How to Hold a Ukulele Tutorial for Beginners

Ukulele is becoming more and more popular by the minute. It’s a fun little instrument that’s fun to play, available at an affordable price and can be learned quite easily. However, before you even begin to start strumming those strings you will need to learn how to properly hold your ukulele. In this guide, we’ll be showing how to hold the ukulele in both your right and left hand so you can master your technique right away.

Holding a Ukulele Standing Up

Because of the growing popularity of the ukulele, they are being used more and more in live performances. This is why it’s just as important to learn how to hold your ukulele while sitting and standing.

The ukulele is a very light instrument and it’s easy to play without the use of a strap. Here we will take you through the steps of how to play the ukulele while standing up.

Holding the Body of the Ukulele

When you are holding the ukulele while standing you need to pay particular attention to the body and where it is placed. You want to hold it so that the body of the ukulele goes up against your chest, quite high up in the mid-section of your body. You can match up where the uke is supposed to be held by making sure the soundhole is at the height of your chest also.

Next, you will want to play whatever hand is your strumming one across the body of the ukulele tightly. Hold it close to you and lock your hold by resting it on the inside of your elbow. This is important because it allows you to keep the ukulele secure while still having full range with both your strumming and fretting hand. You don’t want the ukulele to slide away so make sure you’ve got a good grip on it.

Holding the Neck of the Ukulele

Think of holding your ukulele more like cradling it when it comes to the neck and your fretting hand. To hold the ukulele neck correctly the weight of the instrument should be against your chest and strumming arm.

The neck of the ukulele should be positioned in the cradle you have formed with your fretting hand thumb and finger. This should allow you to play the ukulele by moving your hand backward and forwards with ease and without shaking the instrument.

Throughout this entire process, you should make sure that you are feeling entirely comfortable with how you are holding the ukulele. It does take some time and practice to hold the ukulele properly and get the right position for your strumming arm. Over time and the more you practice it will get easier and easier.

Holding a Ukulele Standing Up

Next we’re going to look at how you can properly hold your ukulele while sat down. If you want to play like this you will need to sit right at the front of your seat. Take your ukulele and position it so that it’s upright and close to your body. The top of the neck of the instrument should be facing slightly upwards too. Some ukulele players will prefer to sit cross-legged but this is completely down to you. Finding the right position can be tough so try out a few different sitting choices to feel the best one for you.

The whole point of holding your ukulele is that you are comfortable and able to play with ease. You need easy access to both the strings and the fretboard and should have free movement up and down on your strumming arm. This is true whether you are playing with your left hand or right hand. You may also want to invest in a music stand which comes in useful for reading music when you are just starting to learn the instrument.

Holding the Ukulele in the Left Hand Position

Playing the ukulele left handed is much the same as playing right handed but it can be a little bit more tricky to pick up. Position your fingers so that the tips of them sit behind the frets instead of being on top of them like you would with your right hand. Your left hand thumb shouldn’t be hanging over the top of the neck or running parallel along the back of the neck of the instrument. Doing this will make playing the ukulele left handed a lot more difficult.

You may also want to number the fingers on your left hand to make it easier to play. Number them like this:

  1. Left thumb
  2. Index finger
  3. Middle finger
  4. Ring finger
  5. Little finger

Strumming the Ukulele

Once you’ve mastered how to hold the ukulele properly you will need to learn how to play it and proper strumming techniques. Basically, your right hand will be strumming all four strings of the ukulele at the same time while you let your fingers do the work on the neck of the instrument. You will need to use a downward movement to strum properly and you can use a pick if you want to or just go with your fingers.

Your hands should always be as comfortable as possible when playing. Be careful not to put any strain on your wrist and try to keep your hand as relaxed as you can the whole time. If you play a note and it sounds a bit dead or like it’s buzzing then you will want to press down on your left hand fingers a bit harder. Your fingers should also be positioned behind the fret to avoid this happening.

Using a Pick

Some ukulele players choose to use a pick to strum the strings instead of using their thumb or fingers. You can use a pick to make that up and down motion that produces the sound.

When you are holding a pick you want to make sure that your grip isn’t too tight because you can create tension on the strings and also hurt your hand. You should hold it between your finger and thumb so that it’s comfortable when you are playing. Picks can be used to strum all four strings at once or picking one string at a time.


Playing the ukulele is a great way to spend time relaxing and it’s also very peaceful to listen to. You should always be passionate about learning your instrument and continue to develop your skills as you go. Make sure that you are always holding the ukulele in a comfortable position that allows you to play some beautiful music. Happy playing!