View Full Version : Strumming with the index finger

03-06-2018, 10:29 PM
So, when I strum with my thumb I get a nice full sound. When I strum with my index finger not so much. It sounds like I am slapping my nail against the strings. Sounds very thin like the strings aren't vibrating much at all and I'm just kind of bouncing off them. Anyone experience something similar.

Of course this is happening on the higher end Uke I just bought and not the $50 one I started on. My guess is that there is higher string tension on the new Uke that I am not used to. Has me questioning the set up and playability of the new Uke (although I'm pretty sure thats 99% in my head but you know how buyers remorse goes).

I am still new to the instrument and figure over time I'll figure it out. Thought I'd ask for some advice here.


03-07-2018, 12:16 AM
It is a different sound. Maybe you try with a too long fingernail? I myself strum all the time with just index finger, except when I want to get a quick effect follow up with a thumb strum.

The thumb strum is the best way to know in my opinion that all the fretting is done properly. And also it is a nice soft sound, without nail I mean.

Same time and it is only for me, I don't really like to keep my index fingernail long. In fact I usually can't. So it is more like to upwards index finger strum, more is from the flesh if any nail effect I think. It sounds nice.
Down strum is different yes than from my thumb.

Btw I have always been wondering about these guys like bazmaz, reviewing ukes and posting their videos of sound comparison. I like them as entertainment a lot, but myself have been never able to keep my index or any nail upto such things ;)

03-07-2018, 08:23 AM
Thanks for posting this question. I have the same problem--so much so that I have stopped trying to strum with my index finger. I definitely go for the softer sound of the thumb. I have tried to figure out by watching others strum how to stop the fingernail sound to no avail. I'm watching this thread hoping for answers. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.

03-07-2018, 10:57 AM
I started out playing guitar, and always used a pick when strumming, so I had that habit (and skill) but when I started playing ukulele I kind of decided on my own that I did not want to have to rely on having anything else with me - no picks, no thumb picks, nail requirements, etc...

I don't really consciously try to do anything, it just sort of happens, but I notice (primarily from watching my own Seasons videos) that I really do strum with my index finger 99%
of the time. The downward stroke usually gets the nail surface, and the upward stroke the fleshy side part of the finger. I can hear a rhythmic, almost percussive difference from the downstroke vs. the upstroke. It is what it is. Embrace it and make it "your" sound.
If I am doing fingerpicking, I tend to use my thumb on the G and C strings and my index and middle finger on the E and A strings. Again, no nails. Sometimes I will even have thumb on G string only and index, middle, and ring finger on the other three strings - whatever feels right for the moment.

In my opinion the best way to get a specific, repeatable sound is if you use either a thumb pick and nails or finger picks. Bryan Tolentino, for example, does this, he gets acrylic nails on his index and middle fingers and uses a plastic thumb pick.

I am not a professional, so I figure that is just way too much effort. And besides, one of my favorite players, Kimo Hussey, uses nothing on his fingers and no nails. Same with Wes Montgomery (yes, I know, a guitar player) so I figure if it is good enough for them...

It may also be your strings. I like fluorocarbon strings for that reason. The tension is not as high as Aquila strings and if you like low g, fluorocarbon low strings are not wound and will sound more even when not using a pick - that is what I have found anyway.

Good luck and I hope you get your new ukulele sounding how you like it!

03-07-2018, 01:50 PM
I have the same issue. I wasn't sure I was strumming correctly. I sometimes strum down with my thumb and up with my index to avoid the clicking sound. I really want to strum the standard way while I'm learning and change it up later. But hey, I guess if the professionals use the acrylic nails I will just continue getting mine done and embrace the sound. :D

03-08-2018, 09:16 AM
It does seem to me that the flurocarbon strings are easier to play than Aquilas. I watched Aldrine in a youtube strumming video. He uses the tip of his index finger. I will have to practice trying that since I do have a tendency to use too much of my index finger in the strum. I'm thinking that using the tip would stop that. I'm pretty sure that it will take a lot of practice for me to get to a workable point. Aldrrine does say to keep you finger relaxed and to let the "action" come from the wrist. I'm going to try that for myself and see how that works for me. I realize that a lot of this stuff comes easy and naturally for some people. Some don't even have to think about it. I would like to be in that "camp."

03-08-2018, 09:32 AM
I strum exclusively with my index finger. It's the side of my index finger that hits the strings so I think I'm hitting them with as much flesh as I am nail. I know that when I want to get a little more emphasis in my strum, I curl up my index finger a bit more so I'm strumming more with the "scratching edge" of my nail and less with the flesh. I guess I never thought of it as either right or wrong, it's just what works for me.

03-08-2018, 12:22 PM
If you don't like what you hear, then do something different. For example, I use my entire hand (but the ring finger is primary finger as I learnt when I cut that finger at work). My method has the advantage of having the weight of the hand behind the strum so that it sounds fuller and it is easier to palm mute. That being said, I would suggest embracing the richness of the different sounds availed by the different fingers. I use all the fingers to create a texture