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Matt B
03-10-2014, 07:52 AM
Hi, I've used the search function but I got 404 errors on every thread I clicked on relating to finger problems so apologies for the inevitable repetition.

My sister has a soprano uke and while borrowing it (I intend to buy my own shortly) I really struggled to fit my fingers to the frets. Frankly, I have ridiculously large hands and long, thin Salad Fingers-esque fingers and I while I can technically fit my fingers to make the chords, it's uncomfortable to the point of pain.

I can only assume that this a relatively common problem for beginners, but my sister (with her dainty hands) is unable to offer any advice or see where I might be going wrong. As far as I know the problem is my hands not my technique.

Does anyone have any advice for me and / or advice regarding what kind of uke I ought to get? I was considering a Concert or Super Soprano but I'm concerned the frets will be too close together and I have a limited budget.

Patrick Madsen
03-10-2014, 07:56 AM
Ya need a bigger sized uke. Probably a tenor. Forget a soprano, those of us with large hands have trouble with them. Concerts are inbetween but a tenor or baritone is just right. Also don't forget it needs to have a good setup also.

Welcome to the forum.

molokinirum
03-10-2014, 08:04 AM
I too have very big hands.....tenor is your answer. You could get by with a Concert, I play one but tenor is best bet.

OldePhart
03-10-2014, 08:04 AM
I agree, if your fingers are really that long then a tenor will probably be your best bet. However, you will probably find after playing a tenor for a while that your fingers have limbered up beyond what you thought possible and it becomes fairly easy to play a soprano. This greatly surprised me because initially a soprano was very difficult for me even though I'd played guitar for years. I decided on concert scale at the time (a long neck soprano, actually) and then later discovered that soprano had become quite easy).

Any way, definitely go with at least a concert initially and you might be even happier with a super-concert (tenor scale neck on a concert body) or a tenor.

JOhn

Inksplosive AL
03-10-2014, 08:15 AM
I have short fat fingers and all the guitarists I grew up around had those long thin fingers. I used to think I was just shaped wrong to be a musician.

I own sopranos, concerts and one tenor ukuleles and I must admit I like the sopranos the best. There are a few chords I'm simple barring instead of trying to get all my fingers on there like the Cdim and some I two finger where three are called for like a D chord.

Play what you own, play what you like and don't worry you will own multiple ukes in no time. Sopranos just sound right to me, the older harmonys from the 20's 30's sound more banjo like. Have fun run through "uncle rods bootcamp" and your fingers will figure it all out in time.

I'll stress the setup as well!

BTW I just held a concert up to a soprano the other day and the scale of the frets isn't that much bigger at all. Your talking a millimeter or three at best, at least my eye ruler tells me so.

~AL~

Icelander53
03-10-2014, 10:48 AM
When I first played a Fluke I knew I'd struck pay dirt for a larger fretboard. I think it's called a wider nut? Anyway there is plenty of room for my fingers and the body of a Fluke is smaller than my other tenors. Might be worth looking at.

PhilUSAFRet
03-10-2014, 11:32 AM
Regardless of size, some ukes have wider fretboards than others. To avoid wasting money, practice on what you have for a while. Meanwhile, if there is a uke club nearby, join it. Visit music stores and between the club and stores, hold and play as many ukes as you can. You will soon develop a "preference" for a certain size and get a feel for what they sound like. Your next choice will be more likely be an informed one, resulting in a uke you will be satisfied with. Many folks like you ended up having no problem at all playing small ukes, just took time and practice. Fretting chords is a skill and must be developed. Some chords involve a little finger "crowding" for all of us and complicates quick chord changes, but with practice you will be able to surmount that problem. Good luck.

peaceweaver3
03-10-2014, 11:56 AM
How are you holding and/or supporting the neck? In the crook between your thumb and hand, or between your thumb (on the back) and fingers on the fretboard? Just as an experiment, if you're still borrowing the soprano, try rigging up a strap in Uke Leash fashion. www.ukeleash.com
Having more neck support would free upp your left hand so it only has to fret, rather than holding and fretting. I don't know if this will help - my hands are pretty average size, but it's worth a shot.

Icelander53
03-10-2014, 01:57 PM
I agree, if your fingers are really that long then a tenor will probably be your best bet. However, you will probably find after playing a tenor for a while that your fingers have limbered up beyond what you thought possible and it becomes fairly easy to play a soprano. This greatly surprised me because initially a soprano was very difficult for me even though I'd played guitar for years. I decided on concert scale at the time (a long neck soprano, actually) and then later discovered that soprano had become quite easy).

Any way, definitely go with at least a concert initially and you might be even happier with a super-concert (tenor scale neck on a concert body) or a tenor.

JOhn

I agree with what you are saying here. I thought a soprano was too small for me and so went to tenor. After two months of daily practice I picked up a soprano and couldn't imagine what had changed. I can now even get that three finger D on it. A lot can change in a few weeks of practice.

sam13
03-10-2014, 02:46 PM
My finger span is 9.5 inches and I play a Baritone and Tenor.

I might get one of the Super Concerts ... but for now, I really enjoy the Pono Tenor ... it has a really beefy neck.

Check the width of the fretboard at the nut to see how wide it starts out at.

OldePhart
03-10-2014, 03:31 PM
I never really thought about measuring my hand span before so I just did. Mine is 9" from pinky to thumb and I play everything from soprano uke to 35" scale five-string bass...the human body really is an amazing thing...

John

Olarte
03-10-2014, 05:16 PM
Very good advice here.... Yes a larger and or wider fretboard might make it easier but ultimately with enough time and practice, you will be able to handle any size instrument you stick with.

Having long fingers is actually good, with enough practice they will limber up and go where they are supposed to.

I can play from an 11" sopranino Uke, to a baritone, to my classical guitar, as well as violin. And for me that's part of the fun... To see my body and hands adjust to whatever instrument is in my hands at any given time.

It takes a lot of time, same as playing without tension... In fact I think tension is more of a culprit than the size of your hands.

Our hands can be the most expressive, gentle and precise part of our bodies, but tension can make them stiff... Slow steady practice with the focus on nice clear sound and a relaxed posture will result in your hands learning to relax and use just the right amount of touch... But this takes time... So be patient, and enjoy the process...

And for now like others have said, try to stick with one instrument until you become comfortable with it and with yourself.

bnolsen
03-10-2014, 05:22 PM
My span is 9 3/4" and I play mostly sopranos although I do like to occasionally pull out my fluke or concert flea. I guess i punish myself on the sopranos and the concert size is almost effortless in comparison. I barre lots of chords, no way in hell could I ever single finger 'd' or 'e'. My finger pad area is pretty large, I've never met anyone with fingernails the size of mine either. Yes I cannot play a guitar because the strings are way too close together.

Keep ukin' and yrah, consider a strap if you start picking (or maybe those grip strips). I keep on telling myself that I'm going to grab a strap or strips one of these days.

Matt B
03-11-2014, 01:26 AM
Thanks for all the replies :)

I thought I'd measure my hand span since you mentioned it, they're 10.5" / 26.5cm. I (think I) grip the neck with the tips of my fingers and the flat of my thumb on the back, allowing for space between the neck and my palm (It's been a week since I last played so it's a bit fuzzy).

So the general consensus is that I either ought to either persevere with a soprano and wait for it to become more comfortable or I ought to buy a tenor?

Olarte
03-11-2014, 02:18 AM
Getting a tenor will only make it a tiny bit easier...

What I would recommend is to keep the soprano with a high g reentrant tuning, and get a tenor with a wider neck like a fluke and tune that with low g.

This way you'll have the best all around in size and tuning... And you will eventually get used to both.

Kamanaaloha
03-12-2014, 01:47 PM
Longnecks: Kamakas...hf-3L...hf-2L...hf-3...KoAloha...super concert KCM-02...KTM-00.

The concerts have tenor necks...and the HF-3L is an inch shorter than a Baritone and 2 inches longer than a Tenor...that one has lotsa room...I have meathooks...big meaty paws...the hf3l has the most room aside from playing a guitar or a baritone...hands down. So basically tenor or longnecks for u. try before u buy

Kamanaaloha
03-12-2014, 01:51 PM
my span is somewhere between 9.5 and 10...my fingers are almost an inch wide for the index and middle...and 3/4+ for the ring and a little thinner for the pinky...

Concertina
03-12-2014, 02:52 PM
I love that you reference Salad Fingers...

sam13
03-12-2014, 03:19 PM
my span is somewhere between 9.5 and 10...my fingers are almost an inch wide for the index and middle...and 3/4+ for the ring and a little thinner for the pinky...

Nice collection of instruments ... I am looking at a HF3L as well ... how do you like them? I find their tone to be quite beautiful ... with your knowledge ... I am wondering if a radius neck makes a difference? I find with my Pono ETSH5 with radius ... it makes a D chord with one finger ALOT easier to work ... am but a beginner ... but even so.

Also love the Kamaka Baritone ... fabulous tone.

Freeda
03-12-2014, 03:23 PM
Practice. I have a friend who is six foot eight, with hands to match... and he plays a soprano.

KoaDependent
03-12-2014, 03:27 PM
Most of the best players I see have long spider fingers. Better long and thin than short, thick and stumpy (for most things in life anyway). Keep at it, and when you find yourself reaching all the way across the fretboard to make those fancy Jake-like chords, you'll be thankful you've got those chopsticks for fingers.

Inksplosive AL
03-12-2014, 04:12 PM
Hehe while I have a 9" span really stretching 4 1/4" to 4 1/2" is all palm. Damn my non-musician hands.

Lori
03-12-2014, 05:35 PM
Most ukuleles have a 1 3/8" wide neck, and there are some that are 1 1/2" (Kanile'a & Islander). The widest I have heard of is the Oscar Schmidt (OU6W) Wide Neck Tenor at 1 3/4". You might start out on one of those.
http://www.amazon.com/Oscar-Schmidt-Washburn-OU6W-Ukulele/dp/B004MMURN2

–Lori

arpie
03-12-2014, 05:44 PM
Good luck with finding a uke that suits your hands!! Just try as many as you can and you will eventually find 'the one' - some also have 'petite' necks whilst others are fairly chunky (as well as some being wider or narrower) - both will affect the 'ease' with which the uke is held & able to be played. Also, a good 'setup' is essential - it will make it easier to play, as the strings don't need to be pushed quite so hard to achieve a nice, clean sounding chord.

I'd be leaning towards a longneck uke, concert or tenor as well. :D

The one thing I try to get my 'newbie' uke group players to try to do very early on - is to practise using 'spider fingers' when forming chords!! Instead of having your fingers 'flat' on the fretboard, really try and 'arch them up' like 'spider legs' so that only the actual finger TIP is on the string between the frets. If you use the 'cushion' of your finger - then it will inevitably touch the next string & 'mute it' or 'buzz it'. Fingernails really need to be kept quite short to achieve this - with your fingers 'arched' - if you tap them on the table & can hear the fingernails, it is time to cut them back! ;)

Hope this helps

cheers

Roberta

Matt B
03-13-2014, 05:40 AM
Thanks for all the help guys and girls, I'm heading down to the local music shop to buy one now :D