1/24/18

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 mistakes


Don't do these 5 things!

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

I'll show you all of the tweaks you need to make so you sound better and play better!


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Here you'll learn how to hold the ukulele correctly and get the absolute best possible sound.

The things everyone dose when they hold the uke will no only make it harder to play - they will also mute the instrument so it doesn't sound as good!

Here's the rundown...

5 of the mistakes most people make are shown here.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

If you look at the picture, it looks like how most tell you to hold the instrument doesn't it?

If you hold the ukulele this way it will be harder to fret chords, especially in more complicated arrangements, harder to play any more complicated right hand techniques and you will be smothering the instrument, greatly reducing volume, tone and projection!


Left hand position


Place the thumb in the middle of the back of the neck and use your fingertips to fret the chords.

Pivot on the thumb


When moving throughout the neck the left hand should pivot on the thumb making it allot easier to move around. If your thumb is over the top of the neck or to high up on the back of the neck movements will be sluggish making complicated arrangements much more difficult to play.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

Look below at how the hand pivots on the thumb while playing this part from O Come All Ye Faithful.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

Avoid mistake #1 - Don't put your thumb over the top of the ukulele neck


Make sure your thumb is in the middle of the back of the neck

Use your fingertips


Use your fingertips to fret the chords - you will need to cut your nails on you left hand. 

The closer you come to parallel with the fretboard the more you risk touching adjacent strings with the fingers you are fretting the chords with which will create buzzing or a muted sound.

Avoid mistake number #2 - Don't use any other part of you finger to fret chords - unless you are playing a bar chord or partial bar chord


Only your thumb and fingertips will touch the ukulele.

Do not cradle or cup the neck with your left hand as shown here.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

Hold the uke at 2:00


You'll often see it recommended to hold the uke at 90 degrees. This makes proper left hand and proper right hand position more difficult or impossible.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

Notice the uke is held at about 2:00. This makes it allot easier to reach with the left hand, and makes proper right hand position much easier.

Avoid mistake #3 - Don't hold the uke parallel with the ground or at 90 degrees


If you hold the uke at 2:00 you'll get proper right hand position...

Right hand position


Your hand should come over the top at a slight angle as shown here.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes


The uke is held like so...

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

Notice the arm dose not touch the top of the uke, it dose not lay across the top of the uke. The uke is held at the edge of the instrument by your forearm.

Also notice the thumb is in the middle of the back of the neck and the fingertips are used to fret teh notes.

The exact position of the right hand will vary for fingerstyle and strumming.

For strumming 


For strumming you will want to strum at the 12th fret, or where the neck meets the body.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

This is where there is the least amount of tension on the string and where you will produce the warmest sound.

Strum so that your fingernail gently brushes across the strings.

Try this: Strum closer to the bridge and right next to the bridge and listen to the difference in sound. This is an effect that you may want sometimes!

For fingerstyle


For fingerstyle playing you will want the right hand to be closer to of over the soundhole. you can adjust the position to your taste to to adjust the tone.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

Hold the ukulele is such a way that you hand is just above the strings.

Notice the instrument is held in place by the arm only - the right hand is just above the strings.

More on this in the next section...

Avoid mistake #4 - do not hold your arm 90 degrees for strumming

Use the angle shown above, with this angle you can easily switch between strumming, fingerstyle, 
muting and other techniques.

Don't smother the instrument


This is something I see everyone do, and it's rarely talked about.

Make sure your right hand dose not lay on top of the instruments at all, as indicated above.

Make sure you do not hold the instrument against your body.

The uke needs to be able to vibrate to project the sound. If you do either of these things you are smothering the instrument and muting the sound.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes
Hold the uke away from your body as shown above.

More common cases of smothering the ukulele - Fingerstyle players - don't do this...


Here are two big mistakes fingerstyle players make...

You can absolutely kill the sound by doing these things.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

As you can see in one of the examples the right hand rests on the top of the instrument, preventing the top from vibrating. The top needs to vibrate to produce and project the sound.

The other example, the finger on the top, isn't quite as bad but it has two major disadvantages. Not only are you preventing the top from vibrating, your also preventing the right hand from moving freely and a relaxed manner.

Try this and see for yourself


If you can already play some fingerstyle try this: Play an arrangement the right way, holding the ukulele as indicated in the fingerstyle section, then try it resting the palm your hand on the top like in the picture above.

You will notice a dramatic difference in sound.

Avoid mistake #5 - Don't smother the ukulele: Do not hold the instrument against you body, do not lay your hand, finger or arm on the top of the instrument 


Let as much of the wood surface as possible vibrate to get the best possible sound, volume and projection.

Very important...Relax


Take a deep breath and relax before you play.

It's important that your right and left hand are as relaxed as possible.

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 mistakes

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2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tips, excellent article. When I change chords my uke moves around and I have to readjust and this, of course, messes up the beat and I end up dropping a beat or two. Any tips?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda: The left hand position indicated here is essential for more complicated passages, but it is acceptable to cup the neck when playing basic chord changes, and switch for more demanding parts.

      More advanced players should try to hold the uke firmly with the forearm, as shown here, and pivot on the thumb for all chord changes, This may require some practice. Try applying more pressure with your forearm to better hold the uke in place.

      You could apply more pressure during the chord change only, and less pressure while strumming the chord. It's not easy, and playing the uke without a strap is a bit of a balancing act!

      A beginner can cup the neck, if playing basic chords in an open position, and switch for more complicated passages.

      You could use a strap, a classical guitar strap will work great for a ukulele.

      Delete

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