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cre8tive1
06-11-2014, 07:08 AM
Good morning all,

I am few weeks into playing the Uke and I'm struggling with catching my finger on the G string as I strum. I'm fine if I strum lightly and with no variation in rhythm, but as soon as I change it up I catch it and it's either really loud or twangs. I have Aquila Nylgut strings with wound low G. I'm strumming with my forefinger using the doorknob twisting motion. My nails are cut short.

Im thinking maybe I should get an unwound low G and see if that helps, but I know it's my technique that is off.

Any suggestions?

SteveZ
06-11-2014, 07:50 AM
Not being a traditionalist, I am unencumbered with educated and historic technique. I strum mainly with my thumb as if I had a thumbpick on it. Have been doing so most of my life on guitar, mandolin, banjo and now ukulele. It works for me when I don't use a pick of some kind.

If the technique you are using is not working for you, suggest changing technique and not equipment. Going from a wound to an unwound or back to a wound G won't make any difference. If your current strum method is uncomfortable, consider using a soft pick held between the thumb and index finger. It's all a manner of just feeling comfortable and approaching the strings at a consistent angle, as parallel to the string face as possible.

When I first tried banjo I had the same problem you mentioned. I tried finger-strumming and the top string always sounded like I was using a clawhammer instead of playing clawhammer style. Went to using a pick and it helped correct my "angle of attack" both up and down. Afterwards, the pick was discarded when muscle memory knew what to do.

This may work, and it may not. Everyone's a little different. But the purpose of playing is to enjoy making music, not how well you can robotically match a structured system.

mailman
06-11-2014, 08:15 AM
You have already gotten some great advice, above.

I suffer the same problem when attempting to strum with my forefinger. I've tried, and I've tried, but I have yet to master that technique. I, too, have found success in strumming with my thumb. I've always been able to be successful that way, so that's what works for me.

That being said, I'd still like to learn how to strum properly with my index finger. I'll be watching this thread with interest....

billten
06-11-2014, 09:03 AM
I know this may be a bit boring but if you say that it doesn't happen when you are strumming lightly or regularly i think it might just be a practice thing. As you start adding emphasis and interest to the strumming it seems likely that you are changing your technique slightly and this is causing problems. Getting the strum to be consistent regardless of speed or style requires practice and more practice to build your muscle memory.

Rllink
06-11-2014, 09:34 AM
I'm just a beginner as well. I had the same problem in the beginning and I tried using my thumb instead. The thumb was worse for me. Anyway, I was strumming on the side of the finger and I changed my strumming so that I was not doing that anymore. I sort of moved the way that I was holding the uke so that I was strumming more the way the finger bends, instead of the way it doesn't want to bend, which is sideways. I hope that makes sense. I also decided at some point that I was holding my finger way to stiffly and so I started trying to relax a little. That combination helped considerably. Quickly it became much easier and comfortable to strum with my index finger, and now it has become natural.

I found the whole relaxing thing to be the same with my left hand and fretting. It was like I had a death grip on the neck of the uke. I was really stiff, and I had to concentrate on relaxing a little. It has been going much better. So my advise is to try to relax. My playing has improved a lot by just plain relaxing.

bigphil
06-11-2014, 11:48 AM
http://ukuleleunderground.com/lessons/how-to-strum-your-ukulele/
Check out Aldrine's lesson, this is about as clear as I've ever heard the technique explained, I stole it myself. ;)

niwenomian
06-11-2014, 12:15 PM
With the right amount of practice, you will intuitively understand how much pressure to hit the strings with. The motion of "going through" all of the strings almost as one will become an ingrained motor pattern. How long that takes depends on how often you work on reinforcing the pattern.

My suggestion is not to abandon a technique that doesn't work for you, but to work at it consistently (frequent practice sessions) and in a progressive manner (metronome) until you see improvement.

I like Rllinks suggestion of relaxing, it will do wonders for your playing and goes for both hands.

Nick

cre8tive1
06-11-2014, 02:14 PM
Thanks everyone for all the great input. Rllink, I just learned the importance and technique of really relaxing my fretting hand from a friend. It was amazing how much easier it is to get clear bar chords now. Open chords in turn have become nearly effortless. I should have applied that technique to strumming as well. BigPhil, Aldrine's lesson is very good and emphasizes relaxing in his lessons. I need to pay more attention to that. Niwenomian, that's good advice, I'm not giving up. I do need to practice more. Especially as the whole muscle memory thing has definitely not kicked in yet.

Mahalo

mm stan
06-11-2014, 02:55 PM
Aloha Jerry,
You're in big luck....Sarah and Craig live in San Deigo too... they both give lessons... Yes strumming like anything else takes time too..practice, patience, perserverence are your main keys
when you get better your finger will instinctly hit the right strings at the right angle and attack....so much different technique, do like others have said...go what works for you and your preference
main thing is to have fun and dont try to think things out too hard...it may make things more difficult than they really are
go with a basic strum first slowly, as you get better, increase speed..concentrate on your rhythm, tempo and attack angle
if you still have problems..start easy put your forefinger on the outside of the g string and drag it down slowly and evenly at first until you get the hang of it, then do the same with the A string and drag it upwards across the strings... Happy Strummings

PhilUSAFRet
06-11-2014, 03:20 PM
Strumming is a skill like any other. Catching your finger on a string generally means you are strumming too hard or much faster than your current skill level will allow. There are many strumming tutorials on youtube. While many are ok strumming with their thumb, it has other uses and it may be advantageous to learn to use that forefinger correctly. Correct practice = proficiency. The speed comes on it's own.

Ukejenny
06-11-2014, 05:59 PM
I was always practicing in the same seat, sitting the same way, in the beginning and I realized I had the ukulele body angled forward a little too much, making me "hook my fingers" in the strings while strumming. I change up the way I sat a little, and changed how I held the body of the ukulele a little, and it helped. Repetition was another big key for me. I am going to try some of the advice above and see if I can make things even easier on myself.

Kyle23
06-11-2014, 10:08 PM
Does the neck of your uke go right to the soundhole? If it does, strum where the neck meets the body so your finger hits the neck before it glides across the strings. It won't get caught. If I try to strum over the soundhole, my finger does get caught like yours every once in awhile, but when I strum it and it hits the neck first, it goes right across the strings. It's a little hard to explain.

mm stan
06-12-2014, 02:34 AM
Strum where you feel most comfortable for you...everybody is different....

Walden
06-12-2014, 06:12 AM
Strum where you feel most comfortable for you...everybody is different....
That's true, and it can be easy to over-think these things.

iamesperambient
06-12-2014, 07:14 AM
Good morning all,

I am few weeks into playing the Uke and I'm struggling with catching my finger on the G string as I strum. I'm fine if I strum lightly and with no variation in rhythm, but as soon as I change it up I catch it and it's either really loud or twangs. I have Aquila Nylgut strings with wound low G. I'm strumming with my forefinger using the doorknob twisting motion. My nails are cut short.

Im thinking maybe I should get an unwound low G and see if that helps, but I know it's my technique that is off.

Any suggestions?

This is what worked for me when i started guitar about 16 years ago.
Think of your strumming as keeping a beat like drumming or tapping.
find the beat of your song and put your hand over the fretboard to "deaden" it
than kind of chuck the beat do it until your hand gets the hang of hitting the strings
to form a rhythm. Once you get the hang of that try to just strum that beat ( a simple down up down up kind of thing) on a simple C chord
keep practicing it until you feel comfortable than try to apply that to a simple 3 chord song you
want to learn and go from there.

cre8tive1
06-12-2014, 09:33 AM
Aloha Jerry,
You're in big luck....Sarah and Craig live in San Deigo too... they both give lessons... Yes strumming like anything else takes time too..practice, patience, perserverence are your main keys
when you get better your finger will instinctly hit the right strings at the right angle and attack....so much different technique, do like others have said...go what works for you and your preference
main thing is to have fun and dont try to think things out too hard...it may make things more difficult than they really are
go with a basic strum first slowly, as you get better, increase speed..concentrate on your rhythm, tempo and attack angle
if you still have problems..start easy put your forefinger on the outside of the g string and drag it down slowly and evenly at first until you get the hang of it, then do the same with the A string and drag it upwards across the strings... Happy Strummings

Thanks for the tips, all the positive encouragement to just keep practicing really helps. Thanks for letting me know about Craig and Sarah, I had no idea they were San Diegans now. I'll drop them a line.


Mahalo,

cre8tive1
06-12-2014, 09:43 AM
I was always practicing in the same seat, sitting the same way, in the beginning and I realized I had the ukulele body angled forward a little too much, making me "hook my fingers" in the strings while strumming. I change up the way I sat a little, and changed how I held the body of the ukulele a little, and it helped. Repetition was another big key for me. I am going to try some of the advice above and see if I can make things even easier on myself.

This is a great tip. I do notice that at times the Uke is more at a right angle to my leg and at other times I tip it towards me a bit to see my fretting hand. I hadn't thought about the fact that this could mess up my strumming. I will try to pay better attention to that. Although my goal is to be able to sit in a beach chair, sip Rum drinks and let-it-rip on my Uke at the same time! [:shaka]

Ukejenny
06-12-2014, 10:54 AM
Although my goal is to be able to sit in a beach chair, sip Rum drinks and let-it-rip on my Uke at the same time! [:shaka]

You will be doing that quicker than you think! The more you play, the more comfortable it all becomes. It starts to feel natural.

mm stan
06-16-2014, 09:49 PM
Also Jen,
When you fingernails grow out, the sides gets a sharp corner...file that off so it wont catch the strings...