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Forkjulle
09-19-2012, 11:42 PM
I'm a week old, with my soprano, and learning quickly. But I'm finding that holding it is very awkward because it's so small. I don't have a strap (and don't want one).

If I dig it into my arm, against the bicep / inner-elbow region, then my strumming ends up beyond the hole and on the fret board at around the 12th fret or so. The sound is obviously a bit softer, but gentler, but I also can't really pick the strings comfortably.

If I pull the uke a bit away from my bicep / inner-elbow region, leaving a gap, I can get a slightly louder sound and can pick the strings a big easier. But the uke feels physically a bit more unstable.

From your experience, what have you found to be a good balance?

Zenin
09-20-2012, 12:06 AM
If I dig it into my arm, against the bicep / inner-elbow region, then my strumming ends up beyond the hole and on the fret board at around the 12th fret or so.
It might seem odd at first, but that's about where a soprano is typically played. Every instrument as a "sweet spot" where it sounds best, with sopranos it's generally about where the neck means the body or higher.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv2EdP2Umx4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQEQWMmF0GY

Even on larger uke's, it's still forward of the sound hole typically:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0fM24a0Z40

I do see players like Jake Shimabukuro that tend to strum over the fretboard, but bring it back down almost to the sound hole to pick. Personally I just pick over the fretboard since I'm too lazy to move my hand back and forth. :)

coolkayaker1
09-20-2012, 12:27 AM
I agree with everything you wrote, forkjulie, and in the end, I use a strap.

I put in an endpin and use Uke Leash brand guitar strap style ( the newer strap on the website). No more issues.

What do I think of straps now? Love them

OldePhart
09-20-2012, 11:55 AM
Wow...a week old and playing uke already - they are starting younger these days! :)

Seriously, if you're getting bruises you are holding it far too tightly no matter what position you're holding it in. Loosen up a little - it may squirm a little but it won't leap from your grasp and run across the room unless maybe if it's a Dolphin (bad joke).

Typically most people end up strumming a soprano around the twelfth fret though there is nothing cast in stone. - Anyway, it sounds like you probably have it in a decent spot, you just need to not crush it so tightly.

One thing that I've done on many of my ukes and it helps a lot is I've attached a strip of rubber non-skid shelf liner to the back of the uke with a bit of 3M spray trim adhesive (basically spray on rubber cement). I recently removed the strip from my gloss mango tenor after it had been on for over a year and the little bit of residue left behind cleaned right off with ordinary rubbing alcohol - I had applied a good coat of wax before gluing the strip on.

BTW, I removed the strip because it was getting loose and I almost always use a strap on that uke since I basically only play it when I need to plug in.

John

Uncle Rod Higuchi
09-20-2012, 12:05 PM
The Aunties at the Royal Hawaiian Center (Free ukulele lessons) instruct the beginners to grab the uke by the neck
and lay it across the chest, holding it in the crook of their arm. that means strumming will be where the neck meets the
body around the 12th fret.

Any other position without using a strap is bound to have the little soprano dangling loose and fancy free :)

It may seem like we need to strum over the sound hole, but as was mentioned above, uke strumming is generally done
above the sound hole. I'm almost sure it's because of the smaller body of the uke (vs guitar).

With time and practice you will find a comfortable and reliable position.

keep uke'in',

PS please check out the Ukulele Boot Camp link below :)

Forkjulle
09-20-2012, 07:52 PM
Thanks for the replies. You're very helpful. I'll certainly lighten up my grip and continue playing over the 12th fret or so. (It sounds nice there, anyway.)

I've gotta say that it looks so silly, after coming from a guitar background. You can't take it seriously!

It's, however, addictive and a HUGE amount of fun, and - dare I say it - a chick magnet...

kaizersoza
09-21-2012, 12:51 AM
It's, however, addictive and a HUGE amount of fun, and - dare I say it - a chick magnet...

yep your spot on there only this week i have managed to pull a chicken an 2 ducks

bazmaz
09-21-2012, 05:31 AM
Oldephart has it bang on. Whilst I use straps I find no need on a soprano. You are holding it right position wise, but if you are bruising you are holding it far far too tight!