the thumb show, even though they do), you eventually figure out all the little tricks necessary to do whatever is necessary. I play classical guitar and these rules help a lot in that instrument, but the uke is a folk instrument, a different ball game. Ever seen classical musicians try to play folk? :)

It is possible to play a tenor sitting with just the weight of your arm holding it in place, no left hand necessary at all. Like a classical guitar. There is an issue here, though--your hand will end up at a particular place, probably near the juncture of the body and neck. If you don't want to pick there, then you are out of luck. Check out Troy Fernandez. He plays to the right of the soundhole. Probably because he wants a bright, brilliant sound to highlight his fast, flashy licks. It looks like he is pressing the palm of his picking hand into the soundboard to help secure the uke, but I think he uses a lot of left hand to hold up the neck.

Jake S and James Hill use straps, but, significantly, they are playing tenors and standing. Both use playing styles that require a lot of freedom in the right arm, complex combinations of picking and body percussion and rapid strums.

This treatise aside, the easy way out is--yes, get a strap! I have a simple one by Neotech and it makes everything so much easier. I'm sure the others listed in this thread also work great. It is work to hold up the guitar and the straps take that work away and free you to just play the thing.

Corey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy1faNxAaqI
Troy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNGdpjwAm2E

CactusWren
08-25-2015, 02:54 PM
"We're wiser now" than the Hawaiian players in their 20s who have thoroughly mastered their instrument? Or even the ones in their 50s? On what authority would such a statement rest, I wonder? Nor am I sure how the players that I happen to enjoy and emulate constitute cherry picking. I think studying the techniques of the most accomplished players with an open mind would be the most productive way to learn. Sometimes mastering the things which are at first glance are unpleasant pay out down the road. I may never get as good as Troy or Corey, but I did get good enough on guitar to make a living at it. It wasn't by thinking I knew more than John Williams or Andres Segovia.

Mivo
08-25-2015, 03:15 PM
I didn't see any straps on the Hawaiian Music Supply videos, featuring some of the top ukulele players.

I think a lot of this is just years of playing, and a lot of it, which results in much better finger strength than most of us have, especially when starting out. For a beginner, using a strap or a leash also means one thing less to have to be consciously aware of, which frees up mind space for getting the fingers where they need to be, keeping the rhythm, not getting the strumming hand tangled up in the strings, etc. :)

southcoastukes
08-25-2015, 04:07 PM
I think a lot depends on your approach. If you want to be a casual player, look at Farp's post. He makes a lot of good points, and as long as you don't find yourself starting to develop any sort of pain from the odd position here and there, then just "do what you wanna".

I've always thought straps had a lot of advantages as well. From the standpoint of sound, some of them leave the soundboard uncompromised - no necessity for resting your arm and/or hand over it for balance, and thereby muffling what is also a rather small area to begin with.

But one truly magnificent player uses a style that I don't generally see on the Ukulele, and for a strapless technique, it's the best I've found. Here's a playlist of videos:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfVCj2C0TnIrV0PvtUd5bJd4hHzJXYjb_

This style works easily on larger Ukuleles, but while I haven't tried it on a true Soprano, I have a feeling it might even work there. If you look closely in some videos you'll see Leonardo has a Velcro patch glued to the lower left side to help keep things in place. In others, there seems to be some sort of curved leg rest attached there. I can see the advantage, though since I don't play that exuberantly that often, I haven't had to use one.

Try it - you'll be surprised at how with just a light touch on the neck, all stays in balance, and the elevated position again means your arm won't need to muffle the soundboard. There's something to be said for practicing a good form right from the beginning.

P.S:

Come to think of it, I have seen this technique used by an UU member as well. He sings like Mose Alison and builds his own Ukuleles from native California woods. Doug? Hep' me out here folks!

southcoastukes
08-25-2015, 05:19 PM
Found Doug!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3Hp5YivRO8

Cassie
10-19-2015, 07:14 PM
Hi. I'm sort of new to the uke. I just got my first one a week ago. I can play a few chords but I'm having sort of the same issue. I always rest my arm on the body near the edge and let the neck rest in my hand between my fingers. I've looked at videos but they're not descriptive enough for someone who can't see.

JMort847
01-15-2016, 05:45 PM
Lori,
After three weeks with my Kala KA-T, kinda fumbling with clean chords, I searched the UU Forum and found some articles on straps. There are many good products out there, but I've ordered a Uke Leash and look forward to using it.

Lori
01-16-2016, 04:26 PM
Lori,
After three weeks with my Kala KA-T, kinda fumbling with clean chords, I searched the UU Forum and found some articles on straps. There are many good products out there, but I've ordered a Uke Leash and look forward to using it.
That's great! The Uke Leash has helped me and many others. Perhaps it is the right one for you! Remember, you can return it if it doesn't work out for you.
–Lori

pablo285
01-20-2016, 12:16 AM
I didn't want to wait for a Uke leash so I looked around my office and made one for exactly 0€. I took a visitor's badge strap and a strap from an old emergency breathing mask, they somehow magically fit together. At home I asked my wife for a little sewing job and now I have my own DIY leash. :)

It really helped me since I am an absolute beginner and coordinating chord changes with keeping the uke in place was a big hindrance.

Will post photos when I get home today, it's really not difficult to make one.

ukulelego
01-20-2016, 12:35 AM
I saw or read a great tip from Phil Doleman on this - he suggested standing right against a bed while you get used to holding it, then if you drop it for any reason you're not going to damage your ukulele.

JMort847
01-20-2016, 07:30 AM
That's great! The Uke Leash has helped me and many others. Perhaps it is the right one for you! Remember, you can return it if it doesn't work out for you.
–Lori

I receive my Uke Leash and have been using it for the last two days. It definitely helps to support the instrument, which makes chord work easier. I'm still getting used to placing my thumb correctly on the back of the neck (it wants to slide to the space between the thumb and index finger), but the leash makes a difference on my tenor. I'm getting a soprano soon, and will see if I need it for that instrument. Theoretically, it should be easier to hold and control, but time will tell.

pablo285
01-20-2016, 07:41 AM
This is how a homemade ukulele leash looks like. :)8756287563

Had the components lying around in my office so it cost me nothing at all. :)
Originally I used only the green webbing, I simply wrapped it around the headstock. It worked but it was a little more difficult to put it on since it was always attached to the uke.

Tootler
01-20-2016, 12:40 PM
When I started out, I found the uke leash a tremendous help. Over time, I found I could manage without most of the time, especially with sopranos. However, I've recently fitted strap buttons to my concert and tenors and started using a strap when standing and it makes a big difference. You can safely let go to move your left hand if you need to without the uke faling.

Lori
01-21-2016, 06:45 AM
I receive my Uke Leash and have been using it for the last two days. It definitely helps to support the instrument, which makes chord work easier. I'm still getting used to placing my thumb correctly on the back of the neck (it wants to slide to the space between the thumb and index finger), but the leash makes a difference on my tenor. I'm getting a soprano soon, and will see if I need it for that instrument. Theoretically, it should be easier to hold and control, but time will tell.
Glad the Uke Leash is helping. It kind of depends on your style, how much you might continue to use it. If you change your hand position up and down the neck a lot, then you might decide to use it on all your ukes. For me, it has helped me play more difficult songs without the worry of controlling the neck position.

–Lori

mm stan
01-23-2016, 02:10 AM
Aloha,
Yes i always say practice, perseverance, passion and persistence is the key to the learning curb
Build finger strength and dexterity in time. Yes there are several reason that can impede learning
Everyone is different too, some have short fingers and small hands, ukuleles have wide and narrow necks,
Or fat or thin necks. Also string tension is a factor in playability and comfort. While high tension strings
Brings clarity and substain but at a price which is difficult for a beginner. Lower tension strings provide a
Warmer slower tone and it is easier on the fretting and fingers, more comfort and playability.
Also string height /action.. higher action can make it harder to fret as you need to assert more pressure fretting
And harder to transition chords. Get a set up done. Thinner strings also help playability as they are more comfortable
But you have a thinner tone. Just take your time on the learning curb and every so often you will get more aha moments of figuring things out. Lastly practice early morning after a hour you get up, your mind is rested, fresh and not cluttered up.. you retain more and have more creative moments.. happy strummings :)
As for holding your uke, whatever is comfortable for you, i personally like 2pm headstock position and tuck under the forearm...