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Alternating Thumb Fingerpicking on Ukulele

The common alternating thumb and two finger strumming style utilizing the thumb, index and middle fingers.

This is the common alternating thumb and two finger strumming style utilizing the thumb, index and middle fingers. Commonly called “Travis” picking in the guitar world. This series of lessons explores and adapts this style to ukulele. Travis Picking is a finger-style made famous by Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. This style is commonly played on steel string acoustic guitars. You'll find this series of lessons to be the most complete, comprenhesive and organized series of lessons offered anywhere - GUARANTEED.

PUBLISHED: Jan 1, 2003 UPDATED: Jan 1, 2003 • VIEWS: 77 • SERIES CODE: ULFP117

20 Lessons in the “Alternating Thumb Fingerpicking on Ukulele” Series

Alternating Thumb Style, Building a Solid Foundation - The Basics • Updated: Feb 7, 2020

As the subtitle of this Fingerpicking Basics lesson for Ukulele implies, this lesson’s focus is on the alternating thumb part of the style. Commonly called Travis Picking on guitar and Scrugg's Style for banjo. For guitar it’s an alternating bass note style with the thumb playing the lower, bass notes. For ukulele, without any real bass notes, the thumb handles the lower two strings, four and three. The alternating thumb fingerpicking style works in any tuning.

Alternating Thumb Style, Thumb and One Finger - Level One • Updated: Apr 6, 2020

In this lesson we’re introducing the index finger once to the alternating thumb pattern mastered in the Alternate Thumb Fingerpicking Style - Introduction. There are four possible patterns when adding the index finger once in common or cut time.

Alternating Thumb Style, Thumb and One Finger - Level Two • Updated: Apr 7, 2020

In this lesson we’re introducing the index finger twice to the alternating thumb pattern mastered in the Alternate Thumb Fingerpicking Style - Introduction. There are six possible patterns in common or cut time.ssible variations in this lesson.

Alternating Thumb Style, Thumb and One Finger - Level Three • Updated: Apr 8, 2020

In this lesson we’re introducing the index finger three times to the alternating thumb pattern mastered in the Alternate Thumb Fingerpicking Style - Introduction. There are three possible patterns in common or cut time.

Alternating Thumb Style, Thumb and One Finger - Level Four • Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Lesson Four, Thumb and One Finger - Level Four builds on the primer by using the thumb and index combination on all four beats. There is only one possible variation in this lesson.

Alternating Thumb Style, Thumb and One Finger - The Middle Finger • Updated: Apr 8, 2020

In this lesson we’re reolacing the index finger with the middle finger for the patterns mastered in chapters/lessons two, three and four.

Alternating Thumb Style, Thumb and Two Fingers - Level Two • Updated: Apr 8, 2020

In this lesson we’re introducing the middle finger to the fingerpicking patterns mastered in chapter/lessons four. There are six possible patterns in common or cut time.

Alternating Thumb Style, Thumb and Two Fingers - Level Three • Updated: Apr 8, 2020

In this lesson we're introducing the middle finger to the fingerpicking patterns mastered in lesson/chapter four. There's three patterns in common or cut time.

Alternating Thumb Style, Thumb and Two Fingers - Level Four • Updated: Apr 9, 2020

In this lesson we're introducing the middle finger to the fingerpicking patterns mastered in lesson/chapter five. There's only one pattern in common or cut time. this pattern is demonstarted on the four possible string orders.

Alternating Thumb Style, The Pinch • Updated: Apr 22, 2012

All the previous lessons in the Fingerpicking for Ukulele, Alternating Thumb Style series where melodic, single notes only. This lesson introduces The Pinch, where any one of the thumb/index finger or thumb/middle finger combinations can be played together - harmonically.

Alternating Thumb Style, Rhythmic Variations • Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Rhythmic variations can be incorporated into this style of fingerpicking, creating a variety of syncopated patterns. All previous patterns were steady in nature, with the thumb alternating and playing on every downbeat. Many of the following patterns are syncopated, creating rhythmic variety.

Alternating Thumb Style, More Rhythmic Variations • Updated: Oct 11, 2019

More rhythmic variations can be incorporated into this style of fingerpicking, creating a variety of syncopated patterns.

Alternating Thumb Style, Additional Time Signatures • Updated: Oct 11, 2019

The patterns in the previous chapters were all in 4/4, common time with four beats per measure or pattern. The alternating thumb fingerpicking style can be used with additional time signatures.

Alternating Thumb Style, Banjo Rolls on Ukulele • Updated: Mar 28, 2020

Exploring banjo rolls on ukulele. In bluegrass music, a banjo roll or roll is a repeated accompaniment pattern of eighth notes. Each roll pattern is a right hand fingering pattern, which can be played while holding any chord position.

Alternating Thumb Style, Embellishments • Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, and Slides are the most basic embellishments and an integral part of rock, folk, country, bluegrass, and pop music styles.

Alternating Thumb Style, Reading TAB • Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Tablature, or TAB for short, is a musical notation system for indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches in the standard music tradition.

Alternating Thumb Style, Remembering the Patterns • Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Remembering Fingerpicking Patterns, Music Direction, High “G”, C Tuning, What is T2L3? Additional material for exploring Alternating Thumb Fingerstyle.

Alternating Thumb Style, Patterns Summary • Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Summary of the core Alternating Thumb patterns from the Alternating Thumb Fingerpicking for Ukulele book.

At the heart of all fingerpicking patterns, whether you call it Travis Picking or Scruggs Style or banjo rolls - it's all just a different execution of specific rhythmic patterns in a particular style.

Here are the core fingerpicking patterns from my book "Fingerpicking for Ukulele - Alternating Thumb Style". These are the same patterns I use for all private students, regardless of the instrument.

After the foundation of the alternating thumb is established the fingerpicking patterns are organized into levels according to the number of fingers involved with the alternating thumb. For the basic style, it's the index ( i ) and middle ( m ) fingers only and the number of times within a pattern the finger is used.

Alternating Thumb Style, Additional Practice Material • Updated: Aug 18, 2018

Additional practice material for developing and exploring the possibilities of the alternating thumb on ukulele no found in the book.

Alternating Thumb Style Series - Videos • Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Fingerpicking for Ukulele – Alternating Thumb Style videos all in one place. The videos are FREE to view for the months of April and May. After that they are for site members with Premium Site Access only.

Nail Tips

With fingerstyle and fingerpicking a big part of playing the ukulele, keeping your right hand fingernails in top shape can be tough at time. Here are a few tips to protect your nails and keep out of trouble.

  • Keep nails short. DO NOT clip you nail on the plucking hand.
  • Organize your pockets for potential nail damaging objects suck as keys.
  • Learn to reach and use your left hand more. You're left hand is already pretty developed from playing.
  • Door knobs are what get me the most and wearing bi-focal glasses are what get me the most.
  • Wear gloves.

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