Fingerpicking Exercises for Ukulele (tabs to download)

Many, if not most, ukulele players start out learning to strum the chords of their favourite songs. I attended a ukulele club here in Bordeaux and that’s how they spent the evening, strumming chords and singing songs, which would have been fine if they hadn’t been so serious about it. Strumming a guitar or a uke is the perfect way to accompany songs – it provides the backing sound without distracting from the words and melody of the singing voice.
But many will soon come to appreciate that there are other ways to play
These exercises are for players who want to learn to play fingerstyle ukulele. They are not for complete beginners, you have to be able to play a bit and be comfortable changing chords. The fourth and fifth exercises are quite tricky – they are techniques used by classical guitarists (and uke players!). I do find it hard to judge whether a piece or an exercise is easy, intermediate or advanced as I’m not really sure what my own level is! You will hear a few mistakes (fret buzzes, missed notes, hesitations)… sigh… well I’ll never be Jake or James but I hope that I can share something useful with you.

here are the links to the tabs:
exercise one (arpeggio up and down)
exercise two (pluck the third and fourth with your thumb and try using different fingers for the first and second)
exercise three (pluck the first string with ring, middle and index – you can do it always with the same finger, but alternating this way is good training for the next exercise, the tremolo)
exercise four (tremolo is rapid playing of the same string by quickly plucking with ring, middle then index)
exercise five (harmonics – pay attention to the last chord (E7) you need to use your index finger to touch the string on the fourteenth – because you are holding the note on the second fret – then pluck with your ring – watch carefully if you’ve never done this before)


13 thoughts on “Fingerpicking Exercises for Ukulele (tabs to download)”

  1. Thanks for these. I like them becauseI really only want to play melody/fingerstyle . They are something easy to pick up and practice whenever I have some time and they sound musical too, so shouldn’t drive my husband too mad!

  2. Heartfelt thanks for these and for the other tabs. While I initially fell in love the uke for it’s social aspects (in which it excels), discovering campanella has been an epiphany. Thanks again.

  3. pv123, same for me, I bought a uke for playing strummy chords when out camping or at a picnic, and discovering campanella changed everything. These exercises are more straightforward picking patterns as used by guitarists, but a good workout anyway. I’m glad you found them useful.

  4. Jon, I am overjoyed at discovering your lessons, tabs and videos, they are brilliant. As you say it’s easy to strum a Ukulele, which is about all my club do. However, in order to progress it’s essential to learn and practice scales and fingerpicking. I will therefore get so much pleasure in following your exercises. Thank you so much.

  5. Thank you for your comment, I’m glad the exercises are useful to you. Be sure to check out the campanella tutorials made by Tim Keough, they’re fantastic. His YouTube user name is ukuleletim. That’s how I learned to arrange the tunes you hear on this site.

  6. Hi Jon …I went to the local ukulele club once …. They were very serious which wasn’t much fun until a dog somehow got in to the hall and started tearing about barking at us. I decided to go solo instead and started learning some classics / arpeggios etc then found your site ….brilliant
    I’m doing battle with The Blarney Pilgrim and like these exercises what a lovely instrument I’ve bypassed the strumming altogether.

  7. Thanks very much for visiting the site! If you need any help with the exercises, just drop me a line, here or on Facebook = /campanella.ukulele

  8. Fantastic exercises that stand alone as beautiful music. I have played guitar most of my life but have gravitated to the uke. Thanks helping me become a better player.

  9. Thank you so much for your comment. I think many of us have come to the uke after playing guitar, I for one had no idea that this instrument could be so versatile.

  10. Thank you for these fingerpicking exercises. I’ve been wondering how to use the ukulele’s reentrant tuning. Your campanella videos are amazing. It’s a goal I will work toward slowly.

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