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Proper Fretting Hand Placement

Efficiency is the key to proper fretting hand technique.

Published: 24 Jan 2013 Updated: 07 Feb 2020Visits: 312Code: UL08

Topic: Basics ukulele guitar bass banjo mandolin Subjects: Beginner Technique

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Proper Fretting Hand Placement

Efficiency is the Key to Proper Technique.

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Ukulele or Guitar

This technique tips apply to guitar as well as ukulele.

Four fingers can span four frets, one finger per fret. Start by placing your index finger on string four, fret one. Then on the same string, add finger two to fret two, finger three to fret three, and finally finger four to fret four. The thumb should be positioned flat and right behind finger one and two. In this position, only the fingertips and the thumbprint touch the instrument. The fourth finger will not be as arched as the other fingers because of its size and relative reach.

Your thumb should be flat against the back of the neck, approximately right behind the first and second fingers. The exact position varies with thumb, neck, and hand size. The thumb pushes against the neck while the fingers press down.

The No. 2 Pencil

The old standby No. 2 pencil is a handy tool to show proper finger and thumb placement. I often substitute a "Carpenter's Pencil" to make it a bit easier to demonstrate.

  • Place fingers (fingertips) on the pencil's "Painted Body" and your thumb should naturally go into the position of support right behind you index and middle finger.
  • That's it. I do typically use a flat Carpenter's Pencil, as it's a little easier to balance and has more of an area on its "Ferrule".

Alternately, you can place all four fingers on string four of your ukulele at frets (1), (2), (3), and stretch your pinky to fret (5). This should place your thumb in the proposition of supporting the fingers.

Your thumb needs to supply equal and opposite pressure to the fingers pressing on the strings.

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Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Proper Fretting Hand Placement.

Proper Fretting Hand Placement • Updated: 07 Feb 2020

Efficiency is the key to technique. This lesson shows the proper finger and thumb placement for the fretting hand.

Fingering Gymnastics - a.k.a. Fingering Drills Introduction • Updated: 18 Dec 2018

Ukulele Gymnastics series contains quite a few lessons for developing your finger strength and independence of the fretting hand. The fretting hand is responsible for playing chords and single notes. The fretting hand and plucking hand are responsible for getting the music out.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Proper Fretting Hand Placement.

Ukulele Fingering Gymnastics - Basic Updated: 01 Jan 2003

This series of lessons develops your finger independence, strength and motor skills to a high level. You don't want to have technique as a limiting factor for play a song or performing anything on the ukulele.

Ukulele Fingering Gymnastics - Developing Technique Updated: 01 Jan 2003

An introduction to proper hand placement for left hand technique on ukulele and a wide variety of finger drills to develop your technique.

Ukulele Fingering Gymnastics - Repeating Notes Updated: 01 Jan 2003

Repeating single note fingering drills for developing your ukulele technique.

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