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Thread: James Hill - Cherry Picking / Cheri Picking

  1. #1

    Default James Hill - Cherry Picking / Cheri Picking

    I searched these forums for some info on "Cherry Picking" / "Cheri Picking" and the term is never mentioned ! so I'd like to put it on the map and share what I've found.

    What is it ?
    It's a right hand technique that is used extensively by James Hill. Perhaps invented by him or at least pushed to the extreme by him. He even has a workshop on the subject. This advanced technique focuses on playing the melody, harmony and bass at the same time with the thumb / index in a motion that is similar to a triple strum. More than a hand technique it's also a way to compose music and arrangements. Once you dive into it it's a whole world of music that awaits you.

    The good news are :
    - there are some (scarce) resources on the Internet so you can learn it.
    - James Hill just launched "The Ukulele Way" website that , in part, details his way to arrange music for the ukulele. Cherry / cheri picking is not mentioned but perhaps one day it will... (in the more advanced books yet to be published).

    Web resources
    Here is an article, 2 videos and a tab to get you started on this right hand technique.

    - The article is a great interview of Tobias Elof by Brad Bordessa where he details the basics of cherry picking.

    - This video is again Tobias Elof doing a small demo of the technique.

    - Here is another demo done by Tobias on an interview with Kimo Hussey :

    I've transcribed "Miriam" by Tobias Elof. The tab uses elements of cherry picking and can be found here :

    You'll also find the "Song for Cheri" tab on Dominator's website. See if you can play it using this technique.

    If you know of other resources or have experience on the subject please post here. I'm interested !
    Last edited by xyz; 07-21-2014 at 01:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Sunny Jersey - where the cows come from!


    Tobias Elof doing a small demo of the technique
    ... obviously a very competent young gentleman!! ... however, the technique itself seems to be little more than a sophisticated drop-thumb claw-hammer. No disrespect, and all kudos to the players who can manage these complicated manoeuvres with both hands at the same time and then apply them to tunes outside of the "normal claw-hammer repertoire", but I feel the technique itself is not "new" ... nice though
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  3. #3


    Certainly not new and inspired of many things. However I feel it stands on its own. Like claw-hammer or Kimo Hussey have their own sound and technique. Cherry picking's core is different. Not better just different.

    Another example here (music starts at 2:00) :

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Davenport, Iowa


    In my opinion, Jame's playing is absolute genius, I only dream of that level of talent!
    Big Phil

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014


    most interesting, thank you for sharing!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Tokyo, Japan


    Thanks xyz! You have made some really good transcriptions!!
    I too am interested in this style of playing. It seems Tobias Elof has gotten in down quite well in addition to the master, James Hill.
    Here is another video from a JH workshop where he shows the technique. He mentions cherry pickin by name, but he doesn't give any details as he did in the first part of the video with clawhammer and the other types of strums that he uses. It seems he is safeguarding this one...

    The cherry pickin starts around 16:45
    ( o)==::

    Half fast, not half assed

  7. #7


    Thanks a lot for the video. This is his rendition of St'Anne's reel... impressive as always !

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Austin, Tx


    Is this the same technique as his infamous "monostrum"? He is a magician, and I guess they never reveal their secrets. =)

  9. #9


    It's a different technique. With his infamous "monostrum" he mainly works on his left hand to mute some strings. With cherry picking he concentrates on his right hand to play everything following a fluid triple strum motion. Sometimes only picking one note... sometimes struming some of the strings... all with the same pattern (thumb /index / index).

    Yes he is a magician but I feel he's started to reveal some of his secrets on his website 'The Ukulele Way".
    Last edited by xyz; 07-15-2014 at 11:09 PM.

  10. #10


    I've added a post in the tab section that points to James Hill's "Smash the windows" tab I've just completed :

    This tab is a very good example of "cherry picking" technique.

    I'm currently rewriting an 8 pages instrumental of "Somebody to love" I had done last year. Now using cherry picking. Some extra moves around the basic "thumb - index up - index down" involve using the middle finger. In some cases it is useful to have a "thumb down - index up - middle up - index down" pattern.

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