UD#15 Gripping the Uke too Tight?

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Gripping the Uke too Tight?

from Ukulele in the Dark
w/ Guido Heistek

Gripping the uke too tight? Maybe this will help.

1. TO THE FRET, NOT TO THE WOOD!

Let me explain. To play an A note you can pluck the A string. To get other notes on that string you place your finger in the space between two frets. For example to play a B note you place your finger where the dot is in this diagram. Right?

The note changes because the string comes to rest on one of the frets and becomes temporarily shortened. A shorter string vibrates at a higher frequency giving you a higher note.

 

Here are two pictures

 

1. Before fretting note.

 

2. Fretting a note.

The string comes to rest on the fret to the right of the white dot which shortens the string and makes it play a higher note.

 

All of this may seem very obvious but here is the important part:

 

Many ukulele players (and guitar players) believe that they need to push the string all the way to the wood between the frets to make a good note. This is practically impossible to do but it doesn’t keep people from trying. Here’s a picture of me trying to push the string so that it touches the wood between frets. Hard work!

 

Pushing the string this hard is a lot of unnecessary work and it also stretches the string slightly which makes it play out of tune. Many players think that their uke has intonation problems but really they are just pushing the strings too hard.

 

>Experiment with how little effort it actually takes to get the string to the fret to play a clean note. Is it less effort than you thought?

 

>Play around with this idea when you are playing chords. Remember for each fingered note to sound you just need to get the string to the fret.

 

Do you notice that you are gripping the ukulele less with your fretting hand?

 

More about frets: Hot tip #2…
2. Your finger tips are allowed to hang over the frets a little. 

 

The ukulele is a very small instrument. The frets get closer together as we move up the neck. On my soprano ukulele up around the 7th fret the distance between frets is slightly smaller then the width of my fingers. I have to let my finger tips hang over the frets to make a chord up there. Here’s a picture.

 

However, chord diagrams show nice clean dots between the frets with plenty of room to spare.

Some of my students struggle like crazy to get perfectly into the middle of the frets before they will strum the chord. They don’t have to. The only real criteria is whether or not the note is sounding clearly.

>Experiment with how far your finger tips can hang over the fret and still give you a clean sound.
>Experiment with playing chord shapes up the neck and letting your finger tips hang over the frets a little.

Hope this helps. That’s all for this week.

All the best,
Guido
p.s. I am regularly adding new lessons to Ukulele in the Dark. Please subscribe below to receive the lessons by e-mail. Be sure not to miss a thing…

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