Some people:

  • place the thumb behind the neck (more freedom for fingers)
  • some let the neck fall deep between the thumb and index finger, and the thumb is visible above the fretboard

Which position is right for what situation? Can it be changed when playing? And is this possible without a strap?

3 Answers 3


Each player's physiology is different - length of fingers/thumb, flexibility, etc. There may, or may not, be a 'standard' way to position, but basically, it's going to be down to individuality, and each player will find his own best method, which will change as the chord shapes change, or when playing only one or two strings. Or when seated or standing.Or how high or low one has the uke. It's pretty well much the same syndrome with guitar playing - there are no right or wrong ways - as long as the product sounds good - just because I put my hand in a particular way doesn't mean my students must do the likewise. Whatever works best for the individual is probably the best answer!


Here is the answer I got from Peter Forrest:

People tend to play often with the thumb protruding when playing open chords like F, C, G when playing near the nut. I do it myself. It all depends on the next chord that you will be playing and will moving that thumb make more effort for one's changes. When playing up the fretboard, the thumb should be behind on full chords. If you standing up while playing, it works better with the thumb behind. You need to try to use the thumb behind the fretboard as much as possible. You have to on barred chords. Look up my video Paris in the '20s. I cannot play the verse without having the thumb behind... but voila.. I put the thumb up while playing Fm (near the nut) and I slide up the strings. So, it depends on the chord changes.


The thumb will tend to be in slightly different places for different chords. The ideal for me is thumb on the back but the angle of the thumb can change if, for example you are playing an 'inside out' chord like E7 (unless you are using fingers 2,3, and 4). Also, people with different shaped hands might find other ways... as long as it works for you I guess?

I like to use a strap, to save me having to hold the uke with my left hand, but some prop it on their knee, or use the right elbow to cuddle the uke. (sorry to left handers).

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