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View Full Version : How to prevent ukulele from slipping when changing chords



xtallatx
09-19-2015, 05:52 AM
How do you prevent ukulele from slipping when do you change chords? For example, when you shift from the F chord to Em, you need to release all fingers of your left hand. In that case, is it the right hand that needs to hold your ukulele in place by pressing it against your body by your forearm? For some chord changes, it is possible to prevent ukulele from slipping by resting its neck between your thumb and index finger, but I assume this is not a good practice.

I've read through various guides how to hold ukulele with your left hand (such as this one (http://www.ukeschool.com/ukulele/lessons/how_to_hold.html)), but I've found them to be vague at explaining the left hand's position. Do you know more concrete recommendations on how to hold ukulele with your left hand?

Mivo
09-19-2015, 06:09 AM
Your finger strength improves as you practice and learn, and you somewhat intuitively learn to press the body against yourself more "efficiently" with your right arm also (in time, when it stops feeling slippery), but for me, the cure and solution was this:

http://www.ukeleash.com/

It fixed my frustrations and made learning ten times more enjoyable. It frees the left hand from having to support the neck, so you can keep your thumb on the back (like classical guitarists do it too) and your fingers have all the freedom they need. Other forms of straps work, too. I'm only a very happy customer, and bought seven of them from a local vendor here in Germany, not otherwise affiliated with Lori's Uke Leash :)

When seated, the leash is less necessary for me (it's a bit like training wheels in some ways, I find I relay much less on it now wizth the smaller ukes) as the instrument sits on leg, especially tenors.

xtallatx
09-19-2015, 06:37 AM
Thanks for the tip! So you see ukulele leash as a provisional solution that can be replaced by firmer grip with your right arm? I'm afraid the right hand grip will be slippy no matter how hard you press the ukulele to your body.

In my case, I usually sit and have the ukulele's body sitting on my right leg, so my problem is slipping of the neck. I suppose that in some way the ukulele's neck is too thin for my hand.

kypfer
09-19-2015, 09:34 AM
Both Danielle Ate the Sandwich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsO9BS4ojCc and Jamie Holding https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAksZJ3aAWs have made use of an appropriately attached length of string to support their ukulele ... wouldn't cost anything to try ;)

actadh
09-19-2015, 04:30 PM
I play sitting down. Not all of my ukuleles have strap buttons, which is my preferred way to play. I have been using a Flanger FA 80 on my polycarbonate tenor which does not have strap buttons. It has suction cups to keep from slipping, but it can be used just as a leg rest for any uke without using the suction cups.
http://www.amazon.com/Flanger-FA-80-Utility-Guitar-Accessory/dp/B00BP4F564

Another thread mentioned using the rubbery mats for kitchen shelves. So, when I was at Dollar Tree this week, I bought a big rubber rug underlay that keeps an area rug from slipping. Works great. I can put it under the lower bout, or roll it up and have the uke sit on it as a cushion. I can lay it on the back of the uke, and then lay the uke against me to play. Using it that way also keeps any buttons or zippers from scratching the back of the uke as well as keeping it from slipping. Mind you, I don't have really expensive ukulele finishes that may react against the rubbery material. It comes in a pretty big size, so one $1 purchase can be cut for several ukes.

And, just to give you more options, when I do play standing up, I use a Mobius strap. http://www.mobiusstrap.com/how.html

Lori
09-19-2015, 06:10 PM
Thanks for the tip! So you see ukulele leash as a provisional solution that can be replaced by firmer grip with your right arm? I'm afraid the right hand grip will be slippy no matter how hard you press the ukulele to your body.

In my case, I usually sit and have the ukulele's body sitting on my right leg, so my problem is slipping of the neck. I suppose that in some way the ukulele's neck is too thin for my hand.
Welcome to UU xtallatx!
Traditionally, people just squeeze the soundbox with their strumming arm. That is fine if it happens to suit the shape of your body, size of your uke, and playing style. However, I found it very distracting, and a waste of energy, especially if you really want to play music. Clamping down on the sound box like that will muffle the sound, and limit the placement of your strumming hand. Maybe not so important for just simple strumming, but fingerpicking might work better at a different location. I started using (and making) straps, and I will never go back.

Thanks Mivo for the endorsement! The people here on the UU forum helped me test out the Uke Leash. I have learned so much from this website. They are a great group of folks!

–Lori

Mivo
09-20-2015, 12:06 AM
Thanks for the tip! So you see ukulele leash as a provisional solution that can be replaced by firmer grip with your right arm? I'm afraid the right hand grip will be slippy no matter how hard you press the ukulele to your body.

You sound a lot like me when I first started out: You're overthinking and over-worrying. :)

I can totally relate, though. I was getting really frustrated with the ukulele. I looked at numerous videos and viewed a ton of photos, even bought a couple more books than I needed, always in the hope that one of them would somehow make it really obvious and foolproof how to hold the darn thing.

It all just confused me more, because everyone seemed to hold the ukulele a little differently, some talked about the thumb behind the neck, some seemed to grab the neck like a baseball bat, some recommended to rest the neck in the web between thumb and index finger (at which point I concluded that something must be anatomically wrong with my hands because if I held it like that, I could barely fret the strings at all!), and so on. As a result, I just put the ukulele aside because it made me feel stupid and hopeless, and that wasn't the experience I was looking for.

A bit later, I picked it up again, and I asked here for some help. The answers were essentially: "Get the Uke Leash and don't sweat it, it'll get better". I chewed a bit on that, because I didn't really want to use a strap/leash (another thing to buy, another thing to depend on, etc.) and "it'll get better" seemed so unsatisfying because it was so vague. But I bought a Uke Leash, and wow, what a difference it made!

Sure, I felt like I was using training wheels or those swimming wings that babies wear to prevent them from drowning, but I could actually play chords without cramping up and fumbling around! I did start to swim! It felt good to have the thumb on the neck with the fingers dancing (okay, slowly moving!) across the fretboard, and my progress really sped up. And now, after a little while, with the smaller ukuleles I often "somehow" hold the neck without the Uke Leash doing the holding.

As for the ukulele's body and holding it, that was a similar story for me. I had watched those videos (chiefly one by Cory of HMS) where the players expertly use the lower, inner part of their right arm to gently press the instrument against their body. I tried that and it felt weird, and cramp-y.

I sidestepped the issue by mostly playing while seated in a cross-legged fashion, or on a chair with one leg over the other (and the ukulele sitting on the upper leg), because I felt that I was trying too hard to get it all right, which confused me more. After a while, my body somehow figured out how to best hold the instruments.

It was just like people had told me: it would get better just by playing. It did, once I loosened up and paid less attention to all the technical details, and dropped the fear of acquiring bad habits (I think this is unlikely to happen anyway as long as you put your thumb on the back of the neck).

There, enough rambling from me. :) I hope some of this helps, though! I believe it really is as easy as getting the Uke Leash (or another strap) and relaxing. Everything else comes in time.

Tim Mullins
09-20-2015, 07:32 AM
And, just to give you more options, when I do play standing up, I use a Mobius strap. http://www.mobiusstrap.com/how.html

Thank you for the suggestion, Laura!

xtallatx
09-22-2015, 04:07 AM
Thanks everyone for sharing their thoughts. Special thanks to Mivo for elaborating on this topic.

I think the resolution is clear: Either acquire or make a DIY strap.

DownUpDave
09-22-2015, 04:41 AM
As another person said a piece of string is a cheap way to experiment. But the bottom line is a strap will make a huge difference no matter which type you go with. The strap will do all the holding while you can then concentrate on just playing.

I started with a leather boot lace, its thin and strong and kinda folky looking. Just tie it around the headstock and the waist. I now have buttons and straps on all my ukes.

The first picture shows the use of a chord lock to allow the length to be easily adjusted. You can get those at camping or craft stores

8362283621w

Rllink
09-22-2015, 05:19 AM
As another person said a piece of string is a cheap way to experiment. But the bottom line is a strap will make a huge difference no matter which type you go with. The strap will do all the holding while you can then concentrate on just playing.

I started with a leather boot lace, its thin and strong and kinda folky looking. Just tie it around the headstock and the waist. I now have buttons and straps on all my ukes.

The first picture shows the use of a chord lock to allow the length to be easily adjusted. You can get those at camping or craft stores

8362283621w
Yep, a little ingenuity goes a long way. I've used that same method myself, or else I've tied a big loop, like a mobius, and done it that way.

Sachelis
07-11-2018, 10:39 AM
...snip...

I started with a leather boot lace, its thin and strong and kinda folky looking.
83622

May old threads never die!

I'm only a few weeks into playing the ukulele and have been frustrated with a few specific cord changes where I can't support the uke's neck. And when I try to squeeze the body with my right arm, the neck swings to the right. I love the look of the "folksy" leather string approach. For the last 30 minutes, I've been using a 2mm piece of climbing cord and smiling broadly!

Jarmo_S
07-11-2018, 01:41 PM
You need to think if you are holding the uke properly. Both hands are needed to do that.
See with classical guitar, it is hold only with the right hand. Not so with ukulele.

Without too much more words from me, instead just look at this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPQK5XOZVdI

Things like straps are talked a lot in this thread and I find them useful, but don't let them become crutches for you. Learn without first.

mjh42
07-12-2018, 06:15 AM
Thanks for the video link.

On my Magic Fluke Concert I use a strap. On my new KoAloha Tenor I have not yet felt a need for a strap. Well see over time how that goes. The above video nicely illustrates how a strap may come in useful or may not be needed. Use one if the tool allows you to play better.

sunshiNee
07-13-2018, 12:59 AM
I'm a sit down player. I use a yoga block for my left leg to raise it up, and I hold the Ukulele similarly to a classical guitar player. I find this position to be very stable. I can fret without the thumb or strum open cords without the use of the fretting hand easily.... The key is to have your left thy raised and wedge the the Uke in between your legs. I play in a variety different chairs, couches, stools, and benches without issue.

But you'll find overtime the more you play... I think your fretting hand will naturally brace the the uke. Also I worked hard developing my thumb for strumming and picking as I see many "jazzy" uke players do. When you develop this style your strumming/picking hand naturally cradles the Uke where the neck meets the body. It's not something I ever consciously practice and it just seems your brain is just smart knows what to do instinctively. Again it's just playing the crap out of the darn thing everyday and then you realize how was the neck slipping ever a problem:)

https://www.thisisclassicalguitar.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Sofia-sitting-footstool-2016.jpg

LIvin
07-19-2018, 01:13 AM
Over time you will adapt and it will get easier but I think it will always be somewhat of a challenge to hold and play a small instrument. You could always use a strap, something else that I'll use every so often with my Flea is a piece of kitchen shelf liner (works great), I believe even uke master John King used this too.