I saw a few vids on tremolo on ukulele. I like tremolo on uke because the strings are so spread out. But from the videos I watched, some use one finger, some use two fingers, and some use a pick. I'm confused on what to use.

This video was interesting, but he seems to use the two fingers on the highest string. Do people use a pick if they want to tremolo on all strings? or can you tremolo with your fingers on all strings? And if so, why's a pick necessary? I mainly do fingerstyle. So should I use a pick or one or two fingers. I'd also like to be able to tremolo on all strings.

  • 2
    There are many different tremolo techniques - fast with a pick, one finger, two fingers, even three or four fingers, a sort of rasguedo. Use what you find best or easiest. There's more than one way to kill a cat, as the saying goes. (I think!).
    – Tim
    Jul 8 '19 at 5:16
  • I don't think using a pick for tremolo would work (however I have no experience with a pick!). If it helps, in classical guitar, you would use three fingers ("p-a-m-i", i. e. thumb strikes a bass string, then the ring, middle and index fingers strike the same string), and I personally like it the most (it's reasonably easy and gives a reasonably "full" sound). If you have longer fingernails, you can also "slide" the fingers across the strings during the tremolo (though I don't like the resulting sound too much). But ultimately, it's just about what you like the most.
    – Ramillies
    Jul 8 '19 at 12:39
  • 1
    @Ramillies - using a pick certainly works well on guitar. I see no reason why it shouldn't work on uke. Leave only the tip of the pick to play with.
    – Tim
    Jul 9 '19 at 6:01
  • When you ask 'all strings', do you mean each string individually - any one of the four, or all strings simultaneously?
    – Tim
    Jul 9 '19 at 6:05
  • 1
    @user45266 - skinning it is just one way to kill it...
    – Tim
    Aug 24 '19 at 20:00

The video you linked to showed a guy using two fingers for tremolo on the top string as you noticed. I can't (haven't learned to) do tremolo that way, but I have a couple of alternative methods:

  • Fingernail-as-pick. You mentioned that you play mostly fingerstyle, and I think this method is worth learning if you don't really use a pick. Basically, it's as though you are strumming one string as quickly as possible. I like to turn my finger such that the curved edge of the nail is oriented perpendicularly to the strings, sort of "scraping" rather than picking. I find that that gives me a quieter, more consistent tone, and it can easily be performed on all four strings. It's all in the wrist; I sort of imagine I'm strumming funk guitar as fast as I can, but with much smaller movement. Also, I find that sort of pinching my index (the one actually strumming) and thumb together helps me be faster and have more control, almost as though I were using my nail as a real pick. By the way, fingernail length doesn't seem to matter for me; I can do this and all my other nail-based technique on ukulele both before and after trimming them. Some are quite particular about their nails, especially fingerstyle guitarists, but for ukulele it's never been a concern for me.

  • Two strings. I know you said that you wanted to be able to do it on all strings, but this is also a cool method that I think you should try. Basically, fret the G string such that it produces the exact same note that the A string is playing (G string should be two frets higher), then pluck the A string with the middle finger, then the A string with the index finger, then the G string with the thumb. When done at high speeds, it should feel like a roll-type pattern (actually,the order of the strokes doesn't matter, since they're all the same note). It sounds a lot like the classical technique that uses three fingers on only one string, but I find it easier to do at great speed because while the thumb is picking, the other two fingers can reset and be in position for their next strokes. Plus, the thumb plucking a different string means that you get a kind of natural reverb, since at least one note is ringing out at any given moment. The thumb can also reach over to other strings to hit other notes and fill out the harmony a little more.

  • Using a pick. Again, I know you said you like fingerstyle, but I'll just throw this out there for the benefit of others. Most electric guitarists I know that also dabble in ukulele already know how to use a pick, and they do their trem-picking with a pick in the exact same manner that is used in metal/rock music; it's just like my fingernail method, but I don't think they "scrape" the string, I think they actually alternate picking it from both sides like normal. As User Tim pounted out in the comments, only the tip of the pick should emerge from the hand, and that goes for either instrument.

  • Rasgueado-style (three finger classical/Spanish Flamenco tremolo). There's hundreds upon hundreds of resources on how to do that, so I won't go over it (and also because I can't do it yet). I imagine it absolutely works on ukulele, and someday I'll actually motivate myself enough to work on that technique. I'm pretty sure most famous ukulele players who do this technique do it in a similar manner to the classical/Spanish guitarists. And it leaves the thumb free to hit a bass note (but on ukulele, there might not be much of a bass sound to do this with).

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