Holding the darn thing...

SleepyheadRooster

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Thoughts on holding a tenor ukulele for fingerstyle playing would be much appreciated. I teach ukulele to beginners, and I can get my students comfortable for strumming and first position playing no matter what size ukulele, and quite frankly I'm quite comfortable as well in those situations. (And here is where I admit that I am a guitar player/teacher mostly who happens to teach beginner ukulele players to sing and strum.)

However, I've been working on more complex fingerstyle playing in my own practice, and holding the ukulele is more difficult than the playing. I can play these things without much problem on my guitars because my guitar stays where it is supposed to stay.

An example: I'm playing Fred Sokolow's arrangement of "Here, There, and Everywhere" by the Beatles. The playing part isn't difficult at all except when the ukulele moves. There is a jump from the 5th to 12th fret, and when I make that move the tenor ukulele is like a puppy trying to jump out of my arms. Obviously, I'm depending too much on my fretting hand to support the uke. This is happening when I am seated. I just can't seem to fix it.

I watched a video by a guy a while back who had it all seemingly worked out in detail. I kept trying to do what he was doing. It wasn't working. But then I realized that he looked to be maybe 5'4" tall or so. I'm 6' 0". What was working for him was not going to work for me because my arms are lot longer. But there is some urgency here, because I'm going to to need to get more comfortable with this to take the next step AND as a teacher I need to improve my own understanding so I can better help my students as they get better.

Thoughts?
 
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I know you're not going to like this answer, but get a strap, either one that doesn't need strap buttons like the Uke Leash or the classical hook in the sound hole, or my remedy is to put two strap buttons on all my ukes and never have to think about it.
 
You're right. I clicked like on your post, but I dislike the answer. You're trying to help, but it isn't really help. This is something I need to learn to do. I watch really good players in videos (those guys at the Ukulele Site!) and it almost looks like the ukulele levitates by some magic. I know it isn't magic; it's technique and skill. I use a guitar strap standing up, but I have no need for it sitting down. I should be able to learn to do this with the ukulele as well.

And... I think I am a pretty good teacher for beginners. I work hard at it. But I'm not as expert about certain things as I'd like to be. This is a thing on which I want to get a better handle. (Pun intended. Sorry.)
 
The pressure from your right forearm should cause the headstock to move forward and this is balanced with the fretting hand pulling back to create a perfectly balanced equilibrium. I however need to concentrate my limited mental resources on fretting, strumming, and picking instead. So I use a strap. Or sit down and rest the body to my lap.
 
Here’s one option. In a seated position rest the waist of the ukulele on your left thigh. The lower bout ends up between your legs. Resting on the waist let’s gravity do the work. Because it’s a concave surface across your thigh it won’t want to roll as much. Whereas resting the lower bout on your right thigh is a convex surface that will want to roll with gravity. Reverse these if you play left handed. This position isn’t for everyone but could be a quick fix for you.
 
From the Ukulele Underground YouTube channel

I wish there were more videos from this angle explaining stuff in detail.
I was just sitting here trying to find a more comfortable position for fingerstyle, especially for somebody tall with longer arms.

One thing is the stability, which I understand is a function of combining (and even alternating) pressure from the playing hand and support from the fretting hand. This is something SleepyheadRooster is asking about.

The other thing is angle of attack and comfort for fingerstyle. To get consistent, clear sound is hard unless you attack the strings from a consistent angle. The main Issue for me is finding a good way to strum the G string with thumb and the rest of the strings with IMA (or even in PIM). I have to bend the wrist so much to get a good sound from my thumb I am considering going the 4stringboy route with felt thumb pick (in order to be able to have straight thumb rather than 'clawing' the hand). I am delaying it until I get the nails the perfect way on my ring finger and thumb and until I experiment more, but the top-down angle from experience players would help. Watching people play from the front does not help.
 
Here’s one option. In a seated position rest the waist of the ukulele on your left thigh. The lower bout ends up between your legs. Resting on the waist let’s gravity do the work. Because it’s a concave surface across your thigh it won’t want to roll as much. Whereas resting the lower bout on your right thigh is a convex surface that will want to roll with gravity. Reverse these if you play left handed. This position isn’t for everyone but could be a quick fix for you.
Like a guitar!

Might want a little foot rest like this one if you need to raise that left leg.
 
Thoughts on holding a tenor ukulele for fingerstyle playing would be much appreciated. I teach ukulele to beginners, and I can get my students comfortable for strumming and first position playing no matter what size ukulele, and quite frankly I'm quite comfortable as well in those situations. (And here is where I admit that I am a guitar player/teacher mostly who happens to teach beginner ukulele players to sing and strum.)

However, I've been working on more complex fingerstyle playing in my own practice, and holding the ukulele is more difficult than the playing. I can play these things without much problem on my guitars because my guitar stays where it is supposed to stay.

An example: I'm playing Fred Sokolow's arrangement of "Here, There, and Everywhere" by the Beatles. The playing part isn't difficult at all except when the ukulele moves. There is a jump from the 5th to 12th fret, and when I make that move the tenor ukulele is like a puppy trying to jump out of my arms. Obviously, I'm depending too much on my fretting hand to support the uke. This is happening when I am seated. I just can't seem to fix it.

I watched a video by a guy a while back who had it all seemingly worked out in detail. I kept trying to do what he was doing. It wasn't working. But then I realized that he looked to be maybe 5'4" tall or so. I'm 6' 0". What was working for him was not going to work for me because my arms are lot longer. But there is some urgency here, because I'm going to to need to get more comfortable with this to take the next step AND as a teacher I need to improve my own understanding so I can better help my students as they get better.

Thoughts?
I hold the ukulele as a classical guitar with the left leg raised on a stool. I use a piece of pigskin or deerskin to prevent slippage depending on the clothing I am wearing. Ther reason for this position is that if one plucks the strings with the wrist slightly angled, the perpendicular strike achieves the maximum volume ;at least that is what I was taught when studying classical guitar. I play solely fingerstyle in this position and have no trouble maintaining stability. I never use straps. Two cents achieved.
 
To me, the issue with holding the uke against your chest with your forearm, would be muting the sound board…
 
Another suggestion. If trying to prevent the neck from dropping while playing. Roll up your right sleeve. The friction of skin against the body of your uke is often enough to hold it steady.
 
I hold the ukulele as a classical guitar with the left leg raised on a stool. I use a piece of pigskin or deerskin to prevent slippage depending on the clothing I am wearing. Ther reason for this position is that if one plucks the strings with the wrist slightly angled, the perpendicular strike achieves the maximum volume ;at least that is what I was taught when studying classical guitar. I play solely fingerstyle in this position and have no trouble maintaining stability. I never use straps. Two cents achieved.
Yes.
 
Get a strap!

Coming from the guitar world, in which it is the custom to often use a strap even while seated, I just don't understand the reluctance in the uke community to use a strap. Yes I know it is more authentic NOT to use a strap, but Jake seems OK with it.
 
Give a crap...get a strap. No shame in using a strap, especially on larger sizes like tenor. Without a strap, you can play sitting, with uke resting on your lap, but even then, your left hand supports the neck and headstock.

Here's some fingerstyle uke, with a strap.

 
To be fair, the OP has indicated that their preference is to not use a strap, and would like to learn how to achieve this goal without one. So while I'm all for using a strap (and recognize the countless brilliant musicians who do use one), I also understand the desire to learn how to play without one, and I appreciate the feedback that supports this goal - I like to learn stuff, too!

That said, there's no way that I'll play my new lutulele without a strap, because the rounded back is just too treacherously slippery! But I still use the techniques that I'm learning to (mostly) manage to play without one (the Moonbird soprano still doesn't have one... I keep leaning in the direction of installing a button but haven't quite got there yet).

I've watched (multiple times) the Matt Stead video:



and the Ukulele Underground video and it's still a work in progress; I still find stuff slippery (especially sopranos, tenor less so). I like the idea of something to increase friction, and love Aline's suggestion of a piece of sueded leather for that, since I don't love more plastic crap if I can avoid it (but recognize the non skid mats are useful too).
 
James Hill is often considered one of the world's best ukulele players and ukulele teachers. His advice is similar to the Ukulele Underground advice.
 
I feel like relying on a little foot stool or a little piece of fabric is “worse” than using a strap. I’d be much happier admitting I can’t balance my instrument without a strap than I would be admitting I can’t balance my instrument without a chair and a little stool and a little piece of fabric. If I were the onlooker I would say “consider a strap instead of the chair and the stool and the fabric.”
 
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