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View Full Version : Anyone Else Strum With Their Thumb?



kyote
05-27-2013, 06:18 PM
All the videos I've seen on strumming the ukulele tell you to strum with your index finger. Personally, it feel much more natural doing it with my thumb. Anyone else do this, or is it a bad habit I should unlearn?

silveraven
05-27-2013, 06:30 PM
Me! I can't seem to strum with my index finger, my nail kept getting caught in the strings, spoiling the entire song I'm playing.

Not sure if it's a 'wrong' way of strumming though...

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
05-27-2013, 06:39 PM
I strum with my thumb sometimes and with my index finger other times. Both work great. As long as your strumming feels natural and comfortable, you're developing a good habit.

equina
05-27-2013, 06:51 PM
I love bright sounds, so I usually strum with nails--downwards with my index finger and upwards with my thumb. This felt unnatural in the beginning but after some practice this way of strumming has become instinctive. I strum downwards with my thumb only when I want a very mellow tone for slow sentimental songs.

Chap
05-27-2013, 07:10 PM
I love bright sounds, so I usually strum with nails--downwards with my index finger and upwards with my thumb. This felt unnatural in the beginning but after some practice this way of strumming has become instinctive. I strum downwards with my thumb only when I want a very mellow tone for slow sentimental songs.

This is pretty much how I've always done it. Not sure I could strum any other way. :P

consitter
05-27-2013, 07:48 PM
I used to when I first started playing...then somebody told me it was wrong to do that. Started using my index finger. Now it feels really weird using my thumb.

Patrick Madsen
05-27-2013, 09:37 PM
For me, it's like stirring my coffee. I stir my coffee with my thumb.

kaizersoza
05-27-2013, 11:51 PM
I think there is a place for thumb strumming as long as you are comfortable with it, there is no right or wrong way to play a song, the main thing here is for you to enjoy playing your uke, you can always learn to strum using your pointer finger later should you wish, although as you progress you will want to improve you're strumming techniques in order to play the rhythms of a lot of songs, playing with you're thumb can be restrictive when you try this

PhilUSAFRet
05-28-2013, 12:55 AM
Jake Shimabakura uses his thumb a great deal, as do many (most?) great Hawaiian players. When I started, I had experienced players tell me not to use my thumb that used their thumb a lot.

Spud1$
05-28-2013, 01:41 AM
I have only been playing for about two months with very little musical experience, at first only my thumb worked for strumming then all of a sudden I realized I sometimes used my pointer finger and now I mostly use my pointer finger. I think your ukulele will help you as you progress. A lot of things just seem to happen or change with out much thought!

Johnny GDS
05-28-2013, 02:00 AM
I think that its fine to use your thumb for strumming. The more ways you can strum, the more versatile you will be in the long run. Thumb strumming will often give you a softer, more mellow tone than strumming with your other fingers, and usually less volume. You might find it to not be loud enough if you are playing in a group with other people. I would encourage you to keep experimenting with other fingers for strumming, the more options the better!

Using your index finger will give you brighter tone and often much more volume and will probably facilitate more strumming speed when needed. Keeping your finger really relaxed and letting your wrist do most of the work will keep it from getting "hung up" in the strings.

The most important thing is that what you are doing is fun and works for you! As long as you don't feel like its holding you back from being able to play what you want to play, then stick with it. Just remember that "variety is the spice of life"!

siesta171
05-28-2013, 03:39 AM
Like to add my confirmation to all the excellent responses. Strum with your thumb by all means. Somewhere ahead you may want to try different techniques. You will know what is good for you. It is what we like about ukes.

gitarzan
05-28-2013, 04:45 AM
I strum with my nose.


Uh, I mean my thumb. Sometimes my fingers. Wherever the longest fingernails are.

Shastastan
05-28-2013, 07:17 AM
I think that its fine to use your thumb for strumming. The more ways you can strum, the more versatile you will be in the long run. Thumb strumming will often give you a softer, more mellow tone than strumming with your other fingers, and usually less volume. You might find it to not be loud enough if you are playing in a group with other people. I would encourage you to keep experimenting with other fingers for strumming, the more options the better!

Using your index finger will give you brighter tone and often much more volume and will probably facilitate more strumming speed when needed. Keeping your finger really relaxed and letting your wrist do most of the work will keep it from getting "hung up" in the strings.

The most important thing is that what you are doing is fun and works for you! As long as you don't feel like its holding you back from being able to play what you want to play, then stick with it. Just remember that "variety is the spice of life"!

I strum with my thumb. I'm trying to switch to my index finger for the reasons stated above, but it seems my thumb naturally starts again until I realize it and try to go back to my index finger. No doubt in my mind that this is definitely a habit. I've watched Aldrine and others using their index fingers and they can develop strumming so fast that their hand is just a blur. Every time I see that, it reminds me to break the thumb habit, but then I just slip back.... sigh....

Tootler
05-28-2013, 07:27 AM
I love bright sounds, so I usually strum with nails--downwards with my index finger and upwards with my thumb. This felt unnatural in the beginning but after some practice this way of strumming has become instinctive. I strum downwards with my thumb only when I want a very mellow tone for slow sentimental songs.

I strum in that way. I always have. It just felt right, strumming up with my index finger just didn't feel comfortable. I sometimes strum down with my thumb if I want a slow, gentle strum.

fernandogardinali
05-28-2013, 08:34 AM
I strum with my thumb when I'm playing (especially banjo-uke) as a way to control the volume and highlight fancier strums with the other fingers.

bnolsen
05-28-2013, 09:24 AM
Depends on the song. If it's happy and upbeat then I use the index finger to get the sound to jump more to match. For something more toned down I may use my thumb instead. "Ain't she sweet": index finger, "Fly me to the Moon": thumb.

RonT
05-28-2013, 09:56 AM
I use my thumb for 'Little Brown Gal', and one or two others, but mix it up between finger pads and thumb pad for everything else.
R

MidwestUkeJoe
05-28-2013, 10:43 AM
I use both just depends on the song or the style, but that's the great thing about the Uke its about doing what you like. If everyone played the same it would be called a guitar (hahaha). Im no expert, but i know that you have to find your own playing styles. Everybody is different what works for me might not work for you.

kyote
05-28-2013, 12:36 PM
Thanks guys. I have noticed it is bit quieter when strumming with my thumb. I'll diversify, and try implementing my index finger more.

It's funny a couple weeks ago I was having such a hard time doing the down down up up down up strum from Somewhere Over The Rainbow. And I haven't really been practicing the strum much, but last night I tired it, and out of the blue, it was quite surprising how I was able to keep track of what my hand was doing. I'm not saying I was prefect, but It really gives me confidence that if I just keep playing I'll adventully figure these things out.

perep
05-28-2013, 02:59 PM
I use both fingures, strum down with index with thumb following and up mostly with index with light touch of thumb. I use them BOTH when picking

DannyPham
05-28-2013, 05:37 PM
I strum down with my thumb and up with my index finger. This lets me naturally use my wrist more and thus more speed.

mm stan
05-29-2013, 02:06 AM
Ask OHta san...hee hee do what is comfortable for you....as you get better you can try alternative strumming techniques....but start off learning the basics first...

ranilus
05-30-2013, 10:07 AM
I force myself to try and strum with my index finger... sometimes it works and strumming feels natural and great, but other times it feels weird.

The worst part of this is the inconsistency I get when strumming with pointing finger - sometimes I bend the finger too much, other times not enough (not even hit the strings), sometimes my finger hits the side of the fingerboard and get halted by the neck instead of passing over the strings.

Being able to strum with index finger seems to be very important and a basic skill that leads into various advanced techniques.... I just hope I can master it some day!

uke4ia
05-30-2013, 03:38 PM
There are times I strum with my thumb. Heck, there are times I strum with the back of my pinky fingernail. Lots of different strums can give you different tones, or help accentuate a particular string. And I fret with my thumb too.

blue_knight_usa
05-31-2013, 09:37 PM
Shaping and filing your nail is really important, if they are too long, or cut squared off they will snag the strings. Should file them to a crescent shape, well rounded all the way to the side of your nail bed where it meets the corner. Took me a bit to figure it out when I started playing but with the proper length and shape, they will not get caught in the strings. Also make sure your just brushing across the strings at a 45 degree angle and not directly up and down vertically. Matt Dahlberg showed me that and it worked great.

I do use my thumb and index finger for triplet strums however.


Me! I can't seem to strum with my index finger, my nail kept getting caught in the strings, spoiling the entire song I'm playing.

Not sure if it's a 'wrong' way of strumming though...

silveraven
06-01-2013, 01:17 AM
Shaping and filing your nail is really important, if they are too long, or cut squared off they will snag the strings. Should file them to a crescent shape, well rounded all the way to the side of your nail bed where it meets the corner. Took me a bit to figure it out when I started playing but with the proper length and shape, they will not get caught in the strings. Also make sure your just brushing across the strings at a 45 degree angle and not directly up and down vertically. Matt Dahlberg showed me that and it worked great.

I do use my thumb and index finger for triplet strums however.

Great advice! I actually filed my nails like that and strumming with my index finger became so much easier. It's not constant though, like what ranilus said. I can't keep it at a 45 degree angle all the time and strumming isn't as loud as when I use my thumb.

...off to practice some more!

ricdoug
06-01-2013, 03:48 AM
I strum down with my thumb and up with my index finger. My callouses are like guitar picks. You will not find many that get more acoustic volume out of an ukulele than me, even when I play acoustically. Ric

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/Mini3Busking.jpg

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/MotuHawaiiParty.jpg

DKayne
04-18-2014, 11:50 AM
When I started playing, I used my thumb, as I found it to feel the most natural. Then I asked my uke teacher how I can avoid making the blister on my thumb worse. He stated that using the index finger is the more ďproperĒ way to play. Now that feels more natural.

However, Iíve found that when practicing at home, when I use my index finger, it gives a more rich, loud tone. But, when I use my thumb, it gives a nice, soft tone. Both of which I like, depending on what mood Iím in. If I want to play loud, I use the index finger. If I want to play softly, I use the thumb.

OldePhart
04-18-2014, 12:01 PM
I figure the good Lord gimme five fingers on each hand for a reason so I try to use them all at one time or another...and most of the ones on my right hand get used for both down and up strums depending on the rhythm...

I literally spent a full year just working on right hand technique. I still suck sand, but now I suck sand with much more variety!

John

wodan22
04-28-2014, 09:17 AM
I usually use a combination of thumb and index finger, although I did the thumb strum a lot when I first started. I don't think there is necessarily a "wrong way". It's your ukulele-if it makes a good sound and you like it, that's all that matters.

actadh
04-28-2014, 09:52 AM
I agree. Most negatives about a spruce top are that it sounds too "bright" or "brash." I strum my spruce top with the pads of my thumb and index finger and it sounds just the way I want.

Down Up Dick
05-14-2014, 10:46 AM
Ukulele Mike has a lesson on strumming with the thumb on his net and on You Tube.

Yukon Cornelius
05-14-2014, 10:54 AM
Ukulele Mike has a lesson on strumming with the thumb on his net and on You Tube.

Not to Hi-Jack, But how do you like that Ohana 6 string?


On topic: Thumb is great to strum with. I use my thumb, my pointer, my middle and occasionally the other fingers. I use my thumb more when alone than when other people.

Down Up Dick
05-14-2014, 08:14 PM
Hi, Yukon, I like my Ohana 6 string fine, but my ears are fighting with the low A. It's a little difficult for me to fret the A's too, but I'm getting better. The A's are a bit overpowering. I've even thought about changing to unison A's, but I'm gonna wait for that. Maybe I'll get used to the sound.

I occasionally use my thumb mostly just to noodle. I began with my index finger and still strum that way.

Yukon Cornelius
05-14-2014, 09:46 PM
Hi, Yukon, I like my Ohana 6 string fine, but my ears are fighting with the low A. It's a little difficult for me to fret the A's too, but I'm getting better. The A's are a bit overpowering. I've even thought about changing to unison A's, but I'm gonna wait for that. Maybe I'll get used to the sound.

I occasionally use my thumb mostly just to noodle. I began with my index finger and still strum that way.

When I first got a 6 string I didn't like that low a either. I restrung with paired a. Fell in love with the sound then. I also did low g.

Down Up Dick
05-15-2014, 04:35 AM
Thanks for the info. I'll remember it (maybe) when the time comes.

Newportlocal
05-15-2014, 05:48 AM
I strum down with my fingers, and up with my thumb for my standard strum. Works for me, and I am happy with the results.

JJFN
05-15-2014, 06:07 AM
To me it depends on the song, if the song and I are mellow I thumb strum, if not I attack it with my index finger. Depends on my and the songs mood.

DazW
05-18-2014, 11:03 AM
I have a habit of strumming with my thumb, usually when Im trying to keep the noise down. I probably use my fingers more, but I think the thumb helps for some softer, more delicate song parts. I did play acoustic guitar for quite a few years prior to discovering the joy of uke so I suspect the thumb thing is probably caused by that. As long as it sounds good I don't think it really matters