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View Full Version : Strumming - Wrist or Forearm?



SnugglesVelociraptor
09-12-2011, 11:06 AM
At first I wasn't sure if the way I was strumming was correct, but after reading a lot about it in random places online I'm finding that it doesn't really matter. (Details for those who want to double check me on this: I use my middle finger nail going down and my thumb nail going up. This works best for me, but doesn't get me the sound I want. I'll keep practicing and trying different ways though.)

Now for the purpose of this post. With the way I've been strumming (explained above) I end up doing all the strumming with my wrist, my wrist is bent quite a lot when I strum, and it's started hurting now. I've had my ukulele for 3 days and have been playing pretty much non stop, so it could be that. But I just want to make sure it won't be detrimental in the long run... Should I be strumming with my forearm? Or is it okay to keep using my wrist?

peytakeeho
09-12-2011, 11:35 AM
Wrist is preferred when people strum really fast I think :) I use my forearm sitting down, wrist standing up :D It'll just be muscle ache if you've been going for three days

sukie
09-12-2011, 12:07 PM
My teacher says wrist. I listen to him. You maybe want to too.

Shastastan
09-12-2011, 12:38 PM
I'm a 2 month beginner. Personally, I don't like the sound my finger/thumb nails make while strumming. You could try a down strum with the flesh part of your thumb and an up strum with the flesh part of your finger. It won't take long to see if you like the sound better or worse. Just my 4 cents worth.

mascompro
09-12-2011, 12:53 PM
I personally do not like the sound of nail on string either. I strum using my index finger, palm in, so the meat hits on both the down as well as the up strokes. My teacher, as well as most others, say wrist action , no arm movement, and I find that that works best for me.

Kanaka916
09-12-2011, 12:59 PM
You can use whatever digit you choose to strum with, be it index, middle or thumb. It's what you're most comfortable using. As to how to strum, it's advised to use your wrist over your forearm. You shouldn't have to bend or force your wrist in when it's much more easier to turn your finger or thumb in. It's more of a natural position. Bending your wrist may force some type injury as you're experiencing now.

JT_Ukes
09-12-2011, 12:59 PM
I use my finger...

SnugglesVelociraptor
09-12-2011, 01:17 PM
Thanks for the feedback everyone!

That was very helpful! I noticed that when I relax and play my wrist doesn't bend at such a sharp angle and when I'm tense (from my left fingertips hurting so badly - I've never played a stringed instrument before) my wrist bends more and that's when it starts hurting. That solved the pain problem, and I'll be sticking with strumming with the wrist.

As a side note, I really can't seem to bring myself away from using my nails, but I'm getting better at strumming lighter so it sounds better than before.

Chris Tarman
09-12-2011, 05:55 PM
Wrist. It gets easier to do it the right way as you go along. It hurts for a while, but once you get the muscles adjusted you should be okay. Just try not to hold it at a weird angle. And use whatever digit works. Heck, use ALL of them! Watch this guy for both his wrist action and his use of multiple digits:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2kKJXrXpu8

Dan Uke
09-12-2011, 10:55 PM
wrist all the way

Jnobianchi
09-13-2011, 04:49 AM
It's wrist.

As for which fingers to use, there are literally dozens of strums, all for different effect or technique. The one you're doing is fine, but its going to produce a muddier, less precise sound. Using index alone is another way to do it. When accompanying yourself, sometimes a thumb strum is best, as it's all with the meat of the thumb and its a more muted sound. I use them all for different things, along with triple stroke, fan stroke, shake stroke, circle and split stroke. There are many more.

Experiment to what you like for different songs and circumstances, but by all means, stop playing for a few hours... :)

Hey Chris - lovely video of Stephen Sproat! there are fans, triple, split strokes, thumb strums and much more in there. Great stuff!

Michael N.
09-13-2011, 06:04 AM
Wrist. You can try the flamenco triplet rasgueado - which is up thumb, down middle (or middle & ring), down thumb - keep repeating. Done as Triplets with the accent on the first up stroke of the thumb.
I'm not suggesting this as a way of playing or strumming a piece but used as an exercise it's a very good way of training the wrist.
Do it in short sessions, no need to over do it.

dougn200
09-13-2011, 06:40 AM
Pretend you are opening a door knob this is usally the best method

gyosh
09-16-2011, 08:44 PM
I just attended a workshop with Lil' Rev (youtube him) and he promotes using your wrist but also quite a bit of elbow movement. The message I got was that you shouldn't keep one part so still, that the other doesn't have movement as well. It should feel natural and RELAXED. He stressed that different people will use more of one or the other, but that neither should be exclusive. Trying to isolate just the wrist is what leads to injury like tendonitis. Aaron Keim also mentioned that strumming should feel natural. Watch videos to see the different techniques. Taimane Gardner is a kick to watch. Hope this helps.

olgoat52
09-20-2011, 08:03 AM
Nice triples! :)


Wrist. It gets easier to do it the right way as you go along. It hurts for a while, but once you get the muscles adjusted you should be okay. Just try not to hold it at a weird angle. And use whatever digit works. Heck, use ALL of them! Watch this guy for both his wrist action and his use of multiple digits:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2kKJXrXpu8