Use a Weighted Arm to play Ukulele Effortlessly

I got another good tip from my ukulele teacher, Kevin. He said he was playing for 30 years before he learned this so he suggested I share it in my blog. Gotta love the free-sharing uke community! In my last post, I talked about my hand problems, and how Kevin suggested “the claw” hand position may help. Kevin also suggests using a “weighted arm” to reduce the effort needed from my left hand.

The weighted arm

The weighted arm basically means to use your arm’s own weight to put pressure on the strings, instead of trying to use the muscles of your hands and fingers to press down.

Try these two exercises to get a feel for what Kevin means by a weighted arm.

  1. Dead weight arm: Without your instrument, hold your arm in your usual playing position. Relax all the muscles in your arm so your arm and hand become dead weight. Your unsupported arm will crash down onto your leg.
  2. Hanging arm: Hold the uke up with your right hand, perpendicular to the floor. Place the fingertips of your left hand on the fretboard. Relax your arm completely so it is just the neck of the uke holding up your arm through the contact with your fingers, as if you were hanging from a doorframe by your fingertips. Feel how the weight of your arm is pressing down on the strings. You don’t have to push your fingers down. Your arm weight is pushing the strings down. That is the feeling of weighted arm.
Hanging arm: Let your arm hang down from the fingertips

Now, put your uke back into your regular playing position. You’ll be best able to feel this if you hold the neck up in a classical position (neck is at about a 45 degree angle.) Remember how it felt when your arm was hanging dead weight from the neck? Relax your arm so that you can get that same feeling. If someone were to remove the uke from your hand, your arm should just drop straight down onto your leg. Try taking all your fingers from the fretboard and letting your hand drop down. Put your fingers back on the fretboard. Feel how your arm is doing all the work? You just have to place your fingers, you don’t have to push them down. This is how you want your playing to be.


Play single notes up and down the fretboard, focusing on keeping the arm heavy and the fingers effortless. Practice the Weighted Arm along with the Claw.


I’m working on using this technique consistently so that it becomes my natural playing position. How did this work for you?

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