Left-Hand Finger Stretch on Ukulele

Learn to develop your left-hand finger stretch on ukulele with this exercise. In this video we offer you a technique tip that will help your left hand to play with ease.

Stretching from the pinky?

One tendency with stretch in the left hand is to do so starting from the pinky. Many of us hold the ukulele with the thumb up high over the neck, the index curved, and extending with the pinky. The problem with this is that the pinky’s weak and shorter than the other fingers. And that puts you at a bit of a disadvantage. Instead I’d like to suggest you do the opposite: stretch with your index finger.

Your index finger’s really strong when you have to stretch your hand. Stretch from there and keep your pinky curved and your thumb low on the neck. That will keep your hand balanced.

Try extending your index finger straight up in the air while keeping the other fingers curved into the palm. That’s sort of the concept we’re after. With your index extended and the other fingers curled, you can still have a nice arch in the hand (a “C” shape) and have a really strong motion. Keeping our hand and fingers in this C shape ensures that we move from the back knuckle, which gives us the best motion to the strings where our hand won’t tire out.

The accordion exercise

Imagine an accordion all the way closed up. That’s what we’re going to do with our left-hand fingers. Bunch up your fingers so that you play on adjacent frets (frets 1 and 2) with the index and the pinky. Then we will open up the accordion allowing the index finger to stretch the hand out to reach higher positions.

So to start with, let’s play the first string at the first fret with our first finger. As we talked about in our perfect finger placement exercise, try to get your finger right behind the fret wire. Now place your pinky one fret higher. It’s essential that your thumb is low on the neck to make this work. The middle and ring fingers just kind of stay out of the way.

Next, try to slide the hand forward, keeping the pinky curved and pointing straight with the index finger. You’ll notice it’s a lot easier to stretch even all the way from the first up to the seventh fret. And just practice sliding. You don’t have to go all the way to the seventh fret. Just do whatever’s comfortable. If you can only manage a few frets to start with, that’s okay. You don’t even need to play notes yet. But just really feel the pinky kind of scanning across the string like it’s skating, like an accordion. Just pull it open and then close it back up, compressing and extending the hand extending.

Getting even more stretch

Now, if you have to ever do a really crazy stretch, then you will kind of rotate your forearm and start reaching with the pinky. It’s unlikely you’ll ever need a stretch this big, but it does give you additional room to stretch. But your hand will actually be comfortable as you do that instead of the opposite where you keep the index finger curved and bent and then reaching with your pinky. You’ll run out of room really quickly if you do that. So the idea of working more with your index finger and less with your pinky is really gonna make this stretch a lot easier.


We hope this technique tip helps you get a bit more stretch out of your left-hand fingers! You can find many more lessons just like this that are comprehensive and help you to play more beautifully at Ukulele Corner Academy. Learn more and Join Ukulele Corner Academy today!

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