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About

Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering

Learn the six fingering principles to navigating the ukulele fingerboard.

PUBLISHED: Mar 15, 2006 UPDATED: Dec 22, 2020 • VIEWS: 216 • BOOK CODE: 6SUF

Instruments: ukulele Subjects: techniquefingerboardfingering

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Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering

Product Code: 6SUF
Author(s): Curt Sheller, Chuck Anderson
Publisher(s): Curt Sheller Publications
Published: 2006-03-15 00:00:00
ISBN-13: 978-1-60321-041-6

Size: 8.5 x 11
Size: 8.5 x 11
Pages: 42
Price, Hard Copy: $19.95
Price, PDF: $9

Learn the six fingering principles to navigating the ukulele fingerboard. Fingering is one of the most universal topics. Whether your style is Rock, Blues, Country, Jazz or Classical, these principles will improve your technique, your solos, even your sight reading. Think of fingering as a series of pathways. When you learn to connect these pathways, there are benefits not only to technique but also to creativity. All fingering on the ukulele can be reduced to 6 principles of motion. Each principle has physical and musical characteristics that you can use to improve your playing.

Introduction

Fingering is one of the universal topics. Whether your style is Rock, Blues, Country, Jazz, or Classical, these principles will improve your technique, your solos, even your sight-reading.

Think of fingering as a series of pathways. When you learn to connect these pathways, there are benefits to technique and creativity. All fingering on the ukulele can be reduced to six principles of motion. Each principle has physical and musical characteristics that you can use to improve your playing.

Technically, fingering problems are inseparably linked to an instrument's tuning. A tuning's characteristics can force constant fingering adjustments and contribute to the difficulty of learning the notes on the neck. Note duplications, open strings, and unequal tuning all contribute to the complexity of fingering. Since strings vary in diameter, notes produced on different strings vary in tone color. Generally, thicker strings produce warmer or darker tone color. Thinner strings produce a brighter or more cutting tone color.

This book is devoted to applying the six fingering principles as applied to the ukulele. The study of fingering can be broken down into several topics of study. They are position and technique, finger independence and strength, and motion principles with their applications. The first step is an efficient hand position. A good hand position is critical for technique, eliminating the needless waste of effort and energy, typical of underdeveloped fingering technique.

NOTE: The fingering principles in the books are suitable for the common C, G and D ukulele tunings.

Hand Position and Technique


Efficiency of motion and energy is the key to developing your fingering technique. The thumb should be flat against the neck's back, approximately under the first or second finger. The exact position varies with the thumb, neck, and hand size. The thumb pushes up against the neck while the fingers press down and stay poised above the strings, ready to move in any direction.

The four fingers span four frets, one finger per fret. By laying the first finger flat across all strings at the first fret or by playing the Bb7 chord at fret (1), the wrist naturally bends, giving each finger equal access to all strings within a four fret span.


In playing single notes, place the finger just before the fret. Use enough pressure to get a clear tone but don't exert more effort than required. If a "buzzy" tone results, readjust your finger. Ensure that your fingers' tips press the strings down straight, right behind the fret, without pushing or pulling the notes.

NOTE: The fourth finger will not be as arched as the other fingers because of its size and relative reach.

The fingering hand should not support the ukulele and needs to be free to move over the fingerboard.

The "high" thumb position has always been a controversial subject. If your thumb takes a "high" position, the finger span is reduced from four to three frets. You'll need more movement and effort to play anything in the standard four fret position.

The "high" thumb position is often used as a leverage device for bends and vibratos in Blues and Rock music. It is an exceptional position and should not be a fundamental position. Work to develop a low thumb position.

If you need to stand while playing and want to use the four fret span position, wear the ukulele high. In this way, you can easily reach the four fret span, and there is little change in playing angle from a sitting to a standing position.

Finger Independence and Strength


The four fingers of the fingering hand need to function independently of each other. Strength, agility, and control are necessary for great hands. Practice the following exercise:


  • Play the G# note - finger 1, string ④ fret (1)
  • Play the A note - finger 2, string ④ fret (2)
  • Play the A# note - finger 3, string ④ fret (3)
  • Play the B note - finger 4, string ④ fret (4)


Continue this pattern on each string. When played ascending, descending, forward and backward, this exercise is an important first step in developing control of the four fingers in a four fret span. It's also an essential step in synchronizing both hands. Keep the thumb in the back of the neck at all times. Don't lift the fingers unnecessarily high.

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Thanks for visiting LearningUkulele.com! I hope you’ve enjoyed the site so far. My site does not run ads. It’s supported by visitors, premium site members, and readers like you.

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Because this book is only available directly through me (Curt Sheller), this site, and at our Funky Frets family music store. It is the only way this book can earn its keep, and its only source of revenue is visitors and site members like you. If you don’t pay, the book dies, gets no updates, etc…

Good news is you can become a Premium Site Member your get this book for FREE as part of your paid subscription.

Long Answer

I’m not a venture-funded startup nor a major corporation. I’m—a self-employed musician, author, teacher, graphic artist located in southeastern Pennsylvania, USA. And this web site, books, lessons, songs and content have been grinding along in one form or another along since 1995, the ukulele part has literally been a full time effort since 2003 - literally years of effort have gone into creating this content.

Making my books only available on this, my web site is an experiment in using the web as a serious book publishing platform. My goal is to take my music expertise and knowledge that I've gained from the past 40 plus years of serious study, research and application as a performer, student, author, private music teacher and make it available in your quest to be a better musician, enjoy the ukulele more or just having more fun in what you are doing.

I wanted to deliver and present this material with a high standard of quality typically associated with traditional printed, mass produced books by traditional publishers. While taking advantage of all the web has to offer.

All my, Curt Sheller books are the sole product, with 100% of, and all the effort, graphic design, site coding, content, marketing, fulfillment, etc... - by one person – yours truly. And with the help of a few trusted fellow musicians, family, and friends to review before a book is released to wild.

Your purchase supports all that it takes to keep this site going. And, a membership is the best way to do that. I'll not do the Pateron or Kickstarter route for begging for money (nothing against fellow artists that go that route. pateron is a great way to support an artist - just not my cup-of-tea.)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents: Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering

  • Introduction 5
  • Hand Position and Technique 9
  • Finger Independence and Strength 10
    • 4 Finger Combinations 11
    • 2 Finger Combinations 11
    • 3 Finger Combinations 11
  • Notes on the Fingerboard 12
  • Motion Principles and their Applications 13
    • Stationary 14
    • Mobile 14
  • Summary of Fingering Principles 17
  • Basic Applications of the Motion Principles 18
  • Priority of Motion Principles 19
  • Motion Principles - the Details 19
    • Basic 19
    • Slide 19
    • Pass 20
  • Ascending Passes 20
  • Descending Passes 21
    • Contraction 23
  • Ascending Pitch Contractions 23
    • Descending Position Changes - Same String 23
  • Descending Pitch Contractions 24
    • Ascending Position Changes - Same String 24
  • Ascending Pitch Contractions 25
    • Descending Position Changes - Cross String 25
  • Descending Pitch Contractions 25
    • Ascending Position Changes - Cross String 25
  • Stretch 27
  • Leap 29
  • Double Stop Fingering 30
    • Double Stops on Adjacent Strings 30
  • Non Adjacent Strings 31
    • Motion Principles Applied 33
  • Model One - Single Principle Solutions 34
    • Basic 34
    • Slide 34
    • Passing 34
    • Stretch 35
    • Contraction 35
    • Leap 35
  • Model Two - Combined Principle Solutions 35
    • Slide and Stretch 35
    • Passing and Slide 35
    • Contraction and Passing 36
    • Stretch and Contraction.36
    • Slide and Contraction.36
    • Passing and Leap 36
  • The Art and Science of Fingering 36
  • Reading 38
  • Improvisation 38
    • Phrasing 40
  • Conclusion 41

Errata: Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering

  • 21 JAN 2010 - Book updated and corrections made.

    Any owners of the book can e-mail curt@curtsheller.com for an updated version.

    Changes when made to a few of the examples.

  • 17 OCT 2003 - Book Released and Errata Log File Created

The latest download ( PDF or eBook ) always has the latest changes and errata changes incorporated and contain the most up-to-date version of the file. If you download the book from LearningUkulele.com you'll be notified when there is a new version of the book available.

Related Lessons

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Four Finger Slide Fingering Drills for Ukulele • Updated: Jun 23, 2014

Slide is used when the passage can not be played within a single 4 fret span or when more notes per string are needed to produce a particular effect. It’s also used in situations where a gradually ascending or descending diagonal motion best solves the physical and musical demands of the passage.

The following four finger gymnastics will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the slide fingering principle into your playing.

Four Finger-Four Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Mar 20, 2020

To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This four finger-four note drill is designed to get your hands in shape. These exercises work no matter what style of ukulele you play or want to play.

One Finger-One Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: May 17, 2019

To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This one finger-one note drill is designed to get your fretting hand in shape.

Three Finger Slide Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jul 23, 2013

<p><strong>Slide</strong> is used when the passage can not be played within a single 4 fret span or when more notes per string are needed to produce a particular effect. It’s also used in situations where a gradually ascending or descending diagonal motion best solves the physical and musical demands of the passage.</p> <p>The following <strong>three finger gymnastics</strong> will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the slide fingering principle into your playing.</p>

Three Finger-Three Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jan 24, 2013

To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This three finger-three note drill is designed to get your fretting hand in shape.

Two Finger Pass Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jul 23, 2013

<strong>Pass</strong> maximizes the number of notes per string, making the timbre consistent. It’s used to move up or down the neck to cope with a passage in which the range is unusually large. The pass provides an effective way to move straight up the first string. It’s particularly useful in developing 3 octave fingerings and in playing melodies with an adjacent drone stringy.

The <strong>two finger pass gymnastics</strong> in this lesson will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the pass fingering principle into your playing.

Two Finger Slide Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jul 23, 2013

<p><strong>Slide</strong> is used when the passage can not be played within a single 4 fret span or when more notes per string are needed to produce a particular effect. It’s also used in situations where a gradually ascending or descending diagonal motion best solves the physical and musical demands of the passage.</p> <p>The following <strong>two finger gymnastics</strong> will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the slide fingering principle into your playing.</p>

Two Finger-Two Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jan 17, 2020

To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This two finger-two note drill is designed to get your hands in shape. These exercises work no matter what style of ukulele you play or want to play.

What Finger is What? • Updated: Mar 22, 2012

Just what are the fingers of the plucking and fretting hand called.

There can be a bit of confusion as to what the names and numbers of your fretting hand and the plucking or strumming hand are. Here are some of the common fingering notations I’ve encounter over the course of my studying ukulele and guitar.

Related Book Files, Resources and Assets

Related Assets for Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering at this time.

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G Updated: May 11, 2019

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G. Shows natural, sharp and flat notes for the ukulele fingerboard. This tuning can be used on a soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukuleles.

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for D Tuning, Low or High A Updated: Dec 31, 2016

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Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for G Tuning, Low or High D Updated: Dec 31, 2016

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Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering - Arpeggio Plus One Worksheet Example Updated: Dec 31, 2016

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Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering - Arpeggio Worksheet Updated: Dec 31, 2016

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Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering - Interval Worksheet Updated: Dec 31, 2016

Scale interval fingering chart worksheet for exploring multiple and alternate pathways through scale intervals.

Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering - Scale Worksheet Updated: Dec 31, 2016

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Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering - Scale Worksheet Example Updated: Dec 31, 2016

Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering - Sequence Worksheet Updated: Dec 31, 2016

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QuickStart Arpeggio Fingerings for Ukulele, C Tuning - Major Triad
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There are four traditional triads: Major, Minor, Diminished and Augmented. Based on a major scale a Major triad contains the following intervals: Root (1), 3, . A one octave fingering solution is presented for each finger starting on strings ➃, ➂ and ➁.

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QuickStart Scale Arpeggio Fingerings for Ukulele - Triads is a concise, well organized book ideal for any ukulele player beginning to explore the ukulele's full potential as a musical instrument. Arpeggio Fingerings for Ukulele - Triads keeps a sharp focus on essential arpeggios and their fingerings. All material is covered in every key.

QuickStart Arpeggio Fingerings for Ukulele - Triads G Tuning
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Scale Arpeggio Fingerings for Ukulele - Triads is a concise, well organized book ideal for any ukulele player beginning to explore the ukulele's full potential as a musical instrument. Arpeggio Fingerings for Ukulele - Triads keeps a sharp focus on essential arpeggios and their fingerings. Major, minor, diminished and augmented arpeggio fingeringss for G tuned Ukuleles.

QuickStart Scale Fingerings for Bass Guitar - Blues Scale
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Any Song Will Do Updated: Dec 7, 2015

This is not really a song, but simply saying that for the purposes of a lot of the lessons and lesson series on this site ANY song will do for exploring the lesson's material and concepts presented in the lesson.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering at this time.

Pass Gymnastics for Ukulele Updated: Jan 1, 2003

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Slide Gymnastics for Ukulele Updated: Jan 1, 2003

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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the bestGlen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too.Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg

I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent.fatveg — Portland

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