Arts & Entertainment, Music

Holding Your ‘Ukulele

Jake Shimabukuro

Lesson time 05:39 min

Jake demonstrates the proper way to hold your ʻukulele.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Holding the Neck


[00:00:00.00] ['UKULELE PLAYING] [00:00:08.59] JAKE SHIMABUKURO: I remember the very first time I picked up the 'ukulele. I can remember it so clearly. [00:00:14.47] My mom, she had this Kamaka 'ukulele. And a Kamaka 'ukulele, growing up in Hawaii, is like-- you know, without offending anyone, you know, it's like the Stradivarius of 'ukuleles. And I remember her taking it off the shelf, placing it in my lap and showed me how to hold it. [00:00:32.20] And it was that moment where I was just like-- and I remember just freezing. I mean, that was years ago, but I still remember that feeling. Just the amount of respect and the amount of care that I took when I handled the instrument. It's those experiences that truly shape who we are. [00:00:59.33] And there's really no proper way to hold the 'ukulele. The main thing is I want you to be comfortable. You know, so if you're sitting down, just put the 'ukulele in your lap and lean it against your body. And the thing to just be aware of is just let the corners of the instrument, the corners of the instrument touch your body. You don't want to hover over it and you don't want to smother it, right, because you want the instrument to be able to resonate. [00:01:29.98] You take your left hand and just basically scoop the neck like this, you know? Let it sit right there in your left hand, or your right hand if you're-- if you hold it the other way. And then you're just going to drape your forearm over the corner of the 'ukulele just like that. And just be relaxed, you know, and you want to be able to move around. And you want to make sure that your thumb can easily touch the strings, make contact with the strings, and this hand feels very relaxed, all right? [00:01:56.93] OK? You want to be able to-- it's almost like you're dancing with your instrument in a way, right? So it's like you're holding your instrument's hand here, and you're just kind of swaying back and forth. And you want to be loose, you know, not just in your hands and arms, but your shoulders, your neck, you know, your lower back. So get comfortable with that for a little bit. [00:02:20.45] Now, the next thing is sometimes you won't be in a seated position and you'll have to stand. And that can be a little tricky. You know, growing up in Hawaii, it was never a problem standing and playing, because what you would do is you would actually, with your forearm, you would press the 'ukulele against your body like this while you strummed. And the thing is, in Hawaii, you're always a little sticky, right, because of the humidity. So that actually helps with holding up the instrument, you know, because your skin almost grips the instrument so it won't slide down. [00:02:59.79] But sometimes if you're in a dryer climate or if it's cold, you don't always have that advantage. So in some cases, I like using a little neck strap like this. [00:03:12.06] And a strap like this just basically slides into the hole. There's a little hook, slides i...

About the Instructor

Called the “Jimi Hendrix of the ʻukulele,” Jake Shimabukuro won worldwide acclaim for his fresh and fearless musical interpretations. Now he’s sharing his approach so anyone can experience the joys of the ʻukulele, from the simple chords that make up hundreds of songs to more complex fingerings and compositions. Learn how to adapt songs you love for ʻukulele or write your own. Stop worrying and start strumming.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro teaches you how to take your ʻukulele from the shelf to center stage, with techniques for beginners and seasoned players alike.

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