Ukulele Utopia

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How To Fingerpick a Ukulele

Once you have got to grips with some basic chords. There are basically 2 ways you can play them. You can either get your wrists in gear and strum the hell out of them, or you can delicately fingerpick them. The style of the song really dictates what style you should use when playing. In this article, we are going to learn how to fingerpick a ukulele and a few fingerpicking patterns that once you get to grips with will make you very equipped to play more difficult songs in the future.

What We Will Learn

  • What fingerpicking offers
  • Where do I put my fingers
  • Using 2 fingers
  • Adding the 3rd finger
  • Using 4 fingers
  • Alternative Patterns
  • Twenty One Pilots Lane Boy ( Advanced )

Why Should I Fingerpick

While its great to sing your heart out while strumming along to your favourite songs. Fingerpicking allows you to play things a bit more delicately and allows you to be somewhat more emotive with your playing. It also adds more dexterity to your non-fretting hand which will make flying up and down the fretboard at lighting pace while doing your best Jake Shimabukuro impression a lot easier.

Where do i put my fingers?

In almost all finger patterns you want to assign your fingers to a certain string. I usually use my thumb for the G and C. My index finger for the E and my middle finger for the A.

How To Fingerpick A Ukulele using 2 fingers

Let’s take a look at how to fingerpick using 2 fingers. This is what a simple pattern would look like with a two-finger style. Your thumb will control the G and C strings and your index finger controls the E and A strings.

In two-finger style, you can also use your thumb to control the first 2 strings or the first 3 strings. It totally depends on what is comfortable for you.


Try playing this simple pattern using just 2 strings. If you not sure how to read tab, you can check out my guide here.

If playing the fretted notes is a struggle for you right now, you can just play all the open notes like this.

How To Fingerpick A Ukulele using 3 fingers

Adding the third finger can be tricky but once you master it, you are going to see yourself been able to play much faster.

We are doing the same pattern but instead of using our Index finger on the A string we are going to use our Middle finger.

How To Fingerpick A Ukulele using 4 fingers

We are now at the point where we are going to have one finger assigned to each string. The thumb will be the G, the Index will be the C, the Middle will be the E and the Ring will be the A.

Again we are using the same pattern but just different fingers. Try getting your hand comfortable and remember, take as much time as you need.

Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s going to take a long time to get proficient using 4 fingers. However, if you start with 2 and add more over time, it’s going to make life a lot easier for you.

Alternative Finger picking patterns

Here are a few more examples of fingerpicking patterns for you to wrap your head around. They are very similar to our basic pattern about but the slight variation will keep your brain ticking.

Lets Learn a Song

Let’s combine what we have learnt about fingerpicking and blend the technique with some riffs. We are going to be learning Twenty One Pilots – Lane Boy. The original part is played on a synth but it sounds really great on the ukulele and it’s a great way to practise.

You will be using your Thumb, Index and Middle finger. Take a look at the tab below.

As you can see, you want to use your thumb 3 times and then run your fingers down the strings after each succession of thumb hits.


I also did a video lesson that explains in detail how to play this song.


That brings this post on how to fingerpick a ukulele to an end. It can be a vital technique when it comes to growing the repertoire of songs you can play. The key to getting this right is too make it part of your practise routine.

Once you have a grasp of how to fingerpick. Lets learn how you can fingerpick faster! I spent 20+ hours working on this technique that is guaranteed to increase your speed on the ukulele


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The Basics

In this section, we will cover everything you need to know about starting to play the ukulele.