The Spiderman Method of Getting Better on Ukulele

Early in my ukulele playing career, I lobbed off the very tip of my left hand ring finger cutting tomatoes.

Nothing bad, but I had to wear a bandage for a week.

And, like Peter Parker working alone in his laboratory, impacted by events over which he had no control, I, too, TRANSFORMED.

Not into a crime-fighting super arachnid, alas.

But into a “new-way-of-forming-ukulele-chords-guy.”

I couldn’t use my ring finger, because the bandaid didn’t let the note ring out. I’d just get a dull THUNK.

I worked out some songs:

  • Dull Thunk Blues
  • Baby Says My Thunk is Dull
  • Ain’tcha Doin’ Something ‘Bout That Dull, Dull Thunk?

but they all kind of sounded the same.

To accommodate my handicap (with no government assistance!), I switched my fingers around to make chords with other available tips—and it was a bit of an epiphany:

Chords don’t have to be made the same way every time!

In my video program, “Defeat the E,” I talk about the way E chord is “shown in the books.”

And why it’s wrong.

Or at least, it can be wrong in many instances.

Now, even though E and D are often the hardest “basic” chords for uke players to pick up, this same notion holds true for other chords—you can use OTHER fingers than the ones shown in the book.

A simple and dumb example:

C major. First string, third fret, all other strings open.

“The books” tell you to fret that one string with your first finger. And that’s fine. It works.

But since my Peter Parker experience, I almost never play C with my first finger. In fact, I mostly play C with my little finger!

Try it. It’s jarring at first, but then incredibly useful.

This concept works for any chords. You can use any fingers—you just have to hit the right spot!

This skill pays off down the road when you want to mess around with melody playing, moveable chords, and other deluxe skills.

your pal,

If you’d like to get the “Defeat the E” course mentioned, just click here.

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About the Author

Founder of ”Play It Daily” Ukulele, co-founder of the Ukulele Union of Boston, and spreader of good cheer.

Danno Sullivan

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  1. Thanks for sharing , iam sure to say my way is the best way , would be wrong, but you just need to keep trying and it will get better, but still not perfect

  2. I picked this one up somewhere along the way, and now playing the C with any other finger just feels weird. It makes transitions to just about any other chord smooth, and coming from a classical guitar background, it’s (almost) the proper fingering style anyway.

    I do the same with my G chord, to make the transition from that to either G7 or E7 smooth and sweet. There are, as your other lessons note, many ways to ease the transitions – and with practice, it becomes almost Zen.

    Thanks for a great post, and a great service all ’round!

    1. I know that feeling of it feeling wrong, Toby!

      Like so many things (on uke and in life), it’s good not to be locked in to “one right way.”

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