How to Fingerpick Ukulele

Fingerpicking – though it may sound daunting, it can be easy if learned simply. However, if you are accustomed to strumming only, it will take you a few days to get the hang of it. Fingerpicking is individually plucking strings. Each of your fingers is allotted to a specific string. It is up to you which style you like – delicately fingerpicking or strumming. As this article unfolds, you will learn how to fingerpick ukulele better. To find out more, let us dive right in!

Why fingerpick?

As we mentioned earlier, if you have delicate fingers, you should opt for fingerpicking. It will allow you to sing your heart out simultaneously. To add to the list, fingerpicking increases the dexterity of your non-fretting hand, making you move up and down the ukulele fretboard at a lightning pace. 

Where to put your fingers?

It entirely depends on you. Many uke users prefer to place their fingers in the following pattern: thumb for G and C string, middle finger for A string, and index finger for E string. You can practice plucking the different strings to know which is comfortable for you. It is not constant, though. You will see yourself adjusting the finger patterns for different songs differently.

Fingerpicking using

Two fingers

It is simple to fingerpick with 2 fingers. You can check the pattern over the Internet. The thumb is in control of the C and G strings, and the index finger is in control of the A and E strings.

In two-finger style, your thumb can be used to control the first 2 or 3 strings. The number depends on your level of comfortability. 

Three fingers

Adding another finger can be a bit tricky, but once you get the hang of it, you will see yourself being able to play it way faster. 

The pattern is just the same, with only a few changes. Instead of using the index finger on A string, you have to use the middle finger. This third finger adds variation to your fingerpicking.

Four fingers

We have reached the stage where we can assign one finger to each string. All G-C-E-A will be plucked by the fingers in the following order: the thumb by G, the index by C, the middle by E, and the ring by A strings. 

Once again, we shall be employing the same pattern but with different fingers. Do not fret about taking as much time as you need. It’s just about getting your fingers comfortable.

We are going to be very transparent with you. It is going to take you a very long time to master fingerpicking using 4 fingers. Nevertheless, if you start with two or three fingers and add more over time, your work will be facilitated. 

There are many alternative fingerpicking patterns to wrap your head around. Even though these are quite similar to the basic patterns stated above, the subtle variations can keep your brain ticking. 

The two common ways to fingerpick

The first option employs the index, thumb, and middle finger. From the top 2 strings, your thumb selects any one. Your index finger picks the second to the bottom string, and your middle finger picks the bottom string. 

The second option is to employ your index, thumb, ring, and middle finger. The top chord is picked by the thumb, the second to top string is plucked by the index finger, the second to the bottom one is plucked by the middle finger, and the last one is picked by the ring finger. 

When you create patterns for an alternating bass, you can go for the first way. Many ukers prefer the second one as every finger is put to use. One technique does not weigh out the other one. We would recommend you to try both ways.  

Also Read: How to Tune a Ukulele by Ear

How is it done?

Once you have equipped yourself with the necessary information about fingerpicking, it’s time to know how it is done.

Placement of strings:

G-string: Thumb

C-string: Index finger

E-string: Middle finger

A-string: Ring finger

Wound your fingers around so that they slightly lie underneath your string, with the chords running over your fingertip. Keep your hands as comfortable as possible.

There is a con to this method. After a while, your pinkie finger tends to fall in its original position, remaining in the air. You might stimulate a comment or two by gulping a beer with your little finger raised in the air!

Before lifting the string, you curl your finger around it further round. You do not need to exert much force for this. If you do pluck with greater strength, it might cause buzzing as the string vibrates against the frets. 

A special note: If you are thinking about why A is employed for the ring finger, you must know that the names originate from Latin words (annular, indice, medius). By this, you might see that the thumb is termed as a P (pulgar). Some might wrongly refer to this as the pinkie.

Introduce chords 

By now, you must be comfortable with the fingerpicking patterns. Now you can integrate a few chords. To make it easy for you, start off with the famous C chord. The pattern stays the same as before. 

Final Thoughts

It is a wrap! Now that you know how to fingerpick ukulele, apply it to your known songs. We would recommend that you begin with some easy tunes. Remember that you can now fingerpick your way utilizing the lessons you just learned.

Once you get to grips with the easier songs, you can try fingerpicking more difficult pieces later. If you still have doubts and need further help, there are some great tutorials for you to learn from. Just search away and learn.

We hope you find this article helpful!

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