Fingerpicking Patterns

Following on with this week’s fingerpicking accompaniment theme with some popular ukulele picking patterns.

I’ve put up a few mini-posts earlier today covering:

One Finger Per String Picking Method
Thumb and Two Fingers Picking Method
Fingerpicking Notation

This post follows on from those and the Fingerpicking Ukulele – First steps post with patterns using those picking methods.

Thumb and Two Fingers Picking

PIMP Pattern

A simple pattern using each finger in order with the thumb starting on the g-string then moving to the C-string. Making a p i m p i m p i m… picking pattern.

Since you’re using three fingers, this pattern is well suited to playing in triplets.


Complicated PIMP Pattern

A similar pattern to last time. But here you’re not using triplets so you have to fill out the bar with just the first two notes of the pattern. So you play p i m but just p i the final time.


Reverse Pattern

Rather than going up the strings as you did in the last two patterns here you pluck with the thumb then go down the strings. So it’s p m i repeated.


Alternate Picking

Alternating is my favourite way to use the thumb and two fingers method. Here the thumb alternates between the g- and C-strings.

In this particular pattern you pluck g-string with your thumb, E with middle, C-string with thumb, A with middle. So it’s p i p m.


One Finger Per String Picking

PIMA Pattern

Picking with your thumb and going up the strings to make p a m i.


PAMI Pattern

Here you pluck the g-string with your thumb. Then go through the strings in the opposite direction. Making a p a m i pattern.


Choosing a Pattern

If you’re unsure of which method of picking to use for a pattern I have a general rule for choosing.

If the g- and C-strings are played next to each other at any point I go with the one finger per string method. It’s much easier than having to switch strings with your thumb quickly.

But if the g- and C-strings aren’t played consecutively then I’ll go with the thumb and two fingers method. I find it much easier to play in general.

Here’s a quick illustration. This is the first thumb and two fingers method played using the one finger person string method. If you’re anything like me you’ll find it trickier to play this way.



Some more challenging fingerpicking patterns

View Comments


  1. Jon September 25th, 2013 9:28 pm


    Two days ago, I decided I needed to learn how to do alternate thumb picking (for slack-key style playing). I searched online for tutorials/exercises, and found this:

    I couldn’t see the video on my phone, which led me to crack open your Ukulele For Dummies book. Lo and behold, a progression of exercises for building up that alternating thumb!

    I’d bought the book mostly to support this site and assumed it was mostly “beginner stuff” that I didn’t need anymore. How wrong I was! Now that I really look at it, that one book could keep anyone busy for quite a long time.

    And now, a day later, a post on the exact topic I was searching online for!

    Surely a sign from the universe.

  2. Woodshed September 25th, 2013 10:54 pm

    Jon: I’m glad I could put my psychic abilities to good use! Thanks!

  3. Rob September 26th, 2013 3:39 pm

    Jon, check out Exercises for dummes. I did the same with that one too!

    Woodshed, the banjo rolls apply well on a uke and these are types I play. I was happy to see them here. My favorite is 32141231 or pinch 14 then 324123. Just patterns I like to play.

  4. Woodshed September 27th, 2013 9:23 am

    Rob: Thanks! I really should learn more about banjo playing. I don’t have the slightest clue.

  5. Muriele September 27th, 2013 10:50 am

    Marry me! your site is awesome and i’ve learned more than the 3/4 of my ukulele playing on it. Thank you for everything!

  6. Woodshed September 29th, 2013 2:09 pm

    Muriele: You’re very welcome!

  7. Rhonda October 11th, 2013 6:56 am

    A remedy for the fall gloomies. Thank you!

  8. Woodshed October 11th, 2013 8:39 am

    Rhonda: Hahaha! Thank you.

  9. Kelly October 11th, 2013 9:57 pm

    Thank you thank you! I was just deciding I needed to stop being intimidated by this. This will help so much!

  10. Woodshed October 12th, 2013 11:25 am

    Kelly: You’re welcome!

  11. Gretchen October 14th, 2013 4:52 am

    Thank you for spreading so much uke love!
    I’m just learning fingerpicking — it’s a whole new world!
    Do you have some ideas for fingerpicking in 3/4 time?

  12. Woodshed October 15th, 2013 10:50 am

    Gretchen: Thanks! Sorry, I don’t think I’ve put any on the blog. Something to consider for future posts.

  13. maurice February 10th, 2014 11:03 pm

    Thank goodness I found your site, I am sure that I can now go on to fingerprint a little less badly than before!!
    Thanks so much

  14. Woodshed February 11th, 2014 9:58 am

    Maurice: Thanks! Glad it helped.

  15. Serena March 17th, 2018 3:38 pm

    Thanks!! This helped with Music homework on the Ukulele!

  16. Woodshed March 19th, 2018 11:47 am

    Serena: Excellent! Glad it helped.

Sorry, Comments Are Broken Right Now