August 27, 2022

How To Fingerpick Ukulele - All Things Beginners Should Know

The ukulele is a popular musical instrument, which is quite similar to the guitar but more portable and suitable for everyone. The ukulele is easy to learn and play, making it a great choice for beginner musicians.

Fingerpicking ukulele is among one of the most common fingerstyles, which allows you to play any songs you like. Still, you are a newbie to fingerpicking and don't know where to start? No worries, we are here to help!

In this article, I show you how to fingerpick ukulele. I introduce the basic concepts of fingerpicking ukulele and then show you some easy fingerpicking patterns that even beginners can follow. After reading this article, you will be able to start practicing fingerpicking ukulele with confidence.

Stay calm and get yourself ready as all the basic to advanced guides you need lie here. So, what are you waiting for? Let's get started!

What Is Fingerpicking And Why You Should Apply This Technique To Your Ukulele

To begin with, let's find out what fingerpicking means.

As opposed to flatpicking, fingerpicking (also known as plucking with the thumb, alternating bass) is flicked by the fingers. This technique is often used to play folk music, jazz, or blues.

So why should you use this technique but not others?

Undoubtedly, it's great to sing your heart out while strumming along to your favorite songs. However, with a delightful and emotive fingerstyle, fingerpicking enables you to play whatever you want a bit more delicately and helps you to be somewhat more emotional with your playing.

It also boosts the deftness of your non-fretting hand, which will make flying up and down the fretboard at a light pace while making your best impression a lot easier.

How To Fingerpick Ukulele

How To Fingerpick Ukulele

Using 2 Fingers To Fingerpick A Ukulele

With just two fingers than you can become a master of fingerpicking a Ukulele. Yes, that’s it. Let's have an in-depth insight into how to fingerpick with two fingers.

The position of your fingers will be comfortable to place: your thumb will lead the G and C strings, and your Index finger controls the two rest strings.

If you see that using your thumb to control the first three strings is more comfortable, don't hesitate because it's all up to you. Try playing this simple pattern using just two fingers and its simplicity will make you fall in love, I bet.

Using 2 Fingers To Fingerpick A Ukulele

Now, this is how we will be going on:

Plunk from left to right, from G-string to A-string, respectively. The

"0" sign means that you plunk without having to press on any fret. The "1" symbol shows that you press on the first fret of that string, and the same things accurately apply to "2", "3" or "4" sign and so on.

Don’t forget to practice regularly and precisely, you will find things are getting on. It's essential to speed up once you have learned the rhythm, and if you've already grasped this, let's move to the next part.

Read more: Best DIY Ukulele Kit To Build On Your Own

Using 3 Fingers To Fingerpick A Ukulele

You may not get used to adding the third finger, but once you understand it, you realize that you can play much faster.

In this technique, the Middle finger is added to the picking hand and in charge of A-string. While the position of your thumb is kept alike, your Pointer finger will be in the E-string position only.

Again, we are gonna go back to the fingerpicking pattern but using 3 fingers to exercise.

Using 3 Fingers To Fingerpick A Ukulele

We are making the same pattern; everything is similar to the 2-finger tab except for using your Middle finger on the A string instead of the Index finger.

This is just a piece of cake for you, isn't it? If you have mastered the max speed with fluency, there is no doubt we should proceed up to the following section.

Using 4 Fingers To Fingerpick A Ukulele

Four-finger style is almost identical to how you play the three-finger. What stands out is that each finger is assigned to an individual string.

How they are designated is widespread knowledge: the thumb will be the G, the Pointer will be the C, the Middle will be the E, and the Ring will be the rest.

The same pattern is right below for you to practice and remember without breaking a sweat.

Using 4 Fingers To Fingerpick A Ukulele

One advice for you is that don't beat around the bush. Try having your hand be comfortable and remember, take as much time as you want.

Nothing is easy at first sight, and it's going to take a long time to be proficient using 4 fingers. Yet, if you start with 2 and add more time and enthusiasm, it's going to be a lot simpler for you.

Time To Change Chords

Your next goal should be learning how to change chords while fingerpicking once you've mastered these above basic fingerpicking patterns.

At first, you can start with the easy chords right down the nut, such as: playing with the G-C-D or C-F-G transition and repeat the rotation of the chord changes until you learn it by heart.

Then, you can move on to more complicated chords, namely: Am-G-C-F or C-Em-F-G-Am, which you will find you are more than enough to play a song now.

Read more: 15+ Ukulele Fingerpicking Songs To Practice

Reading ukulele fingerpicking patterns can seem daunting at first, but it's actually quite simple once you get the hang of it. The first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the ukulele fretboard. Each string corresponds to a different note, and the fretboard is divided into sections called frets. To read a fingerpicking pattern, you simply need to know which string to pluck and which fret to hold down.

Most ukulele fingerpicking patterns are written in standard notation, which uses numbers and symbols to indicate which notes should be played. The numbers correspond to the frets on the ukulele fretboard, and the symbols correspond to the strings. For example, a "0" indicates an open string (no fret held down), while a "1" indicates the first fret on the string.

Once you know how to read standard notation, you can start learning fingerpicking patterns for ukulele. There are many resources available online and in ukulele instructional books. With a little practice, you'll be reading fingerpicking patterns like a pro in no time!

Is Fingerstyle Ukulele Hard?

One of the first questions people ask when they learn about fingerstyle ukulele is whether or not it's hard. The answer, like with anything else, depends on a person's level of experience and natural talents. For those who are just starting out, the fingerstyle ukulele can be challenging. The ukulele is a small instrument with thin strings, which can make fretting chords and picking melodies difficult. In addition, most ukulele songs are written in higher keys, which can put a strain on the fingers.

However, with practice and patience, the fingerstyle ukulele becomes easier over time. And for those who already have experience with other instruments, such as guitar or piano, the transition to ukulele fingerpicking can be relatively easy. So whether you're a beginner or a seasoned musician, don't be discouraged – with a little bit of effort, you'll be playing beautiful fingerstyle ukulele tunes in no time.

Some Tips You May Find Useful When Fingerpick Ukulele

We are almost going to the end. Before finishing the instruction, we have some tips and tricks on how to fingerpick your ukelele that will save you considerable time.

  • Slightly place your fingers underneath the strings and make sure that the string is running over the fingertip. Just relax and try not to make your muscles stiff.
  • Start learning the notes you're playing. Get a mental map of the notes and where they repeat themselves. Later on, it can help you improvise and get into music theory.
  • Try different postures, either standing or sitting down. Try out various postures and keep in mind that what you should look for is a nice comfortable posture where you easily reach, pain-free, all string, and notes.

Suggested: How To Hold An Ukulele Properly


It might take time and effort for you to learn how to fingerpick a ukulele smoothly and accurately. But you have the ability, and nothing can stop you from playing your ideal songs, especially when you have our How To Fingerpick Ukulele guides.

Hard work never betrays us. As long as you have the passion and follow our guide mentioned above, you are free to express your heart and soul through any songs you wish.

Article written by Julia
Hi, I'm Julia. I love playing the ukulele and blogging about it. I started playing the ukulele a few years ago and haven't stopped since! I've also been blogging about my experience learning to play the uke for other beginners like myself. It's been a fun way to share my journey and help others learn too.
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