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Home UkuleleCare & Tips Does the Ukulele Hurt Your Fingers?

Does the Ukulele Hurt Your Fingers?

Ways to Minimize Pain that Can Be Associated with the Ukulele

by Frances Lin
chuck the ukulele

Does the ukulele hurt your fingers? This is a great question, and when I first started playing the ukulele, I kept saying, “Ouch!” This was not because it hurts to play the ukulele. Instead, it was because I was not using the proper techniques yet and because starting the ukulele is always a bit awkward, as with learning most things, especially a new instrument.

Does the Ukulele Hurt Your Fingers? Let’s find out:

There are many things to consider when you find that the ukulele is hurting your fingers, so let’s explore some of the things associated with finger pain while playing the ukulele. Once you implement these strategies and techniques, ukulele playing will no longer hurt, and you will really enjoy your instrument!

Structural Components Associated with Finger Pain

One thing to consider is the structural components of your ukulele. There are things that you can do to minimize the possibility of finger pain. Again, most of this article will cover technique issues because that is the major cause of finger pain associated with playing the ukulele. I will say this: Ukulele playing never hurts my fingers now. I can play for as long as I like, and I do not experience finger pain. Hopefully, this gives you something to look forward to as you embark on your ukulele journey.

Ukulele Structures to Consider

If you determine that you have unlearned any debilitating habits developed from starting the ukulele, there are a few things to consider if you still experience finger pain. First, you can always change your strings. The Uke Like the Pros (ULTP) website has a great deal of information on changing your strings, and this can radically change your ukulele experience. The ULTP store also has many strings available for purchase.

Read more: How To Strum The Ukulele

I find fluorocarbon strings to be the most comfortable strings for my ukulele playing, but this is definitely a preference specific to every ukulele player. I do have nylgut strings on some of my ukuleles which are fine to play with although not my first choice. Changing strings yourself can be scary, but it really is not too involved. You can always get them changed by a professional as well.

Ukulele Setup (Basic or Advanced)

Another thing to consider is your setup (basic or advanced) when you purchase your ukulele. The action setup includes the height of the strings from your fretboard. The farther you have to push down on the strings while making chord shapes directly affects the strain on your fingers. Consider an advanced setup when purchasing a ukulele.

The action is something that is easiest to be taken care of at the time of your ukulele purchase. I made sure that all my ukuleles had the best action, and the advanced setups also smoothed out the sides of the neck for further finger and hand comfort.

Techniques That Will Minimize Finger Pain

Learning the ukulele properly is the key way to minimize finger pain. Trust me, I went through all of the normal stages of a novice ukulele player. As with most things, learning an instrument can be awkward and unusual at times. I would strongly recommend that you consider joining the ULTP Nation as a premium member. I am a premium member, and I have learned so much from the multitude of courses available to me as a member.

Even with a musical background, I still learned so much that helped me develop as an ukulele player. Remember that you are now a musician, and investing time and money into your playing experience is so worth all of the effort!

Holding and Strumming Your Ukulele

If you want a taste of how courses will be taught on ULTP, check out these videos, such as How to Hold a Ukulele or How to Strum a Ukulele. You will get an idea of how ULTP instructor Terry Carter approaches ukulele instruction for all levels, from beginners to advanced players. Invaluable tips are integrated through all the lessons, and you get the fundamentals so necessary for mastering this instrument. A tip from holding the ukulele video includes how using straps can lessen pressure from the hands. This is a simple but beneficial tip.

Free master classes are also covered in some videos, such as this one. Taking a free master class can give you a sense of Terry Carter’s approach to teaching, which does focus on giving you a strong foundation. This video, Stop Strumming Your Ukulele Like This, helped me immensely as I started a bad habit of using my elbow to strum. A relaxed wrist and the predominant use of the wrist to strum was a tip gleaned from many of these ULTP videos and courses, including the Ukulele Bootcamp.

Ukulele Practice and Technique

Learning the proper techniques for playing the ukulele is best learned from the beginning to avoid hard-to-break habits that hinder your ukulele playing and experience. I really enjoyed this series of courses as it gave me great exercises to use whenever I start practicing the ukulele.

This video, Practice, and Technique Series, is the first in a series of challenges. Challenges are engaging and fun, and you can win the ultimate prize (a new ukulele)! I mention this series because it teaches you exercises that can help you develop hand and finger strength which minimizes the pain associated with ukulele playing. This was a two-week challenge and only one of many opportunities for learning on ULTP.


Does playing the ukulele hurt your fingers? It honestly should not hurt your fingers if you are using the correct techniques, if you are learning as much as you can about this instrument, and if you consider the structural components and function such as the strings and the action. Ukulele playing should be enjoyable, so if you are experiencing pain, hopefully, some of these suggestions will improve your ukulele experiences!

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