This is the third and final lesson (and video lesson) of a three part ukulele fingerpicking blues lesson series. If you missed it, be sure to check out part 1 and part 2.
Just a couple days ago, we learned a fingerpicking pattern we can use for the 12-bar blues. In this lesson, we’re going to learn a second fingerpicking pattern. As much as these patterns can be used for the blues, they can also be used for other popular songs.
Video Lesson: Blues Fingerpicking Pattern #2
This is a video for this lesson showing you how to play the fingerpicking pattern in the 12-bar blues form as described below.
A Change In Fingerpicking Technique
In the previous lesson, we learned a fingerpicking pattern that used our thumb, index, and middle finger to pluck the strings. In this lesson, we’re going to learn a fingerpicking pattern that uses our thumb, index, middle, and ring finger.
For this pattern, our thumb will pluck the top string. Our index finger will pluck the second to top string. Our middle finger will pluck the second to bottom string, and our ring finger will pluck the bottom string.
As I mentioned in the previous lesson, in general, one technique is not necessarily better than the other–just different. It’s best to practice both ways because some patterns do lend themselves better to one technique over the other.
Ukulele Blues Fingerpicking Pattern #2
Again, we will be playing this pattern to a count of four. Each note in the pattern gets a length of an eighth note. The first chord we will be playing over is an A7 chord (click to see the fingering).
On the first beat, we are going to use our index finger to pluck the second to top string. On the “&” of the first beat, we are going to use our ring finger to pluck the bottom string.
On the second beat, we are going to use our middle finger to pluck the second to bottom string. On the “&” of the second beat, we are going to use our thumb to pluck the top string.
We will repeat this exact pattern for the third and fourth beats.
Blues Fingerpicking Pattern #1: A7 chord
- I R M T I R M T
- 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
As you can see, the pattern repeats over the third and fourth beats.
Blues Fingerpicking Pattern #1: D7 chord
- I R M T I R M T
- 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Because we’re playing the 12-bar blues, let’s practice this pattern over a D7 chord too.
Blues Fingerpicking Pattern #1: E7 chord
- I R M T I R M T
- 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
And finally, let’s practice this pattern over an E7 chord.
Your Turn to Fingerpick the 12-Bar Blues
Once you get a feel for how the fingerpicking pattern goes with these chords, it’s time to play the 12-bar blues. Here is one example of the 12-bar blues.
If you’re wondering how I played the blues lick at the end of the 12-bar phrase, go to the previous lesson where I explain how to play it.
I Want To Hear From You
How’s the fingerpicking going? What types of patterns have you come up with?
If you’re having any difficulties, please post your questions and comments below. Something I’ve really enjoyed about Ukulele Tricks is all the participation that happens in the comments. It’s not uncommon for someone other than myself to post some helpful tips and give advice to those who have questions. For this, I thank you all!
Let me know how it’s going.
Brett, This is great stuff! To keep my interest up while practicing, I’ve been switching back and forth from one pattern to the other, line by line or even chord by chord or measure by measure. Sometimes it actually sounds like something worth repeating – so I do.
I noticed that both patterns sound better to me on my high-G uke than on my low-G. Do you have another fingerpicking pattern you like best for low-G?
Hey Joel, that’s awesome! You know, right now, my tenor ukulele is strung to a high-G tuning, so I haven’t been able to experiment too much with low G fingerpicking patterns. I’ve been saving up for a concert ukulele, that way I can have both tunings available. Low G fingerpicking patterns would make a cool follow up to this in the future. Let me know if you come up with anything!
Hi Brett, I am a grandmother and I recently bought Ukuleles for my granddaughters. I bough one myself for adult biginner. I haven’t learned music but thanks to your video I am seeing some progress in my fingerpicking. What I feel difficult is to relax the fingers on my left hand to block the strings..I would like to be able to play the 12-bar blues.I know it will take some time but I will soon have plenty of time to practice.
can you give me some advice on how to pinch the cords. Is it normal for it to hurt at first? or am I doing it too hard?
Hi Agnes, thanks for your comment! When you first start fretting chords, your left hand and fingers will experience some soreness. The ends of your fingers need a little bit of time to build some callouses on the end of them. Your hand also needs a little bit of time to build up some strength. The best thing to do is to maintain to practice consistently, day-by-day for short periods of time. If you really start to feel any pain or soreness, just take a day off and come back to it.
One thing that can help though is to make sure you’re not just placing the fingers of your left hand right between the frets, but rather, right up behind the fret. You want your finger to be as close to the fret as possible because you can get more leverage on the string so you can prevent buzzing and any dead muted strings.
The trick is to find that sweet spot where you press hard enough for all the strings to ring clearly, but not so hard that you’re in pain. Again, this might take a couple weeks of practice before it gets easier, but I promise it does get easier 🙂
Thanks for the Question Agnes I had the same thought. thanks Brett for clearing that up. I have the hardest time keeping the stings down or keeping them from muting or buzzing. I have a no name brand soprano concert uku (at least theres no name anywhere I can see on the uku inside or out) for christmas from my girlfriend.. Not sure how much it cost it dont look very expensive but it sounds great to me and only took about a month of tuning before it held and now I rarely have to tune it, though i check it often and it seems to stay in tune no matter how hard or long I play. What type of tuner do you use? I use a stark clamp on uku tuner. i believe its doing the job. I have a weekly jam session with some friends and they are all able to play a little bit of blues its nice to be able to finally add to that. after this, look for me to be buying your lesson. keep up the good work. Im going to practice till my fingers go numb 😀 oh And yes for any one who knows and is curious.. I am related to the famous country singer Roy Acuff. Sorry a lot of older folks ask me that question enjoy and everyone keep on practicing and keep up the good work.
Hey Michael, I just use the tuner on my iPhone. It seems to do the job pretty well! I really like the Snark tuners though. Whenever I go to the music store, I always use those, and they work great!
Fun Picking Pattern but how about a different turn around, the one you have sounds more like an ending.
Bill in CC. TX
Hey, Bill. Thanks for your comment. I think it’s a great turn around and/or ending. I might do some more blues fingerpicking lessons in the future, so maybe I’ll switch things up a little bit then.
So cool to be learning this! Love the turnaround thingy! Sounds real bluesy!
Hope to see more!
greetings from the Netherlands!
Sweet! I’m glad you like it.
Also, I’m from the United States but I come from a family that is Dutch. I’ve always wanted to get to the Netherlands sometime.
Wow, great video, a little tricky for a novice but great directions cheers
Great just brill! if i had a few more fingers and could grow my nails life would be perfect.From a new,59 year old uke fan in the uk
Welcome to Ukulele Tricks! I’m glad you’re a fan. 😀
Hi! You have a fan in Norway.. ME! 🙂 Really helpful for a novice, got my ukulele a couple of months ago, and luckily I stumbled across this site. Thanks for sharing all this magnificent tricks, and hope you have a happy new year 🙂
Thanks Brett. I just found your site and I’ll be coming back for more. I really like your manner of explaining things. You seem to have patience and you make me feel comfortable learning at my own pace.
I enjoy your simple but cool ending. It’s a standard lick that has played in my head before but I’ve never had it laid out for me to learn. Thanks again…
John (retired and trying to learn how to play away my free time…)
So glad to hear this, John! Thanks for your comments!
Hi Brett, i am trying to get better video reception on my computer, so changed to Google chrome now the video will not play at all there are no buttons to click on , other wise it looks a lot nicer , i am stuck , please help thanks Nina
Thank u for your advices.. I almost mastered the first finger pattern, and that’s because of your very explained lessons.
I will try with the new one!
Keep up the great work, Yoe! 🙂
Great website Brian! I just got my first ukulele two days ago, and happened upon your site. I am having a blast trying to play the 12 bar blues over the A7 chord. Any tips on how to make that D7 chord — it is a difficult one to make cleanly. Thanks again!!
Just wondering why go with 4 fingers on this pattern as opposed to 3?
Hi James, for this one, I go with the four finger technique, because the order in which you pluck the strings is: 3rd string, 1st string, 2nd string, 4th string, repeat the pattern.
In the alternating thumb technique, your thumb is assigned to pluck the top two strings of the ukulele–the 3rd and 4th strings. If you did this, at the end of the pattern, when you pluck the 4th string with your thumb, you would then have to follow it up by plucking the 3rd string with your thumb again.
To minimize using the same finger two times in a row, I went with the four finger technique.
Hey Brett, great videos, I love them! I prefer another way of picking using just my index and thumb, i have fast fingers and it works for me, just sharing a new way of doing things! Also if you don’t mind the price, I saw a Ibanez electric acoustic concert for $200 somewhere (typically $300) I can link you the site if you want, just throw me an email. (I think you can see my email since I had to enter it here)
i struggle with fingerpicking, ive learned one pattern now and i can’t learn anything new i always seem to fall back into the old pattern i knew…. any tips?
cheers for the lessons really cool 🙂
Hi. Brett I use low G for uke. Those that mean I can’t play blues?
Katie, these fingerpicking patterns will work just fine with low G tuning. It’ll sound great for the blues.
Thanks so much for this video. Im a beginner and found it really helpful!
Hi Brett..You mentioned in an earlier reply that you are saving up for a Concert uke to go along with your tenor so you could have both low and high g tunings. Am I assuming correctly that the low g tuning will be on your tenor ??
Just come to say THANK YOU for this great tutorial. I’m beginning with the ukelele and had lot of fun learning this blues pattern.
Brett, I have decided that I like finger picking. I really want to learn to finger pick Spanish Baroque, classical and jazz. Mostly because I like the music but also because I can’t carry a tune. I bought a book, “20 Spanish Baroque Pieces” by Gaspar Sanz arranged for Uke. At this point it is too advanced. It doesn’t tell you which pattern to use. Do you have any suggestions in re: videos, books, etc. to supplement this book? Or any other suggestions for learning? It would be very nice if you had some video lessons for this music.
Hi Judd, currently, I’m working on developing a video lesson fingerpicking course. It’s coming together nicely and I think you’ll really like it. I can’t offer too many more details at this time, but I’ll keep you posted.
I’m really making progress & getting motivated from your lessons. I just recently purchased a uke. I had one when I was young & loved it. I’m carrying mine around now all the time & having a great time with it. I plan to go really far with this-as far as my interest & talent will take me. Ukes are the kewlest things & your lessons are perfect for helping me get back into playing @ my own pace.
Keep up the great work with your videos. They’re awesome.
Hi Daisy, glad you’re enjoying the lessons!
Awesome 12 bar turn around at the end. It’s an easy way to impress your friends. I was just wondering if you had any advice about where to go from here.
I’ve had my uke for a year now and I’ve grown bored of just strumming chords. Fingerpicking is promising but it’s hard to browse the Internet and not get the usual songs EVERYONE wants to learn the pattern for.
Glad you enjoyed the lesson, Brock. I invite you to join me and check out the new Fingerpicking Tricks online video lesson course. In the course, you learn how to fingerpick and play songs in a variety of styles: http://www.ukuleletricks.com/fingerpicking-tricks/