One of the most significant parts of playing songs is strumming. Using this lesson, learn how to strum a ukulele.
Learn How to Strum a Ukulele
Besides being capable of tuning your ukulele, learning the parts of the ukulele, reading chord diagrams, and being capable of changing quickly between chord shapes, knowing to strum is the vital side of mastering that original ukulele sound. In the following guide, master the ways to strum a ukulele.
The basics: how to strum a ukulele
You’ll find several ways to begin learning strum. Many recommend doing it the following way:
Begin with the initial hand position, a loose fist. With fingernails side down, you strum using your index finger on the right hand. You strike the strings with your nails when you strum down. You flick with your fleshy fingertips when you are strumming up. Instead of your whole hand, using your wrist is significant. If you use the entire hand, it becomes tired very quickly.
I accomplished it another way when I began to play the ukulele. I placed my index finger and thumb tip together like I had held a plectrum. Then, I flicked down with my index fingernail and up with my thumb tip. Perhaps, it happened due to my guitar background, but I discovered a simple way to strum at the beginning.
You also wish to ensure you are doing the strum in the right place. If you want to strum too near to the bridge, or too high on the neck, it will produce a muffled sound. I’ve discovered that the best spot for playing the ukulele remains different on each instrument, but it stays around the point where the neck coincides with the body.
You practice strumming in any way by going up and down effortlessly. If you can master it once, move on to the improved section!
Let’s welcome you to the advanced part! So you have already learned basic up-and-down strumming. The fundamental side of each song remains its unique strumming pattern and rhythm, utilized to produce a different sound each time.
Maintaining the same up-and-down motion, you may produce different strumming patterns without striking the strings on specific strums. See an instance below:
“For instance, you might accomplish this: down, up, up, down. In a constant up and down the pace, miss the strings on the up strum, strum down and up, miss the down strum, strum up and down, miss the up strum.”
The Notation of Strumming
- d: down strum
- u: up strum
- –: Stopped or missed strums, meaning taking your hand up or down but not striking the strings. It’s most effective in informing you of the timing of the strum.
- x: identifies a chunk. You do the strum down and follow through so that the bottom of your hand falls on the string, making a ‘chunk’ sound.
- (d) or (u): a soundless down/up strum. You are doing strum like normal but resting your fretting fingers on the strings to resist them from echoing. It produces a sound like a chunk, but you may accomplish it with strums on both sides.
- D or U: Capitalized letters mean the strum is emphasized (meaning give it well).
Quick tips: How to strum a ukulele
How to place your hand on the strum
- Keep the strumming hand into a loose fist.
- Grasp it in front of the chest center.
- Indicate towards your left breast (or right breast in case of being a left-handed player).
- I prefer to keep my thumb still. It also offers additional strumming support.
Where Do You Strum on the Ukulele?
If you intend to strum your instrument nearer to the bridge, it produces too short a sound (that can be an effect you sometimes wish), and there’s too little give to the strings.
The ‘ideal place’ for the soprano and concert ukes remains around the spot where the neck strikes the body. The ideal place on tenors remains a bit nearer to the bridge compared to that.
What’s a proper strumming technique?
Your arms become tired quickly due to moving them up and down fastly. So apply your wrist instead of your whole hand while strumming.
Every time you pull down, you ought to strike the strings with the nails. You ought to strike them with your fleshy fingertip whenever you flick.
What’s a shuffle/swing strum?
Many forums utilize swing time for popular uke songs like jazz, blues, and Hawaiian Songs. The down strum becomes permanent two times more than the up strum (less or more) in swing time. It creates a simple up-and-down strum sound more captivating.
Simple Strumming Patterns
Maintaining the same up-and-down motion, you can produce several more fascinating strumming patterns without striking the strings on specific frets. For instance: down, up, up, down. You strum down, miss strings on up strum, strum down and up, miss down strum, strum up and down, miss up strum.
With a few ‘chunks,’ you can make strumming a bit fun. Using a chunk, strum down and strike the strings with the bottom of your hand so you can enjoy a percussive sound from the strum. Sometimes, we mention it as mute strumming.
Another approach to producing a percussive click from strumming is dead strums. But this time, you are generating using your fretting hand. By placing your fingers all over the strings, you resist the Strings from echoing to create them.
How do you play the island strum?
It’s a multipurpose and popular uke strum, but sometimes it might become somewhat challenging for newbies. Here’s the pattern: d – d u – u d u. The following video will make you clear about this pattern.
Strumming patterns: How to strum a ukulele
If one asks what a strumming pattern is, it has no straight answer. It does not seem the same as a chord progression where you can sort out a right chord and a wrong chord. Different strumming patterns can be applied, and they still function. Indeed, being capable of picking your strumming pattern is a significant skill.
Some of the most common strumming patterns are below for you. Attempt them out and notice whether they suit the songs. We’ve enlisted thirteen of the most conventional strumming patterns. But sure, you’ll find many more. The best thing is you may generate your own unique ones.
4/4 Strumming Patterns
4/4 is the most common time signature so far. If you may enumerate a song in 4/4 and it becomes suited to it, attempt these strumming patterns.
Strumming pattern one: d – d u – u d –
It goes with many ukulele songs. Playing it is very straightforward. But it loses the 3rd down strum. Also, it contains somewhat of a syncopated feel, making it even more captivating. Apply it: Outkast – Hey Ya!, Zee Avi – Kantoi, Noah and the Whale – Jealous Kind of Love, etc.
Strumming pattern Two: d – d u – u d u
It resembles the strumming pattern 1 but includes another up strum at the end. Utilize it: Paolo Nutini’s – High Hopes, Ingrid Michaelson’s – You and I and Misty Miller’s – Remember, etc.
Strumming pattern three: d – d – d u d u
Utilize it: The Pogues – Fiesta, Keston Cobblers Club – You Go, and OK Go – This Too Shall Pass, etc.
Strumming pattern four: d – d u d u d u
It’s a really straightforward strum, which is helpful for funky stuff. Apply it: Ryan Gosling’s – You Always Hurt the Ones You Love, UOGB’s – Teenage Kicks and The Beach Boys’ – Wouldn’t It Be Nice, etc.
If you search for a strumming pattern for songs in which the chords alter regularly, attempt to use these.
Strumming pattern five: d – d u
Utilize it: I Will Follow You into the Dark – Sesame Street and Death Cab for Cutie, etc.
Strumming pattern six: d u x u
Utilize it: Betrayed by Bones by Hellogoodbye, etc.
Two bar pattern
If the chords alter more slowly, you may make them into a double in a 4/4 pattern. Or by applying a two-bar Pattern, it’s possible to make them more attractive.
Strumming pattern Seven: d – d u – u d u OR – u d u – u d –
Utilize it: Rocky and Balls – Love Cake, Antarctica Takes It – C&F, Peggy Sue – February Snow, and Bella Hemming – Play Guitar, etc.
Strumming pattern eight: d u d U d u d U
Apply it: Sophie Madeleine’s – Take Your Love With Me and Florence, the Machine’s – Kiss With a Fist, etc.
Strumming pattern nine: d u x u d u x u
Utilize it: Noah and the Whale – Five Years Time and Never Shout Never – Biggest Fan, etc.
You are constantly about to pronounce the off-beats with a reggae strum. Here are the other strums playing a potent beat on the ‘one’ of the count. You’re pronouncing other Beats here.
Strumming pattern ten: – d – d – d – d
You are pronouncing the beat between counts here. Utilize it: April Smith – Colors, etc.
Strumming pattern eleven: – – d u – – d –
The pronunciation remains on ‘two’ and ‘four’ beats here. Apply it: WIUO – The Israelites, etc.
If the count is “one, two, three, four” but doesn’t suit the song you play, attempt counting to threes instead of it. Attempt these patterns if it functions.
Strumming pattern twelve: d – d u d –
Utilize it: Weezer – Christmas Song, John Denver/Ballard C Boyd – Christmas for Cowboys and Amanda Palmer – In My Mind, etc.
Strumming pattern thirteen: d – d u d u
Apply it: WIUO – Blue Smoke, etc.
Conclusion: How to strum a ukulele
Hopefully, this article has aided you in mastering more about how to strum a ukulele. If you try to learn step-by-step, you’ll become skillful in a short time.