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View Full Version : Thoughts after the initial day with my first uke



haertig
06-09-2014, 03:08 PM
After my first day with the ukulele, my fingers feel like I've been doing fingertip handstands on knife blades. Sometimes it feels like I'm gripping the neck of the uke so hard that I'm going to crush it. My fingers have all the dexterity, smoothness and control of a bunch of half-broken sticks in a tense claw position.

Oh well, I'll learn the technique soon enough after some practicing. I think I must be holding the thing incorrectly because I am having to support it by holding the neck to keep it from dropping down. I'm also thinking my left hand should be a tad more relaxed than its current feel of a pit bull clamped onto a poodles leg. I just hope those callauses form soon and I can exercise some strength into those fingers!

Unfortunately, I have to send the uke back since one of the geared tuners held in place by a screw on the back is loose. The hole the mounting screw goes into is either oversized or stripped, so the tuner can twist as the mounting screw rattles around. At least Hawaii Music Supply has been good saying they would take it back and replace/fix it. But repackaging it, shipping it, and then waiting for a new uke to arrive is a bummer. While I'm waiting, I'll try to man-up and do some fingertip handstands on my machette for practice.

Time for me to review all the online beginner videos for correct hold technique...

cantsing
06-09-2014, 03:43 PM
Don't worry, that awkward stage will pass quickly. Real bummer that you have to return it.


Time for me to review all the online beginner videos for correct hold technique...
Definitely explore your options, but don't automatically rule out a strap, especially if your uke isn't a soprano.

Jim Hanks
06-09-2014, 03:51 PM
Welcome to UU! When you get the uke back, I would recommend taking things a little slower before you hurt yourself. Kinda suprised it arrived from HMS with the bum tuner, but "stuff" happens. You may want to consider a strap. HMS will add an end pin for $5 and you can get a strap for $5-10.

Nickie
06-09-2014, 03:55 PM
I would definatley ask HMS to put a strap pin at the butt while they have it, and send you a strap. If not, you'll never be able to hold it outside of the 1st position. I'd advise you not to overdo it when the uke arrives home. Let your fingers build callouses gradually, sore fingers are no fun. Don't punish yourself.

Ukejenny
06-09-2014, 03:58 PM
After my first day with the ukulele, my fingers feel like I've been doing fingertip handstands on knife blades. Sometimes it feels like I'm gripping the neck of the uke so hard that I'm going to crush it. My fingers have all the dexterity, smoothness and control of a bunch of half-broken sticks in a tense claw position.

Bravo, you are right where you should be! ;)

As for sending the uke back, sorry to hear about that, but I'm glad you are getting it replaced and that you are being taken care of by HMS.

Ukejenny
06-09-2014, 04:00 PM
I just looked back at your posts to see what kind of ukulele you decided upon, but didn't find anything. So, what kind did you go with and are you replacing with the exact same one?

Welcome to UU! You will find a lot of great information here.

stevepetergal
06-09-2014, 04:14 PM
Have you asked Hawaii Music Supply if they'd pay for a reputable local luthier to fix your tuner problem. It's most likely a very simple repair. Cheaper for them, fast for you. I'll bet they would.

haertig
06-09-2014, 04:28 PM
I just looked back at your posts to see what kind of ukulele you decided upon, but didn't find anything. So, what kind did you go with and are you replacing with the exact same one?
I bought a tenor sized, a Kala KA-T. Inexpensive mahagony laminate. Only $118 + $20 shipping.

I have no reason to replace it with a different brand/model unless someone tells me a good reason why I should consider that.

pixiepurls
06-09-2014, 04:31 PM
After my first day with the ukulele, my fingers feel like I've been doing fingertip handstands on knife blades. Sometimes it feels like I'm gripping the neck of the uke so hard that I'm going to crush it. My fingers have all the dexterity, smoothness and control of a bunch of half-broken sticks in a tense claw position.

Oh well, I'll learn the technique soon enough after some practicing. I think I must be holding the thing incorrectly because I am having to support it by holding the neck to keep it from dropping down. I'm also thinking my left hand should be a tad more relaxed than its current feel of a pit bull clamped onto a poodles leg. I just hope those callauses form soon and I can exercise some strength into those fingers!

Unfortunately, I have to send the uke back since one of the geared tuners held in place by a screw on the back is loose. The hole the mounting screw goes into is either oversized or stripped, so the tuner can twist as the mounting screw rattles around. At least Hawaii Music Supply has been good saying they would take it back and replace/fix it. But repackaging it, shipping it, and then waiting for a new uke to arrive is a bummer. While I'm waiting, I'll try to man-up and do some fingertip handstands on my machette for practice.

Time for me to review all the online beginner videos for correct hold technique...

Def be careful not to give yourself carpel tunnel or something! I always work to hold the neck LIGHTER and not have to press so hard, as I often over-press to try to get the chord to sound clean. Over the past 3 or 4 months I am able to go lighter on chords I know better. Its very weird how that happens. I also remind myself to strum lighter too. Important to be able to play light and hard. You can work on finger style on open strings with your right hand, good exercise and still fun, or just do it with the chords you find the easiest to fret (C and A for example) and work on different finger style patterns.

I also recommend giveit100.com its really fun and loads of ukulele friends on there.

Rllink
06-09-2014, 05:14 PM
In the beginning my fingers were a little tender but after a couple of weeks it got better. Now, my finger tips are very tough and it doesn't hurt to fret the strings, but I've lost a lot of feeling in the tips of my fingers. The other day I reached over with my left hand and tried to fish some coins out of the console in my car, and I couldn't feel the dimes well enough to pick them out. I had to put down my coffee cup, which was in my right hand, so that I could pick up the coins. Is that normal? As I type this post, I notice that I do not have much feeling in the very tips of my index, middle, and ring finger on my left hand.

Ukejenny
06-09-2014, 05:34 PM
I bought a tenor sized, a Kala KA-T. Inexpensive mahagony laminate. Only $118 + $20 shipping.

I have no reason to replace it with a different brand/model unless someone tells me a good reason why I should consider that.

Very nice choice. No reason to change at all!

haertig
06-09-2014, 06:47 PM
... I couldn't feel the dimes well enough to pick them out ... Is that normal? As I type this post, I notice that I do not have much feeling in the very tips of my index, middle, and ring finger on my left hand.
I certainly hope this is not normal. If it is, I fear I may have to abandon the ukulele. My first love is playing classical piano and I will not give that up. But I do have friends who play both piano professionally and guitar informally, so maybe (hopefully!) your experience is not typical. I'm not saying that I hope you have a unique problem, just that I would prefer not to share it myself.

haertig
06-09-2014, 06:56 PM
Have you asked Hawaii Music Supply if they'd pay for a reputable local luthier to fix your tuner problem.
When I emailed them about the problem, I offered a couple of solutions in place of a return/exchange. One was them paying for me to have it repaired locally. Another was for them to ship me a matching set of oversized screws that would fit my tuners and I'd replace all four myself. And another was for me to attempt to repair the oversized hole myself with wood putty with the caveat that they would agree to replace the uke if my repair attempt failed or even if it damaged the uke despite my taking a cautious approach and doing the best job I could.

Their response did not acknowledge any of my suggestions and simply said they would send me a prepaid shipping label for the return. So I guess that is their preference. I was a little surprised that they did not even acknowledge my other suggestions with a "thanks for offering, but we'd prefer to simply do a return". But whatever - as long as they properly take care of the problem I'll be happy in the end. I'm just a little bummed out at the moment though.

Ukejenny
06-10-2014, 05:29 AM
This will give your fingers some time to rebound a bit. You can start watching some of the UU videos and picking out some favorite exercises to try when your new uke arrives. I hope the turn around time with HMS is quick, so you aren't without a uke for too long. Between the UU videos here and all the cool Youtube stuff, there is a treasure of information out there. Then all the books and then all posts here...

Durango
06-10-2014, 10:37 AM
Sounds like this could qualify for the old toothpick trick. You just add a drop of wood glue to the end of a round toothpick, stick it in the hole, break it off flush, and screw the old screw in. This way you can keep on playin' :)

haertig
06-10-2014, 02:57 PM
Day two: MUCH better!

Much less pain. I figured out that I was placing my left thumb up too high on the neck of the ukulele. All the way up under the nut. So I was having to press the strings with tense fingers quite hard to compensate for not having that thumb giving support more or less under the fingers. And I was in awkward and uncomfortable hand positions trying to adapt for that missing thumb support my fingers craved. Once I figured out to move the thumb down a little, so it is closer to being under the fingers I am fretting with, boy, things got easier. And I also found out that if your chord doesn't sound good, it doesn't sound any better if you smash the strings down in a death grip either. So I made a concious effort to lighten up my grip.

Beginner mistakes! And us beginners, me especially, are apparently pretty dense and clueless. I'm determined to learn anyway. I contacted a local lutherie via email to see what it would cost to get my tuner repaired locally to maybe avoid the hassle/dissappointment of having to send it back to HMS. Waiting for the lutherie to reply back to my email...

DownUpDave
06-10-2014, 03:41 PM
Smart move regarding getting it fixed locally. That is an easy fix and should be quick and painless. .If you are handy you can do it yourself as Durango pointed out. I enjoyed your opening post, reminded me of when I started acoustic guitar, which is way worse. I thought my fingers were going to bleed. You are learning through trial and error, those lessons will stick. As you get more proficient with fretting technique you will need less and less pressure which leads to a more relaxed, tension free form. You know this from piano, lots of practice will yeld results. Don't be afraid to ask questions, lots of knowledgable and helpful people here

KevinV
06-10-2014, 04:17 PM
Sounds like this could qualify for the old toothpick trick. You just add a drop of wood glue to the end of a round toothpick, stick it in the hole, break it off flush, and screw the old screw in. This way you can keep on playin' :)

I'll 3rd this along with Durango and Dave. I've done this many times and it's easy, and makes for a solid repair. I don't recommend the wood putty, it'll eventually give way.

Here's a Strat body I refinished that had stripped and excess screw holes for the pick guard, as well as a stripped strap button hole. I used toothpicks and wood glue. It cleaned up nicely and works like a charm. I use a pair of snips which can be seen in the 2nd picture to snip off the excess. It makes for a clean cut.

67655 67656 67657 67658

cantsing
06-10-2014, 05:21 PM
And I also found out that if your chord doesn't sound good, it doesn't sound any better if you smash the strings down in a death grip either.

Good for you--you'd be surprised how long it took some of us to figure out the benefits of a light touch! Another possibly related tip: If a chord doesn't sound good, pluck each string separately to figure out which finger(s) is causing the problem and then adjust your finger/hand position so that each string rings clearly.

JayMadison
06-11-2014, 02:31 AM
Yep, I would say it takes a few weeks to a month for the pain to go away. I mean if I go to a uke even or play for 3 hours I still notice it the next day, but y'know :) What uke did you pick as your first one?

JayMadison
06-11-2014, 02:33 AM
Good for you--you'd be surprised how long it took some of us to figure out the benefits of a light touch! Another possibly related tip: If a chord doesn't sound good, pluck each string separately to figure out which finger(s) is causing the problem and then adjust your finger/hand position so that each string rings clearly.

That's a good tip, ive been doing that as I attempt to learn barre chords. It's funny when I started I thought dong a d chord was really hard and i'd never get it, now it's no big deal. I'm sure you'll pick it up pretty fast

haertig
06-11-2014, 04:37 AM
What uke did you pick as your first one?
A laminated mahagony tenor Kala KA-T. Based on the recommendations from Hawaii Music Supply. I know it's low-end (only $118), but I think it will serve me well for learning on. Plus, I like the idea of the (cheaper) laminated ones because I live in super-arid Colorado and I won't need to mess around with humidification at this time. That can come later, after I have advanced from rank beginner and purchased a better quality ukulele.

JayMadison
06-11-2014, 04:41 AM
Those are nice :) I hope you get a replacement soon.

haertig
06-11-2014, 05:04 AM
The local lutherie got back to me. $20 to repair the hole, and one month until he could get it scheduled in. I'm thinking I will take the tuner off myself tonight and see if this "toothpick" repair many have mentioned is something I can do myself. The deal is, other than the bad screw hole, this uke is perfect as best I can tell. I have gone over it with a fine toothed comb. Exchanging it for another could end up with me having a more inferior sample to what I already have, given it's low price range and the reality that one cannot expect perfection at this price point.

KevinV
06-11-2014, 05:09 AM
The local lutherie got back to me. $20 to repair the hole, and one month until he could get it scheduled in. I'm thinking I will take the tuner off myself tonight and see if this "toothpick" repair many have mentioned is something I can do myself. The deal is, other than the bad screw hole, this uke is perfect as best I can tell. I have gone over it with a fine toothed comb. Exchanging it for another could end up with me having a more inferior sample to what I already have, given it's low price range and the reality that one cannot expect perfection at this price point.

I have the same reservations about exchanging when I find one I like. I'd rather take care of a flaw on one I know I like than roll the dice on another. You'll do fine with the toothpick repair. I always let the glue set then snip flush with a pair of wire cutters. If done correctly, it will be unnoticeable under the tuner plate. And you'll save yourself $20.

JayMadison
06-11-2014, 05:18 AM
I have the same reservations about exchanging when I find one I like. I'd rather take care of a flaw on one I know I like than roll the dice on another. You'll do fine with the toothpick repair. I always let the glue set then snip flush with a pair of wire cutters. If done correctly, it will be unnoticeable under the tuner plate. And you'll save yourself $20.

A month, ew. Maybe your local uke club can get you a loner :)

haertig
06-14-2014, 05:49 AM
I did the toothpick repair in my loose tuner screw hole. The repair came out perfectly! Couldn't ask for better. And yes, you were all right, it was trivially easy to do. So I'm a happy camper now and I don't have to send my new uke back to HMS or pay a local lutherie $20 to do it.

BTW, on days three, four and five with my new uke, I didn't notice my fingers hurting at all. I noticed "slight, rare, pressure" only a few times and only on a few strings and positions. I know I don't have any calluses built up yet in these early days, so I think making a concious effort to use as light a pressure on the frets as possible made the big difference. Not to mention, the uke is much easier to play that way! I'll keep working on this as I practice.

Oh, and by the way, THANKS to all of you who mentioned this simple toothpick repair that I never would have thought of myself. You saved me a lot of waiting, shipping hassle, cost for a local repair, etc!

actadh
06-18-2014, 01:53 PM
Glad it worked out for you. This is such a great community.