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Thread: Are there advantages of strumming with thumb vs index (or other)?

  1. #1

    Default Are there advantages of strumming with thumb vs index (or other)?

    Hi!

    The title pretty much says it all (and I can tend to make long posts, so I'm going to try not to do that here). I've been playing uke for a few months now and strumming with my thumb has been what's felt most "natural" to me thus far. I've tried a bit with my index finger but have trouble getting as clear a sound. I've also played around with closing my hand a bit and using thumb and finger when I want to try something that's less straightforward than straight strumming which surprisingly felt more natural than I had expected.

    My question is this, are there advantages to strumming with thumb vs index, etc? I'm not so much talking for basic techniques (such as straight DU strumming), where it probably doesn't matter much either way but I'm wondering if it's better to strum with one or the other for building up to more advanced techniques later on. I just don't want to continue building muscle memory one way if I'll need to switch for some reason.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on this so I can continue learning! Thanks so much in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Bowral NSW AUSTRALIA
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    James Hill uses the thumb to achieve that certain sound or feel in many of his arrangements. Don't worry too much about muscle memory, once your muscles have finished their apprenticeship they are easily retrained for future development

    All the best,
    Campbell


    YouTube Videos & Tabs
    https://www.youtube.com/user/camsuke

  3. #3

    Default

    I'm learning too, and I'm the opposite. Index finger feels better. My thumb feels like it gets hung up in the strings.

    Maybe because I want to do more finger picking than strumming

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I hear what you are saying, using the thumb isn't for everyone, just choose what works best for you & enjoy the journey
    All the best,
    Campbell


    YouTube Videos & Tabs
    https://www.youtube.com/user/camsuke

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
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    I think whatever way feels most natural is best while you're learning so that you don't get discouraged from playing. But being open to trying new techniques and expand your options is important as well. Depending on the strum and the sound I'm going for, I often find myself strumming down with my index finger and up with my thumb. That way I can use the nail side of the finger in both directions, giving a different sound than using the fleshy part of the finger.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Utah
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    I play both ways, depending on what and where I’m playing. With a big group at a jam, in church band, playing a song that needs drive and volume like rock, then I’m using my index finger. Mellow, blues, chord melody, or anytime I want more tone control & articulation, then I use my thumb. Sometimes I’ll even use both within one song. Try both. Experiment with how it sounds and how you can control your sound. Have fun with it.
    My ukulele family.....
    Imua iSN soprano
    Islander Acacia laminate soprano
    KoAloha concert - circa 2006
    Loprinzi cedar & rosewood concert
    Gary Gill concert scale tenor, Douglas Fir & Mahogany

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Coachella Valley desert, California
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    I've always had some arthritis in fingers and never felt comfortable with the classic index finger strum. As an ex-guitar player, I gravitated to picks and discovered the felt pick which I use exclusively for strumming. Am just learning finger-picking now.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Petaluma, CA
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    484

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    A nice technique is to put your thumb and forefinger together and rock them back and forth at the wrist with the nails of each alternately caressing the strings at the 12th fret. This is very efficient as your elbow is stationary and the crook of your arm cradles the ukulele.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    East Midlands UK
    Posts
    207

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    I agree will Bill1;I use all of my fingers and my
    thumb,depending what sound I want,which suits
    the tune I am playing etc. Stick with it, like when
    you learned to write, it felt clunky and unnatural
    at first,now you do it without thinking! The same
    will happen with your use of thumb/finger(s) given
    enough playing and enough time.
    All power and respect to you Concert,Tenor and Baritone players, but Soprano is what does it for me every time!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    FL, USA
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    I use my thumb and first two fingers. Sort of the same way I type. LOL Middle finger tends to get better sound than my index (much more meat on it), but am working on technique to compensate for that.

    Haven't really found a need to develop the other two fingers. I feel like especially my pinky would just get in the way and hit the soundboard if I didn't keep it curled in. (I play fingerstyle, so don't "strum" per se.)

    Everyone's different. Maybe in a few years I will change my modus operandi. Who knows?

    bratsche
    A bunch of stringed instruments tuned in fifths. And a bunch of cats!


    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

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