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Thread: Fingerpicking Problems!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Unhappy Fingerpicking Problems!

    Okay, so I'm an absolute Ukulele beginner who has mastered a few chords and I can also fingerpick simple tunes.

    The problem is that when fingerpicking, I always use my thumb and only my thumb to strum. This is quite cumbersome and messy, but I just can't seem to be able to use all my fingers effectively. (Probably a bad habit picked up from Guitar Hero!)

    So my question is, is it better to 'assign' each finger to a particular string or should I just keep trying and hope that eventually something will 'click'?

    Another thing to bear in mind is that I only have this problem while fingerpicking. Strumming to chords is fine and I use my index finger with no worries.

  2. #2
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    My teacher has assigned the thumb for the G and C strings. The pointer for the E string and the middle finger for the A string for fingerpicking. I don't strum with my thumg while I pick and strum -- I use my pointer finger. I tried the thumb and it didn't work for me very well. It's ukulele -- it's whatever works. I do what my teacher requests. That's why I take lessons.

    BUT -- I have seen some really fantastic players who only use their thumb or one or two fingers and it's incredible.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the advice, I will definitely try the finger assignation (is that a word?) now that it has been teacher approved.

  4. #4
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    I think I may be doing it wrong, but for now, I'm trying to use only my 1st two fingers...

  5. #5
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    Yeah lots of people assign a finger to each string for fingerpicking. For me that's a bit cumbersome and thumb and index finger works best for me, but from reading your post, it feels wrong for you. For strumming I do the same thing in a different way, thumb down, index finger up. If I need more volume I can force myself to just use the index finger, or hold my hand such that more fingernail is used, it doesn't sound or feel as natural as when I do it the usual way.

    I'd generally suggest to relax and stop thinking about it or worrying about what you see others do on youtube. If you stop thinking about it, your fingers might start to do what's most comfy for them.

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sukie View Post
    My teacher has assigned the thumb for the G and C strings. The pointer for the E string and the middle finger for the A string for fingerpicking.
    This is how I was first taught when I was a kid. My current instructor pointed out that this usually works well enough, but sometimes it makes sense to deviate from it, for instance to use the index finger on the C string.

    I've seen some amazing players, especially Hawaiian players, who are thumb-only or thumb-mainly players, and I don't think anybody would say they are doing it "wrong." Herb Ohta Sr. comes to mind.

  7. #7
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    I always push my students to use more than one finger to pick. I do a lot of things that involve quick back and forth picking between the top G string and other strings which would be impossible without using more than one finger. One thing that helps is start to do scales and exercises (or those tunes you learned to pick to) using a different dedicated finger (I'd start with the pointer). Once that finger gets strong enough and you're used to doing the basic things with it, you'll have a much easier time using that and the thumb interchangeably. Hope that helps a little, best of luck

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the brilliant advice everyone!

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