The Art of Ukulele Finger Picking

Ukulele finger picking offers the instrumentalist more flexibility in voicing their parts, greater agility and more options in producing specific tones. There are a couple of things you can do to make the experience more personal to you.

Using Your Fingernails

Some ukulele players prefer to grow their fingernails or use fake nails while performing ukulele finger picking styles. This allows you the ability to hit notes that you want to be softer and more subtle with the pads of your fingers, to emphasize certain notes by using your nails to pluck them more confidently or to use the back of your nails to get a great deal of volume and rhythm into your sound. Some players utilize a technique where they splay out their hand in mid-strum, which allows them to get the effect of several different surfaces sounding the strings in rapid succession.

More Versatility

Playing with your fingers also greatly enhances your ability to utilize chords. Instead of strumming them up and down or picking up individual notes, you can strike two notes on strings that are not adjacent to each other or use your thumb and fingers to combine strumming and plucking, creating a very lush sound.

Starting Out With Ukulele Finger Picking

Most beginner ukulele players start with their fingers. One of the advantages of the ukulele as an instrument is that the small size facilitates easy reach on the frets and on the courses. Also they may feel that they're able to strike notes a bit more quickly when they're using a pick. Speed with the fingers comes with time. There are good courses out there for ukulele players specifically and for those who play stringed instruments in general that will help you develop rapid picking techniques that utilize your fingers. This takes patience and it requires that you maintain proper hand position, but the benefits are many and diverse. A player with a developed right-hand can sound like an ensemble unto themselves. For a good example of how rich the sound generated by a player using their fingers can be, take a look at the music of Jake Shimabukuro, who more than demonstrates that all of the speed and precision of a pick can be outmatched by a skilled player who is using only their fingers to sound the strings. A good instructor is a great asset in learning proper finger picking technique.

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