Chunking, Action, and Lefties

On this week's Thursday Live Lesson, the UU gang covers chunking, action, and lefties. The guys use an assortment of analogies while explaining strumming motion and the chunk. From construction cranes to bullwhips, it somehow all ties in to playing the uke. They also give you an inside look into the different technologies they thought of using to evolve their ukulele teaching. Kahai and Aaron share some of the difficulties with said technologies and ultimately discuss the importance of just trying techniques for yourself, and seeking feedback through 1 on 1 coaching. Aldrine covers action and compensated saddles on the ukulele. The guys also recommend different options for left handed players when learning the uke.

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Questions Asked this Week:
1:45 How do you chunk without catching your cuticles on the strings?

34:50 What is a good amount of action on higher frets?

40:05 Does action matter if you mostly strum instead of pick?

41:05 Can you tune a uke to left handed tuning without flipping the strings?

43:15 How do you recommend a left handed person should learn the ukulele?

50:30 What is a compensated saddle?

References/resources for this video:
Uke Minutes - How to Chunk
Ukulele 101 - Week 8: Rhythm Ear Training (Chunking)
1 on 1 Coaching - Aldrine helps Chris learn to chunk

Youtube - I Learn A New Instrument In 20 Days (The Populele Video)
Duos - Matt Dahlber and Aldrine

The Ukulele Site - Action Set Up
The Ukulele Site - Podcast

Diagram - Left Hand Fretboard

Live Lesson Podcast Archive
Old Live Lesson Archive (August 7th, 2014 - March 1st, 2018)
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  1. Oh….hand on. Is Aldrine playing a soprano? If so that’s why. I have a Concert with 19 frets on the fretboard.

    1. Hey Kerry,

      Aldrine is playing a tenor, so the neck might be a little longer than your concert, but that’s not really important because Aldrine was really only trying to give a demonstration of how much of your finger should be touching the strings, not really where you should be strumming. The tip of his finger was touching the 12th fret to show that the fretboard should stop your finger from going any deeper into the ukulele. If you keep your pointer finger straight and perpendicular to the fretboard, and then push it so the tip is touching the fret, the farthest your nail should be hitting the strings should be about a quarter to halfway up your nail; nowhere close to your cuticle. I think Aldrine thought that you were possibly strumming over the sound hole, so your finger was actually going into the sound hole, and that is how you were hitting your cuticle. We like to suggest that when you strum your pointer finger points at the 14/15 fret or where the body meets the neck of the ukulele, and for your finger to be relaxed and slightly curved.

      Even what Aldrine was demonstrating with the 12 fret was a really extreme scenario of how far your nail and finger should be hitting the strings. You really don’t want your finger to be digging in so deep as to be touching the fretboard. More than hitting the strings, strumming is lightly grazing the side and tip of your finger against the strings. You shouldn’t need too much more of your finger or nail to produce a nice strum.

      Looking at your description again, I think you might be strumming with your nail pointing downwards. If your nail is pointing straight down, and your finger is curled in slightly, I can see how you might be hitting the strings with your cuticles first, and then grazing against the rest of your nail. It’s ok for your nail to be pointing at a slight angle, but you really don’t want it to be pointing straight down. Strumming is different for everyone, but I can tell you that with my strum, my nail points toward the headstock at the beginning of the strum, and at the end of the strum, my nail is pointing about 45 degrees away from my headstock. In general, that should be correct. Because your wrist is doing most of the movement, the direction that your nail is pointing should change throughout your strum. Again, it’s going to be a little different for everyone, so find what’s right for you.

      If your nail is pointing straight down for most of your strum, right away, you might want to straighten your wrist. To have your nail point downwards, I’m guessing your wrist is curled down. Try to keep your arm, and your wrist in a straight line. During the strumming motion, your wrist might curl or swing slightly, but never at too much of an angle.

      I hope this helps, and wasn’t too confusing. We would love to see how you are strumming to really dial in what advice would be helpful for you. If you upload your video to youtube or google drive, you should be able to post a link to your video in the UU+ forum:

      If you don’t want to upload your video to another site, you can also send your videos to

      We will see it either way. We look forward to getting it.

      -Kahai (UU Staff)

  2. Cheers guys. I love to challenge you. 🙂 Now I can’t decide whether I’m more confused or not. So if I’m supposed to play with the tip/side of my finger and point to the 12th fret but my finger is supposed to be purpendicular then I’m thinking my form is truly off. I think I’m going to get someone who has a good pair of working eyes to video me. I can’t believe I’m so truly off and I’m thinking Aldrine might be right with the finger/wrist diagnoses but you’ll only know for sure if I get a video sent in. Where do I put it?

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