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View Full Version : how do you properly hold the ukulele?



sactowns finest
06-06-2008, 04:46 PM
First question, is it normal for the headstock to be heavier than the body of the ukulele. i have an oscer schmidt i just got online and i wasn't sure if it was normal becase it was hard to hold and play. maybe im holdin it wrong, if so how do you properly hold it. Its a concert uke so i dont know if that has anything to do with it.

deach
06-06-2008, 04:54 PM
most of mine are headstock heavy.

sactowns finest
06-06-2008, 05:43 PM
ok, now how do i properly hold it

14twelve
06-06-2008, 05:47 PM
I'm interested in everyone's thoughts on this too. I'm fine with my tenor, but when I play my concert and soprano, it's too small to balance on my knee, and if I'm moving my left and right hands at the same time, how to you keep the ukulele in place? There's probably a simple answer I haven't worked out yet :)
Any help would be appreciated though!

deach
06-06-2008, 05:57 PM
Everything I've read or heard from old schoolers is that you hold it slightly against your body using your elbow/forearm. Your hand should strums the lower part of the fretboard and not in front of the sound hole.

Some links:

http://www.ukeschool.com/ukulele/lessons/how_to_hold.html

http://www.ukulelestrummers.com/Generalinfo.html

http://akulele.com/howtohold.html


All else fails, do the manly thing and get some duct tape.

14twelve
06-06-2008, 06:18 PM
Thanks for the links Deach! I've tried it that way and it works fine for strumming. I'm having a lot of trouble with picking though seeing your hand needs to be further away from the ukulele. I think I'll get a strap for my smaller ukes when I pick because it seems impossible to hold it against your body tightly enough and have your hand free to pick. Or maybe it's just my awkwardness :)

menehunenyc
06-06-2008, 06:51 PM
I think I'll get a strap for my smaller ukes when I pick because it seems impossible to hold it against your body tightly enough and have your hand free to pick. Or maybe it's just my awkwardness :)

Yup, it just takes practice, lots of practice. You know they recommend to young football players, and basketball players alike, to take their ball of choice with them wherever they go, to constantly hold it and toss it up and down, dribble, whatever, just so the ball eventually becomes an extension of their own body. I think that is what has to happen between you and your uke, you must meld and become one with the uke... and that my friends just takes time, like well made wine, or whisky, or, well, I hope you get the point. Just take your uke with you wherever you go, as much as possible, so that it becomes an extension of yourself, then it will feel comfortable and not awkward. IMO.:rolleyes:

Ukesista
06-06-2008, 07:10 PM
Hey 14twelve, I play a concert and I find for picking if I'm sitting in a higher chair I cross my legs, right leg over left and the back of body of the uke sits just under my elbow, I tend to tilt neck upward so that I can see the fretboard. My right hand usually sits just where the neck meets the sound hole but I can move my right hand closer or further away from the neck. If I sit in a low chair I don't need to cross my legs so much. I still find holding some of really complex chords difficult and it feels like the uke is a bit small, but I figure it's just practice.

seeso
06-06-2008, 08:06 PM
Hey guys, for picking you should have an anchor point. Press the tip of a finger down on the soundboard. That should give you enough pressure to keep your uke up against your body while also giving you enough space to pick.

Which finger you use depends on how many fingers you use to pick. If you use only your thumb and index, then press your middle finger down. If you use your thumb, index, and middle finger, use your ring finger. If you use your thumb, index, middle and ring finger, use your pinky.

Howlin Hobbit
06-06-2008, 09:44 PM
Since I only play the little guys I don't ever sit it on my knee. The inside of your forearm (near the elbow) gently presses the lower bout against your chest (and in my case, a bit of my big ol' belly).

You should be able to completely let go with your fretting hand and have the uke stay in place.

If you watch just about any of my YouTube vids you can see this in action. The holding part that is, I don't believe I have any vids where I completely let go with the left hand.

I mostly sit when I'm performing but this works standing up too. Sometimes I jump up off the seat for a verse or two (just to keep the audience guessing, y'know?).

Don't Get Around Much Anymore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MpjDef-fo0) might be the best one to check out as I use a bit of finger pickety action as well as strumming in it.

14twelve
06-06-2008, 11:52 PM
Hey guys, for picking you should have an anchor point. Press the tip of a finger down on the soundboard. That should give you enough pressure to keep your uke up against your body while also giving you enough space to pick.

Which finger you use depends on how many fingers you use to pick. If you use only your thumb and index, then press your middle finger down. If you use your thumb, index, and middle finger, use your ring finger. If you use your thumb, index, middle and ring finger, use your pinky.

Hey Seeso, that's working for me! Thank you!! :)
Sounds like such a simple solution, but I hadn't thought of it. Now I just need time to strengthen my pinky :) Thank you!


Just take your uke with you wherever you go, as much as possible, so that it becomes an extension of yourself, then it will feel comfortable and not awkward. IMO.:rolleyes:

Yep, I definitely need more practice! I spend more time on the forums than playing I think :)


Hey 14twelve, I play a concert and I find for picking if I'm sitting in a higher chair I cross my legs, right leg over left and the back of body of the uke sits just under my elbow, I tend to tilt neck upward so that I can see the fretboard. My right hand usually sits just where the neck meets the sound hole but I can move my right hand closer or further away from the neck. If I sit in a low chair I don't need to cross my legs so much. I still find holding some of really complex chords difficult and it feels like the uke is a bit small, but I figure it's just practice.

Thanks for that Ukesista! Yes, I cross my legs too to bring the uke up higher. I'll try the tilting as well and see if that makes any difference. I think with my concert it was mainly awkwardness, and getting the right position, so I'll try your ideas. It was mostly my soprano that I was having real trouble with cause it was way too small for my knee, so Seeso's idea of pressing down on an anchor point is working great for that.


Since I only play the little guys I don't ever sit it on my knee. The inside of your forearm (near the elbow) gently presses the lower bout against your chest (and in my case, a bit of my big ol' belly).
You should be able to completely let go with your fretting hand and have the uke stay in place.


Hi Howlin Hobbit, I've tried that way and it works for me when I'm strumming, or if I'm picking with just one or two fingers, but I tend to use all four fingers when picking and find it really awkward to hold it against my body with my forearm and still be able to lift my hand far enough out to pick with four fingers. (Then again, you're probably not meant to use four fingers on a uke, as with most of the videos I watch, people are just using one finger like you). It looks in your video that you're using a finger that you're not picking with to help hold the uke in place?

Thank you so much everyone for your help!! I've got some great tips now!

h-drix
06-07-2008, 05:54 AM
Hi Howlin Hobbit, I've tried that way and it works for me when I'm strumming, or if I'm picking with just one or two fingers, but I tend to use all four fingers when picking and find it really awkward to hold it against my body with my forearm and still be able to lift my hand far enough out to pick with four fingers.

i only pick with two, but when i do pick with four i end up i using my pointer finger to press up against the head stock (at the nut?).then i use my wrist to press it at the lower bout. it makes picking four fingers a tad bit easier.

seeso
06-07-2008, 06:56 AM
Yay! I'm glad that's working out for you, 14twelve!

Howlin Hobbit
06-07-2008, 10:28 AM
It looks in your video that you're using a finger that you're not picking with to help hold the uke in place?

Nope, just the forearm. But, I hadn't ever given it much thought and had to pick up my uke and play through it once just to make sure! :o

I know when I'm fingerpicking on guitar I use the anchor finger thing... that's why I had to check to see if I wasn't unconciously doing it with the uke as well.

Weirdly though, a lot of times when I'm just using my thumb I tend to tuck the fingers under the waist for a bit more support. Go figger.

I think for what you want to do Seeso's advice is probably the best. I've just spent the last 6+ years with a uke tucked under my forearm and haven't done a lot of fingerpicking stuff, so the bits I do are probably done in poor form. I'm sure I've developed other bad habits too! :eek: