View Full Version : Odd Strumming Methods

06-11-2008, 07:17 PM
Hey guys,

I just recently started playing the Uku, and have found that traditional strumming techniques are a little difficult with the way my hands are. I do not have the hands of a musician- my hands are broad and weathered, and my fingers are tough, and blunt- not to mention i have very short fingernails. when i attempt to strum normally, my fingers catch the strings and a crappy note spews out. basically, i can play but have only found one real way to produce beautiful ukulele notes.

I hold my hand regularly, but instead of a downward motion with my index and a upward with my thumb, i actually only use the flat side of my ring finger. i can strum up and down fast, and in time, and it sounds really nice. ( i just learned Guting's version of Waiting in Vain) im finding success in this way.

all that aside, i am just wanting to ask all of you more experience players, if this is a bad idea. Will this affect my progress as a player? will it harm my Uke?

Aloha ^_^ \../

06-11-2008, 08:05 PM
I have a habit of strumming with my thumb....I'm getting better with my finger but still resort back to my thumb a lot. I knew this was terribly wrong until I saw Bill Tapia live and noticed he used his thumb all the time....If a 100+ legend of the uke uses his thumb, I can! Whatever works for you, works! When you want to progress to a more difficult strum, your brain will reset. Just keep playing.

06-11-2008, 08:52 PM
If it sounds good, it is good. I use thumb and forefinger and the uke police haven't come for me yet!

My hands sound a lot like yours, but for the weathered part. They're broad, stumpy, and I don't like long nails. And those fingers served me well enough on wind instruments, and I can make them do a little tiny something on the uke too - hopefully more as I get better.

I knew this one concert pianist that seriously had hands that didn't fit her body. They were undeveloped hands like those of a 5 year old. And she was a concert pianist, so none of this "all musicians have to have long elegant slender hands" talk because it just ain't so. :D

Also, your voice is an instrument, and it matters not what your hands are to use it! ;)

06-11-2008, 08:52 PM
I suppose I strum a little backwards too -- I typically strum down with the pad/side of my thumb, and up with the pad of my index finger. I like the softer sound of hitting the string with the flesh rather than the nail, also this way was most natural for me when I started. Being a bit of a tinkerer, my hands are usually a bit torn up, though I've tried to take better care lately as I want to get used to a wider variety of strumming styles.

As expected, most of this is muscle memory, so too much practice is never enough. I'm just starting to make progress using my nails, and it's been months -- just keep at it. Practice until it's almost not fun anymore, then move on to something different until you feel like going back -- you've got time.

Have fun!