ʻUkulele Techniques: Articulations & Ways to Play a Note

Technique is HOW you play the ʻukulele. It’s the way you physically interact with the instrument.

Since that encompasses everything, a sub-set of “techniques” – usually note articulations – are often sorted out for independent study.

Mastering these techniques is one of the gateways to easier ʻukulele playing. You can know all of the notes in the world, but without technique and articulations, you will be somewhat limited in what you can do.

Some give notes different sounds, some can emulate the voice, some are overkill! Learn to use them as you would a library – you don’t read every book at once, so don’t use every technique in every song.

I spent the better part of a year writing a guide on right hand techniques and making it the best it could possibly be. It includes picking, strumming, tremolo, tapping, and MUCH more. It’s far more comprehensive than I can be here and should definitely be on your radar if you want to improve your strumming and picking. Get it.
Bending
Learn how to stretch your strings to the max. By bending you can smoothly ramp your way up to the next pitch. It sort of “takes away the frets.”
Hammer-on
How to get from point A to point B in one pick. Use your momentum to carry you through more than one note.
Harmonics
An effect that makes the ʻukulele ring like bells.
Mono Strum
Pioneered by James Hill. Using a strum to sound only one note.
Octaves
One note from this octave and one note from that octave.
Palm Mute
Helps add tightness and a deep tone to your playing.
Pull-Offs
Increase your picking speed with smart descending technique. This is the name of the pull-off game and in this lesson I show you how to use it.
Rakes
How to add a percussive line of mutes to any note.
Slides
Get smoothly from point A to point B in one pick.
Tapping
Like Eddie Van Halen! Hammer-ons and pull-offs on steroids that involve your picking hand.
Tremolo picking
Playing one note rapidly.
Trills
Rapidly changing from one note to another and then back.
Unisons
Two notes are better than one!
Vibrato
Subtly bending a string to change the pitch and add emotion.

By Brad Bordessa

I’m an ‘ukulele artist from Honoka’a, Hawai’i, where I run this site from a little plantation house in the jungle. I’ve taught workshops internationally, made Herb Ohta Jr. laugh until he cried, and once borrowed a uke to jam with HAPA onstage in my boardshorts. More about me

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