In my last post about ukulele Fingerpicking for beginners we looked at using a simple 3 finger pattern to get you up and running. In this lesson we’re going crazy, we’re going to add a 4th finger to the mix.
Our 3 finger picking pattern left our thumb doing a lot of the work, it was covering both the G and C strings. There are times when we need a little bit more though.
Each string gets a finger
The easiest way to think about this technique is to assign each finger to a string. As ukulele players we have a significant advantage over guitar players who would need to grow an extra finger to be able to adopt this technique.
- Your thumb takes the G string
- Index finger looks after the C string
- Middle finger is all about the E string
- Ring finger covers the A string
For this lesson we’re not going to deviate from that. We need to stick to those rules like glue. I hate to be such a task master but if you stick to this rigidly to begin with you’ll notice big improvements in your playing and your finger independence.
No chords to begin with
Like the last lesson we’re going to start without any chords fretted. We’re just going to focus on our picking hand. Pick the strings one at a time starting with your thumb first. Make sure each finger picks the correct string.
Try picking along with the pattern above using the fingers noted to the left of the tab.
Slow and steady
Take it nice and steady to begin with and focus on keeping a steady rhythm. If you can’t keep a consistent pace then you’re probably paying too fast. There’s no need to rush, the speed will come.
Let’s throw some chords into the mix. As ever we’ll start with the super friendly C chord. You may notice a slightly different feel as you pluck. By fretting a note the subtle difference in string height is quite noticeable.
As your fingers start to gain some independence you’ll start to be able to create your own patterns for your fingers to follow, it doesn’t need to be quite so linear. When I’m fingerpicking a lot of the time I don’t even know what my fingers are doing. It feels automatic.
I’d take fluidity and consistency over speed every time.
Here are some variations in picking patterns for you to try. Again, take them nice and steady to begin with. I can’t stress this enough.
4 Finger Picking Pattern 1
4 Finger Picking Pattern 2
4 Finger Picking Pattern 3
You should be able to see that there are already a lot of options for you to create your own picking patterns. The examples above use quarter notes (only 4 notes per bar). In a future lesson we’ll look at more complex patterns that use eighth and sixteenth notes.
Fingerpicking songs you know
You can use this technique on songs that you know. Start with a simple three or four chord song. Instead of simply strumming along use one of the patterns above. Some will fit more naturally than others, use your ears as a guide. If it doesn’t sound right switch it up.
If you want some further help with fingerpicking then I’d recommend taking a look at the ebook How To Play Classical Ukulele. There are 7 classical fingerstyle arrangements (varying degrees of difficulty) to get your teeth into that will really help you improve your skills. For just $7 I think it’s a a great book if you’re looking to get better quickly.