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I'm a beginner ukulele player (been playing for about a year), and I've got a question about this song from Famous Solos & Duets for the 'Ukulele by John King:

Funiculi-Funicola

How do I play the circled bar with the skipped C string? The fingering arrow indicates that I am to strum it with the index finger, rather than simultaneously pluck three strings. The chords don't sound bad with a C added, so I've been playing them with the C string open. I've tried muting the string, but I'm finding that quite difficult to do while holding the other strings in the chord (although I suppose that might get better with practice). Is that the right thing to do here, or is there a better way that I haven't thought of yet?

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Muting is the way to do it. If you can't put the tip of a spare finger gently on that string, then use the pad of the next finger that is pressing the adjacent string down. It's a technique (trick) that guitarists use often.If all this proves impossible, which it shouldn't, then try to find another note from the same chord that can be played on that string with a cross on it. It won't be perfectly accurate, but I doubt anyone will notice.

  • Thanks. I kept trying to use a spare finger to mute the string and struggling, but using the finger fretting the fourth string to mute the third string works well. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '13 at 3:30
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If you want to stick with the written tab, then the way to do it would be to use the middle finger on the G string and lay it down a bit so it rests on the C string, muting it.

But I think there's a far easier way to play that measure. You're already in 5th position, and you already have an F chord fretted. Just play this measure as:

-x-x-x-x-
-5-5-5-5-
-5-5-5-5-
-5-5-7-7-

Editing to address Ben Miller's question: I see 3 immediate ways to play this:

  1. You could skip the A string. This is probably the most "pro" way to do it.
  2. You could mute the A string with your barring finger.
  3. You could ignore the strum direction indicated, do them all as downstrokes, and come to a stop on the A string. This is least desirable, since there is a difference in tone between upstrokes and downstrokes.
  • +1 for the alternate chord. How would you play this? Would you only strum 3 strings, or would you mute the A string? If you would mute it, which finger would you use? – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Nov 22 '16 at 4:31
  • @BenMiller edited to answer your question – MattPutnam Nov 22 '16 at 12:58
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I too have had trouble muting strings, and one way to kind of bypass the issue (though you really should develop muting technique) is to find another inversion that doubles a note instead of having to mute one. I this case, a few inversions work here, like:

5-5-5-3 (left side is G-string), then 5-5-5-5

or the less comfortable

5-5-1-0, then 7-5-1-0

Both of these play the exact same notes as the muting passage on the paper, they just play a note twice. Additionally, one can do the strumming easily with these inversions as well. If you really can't mute, the first one's your best bet. If you want to learn how to mute this particular chord, if you know how to play an Fmaj7 chord like this (2-4-1-3), then you can just not press down on the C-string when you play it. You could also try a triple-stop, where you just pluck all three notes at once, but that loses the sound of the downstrum. Another thing I've seen some players do is just leaving the G-string opne at almost all times, and on this chord you could play some 3-note F-chord high on the neck and leave the G-string open, which would sound different but not too bad.

TL;DR: Options one has are:

Learn to mute (ideal)

Inversions that avoid string muting (optimal alternative)

Triple Stop (Not a strum, so loses downstroke feel)

Leave the G-string open (sounds different, but it could sound really cool too)

Remove one of the strings from your instrument (If you want to get really radical)(Please do not do this)

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