Ukulele Fingerpicking For Beginners

Fingerpicking a ukulele is when you pluck strings individually as opposed to strumming. Fingerpicking is relaxing, and it allows you to hear the harmony clearly. Whether you’ve learned ukulele strumming or not, that does not affect your ability to learn fingerpicking. They are completely different ways to play the ukulele, and each has its own setting and techniques.

Fingerpicking sounds simple, but it requires precise finger movements because you play each note on its own. However, it is not as hard as it sounds. Follow along with the following steps, and you’ll be able to fingerpick the ukulele effortlessly.

Step One: Know The Basics

While this may seem obvious, it is a critical step. You have to get used to your ukulele and how it feels in your hands. Be comfortable and allow yourself to make mistakes until you know your ukulele well enough.

Going from top to bottom: the strings are called G, C, E, then A. That naming system applies for Soprano, Concert, and Tenor Ukuleles. While the Baritone Ukelele has string names as follows: D, G, B, then E.

You also need to know your fingers’ names. Your thumb is called T or P. Your pointer is called I, your middle is M, and lastly, your ring is R or A. The pinky is not named as it is not used when fingerpicking the ukulele. The ukulele only has four strings.

Step Two: Choose a Technique

If you’ve tried to go straight for fingerpicking before doing any research on it, you would have stopped and asked yourself a critical question: Which fingers do I use?

Here’s your answer: there are different techniques to fingerpick a ukulele. You will not find just one technique that everyone swears is the best. It depends on you and which fingers you can control best.

Using Two Fingers

In this technique, your thumb controls the G and C strings, while your pointer controls the E and A strings. You could also use your thumb to control the G, C, and E strings. There’s no right or wrong way; it depends on personal preference.

Using Three Fingers

When it comes to using three fingers, your thumb controls the G and C strings, you pointer controls the E string, and your middle finger controls the A string. 

Using Four Fingers

It’s quite evident now. Your thumb controls the G strings, your pointer the C string, your middle finger the E string, and your ring finger the A string.

Do not choose a technique based on what you’ve read alone. You need to practice all the techniques and see which one you’re most comfortable with. Using more or fewer fingers doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be easier or harder to fingerpick your ukulele.

Step Three: Practice, Practice, and More Practice

Now that you know all the different techniques and the names, there’s only one thing left for you to do. Practice. Nothing is easy when you’re first learning; however, that should never stop you. Keep practicing even when you feel frustrated that you can’t do it correctly. Take a small break then try again.

Fingerpicking is not hard, but it is not simple either. All you need to do is control your fingers to move correctly and at the right time. When you first started waking, you fell. The same thing will happen when learning to fingerpick the ukulele. Some notes will sound bad, some notes you’ll miss, and some notes will come out perfectly. Eventually, after practicing enough, you’ll be a master at fingerpicking.

The Wrap-Up

Before picking up your ukulele ready to start fingerpicking, you must know what you’re working with. Your ukulele strings are called G, C, E, and A strings from top to bottom. Your fingers are called P, I, M, then A, starting at your thumb and moving towards your ring.

When it comes to fingerpicking itself, there are multiple different techniques. You can use two, three, or four fingers. There is not an ultimate way you should always follow when fingerpicking. It is recommended that you try all the techniques before settling on one. Choose the technique that feels comfortable to start with, and then you can move on from there.

Lastly, practice makes perfect. You shouldn’t expect to learn to play an instrument overnight. However, with effort, dedication, and time you’ll be able to fingerpick like a pro.