Since I’ve started posting videos again on the UkuTabs YouTube channel, I’ve been asked about how to hold a ukulele properly. While it’s not that difficult to learn how to play the ukulele, it can take some time to learn how to hold the instrument correctly. In this UkuGuide, we’ll go over the basics of picking up, holding and playing your ukulele. Find out what to do, what not to do and much more!
First things first: picking up a ukulele
Before we start playing the ukulele, we need to pick it up. Don’t swing your ukulele by the headstock or use the hole in the instrument. This can cause warping of the neck and body. The right way to pick up your ukulele is by taking hold of it by the neck where the neck meets the body.
How to hold a ukulele properly
There is no one correct way to hold a ukulele. Be aware of your stance or sitting position and the location of your hand. Ensure that you are feeling comfortable and relaxed.
To do it right, place the instrument against your chest by holding it tightly with your right forearm (for most people, although some people use the left) across the top edge of the lower part of the ukulele.
While some people find it more comfortable to hold the instrument horizontally, you might prefer to tilt it slightly upward in order to reach chords that are difficult to play. You can adjust this position while playing, of course, so that you don’t strain your hand.
Try to keep your elbow at a 90-degree angle while pressing the ukulele against your chest with your forearm. Notice: this angle will (and should) change while playing! These instructions are for the initial setup. Do not try to maintain this 90-degree angle or you will strain your arm and back.
If the ukulele is slipping, hold it a bit tighter. However, do make sure that you’re not bending the neck of the ukulele, as this might make it sound out of tune. A quick test to see if it’s tight enough is by letting go of the neck: see if the ukulele stays in position.
So our first arm helps us to hold a ukulele in a fixed position. Our second hand is used for fretting chords. Place your thumb behind the neck somewhere between the nut and the third fret. It is recommended to place the pad of your thumb at the back rather than wrapping your thumb over the top of the neck.
As you might notice in my videos, I do wrap my thumb around the neck most of time. Don’t tell my mom :-). I find it more comfortable that way and my fingers are long enough to reach the chords.
Wrap the rest of your fingers around the front of the neck so that your fingers are parallel to the fret. Let your fingers float above the frets. Important: Your fretting arm should not hold the weight of the ukulele. Use the quick test in the previous section to check whether your grip with your holding arm (usually the right arm) is strong enough.
Playing the ukulele
It’s important to keep your elbow away from your body while playing the ukulele. Don’t press it against your side. There should be a straight line from your elbow to your wrist.
Power to the left-handed people!
If it’s more comfortable to play with your left hand, do so. Most people are righties, but there is nothing wrong with being a lefty. UkuChords and UkuTuner have a dedicated section for left-handed people! If you do not want to reverse the playing instructions, you can restring your instrument to reverse the strings.
Conclusion: how to hold a ukulele correctly
Hopefully this UkuGuide has given you better insight into how to hold your ukulele properly. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me below or send me an email using the contact form. Happy playing!
Need more input?
I hope this guide has helped you to hold your ukulele correctly. Perhaps you are more comfortable using a strap?
Feel free to contact me whenever you need more information.
You’re probably also interested in these ukulele tips for beginners?