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rpeters
11-10-2009, 10:29 AM
This is a total "noob" question, but I guess thats okay since I am a beginner and this is like my 2nd post here.

I see so many people using their index finger for strumming, (nail for down stroke) (flesh for upstroke) and it sounds great. I've been trying this for awhile, but it just doesn't seem to work that well on my ukulele. My finger keeps getting caught on one of the strings. Is my action too high on this ukulele so that when I make a chord certain strings stick out, which then catch my finger? Instead I've been using my middle finger nail (or index) and thumb nail for the upstroke like a guitar strum.

Does anyone here have any advice for a novice?

The instrument I play on is a lanikai soprano pineapple, but will be upgrading soon to a Kala Ka-st from MGM (I'm hoping he makes the perfect action on ukuleles and will make strumming with my index finger easier.)

Pukulele Pete
11-10-2009, 10:35 AM
I use my thumb,middle and ring finger, seems to work good for me but I am probably doing it wrong. I can't get my index finger to work.

baumer
11-10-2009, 10:39 AM
Concentrate on finding something that is comfortable and feels and sounds good to you. There is no right or wrong way Ė at least thatís what I heard when I went through the same phase.

Personally, now Iíve settled on strumming down with my index, middle, and ring fingers all at once. On the upstroke, I rake the back of my thumbnail up the strings. Might be unconventional, but I like the sound and it feels good. Thatís all I care about.

Find what works for you! Good luck!

rpeters
11-10-2009, 10:41 AM
So is it really a matter of personal preference or is there a definite technique that is better?

I figured using a the index finger is best used for very fast strumming like what Jake Shimabukuro does on some of his songs, but that may even be possible with middle finger and thumb as well.

itsme
11-10-2009, 10:43 AM
My guess would be that if your finger is getting caught you're strumming too hard.

rpeters
11-10-2009, 10:46 AM
Yeah that's probably it. I've been having trouble strumming with my index finger in that I either strum too soft and start missing strums all together, or strum to hard and get caught. Its hard to find that perfect strum. I guess it just takes practice.

thejumpingflea
11-10-2009, 10:55 AM
Keep with the pointer. It may be awkward at first, but it allows you to get the most control and speed with your strumming.

Try keeping your finger very loose. Holding it out stiff isn't right and by keeping it loose you will get more comfortable.

ukantor
11-10-2009, 11:22 AM
If your finger is striking the first and fourth strings, twanging and getting caught, it might help to make sure you are strumming over the fret board, or the extended part of the fret board. That way there is less clearance at the side of the strings to catch your finger on.

Ukantor.

ukuleG
11-10-2009, 11:24 AM
i use all my fingers.

thisnthat
11-10-2009, 11:53 AM
Click the link about strumming on this page http://www.doctoruke.com/beginners.html
Getting the strumming hand pointed in the right direction really helped me hit the strings more consistently. On the upstroke I keep the finger loose and pointed slightly downwards so more of the pad hits the strings. Works for me anyway.

Funnily enough though I'm using my ring finger to strum at the moment as I busted my index finger.

phanzo
11-10-2009, 11:59 AM
Keep with the pointer. It may be awkward at first, but it allows you to get the most control and speed with your strumming.

Try keeping your finger very loose. Holding it out stiff isn't right and by keeping it loose you will get more comfortable.

I would suggest going with whatever TJF says. If you've ever seen his videos, then you know he kicks ass and I would take whatever advice he gives and just run with it. Just my :2cents:

bazmaz
11-10-2009, 12:35 PM
Think what these replies are rightly showing is that you shouldn't get too hung up on what the books and lessons insist you do - you need to find your own style.

yes, before I get flamed, you can help yourself by getting your position right, strumming in the sweet spot, not strumming too hard (which you are if you are getting tangled) etc.

But all of that said - you just need rhythm, a good ear, a loose wrist, and a nice touch - that comes with practice.

I've seen massive variations from some very accomplished players as to how they strum, and even how they hold the instrument. There is no right and wrong.

I personally strum with my index, and sometimes, when filling in, tend to involve my middle and possibly ring on up and possibly down strokes. Also use my thumb (fleshy part ) sometimes when mood demands it.

In my view, (same rules as apply when learning guitar) so long as you aren't being mad (strumming over the saddle, using a coin to strum, or anything else absurd) and you are strumming roughly in right place - you will learn your own style

as I say, keep that wrist floppy!

Big_e
11-10-2009, 12:41 PM
I strum with my pecker.:p


I call my pointer finger my pecker 'cause I use it to peck on my computer keyboard.

ukecantdothat
11-10-2009, 12:41 PM
i use all my fingers.
Same here. All fingers. All over the place. Up the frets, down to the bridge. So many tones - so little time!

bornagainjeeper
11-10-2009, 12:45 PM
i mostly strum with my tounge...HOWEVER when i use my fingers i find that, yes, the over-the-fret-board technique is the best. This is also one of those cases of practice makes perfect....I also hold my hand as if i were holding a pick...using my fingers (most of them really) at the nail to strike down, and my thumb nail to strike up. It doesn't give as melllow a sound as flesh does...but on the plus side, its loud as hell...and if you don't do something right, you might as well do it loudly

rpeters
11-10-2009, 12:51 PM
Great thank you all for your replies. I'm going to check out that video of doctoruke and see the demonstration. I'll keep practicing with my index finger. I think I do strum way too hard, and have been strumming closer to the sound hole. I didn't realize you were supposed to strum all the way up on the fretboard. That may make it easier to hold too, haha.

ukecantdothat
11-10-2009, 12:53 PM
I strum with my pecker.:p


I call my pointer finger my pecker 'cause I use it to peck on my computer keyboard.
That's funny... I peck with my strummer!

ukecantdothat
11-10-2009, 01:00 PM
I didn't realize you were supposed to strum all the way up on the fretboard.
Don't let anyone tell you how you're "supposed" to play! Take it as good advice, do it, let it soak in, then add it to all the ways you're not supposed to play. Otherwise, you'll end up sounding like everyone who plays "properly" instead of sounding like the unique person you are.

(hey, where's the 2cent sticky when you need it?)

schubs
11-10-2009, 03:47 PM
I started with my thumb and index but as i got better at strumming i started only using my index.

UkuleleHill
11-10-2009, 03:57 PM
Think what these replies are rightly showing is that you shouldn't get too hung up on what the books and lessons insist you do - you need to find your own style.

yes, before I get flamed, you can help yourself by getting your position right, strumming in the sweet spot, not strumming too hard (which you are if you are getting tangled) etc.

But all of that said - you just need rhythm, a good ear, a loose wrist, and a nice touch - that comes with practice.

I've seen massive variations from some very accomplished players as to how they strum, and even how they hold the instrument. There is no right and wrong.

I personally strum with my index, and sometimes, when filling in, tend to involve my middle and possibly ring on up and possibly down strokes. Also use my thumb (fleshy part ) sometimes when mood demands it.

In my view, (same rules as apply when learning guitar) so long as you aren't being mad (strumming over the saddle, using a coin to strum, or anything else absurd) and you are strumming roughly in right place - you will learn your own style

as I say, keep that wrist floppy!

:agree::agree: I use my thumb but I come from being a guitar player...

ukecantdothat
11-10-2009, 04:08 PM
I started with my thumb and index but as i got better at strumming i started only using my index.
Don't forget, there's a pretty cool triplet that can be done with the thumb & index together - finger down/thumb down/finger up (and variations of that). Not to belabor the point, but you shouldn't restrict yourself to a one-technique-fits-all approach. There are tonal variations not only up and down the length of the string, but in the pad of the finger as well as the nail. The gods gave us all kinds of music, with all kinds of instruments, and all kinds of ways to play them!:rock:

DeG
11-10-2009, 04:11 PM
My finger keeps getting caught on one of the strings. Is my action too high on this ukulele so that when I make a chord certain strings stick out, which then catch my finger?

First, Welcome to UU!!

Second, try strumming over the fret board instead of over the sound hole. The fret board will prevent you from getting too much penetration, which causes your finger to get stuck.

hope that helps.

Rick
11-10-2009, 04:15 PM
i have a LU-21P as well :] pineapples! anyway! i started out using my thumb and somewhere along the lines, my index and my thumb, then just my index. you'll make the transition :] its like whut Baumer said. play whats comfy for you, and the rest will fall into place.

ukecantdothat
11-10-2009, 05:30 PM
Think what these replies are rightly showing is that you shouldn't get too hung up on what the books and lessons insist you do - you need to find your own style.

yes, before I get flamed, you can help yourself by getting your position right, strumming in the sweet spot, not strumming too hard (which you are if you are getting tangled) etc.

But all of that said - you just need rhythm, a good ear, a loose wrist, and a nice touch - that comes with practice.

I've seen massive variations from some very accomplished players as to how they strum, and even how they hold the instrument. There is no right and wrong.

I personally strum with my index, and sometimes, when filling in, tend to involve my middle and possibly ring on up and possibly down strokes. Also use my thumb (fleshy part ) sometimes when mood demands it.

In my view, (same rules as apply when learning guitar) so long as you aren't being mad (strumming over the saddle, using a coin to strum, or anything else absurd) and you are strumming roughly in right place - you will learn your own style

as I say, keep that wrist floppy!
Firstly, Paul is spot on, and on a guitar note (!), Billy Gibbons of ZZ fame, owes his sound to the fact that he uses a quarter for a pick.

rpeters
11-10-2009, 05:31 PM
Very cool. Thank you all for the tips. Strumming up by the fretboard seemed to do the trick, its so much more comfortable and the strumming sounds more consistent. Its not as loud as when I was strumming by the hole, but I think I was rocking out a little too much with that. I understand now loud is not always good, (maybe fun for a little while), but technique and precision is better.

Also, DoctorUke's tips were very helpful. By keeping my thumb parallel to the fretboard, it makes it very comfortable and even to strum. I'll keep practicing and I pretty soon I think this will be my preferred method of strumming, with a thumb stroke thrown in here and there.

beeejums
11-11-2009, 01:00 AM
My eyes got just a little wide when I read the thread title...

I strum with my index finger usually, but I use all of my fingers for some strums, and I use just a couple for other strums, or I use my thumb sometimes, or I use all my fingers for accent strokes... and people compliment me on my strumming (though I don't know why, since I feel like it's not very tight).

I think the best thing to do is watch lots of videos of skilled musicians playing old-timey tunes on the uke (I can recommend Coveywood and Ukulelezaza, two of my uke heroes). Then go watch Jake and see what he does the same and what he does differently...

I don't think it's intentional, but I see basically two "schools" of strumming... but I don't want to name them, since I don't think I'm the expert.

To overgeneralize, aside from the basic "survival stroke" with the index finger (just about everybody does that, or some variation of it with a different finger, etc), the Hawaiian guys do it a little bit differently from the British guys. I try to mix the two together.

And I've watched a ton of YouTube videos on strumming. A little obsessively, probably... but that's what makes the uke so fun for me is being able to strum as hard as I do and it make a noise I like (since you can't do that on a bass guitar).

I leave you with this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnGTV9vXicg

bbycrts
11-11-2009, 04:54 AM
There really is no "right" way. The great thing about the uke is, if it sounds good to you, it sounds good! :shaka:

I do the index finger, nail downstroke, flesh upstroke, but it took a bit to get the hang of it. I found if I pressed too hard I would get caught in the strings - when I lightened it up a bit not only was it easier, but there was a better liveliness to the tone.

geoffsuke
11-11-2009, 06:05 AM
THEM ALL!!!

no truthfully i do!

for strummiing chords and suchi use my index, as i feel it can be naturally followed by a chunk.

but for jake songs, such as going to california, there are parts where i even use my ring finger for a strum so to leave my index and thumb in a closer position for the next part, being picking or strumming.

it becomes a natural thing and i found i didn't start playing parts using my ring finger to strum, but through practice it came naturally to make playing the part easier.