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haertig
06-25-2014, 03:47 PM
Beginner 101 question: I am having a few problems that I think might be related to how I'm holding the uke (sitting position). It feels like I'm fighting to support the neck and work my fingers at the same time.

I've read to use your strumming arm to hold the uke against your body and that's what I think I'm trying to do. But that doesn't seem to keep the neck in place while I'm playing. Usually I find my strumming/plucking location has slipped down to where I am over the sound hole. And I find tension/stiffness in my fretting hand as I try to use that to keep the neck from dropping while moving my fingers to the correct fret. I am placing my fretting hand so that the thumb is behind he neck, pretty much pushing against the center of the neck with the tip of the thumb.

I don't seem to have a problem playing cords. Sometimes a little bit when moving from chord to chord though. Once I'm solidly on the chord, the uke feels supported OK. However, when playing scales I'm having issues of the neck not feling supported, and I find myself using the non-thumb fingers of my plucking hand to support the uke body while the adjacent thumb does the plucking. Other times I seem to be trying - and failing - to use my fretting hand to both support the neck and fret the notes.

Am I doing something basically wrong in the hold, or do I just need to practice more until the awkwardness goes away? I got to the point where I was feeling pretty good playing chords, then when I started in on scales the difficult-to-support-the-neck problem came back.

Thanks in advance for any tips or suggestions!

CeeJay
06-25-2014, 03:50 PM
What size uke are you playing ?

Jim Hanks
06-25-2014, 04:15 PM
Have you considered a strap or a UkeLeash?

janeray1940
06-25-2014, 04:20 PM
Seconding the strap recommendation. I was the same way at first, strumming chords was no big deal but once I started fingerpicking I ran into trouble. I resisted a strap forever, then tried a friend's uke with a strap and - there was no going back, it made such a difference. I got strap buttons installed on all of my ukes that same day!

CeeJay
06-25-2014, 04:23 PM
What size uke are you playing ?

I say again ..earth to Haertig (which is nearly an anagram) What uke do you play?

haertig
06-25-2014, 04:55 PM
Thanks for the replies.

It is a tenor uke.

I did not realize that straps would be useful while sitting (I haven't even dared tried playing standing yet!) I see several types of straps available. One that uses pins mounted on the uke, one that goes around your neck then under the uke and clips into the hole in front, and a "mobius strap". Which type would be best and most appropriate for a sitting position? Are there other types I haven't found about about yet too?

CeeJay
06-25-2014, 05:11 PM
haertig ...believe me a strap while sitting will not help.....a guitarist ..with a much bulkier and heavier instrument will not strap on a guitar while sat down....

The ukulele is a a smaller instrument in all dimensions and therefore needs to be moved about whilst you are playing it to allow your fingers maximum access to the
optimum positions on the fret......whatever size Uke you are playing ....even if only slightly .

If you want to wear a strap as a precaution against dropping the instrument ,then that is fine ...but allow yourself a small leeway of movement because as you move up and down the neck you will need to rotate or move the neck slightly to accommodate your finger movements and accurate placement on the frets ..

haertig
06-25-2014, 05:22 PM
Thanks for the help everyone. I'm not worried about dropping the uke. That would be difficult for even a klutz like me to accomplish. I'm just having some problems supporting the neck of the uke (or at least I *think* that's my problem). A strap was mentioned as one possible solution, but I am most certainly open to any and all potential solutions, even "practice more and you'll get the hang of it". This could be simply a lack of enough practice on my part, or it could be because I'm doing something incorrectly. I don't know which at this point, which is why I asked.

Jim Hanks
06-25-2014, 05:31 PM
haertig ...believe me a strap while sitting will not help.....a guitarist ..with a much bulkier and heavier instrument will not strap on a guitar while sat down....
..
I respectfully disagree. The larger body of the guitar helps position it in playing position more easily than a uke. I find a strap helps me even when seated to position the uke higher on my chest and support the neck. Since you are mainly after the neck support, I would recommend a traditional strap with pins or a single pin and tied to the headstock. Or if you don't want to install an end pin, you could try the UkeLeash half-strap.

haertig
06-25-2014, 06:23 PM
Or if you don't want to install an end pin, you could try the UkeLeash half-strap.
No worries about pin installation. Since I'm new to this, I only have an inexpensive Kala laminated, not a family heirloom that I'd be afraid to deface. Pins sticking out of the thing are fine with me, if it helps.

Jim Hanks
06-25-2014, 06:59 PM
That's funny. I just got a Kala laminate and ordered a UkeLeash for it while all my others have pins :-)

Newportlocal
06-25-2014, 07:47 PM
I have a guitar strap attached on a guitar strap button on the underside of the heel and on the pick up. Makes life easy. I went through mental anguish on whether to do that on my custom tenor. Really glad I did.

Daktari
06-26-2014, 12:00 AM
Another here recommending a strap of some sort. I use one standing or sitting.

ukeshale
06-26-2014, 01:08 AM
A strap certainly won't hurt to try but keep practising, you'll get used to holding it comfortably before you know it. Strum away and enjoy yourself :)

CeeJay
06-26-2014, 01:54 AM
:)
I respectfully disagree. The larger body of the guitar helps position it in playing position more easily than a uke. I find a strap helps me even when seated to position the uke higher on my chest and support the neck. Since you are mainly after the neck support, I would recommend a traditional strap with pins or a single pin and tied to the headstock. Or if you don't want to install an end pin, you could try the UkeLeash half-strap.

...and I respectfully disagree back at you ;)...but I am not falling out about it either..... I do not use or find the need to use a strap ....possibly because the uke is so easy to hold compared to say a Balalaika.....


whatever floats your boat ...and I did further into my post say/write that if the gentleman (lady?) wanted to wear a strap then fine...

cantsing
06-26-2014, 02:28 AM
Here's another vote for a strap. When I first started playing, I struggled to feel comfortable holding the uke. I got a UkeLeash (http://ukeleash.com/), which made a huge difference. Later on, I got a uke with a strap button and bought an adapter that converted the UkeLeash half strap to a full strap.

bunnyf
06-26-2014, 02:31 AM
I'll agree and disagree. I have straps on all my ukes except my concert flea. I absolutely love them when standing. They take a lot of strain off both my arms/hands. I find they do help when sitting but I struggle to find the position in which my uke is comfortable. I want it off my lap and free of boobage, which can be a challenge with my ample endowment (ymmv). I would, in the future, watch what kind of material you get for your strap because some are a little slippery and while they hold up your uke, depending on what you are wearing, they can slide a little around your neck with the weight of the uke a the neck of uke can move up and down (the balance of the weight of your uke can vary depending on strap placement (end pin to bottom side of head or to headstock) and can vary with different ukes, and different sizes. Just a heads up b4u drill.

coolkayaker1
06-26-2014, 02:36 AM
If a particular instrument has strap pins, I use a strap when sitting.

If a particular instrument has no strap pins, I sit there and struggle to hold it and usually lean back in my chair with my feet up on the desk by the computer to hold it.

buddhuu
06-26-2014, 02:39 AM
Many guitar teachers recommend the use of a strap when playing seated. It means that one plays/practices with the instrument at a consistent height regardless of whether one is sitting or standing.

There are no rules where uke is concerned. If a strap would help, then there is no reason to struggle on without one. Try it, see how it works for you.

caukulele
06-26-2014, 02:43 AM
I have recently started to use a strap, and am finding that it really helps a lot...I can concentrate on picking more without worrying about the uke sliding around.

kypfer
06-26-2014, 04:31 AM
I'll give another vote for the use of a strap. :)

I find I can play in the "traditional" manner, strumming with the fore-finger and the body of the instrument clamped under my fore-arm, provided my fretting hand "stays put" and doesn't need to move up and down the fingerboard. As soon as I want to play a bit of melody up to the fifth fret or beyond, then I lose my grip and start to struggle. That's not to say that it can't be done with practice, but why spend the time when a strap solves the problem immediately ;)

UkeKnowDamnRight
06-26-2014, 04:45 AM
Another vote here for getting a strap. I have strap buttons on both my main players and I got straps from an Etsy store called Island Provisions. I like those straps very much and highly recommend them. They're nice looking, comfortable, and work well to keep the uke positioned exactly as I want it.

coolkayaker1
06-26-2014, 04:53 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW8O_DTsAIY

Remco just sort of crosses his legs and crunches his torso when he plays. Another option. If you're Remco.

coolkayaker1
06-26-2014, 04:56 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6BN_OZPI7M

The upper thigh, scrunched forward thing is popular with sopranos...at least for one or two songs before blowing a disc in the spine.

Ukejenny
06-26-2014, 06:05 AM
If the neck of the uke is the hand on a clock, then make sure it is pointing to 9:00 or 10:00 (11:00 might feel too far up, but experiment). That kind of angles the instrument up and gives some balance while the lower bout is resting on your thigh. This will allow more movement in the left hand without feeling like it is tipping downward. This also allows for a better left hand position for me - especially where my wrist/hand alignment is concerned. I can move up and down the neck pretty well this way, without the use of a strap. I have a uke leash and I really like it, but only use it when I'm standing.

Bottom line, do whatever you need to do in order to feel comfortable and free while playing. There is no "one way" and we are all built differently. The more you play, the more you will work out the details of what feels good for you.

janeray1940
06-26-2014, 06:17 AM
we are all built differently

I think this is key, and unfortunately it's rarely discussed - especially with regard to gender. I know few, if any, women who can comfortably play anything more than basic strums without a strap of some kind, even while sitting down. And those who use a leash or no strap at all don't seem to be able to play standing up at all.

haertig
06-26-2014, 02:50 PM
Thanks for all the replies everyone! It sounds like I should definitely try a strap - which I will do soon. I'll check out our local stores to see if they carry any good ones in ukulele size. I have both "Guitar Center" and "Musicians Superstore" about 5 minutes from my house. But I chose to buy my uke from HMS due to their great reputation and included setup.


Remco just sort of crosses his legs and crunches his torso when he plays. Another option. If you're Remco.
I have never been able to cross my legs like that, never in my life, even when I was young and skinny. Now that my body shape is closer to Santa Claus than Twiggy, sitting like that would be a definite non-starter for me!

janeray1940
06-26-2014, 02:56 PM
I've seen few, if any, dedicated "ukulele straps" in stores other than the awful soundhole-hook type. When you go to your music store, look for mandolin straps and you should be able to find something in the right size. Guitar straps always seem like overkill to me; personally I like this one (http://www.amazon.com/Levys-Leathers-M19PR-BLK-Carving-Mandolin/dp/B000XPJT7C).

Ukulele Eddie
06-26-2014, 03:21 PM
I had the same problem way back when I was a NOOB, 11 months ago...er ah, guess I'm still a NOOB. Nonetheless, I'm simply not a fan of straps. I don't like the way they look or feel, and I've tried several. But I may not be representative.

After a few months of frustration, I ended up getting a folding foot rest for my left foot, in particular this (https://onstagestands.com/products/view/117120) and I love it. I guess they're popular among classical guitar players. Anyhoo, it's portable so I take it to my lessons or when I go to a friend's to play. Several people at a uke camp saw me use it and said they were going to get one (look at me, Mr. Trendsetter ;-).

So what do I do when I don't have it (which is rarely)? I use the poor man's footrest: I sit with my right foot laying down so that ankle is close to the floor and then simply stack my left foot on it. I can't play too long like this, but it works in a jiffy.

Good luck finding out what works best for you.

haertig
06-30-2014, 04:22 PM
I ended up making my own strap. Works well. See the description of the strap and pictures in this thread:

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?98198-Hamemade-uke-strap-Came-out-better-than-expected&p=1545904&posted=1#post1545904

CeeJay
07-06-2014, 06:30 AM
Originally Posted by Ukejenny View Post


we are all built differently

[Quote]

[QUOTE=janeray1940;1543729]I think this is key, and unfortunately it's rarely discussed - especially with regard to gender. I know few, if any, women who can comfortably play anything more than basic strums without a strap of some kind, even while sitting down. And those who use a leash or no strap at all don't seem to be able to play standing up at all.

Hmmm ...you may be right ...looking down I see quite a nice little (erhem) soprano shelf.....I can use it as a beer glass shelf too....:D