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Nicholas Tan
11-05-2017, 04:03 PM
New to the uke, about 2 weeks old. Haven't had much problems playing so far, except I can't seem to find an optimal position for my fretting hand--either my wrist moves around a lot between chords or I find myself gripping a little too tight that it's uncomfortable.

And with the recent development of calluses, I can't feel the strings as much [can't clearly tell which string I'm on without looking] and my fingers have started to slip off strings sometimes.

Any advice? Much appreciated!

Chopped Liver
11-05-2017, 04:44 PM
Keep going. It will get better. You will be able to play without looking. Enjoy yourself.

kypfer
11-05-2017, 09:06 PM
New to the uke, ... Any advice? Much appreciated!

Use a strap. The instrument will then stay in one position, so you won't have to keep changing your grip or, indeed, grip it at all!

YMMV :music:

Croaky Keith
11-05-2017, 11:10 PM
Practice, muscle memory will then kick in - or so I'm told. ;)

A strap might help you, it's a personal choice, most people grip/hold the uke steady with their strumming arm, you're meant to use wrist action, basically.

N.B. I mainly pick melodies. :cool:

MopMan
11-06-2017, 12:47 AM
New to the uke, about 2 weeks old. Haven't had much problems playing so far, except I can't seem to find an optimal position for my fretting hand--either my wrist moves around a lot between chords or I find myself gripping a little too tight that it's uncomfortable.

And with the recent development of calluses, I can't feel the strings as much [can't clearly tell which string I'm on without looking] and my fingers have started to slip off strings sometimes.

Any advice? Much appreciated!


Your fretting hand will have to move to accommodate the various possible chord shapes and positions. There is some debate about what "proper" fretting technique is. Mostly you will have to experiment to find what works best for you. I find it easiest to maneuver between notes and chords with my thumb directly behind the neck of the instrument and my hand wrapped around to the front, a la Andrés Segovia(there are plenty of images if you search.)

On gripping too hard: this is a normal thing to do when you are learning--I sill do it too sometimes with certain shapes. After some practice you will learn not to grip so hard. Practice mindfully and try not to apply more pressure than you need to sound your notes. Aside from being uncomfortable, gripping too hard will hinder the speed and fluidity of your transitions.

Welcome to the joys of ukulele! Good luck! :cheers:

Louis0815
11-06-2017, 01:02 AM
In addition to MopMan's post above:

Try to hold the ukulele with the neck pointing upwards and the headstock approx. on shoulder height (the "classical guitar" posture). Thus your fretting thumb will naturally be behind or even slightly under the neck and your wrist and fingers are in a natural position without too much bending and stretching.
The rest is a matter of training and building up the muscle memory.
:2cents:

RafterGirl
11-06-2017, 07:06 AM
I use a strap, and that has helped me a lot. I can do fairly well without a strap on my soprano, but use it most of the time on my concert.

niwenomian
11-06-2017, 07:24 AM
Yep, it's all normal stuff that you go through in order to get where you are going. Good thing that you are aware of things like gripping too tight.

A tip I got early on was to try to consciously relax your grip to the lightest touch possible until it sounds bad. This way you are practicing using the lightest touch necessary for good sound.

I try to make sure that my finger tips are doing the fretting as opposed to the front of the finger. The finger should be pointing in toward the fretboard with a nice arch to the finger. This will look different depending on the stretch. Also, I like to keep the thumb on the back of the neck (lightly). The wrist position should then take care of itself.

Funny thing about calluses. At first when you are building them, the fingers feel too soft. Then the fingers are too hard and the calluses can be drummed on the table like fingernails. I used to file them down. Now, the fingertips feel soft again and the calluses are barely noticeable.

welcome to UU and keep on strumming!

Uncle Rod Higuchi
11-06-2017, 08:02 AM
please let me re-emphasize THUMB position, generally in the middle of the back
of the neck behind the 2nd fret (space between the metal bars/frets.

if you are cradling the neck in the web of your fretting hand, that may be part of
your difficulty. I believe, ideally, there should be a gap between the web of your hand
and the neck of the uke.

keep uke'in',

WestyShane
11-06-2017, 09:02 AM
if you are cradling the neck in the web of your fretting hand, that may be part of
your difficulty.

I'll add that this can be a hard habit to break if you let yourself get used to it.

Nickie
11-06-2017, 11:39 AM
I've been told by a couple of pros that the thumb of the left hand should point at the headstock....

Gary52
11-06-2017, 05:53 PM
If you watch players such as James Hill, Craig Chee, and Aldrine Guerrero, you'll see that they do not keep their thumb fixed on the center of the neck. They move the thumb around to accommodate whatever chord is being played. Often the thumb is on the upper side of the neck.

It's important to keep the fretting hand relaxed and the wrist as straight as possible to avoid putting strain on the tendons. The position of the thumb should allow this relaxed form.

I'll second the suggestion of using a strap. It allows you to focus the left hand on fretting, rather than supporting the neck.

Pueo
11-06-2017, 11:45 PM
Just my two cents to add:
Try to keep the plane of the fretboard perpendicular to the floor, or parallel to the wall. Your wrist will be less fatigued,
your arch of your fingers will be easier, your tone will be better because it is now easier to fret with your fingertips

"But I can't see my fingers!'
"You are not supposed to be looking at your fingers, you are supposed to be looking at your music!"

Get in this habit now, and you will advance to it being comfortable quickly

I know everything feels awkward and sucks right now.
With determination, it gets better, I promise!

Booksniffer
11-07-2017, 02:33 AM
I had been having problems with my left hand, even while using a strap; mostly pain at the point where the thumb joins the palm.

Luckily, I took one of Craig Chee's workshops recently, and the pointers he gave about holding the ukulele, left hand position etc helped a lot!
I can't find it on Youtube, but if you manage to find his 'Bootcamp' or '101' workshops somewhere (or even an intro to some of his other lessons; I think he goes into it quite often), that might be helpful.

Also, his 'Bridging the Gap' videos on the subscription part of Ukulele Underground start out with it.

Jarmo_S
11-07-2017, 07:23 AM
I was thinking about the subject a month or so ago. My answer is with uke something along the lines of what this guy tells in his video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPQK5XOZVdI

That the way to hold uke should not be fixed, certainly not restricted to only thumb behind the neck paradigma. While it can be useful in some playing situations, it is not optimal in all.

That first finger knuckle support is just as important to me as thumb behind the neck one.

MopMan
11-07-2017, 07:52 AM
I was thinking about the subject a month or so ago. My answer is with uke something along the lines of what this guy tells in his video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPQK5XOZVdI

That the way to hold uke should not be fixed, certainly not restricted to only thumb behind the neck paradigma. While it can be useful in some playing situations, it is not optimal in all.

That first finger knuckle support is just as important to me as thumb behind the neck one.

Thank you Jarmo_S for the link.

I have encountered some bumps in my own progression with ukulele relating to supporting of the neck during certain fretting transitions. I had already found that my hand position changes naturally to accommodate reaching the strings I am attempting to fret. The lightbulb moment for me while watching your linked video was realizing that some of those hand positions can be used to better support the neck of the instrument while transitioning. This has opened up a new dimension of thought and experimentation for me on the subject.

Thanks again!:cool:

Uncle Rod Higuchi
11-08-2017, 06:16 AM
Thanks, everyone for chiming in!

very insightful and helpful.

thanks for sharing your experiences and experiments :)

keep uke'in',

Nicholas Tan
11-09-2017, 06:33 PM
Thanks all for your wisdom!

Another question I have is .... while I understand that my fingertips will experience pain while fretting before solid calluses form, is it common for them to swell after each practice session? It kind of feels like my fingers got clamped by a door. I usually practise continuously for at least 1h, sometimes up to 3-4h in a single sitting, not sure if long duration is causing it.

Croaky Keith
11-09-2017, 09:01 PM
When I started, I practiced for10 to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
I would leave a uke out, & just pick it up & have a practice, a few times a day.
I think you're over doing it just now, give your fingers a chance. ;)

Nicholas Tan
11-09-2017, 09:18 PM
When I started, I practiced for10 to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
I would leave a uke out, & just pick it up & have a practice, a few times a day.
I think you're over doing it just now, give your fingers a chance. ;)

I've been trying to do short intervals, but it's just so adduketive :p
Setting a timer now, when I pick up my uke I'm gonna start a timer of 30min, once it rings I've to put it down for a break ;)

PhilUSAFRet
11-16-2017, 11:47 PM
Depending on hand size, some chords like EM require that you swivel the crook of your hand, between the thumb and forefinger, toward the headstock to get those 3 fingers aligned properly, otherwise, the classical fretting hand position seems to fit most, best (thumb behind neck)