Guide to Strumming a Ukulele Without a Pick

Guide to Strumming a Ukulele Without a Pick: How can you strum your ukulele without damaging your fingers? As you spend more time practicing on your stringed instrument without a pick, there will likely come a point where you experience a pain in the fingers. Let’s talk about that today and present ways in which you can avoid it. 

You can prevent pain in the fingers while playing a ukulele by developing calluses naturally over time. With time, your body will start developing calluses which improve resistance on the fingers alongside decreasing sensitivity. These calluses will be your protectors – saving your fingers a world of hurt by creating a thick layer of skin around them.

The young generation loves the ukulele. It might be the pop culture reference, all those “Annie’s Song” covers on YouTube, or simply the relatively easier learning curve linked to this instrument, the ukulele is all the rage right now. Although learning how to play a ukulele is easier, perfecting is another story – it’s tougher that mastering a classic guitar.

Also Read: Teach a Child to Play the Ukulele: Everything You Should Know

Want to know how you can play the ukulele better, minus the pain? Keep reading to discover!

1. Using the Dominant Arm to Strum

It’s crucial to use your dominant hand for strumming purposes on the ukulele. You might consider using it for fretting as there are all the fancy bits involves, but keep in mind that your strumming hand is the first in the importance list.

You may miss or mess up a few chords here and there. There’s a chance that no one might even notice – it’s just a few fluffed notes. However, when your strumming speed becomes faster or slows down, be sure, people will notice it.

2. The Correct Strumming Posture

Here’s an easy way to assume the right posture to play the ukulele. Put the ukulele down for a second and try positioning your strumming hand before the middle of your body. It’s the zone where the stomach and chest meet.

Close your hand into a light fist. Make sure the fingertips are lightly touching the palm, not pressing into it. Point your index finger at your left shoulder while resting the thumb among the finger’s first and second knuckle. This gives your posture stability and ensure clearer sounds during strumming.

3. Strumming in the Right Spot

After getting into the right posture, take your ukulele. Position the instrument in such a way that your index finger remains right over the G-string. This is the area where the neck of the ukulele meets its body. And this is the sweet spot!

Every ukulele comes with its own spots where the best sounds will be produced from. For instance, the sweet spot for soprano ukuleles lies in the meeting point of the its body and neck.

Larger ukuleles vary in this department. Mostly, the spot in the zone among the end of their bodies and the sound hole. The best way to be sure is to experiment and check out which sounds the best without exerting too much strain.

4. Strum the Ukulele in the Right Manner

If your fingers hurt due to strumming, maybe you aren’t doing it right. You’re basically exposing yourself to bunch of health risks like carpal tunnel syndrome. In order to play the ukulele as safely as possible, it’s best to keep loose while strumming.

Tightening the muscles make the sounds robotic and tires out the fingers at the same time. One more thing to follow is to always use the wrist to strum, not the arm. The arm’s up and down motion will tire you out much faster.

When strumming down, make sure that your nails are hitting the string first. During a strum up, the finger’s pad must hit it. This makes a balanced pattern between forceful down strums and softer up strums.

The standard up-down strum can be performed rhythmically to the beat of the music, producing about any strumming effect imaginable. Depending on the rhythm of the song, you can strum slow or fast, and this easy pattern allows you enough time to shift chords with song changes. Although now the most glamorous of techniques, the up-down strum is effective.

5. Stay Relaxed

Something that many practitioners disregard but is very essential is relaxing when playing the uke. This isn’t simply limited to your arms and hands. The entire body should be relaxed. This can be a bit difficult as you may tense up without even noticing (because you’re too busy concentrating on playing).

This tires the body out, causing the fingers to hurt even more. To prevent this, make a conscious effort to loosen up the body. Start with your upper body before getting back to strumming the ukulele.

Refrain from pressing down on any string excessively hard. With practice, you’ll get more used to it and become better. If there’s an increased level of pain, it is best for you to increase the number of practice sessions you have.

6. Hand and Finger Exercises

A reason behind sore fingers that is often overlooked is that your fingers aren’t accustomed to this much moving and bending. Sometimes, even at the beginning of the play, there’s a stiffness. The easiest solution is to perform some hand and finger exercises to warm up the joints prior to practicing.

Doing these exercises ensures strengthening of fingers alongside improving flexibility. With growing flexibility in the fingers, you get more comfortable playing your ukulele. If you are playing another stringed instrument, these methods can be helpful there too. Don’t underestimate the potential healing effects of some basic finger and hands stretches before and after a good strum session.

Also Read: Learn How To Build A Ukulele


Strumming without a pick may seem daunting because you run the risk of hurting your fingers, but once you get used to it, you will be able to play some melodious tunes on your instrument without doubt. Practice makes perfect – so give it your best (and consistent) shot!

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