how to fingerpick the ukulele header

How to Fingerpick a Ukulele – Simple Method

Once you have got to grips with some basic chords, there are two main ways to play them: strumming or fingerpicking. The style of the song usually dictates which method to use. In this article, we will learn how to fingerpick a ukulele and explore some fingerpicking patterns that will equip you to play more complex songs in the future.

What We Will Learn

  • What fingerpicking offers
  • Where to place your fingers
  • Using 2 fingers
  • Adding the 3rd finger
  • Using 4 fingers
  • Alternative patterns
  • Advanced example: Twenty One Pilots – Lane Boy

Why Should I Fingerpick

While it’s great to strum along to your favorite songs, fingerpicking allows for more delicate and emotive playing. It also improves dexterity in your non-fretting hand, making it easier to navigate the fretboard quickly.

Where do i put my fingers?

In most fingerpicking patterns, you should assign your fingers to specific strings:

  • Thumb: G and C strings
  • Index finger: E string
  • Middle finger: A string

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 will control the E and A strings.

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

Try playing this simple pattern using just 2 strings. If you are 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 will be able to play much faster.

We are doing the same pattern, but instead of using our index finger on the A string, we will use our middle finger.

How To Fingerpick A Ukulele using 4 fingers

We are now at the point where we will have one finger assigned to each string. The thumb will be on the G string, the index finger on the C string, the middle finger on the E string, and the ring finger on the A string.

Again, we are using the same pattern but with 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 will 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, but the slight variation will keep your brain ticking.

Lets Learn a Song

Let’s combine what we have learned about fingerpicking and blend the technique with some riffs. We are going to learn Twenty One Pilots’ “Lane Boy.” The original part is played on a synth, but it sounds really great on the ukulele and is a great way to practice.

You will be using your thumb, index, and middle fingers. Take a look at the tab below.

As you can see, you want to use your thumb three 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.

Summary

That brings this post on how to fingerpick a ukulele to an end. Fingerpicking can be a vital technique for expanding the repertoire of songs you can play. The key to getting this right is to make it part of your practice 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