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View Full Version : Transition from Thumpicking to Fingerstyle



Estudiante
11-11-2016, 05:00 AM
My impression from reviewing a number of methods...if the musician is coming from a guitar background, they're going to instruct you to start with p-i-m-a. But if the musician is not coming from a guitar background they're going to start you out thumb-only, then graduating to thumb-and-index finger. ...my impresssion and a generalization.

I started out thumb-only, for about 6 months (Ukulele Way method - which is really good, I just didn't prefer mostly-folk music), but then I wanted to also start working on fingerstyle skills. It can be a bit like starting over because one has to re-figure how to simply hold the ukulele all over again. With thumb-only of course one supports the body of the uke with the index, middle, ring and pinky of my right hand. With fingerstyle, one has to USE those fingers for playing. It's a big transition to figure out how to hold / position the uke in a new way.

So, if you're like me and your goal is to play uke as a solo instrument, I really recommend avoiding the transition and instead start out with p-i-m-a right from the get-go.

Que piensan ustedes?? What do you think??

Gary52
11-11-2016, 05:22 AM
I find it much easier to play with a strap, so I don't have to support the uke with my right arm and/or hand.

I think different methods of picking are useful to know, especially if one enjoys playing a variety of styles. Thumb picking, thumb + index, thumb + 2 fingers, and p-i-m-a all have a place in the repertoire of techniques for those who want to go beyond strumming.

Estudiante
11-11-2016, 05:30 AM
Yes, I agree, all are useful and to be a well rounded player one should be able to use them all.

I guess my main point, which maybe got buried in my post, is that by starting out with p-i-m-a rather than with thumb-picking, one can avoid frustrating transition from thumb over to p-i-m-a. Transitioning from p-i-m-a to the others should be easy.

Thanks for commenting on my post!

Croaky Keith
11-11-2016, 08:14 AM
Depending on what you personally want to play, each style has a reason, & you start with what suits you. :)

There are lots of other 'techniques' to be learned also, if that is what you want, but for a lot of people, strumming is where it's at. Personally, I pick melodies. :D

Also, there are two basic ways of holding a uke, one for strumming or finger style, & the other for picking - then you can use a strap, & that can be fitted different ways, depending on your style. :cool:

Mivo
11-11-2016, 10:55 AM
Don't the later books of The Ukulele Way cover PIMA fingerstyle as well?

Thumbpicking is a completely different style than the PIM(A) style, it produces a different tone, and it is even played on a different part of the instrument. There are great, professional solo ukulele players who only use the thumb (Otha San Sr.) or two fingers (Kimo Hussey, Gordon Mark, Led Kaapana). One of the ukulele videos that impressed me the most is WS64's medley of a whole Beatles album which he played on a laminate Kiwaya KS-0, chiefly with only his thumb:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaDADJ0O73U

I feel that if "your goal is to play uke as a solo instrument", it's a good idea to learn and "master" (get decent at) different styles and techniques for different songs and sounds. The ukulele is not a classical guitar. While some CG techniques work really well on the ukulele, it's not the same instrument.

DownUpDave
11-11-2016, 12:27 PM
I have adhered the P I M method.......thumb for G and C strings, index for E and middle for A strings. Mike Lynch and Aaron Keim teach this method. Regardless of what technique you use......get a strap.....seriously. Get a strap if you are having challenges supporting the uke now. Everyone that starts to use a strap is glad they did.

cml
11-11-2016, 11:54 PM
I have adhered the P I M method.......thumb for G and C strings, index for E and middle for A strings. Mike Lynch and Aaron Keim teach this method. Regardless of what technique you use......get a strap.....seriously. Get a strap if you are having challenges supporting the uke now. Everyone that starts to use a strap is glad they did.
Good advice. A strap helps and is a great addition to any uke .

WS64
11-14-2016, 02:02 AM
Good advice. A strap helps and is a great addition to any uke .


No, it is not.
Play without.
If you need a strap to hold the uke you hold it wrong.

stevepetergal
11-14-2016, 02:56 AM
Here's everything you need to know from a guy who really knows:

https://youtu.be/8UyRjYVDP3s

Gary52
11-14-2016, 05:42 AM
If you need a strap to hold the uke you hold it wrong.

Jake uses a strap.

One can play with or without a strap, but neither is "wrong." Do what suits you, experiment, and keep an open mind.

Dan Gleibitz
11-16-2016, 12:23 PM
I started out thumb-only, for about 6 months (Ukulele Way method - which is really good, I just didn't prefer mostly-folk music), but then I wanted to also start working on fingerstyle skills. It can be a bit like starting over because one has to re-figure how to simply hold the ukulele all over again. With thumb-only of course one supports the body of the uke with the index, middle, ring and pinky of my right hand. With fingerstyle, one has to USE those fingers for playing. It's a big transition to figure out how to hold / position the uke in a new way.

I've highlighted the key point here.

Thumb style (?) playing is great. It brings a unique tone and some interesting techniques (eg. the slow strum run/arpeggio thingy). But using the other fingers to hold/support the ukulele is a bad habit that might make other right hand techniques difficult.

I like that the two videos posted above show two better alternative ways of holding a uke. One has the bottom wedged against a thigh and a high angle. Gravity does some of the work there, but it also requires a seated position and a fair bit of support from the left hand. The Hill video has the uke clasped between the right forearm and chest, which is pretty effective but reduces right hand mobility so it's difficult to 'walk' it up the fretboard or alternate between plucking over the soundboard and 12th fret harmonics etc.

A good strap provides more support and freedom for both hands, which is why I prefer to use one, although I also use the other techniques shown here. There is no right or wrong about it, each has advantages and disadvantages.

pritch
11-16-2016, 01:59 PM
When people from the group I play with started performing in public, the leader of the group advised everybody to get a strap and a music stand. I started with home made straps converted from around-the-neck-ID-cards and velcro. That was fine for my starter ukes, I bought better straps for the more expensive ukes though. The straps do make life easier.