View Full Version : Trying to get the best from my upstroke

08-11-2011, 02:12 PM
I'm working on Neil Young's "Harvest Moon." I'm having trouble with the upstroke that I'm trying to feature on the Dmaj7 chord. This is so prominent throughout the song, and I'm having trouble hitting the upstroke with the side of my finger. If I use the meat of my finger I tend to pull too hard on the first string.

I know, "practice, practice," and I am. But can anyone suggest an exercise to help me control my strum? Particularly to control the force with which I strike the strings and the position of individual fingers?

I've really been pushing myself with this song. I want to play it at my parents' 50th anniversary party in a couple of months. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

08-11-2011, 03:14 PM
Try playing the song at the softest volume you can play with as consistent volume as possible. Then play at about half your natural volume as consistently as possible, then at full volume. With practice, you'll be able to play at consistent volume using the meat of your finger for upstrokes. You can try this trick with any song, to keep it fresh.

You'll be surprised how far you'll get in a couple months. I'm sure you'll sound great at the party!!

08-11-2011, 10:59 PM
I've found that i can never quite get the volume i need just using the soft bits of my fingers...Instead i hold my fingers as if i were holding a pick (sometimes i allow my thumb and index to be separate which allows for more control in fancy stumming stuff) the string is then hit with the nail. A down stroke would be index finger nail, and upstroke always thumb nail...I find its just a much more natural position for me (and many other uke and guitar players) The "down side" if you can call it that, is you do get a much more metallic sound. I recommend at least trying this out. It may not be appropriate sounding for tradition songs, but for a country rock tune like you are learning, i would argue it gives a more rock sound...keep it up you'll get it anyway to try...

Uke Whisperer
08-11-2011, 11:34 PM
I usually use my forefinger nail for the downs and meat of it for ups (not the side of it) and the side or meat of the thumb for downs. Guess it's a sound preference really. On an upstroke I seem to hit the first string just a little bit further down the meat, with the angle is a little less, making the initial contact a little "smoother" (less "picky" and less loud). Same for the side of the thumb on downs. You did hit the nail on the head when you said practice. I agree with "TheOnly", you have time and I'm sure that with whichever method you use you will "have it" in time!

08-16-2011, 02:35 AM
the difference when strumming your down stroke with your nail and the upstroke with the meat of your forefinger creates a sort of dual tone sound that you get when you are strumming, there is no right or wrong way to strum so don't worry about it, do what comes natural to the song that you are playing, some good advice above from other more experienced players than myself, just have fun and enjoy what you are playing and your strum will come naturally

08-19-2011, 03:43 PM
So maybe I didn't phrase my question correctly. I am having trouble controlling my upstroke. I seem to occasionally pull too hard on the first string on the upstroke. I've tried to use the side of my finger, hoping that it might slide a little easier, but I haven't managed that, either. I guess it'll take time. It's just frustrating- I can be fingering chords perfectly, feeling good about life, and then TWANG!

I did try my first fingerpicking exercise today, and it feels much more comfortable than I expected. I played a little guitar when I was younger, and it was the same way then. I hope this is a good sign for the future.