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Grobble
06-28-2011, 07:00 AM
When I am trying to play a chord I find that my finger collapses down on the first joint instead of bending so that the tip is on the string properly.

I find it easier to hold the string down like that too but is it going to impede me if I keep doing it. I see that everyone else who plays holds their fingers curved as though around a ball.

I just can't seem to do it. :p Help or advice please ?

PoiDog
06-28-2011, 07:35 AM
When I am trying to play a chord I find that my finger collapses down on the first joint instead of bending so that the tip is on the string properly.

I find it easier to hold the string down like that too but is it going to impede me if I keep doing it. I see that everyone else who plays holds their fingers curved as though around a ball.

I just can't seem to do it. :p Help or advice please ?

As a fellow beginner who has experienced my fair share of fingering errors, confusion, and problems, I suppose all I can offer (along with my condolensces) is the advice of practice, practice, practice. Getting the muscle memory is rough going at first, but as the old adage goes, if you repeat it 1,000 times it will start to stick.

RichM
06-28-2011, 07:42 AM
Try pressing down with the very tip of your finger, just behind the nail, rather than the meaty part of the pad. You may find that hard to do, but you are developing a very bad habit that will definitely impede your playing in the future. As you have observed, your fingers should be curved. If I'm envisioning what you are doing correctly, your technique will make it very difficult to play clean chords, as your fingers will likely contact adjacent strings. Additionally, if you move on to fingerstyle play, where speed and dexterity will become more important, you may find advancement difficult.

You may be pressing harder than you need to--holding down a nylon string shouldn't require much finger pressure, and if yours in bending at the joint, it may well be too much. Try a lighter touch and see if that helps.

bvfrenchknitter
06-28-2011, 07:46 AM
I am new too but what I have been doing is practicing away from the ukulele. This is just all my opinion and ideas... I used to play piano so I arch my hand so it is off the ground like I'm playing a piano and my finger tips on a surface and lift and set down each individual finger. Do it gently. Once that gets easier you can lift and move each finger before you put it down, reaching in different directions. The next step I've just started is to do it in the air with no ukulele. It is harder. Be gentle with all of it. You want to learn the movements, and get your fingers to move on their own not hurt your joints.

rosceaux
06-28-2011, 08:16 AM
Try pressing down with the very tip of your finger, just behind the nail, rather than the meaty part of the pad. You may find that hard to do, but you are developing a very bad habit that will definitely impede your playing in the future. As you have observed, your fingers should be curved. If I'm envisioning what you are doing correctly, your technique will make it very difficult to play clean chords, as your fingers will likely contact adjacent strings. Additionally, if you move on to fingerstyle play, where speed and dexterity will become more important, you may find advancement difficult.

You may be pressing harder than you need to--holding down a nylon string shouldn't require much finger pressure, and if yours in bending at the joint, it may well be too much. Try a lighter touch and see if that helps.


I was just lurking through this post. As a beginner, that sounds like great advise. Want to make sure any short-term gains don't incur long-term costs. Back to the drawing board - err, fret board - with better technique.

Perfect practicing makes perfect

mudflap
06-28-2011, 08:52 AM
Practice is definitely the best advice. I also do some left hand finger stretching exercises when sitting at my desk or driving (doing the exercises on the steering wheel).

1) I try to reach out as far as a I can with my fingertips bent so that only the tips are touching.
2) I bend my the joints forward by making a paw print (fingers folded underneath) and pushing down on the desk.
3) I also bend my end digits backwards like you're palming the desk and pushing down. This really helps me do the simple E and D chords.

My fingers were really stiff at first, but they're starting to get more flexible. Also remember to stretch slowly. Nothing worse than a broken digit.

diego
06-28-2011, 09:20 AM
Push your elbow forward, that helps too.

PhilUSAFRet
06-28-2011, 11:40 AM
One thing you will hear a lot in UU is a caution "not to press the string too hard." Just keep playing and your fingers will get as strong as they need to. with enough practice, every week or two you will notice you can do something you couldn't do just a little while ago. You can barre the strings, effectively muting them, and practice fingering and strums in near silence when needed. Keep on strummin!

Lots of tutorials on UU and YouTube

OldePhart
06-28-2011, 12:03 PM
What Phil said, it sounds like you're pressing too hard. Unless the action is really high it doesn't take much pressure to get a clean sound. Remember that you want to press down just behind (i.e. closer to the headstock) the fret rather than over it.

Finally, some good news - as you'll progress you'll find that the ability to "fold" your fingers backward at that joint is a great asset for some chords. It will allow you to barre two or three strings while clearing others. This will allow you to easily play an E, for example.

John

itsme
06-28-2011, 01:02 PM
Try pressing down with the very tip of your finger, just behind the nail, rather than the meaty part of the pad.
Also, how long are your nails? I keep mine on the fretting hand as short as possible. Otherwise they'll interfere with this approach and you'll tend to bend your fingers to keep the nails from hitting on the fretboard.

blulegend
06-28-2011, 07:57 PM
Is bending okay when barring, for example barring two strings on a B chord.

Manalishi
06-28-2011, 11:12 PM
Some folk prefer a full barre on a B chord,
I have always favoured the 'half barre'
that you get by bending one finger!
Same with a basic D chord,I play it with
either three fingers OR with one bent one,
depending on the following chord.I hope that
makes sense? I mean that from one or the
other position,I can fret the next chord
easier and 'cleaner'?

mm stan
06-29-2011, 01:15 AM
Also, how long are your nails? I keep mine on the fretting hand as short as possible. Otherwise they'll interfere with this approach and you'll tend to bend your fingers to keep the nails from hitting on the fretboard.

Yup short nails and string tension....will make it easier...thinner guage strings will improve playability and comfort..

cantsing
06-29-2011, 01:33 AM
Grobble, check your wrist position--if your wrist is tucked up under the neck, you might find it difficult to place your fingertips on the strings. In the video below, starting at time 2:15, Ukulele Mike demonstrates wrist position several times while discussing various chords.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJme1gtN1SM

Uke Whisperer
06-29-2011, 04:35 AM
A Physical Therapist told me two things that I believe are helping me.

One is that when I was doing my finger stretching exercises without holding a Uke, to always keep my palm facing me. She said that the forearm muscles for my fingers worked differently when my palm faced down (as I had been doing).

She also said that to help being able to bend the first knuckle (from the tip) of my fingers while limiting the bend of the 2nd, to go ahead and bend first and second, then start straightening the 2nd while trying to keep the 1st from straightening (guess kind of a mind/muscle training). I had been trying to force the tip to bend while trying to keep the 2nd from bending. She said not to do it that way.(???)

I truly believe both of her suggestions help me, even though I think normal movements during practice has a bunch to do with my improvements too!

Grobble
07-02-2011, 11:39 AM
Thanks a lot, there are some great ideas and suggestions here and I'll be able to take and try a lot of them. So many make so much sense.