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View Full Version : That's Thumb Strum You've Got There, Kiddo!



VegasGeorge
10-16-2014, 05:57 PM
Old habits die hard. In years past when I took up Ukulele without any instruction, I developed the habit of strumming down with my thumb, and up with my index finger. It actually works quite well in its own way. But it isn't the right way to strum. For one thing, it makes chunking very difficult. And it just doesn't work for fast intricate strums. I'm having a heck of a time relearning my right hand. I keep slipping back to the thumb all the time. And, my index finger just feels awkward and useless in the down strum motion. If anyone else has gone through this and can offer any advice or encouragement, I'd like to hear it!

actadh
10-16-2014, 07:31 PM
I do the same thing. Like you, it works very well for me in most situations. But I wanted to relearn, so I have been going through Aaron's strumming tutorials from the HMS site.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/video-lessons

mds725
10-16-2014, 09:31 PM
I don't think there's one right way to strum. I was just learning to strum with my index finger when I broke my middle finger. Because I strummed with my index finger by curling my other fingers into my hand, having a splint on my middle finger made it impossible to strum with my index finger, so I learned to strum with my thumb (for both downstrokes and upstrokes). I actually became proficient with my thumb and can now do all sorts of interesting things with it, including pressing the side of my thumb against the strings to create strum pauses. It was actually a challenge to relearn how to strum with my index finger, but I eventually did it. As it is with all muscle memory stuff, the key is repetition. Just keep doing what it is you want to learn and one day your brain will do it without you having to ask. In the meantime, my strum pallette is a lot bigger and more diverse because I learned to strum with my thumb. Some of things warrant thumb strums, others warrant finger strums, and sometimes I combine my thumb and index finger.

Ukejenny
10-17-2014, 06:46 PM
You might want to try completely committing to the new strum and not going back to the old way. If you start to get tired and the old way seems inevitable, take a break. Time, and slow tedious repetition will win the day. Keep the faith.

Once you learn it and ingrain it into your style of playing, you will be able to pull out your thumb style again and have it available when you want to use it.

IamNoMan
10-17-2014, 07:29 PM
I have been having a devil of a time accustoming myself to strumming. As an old time banjo player I naturally want to use my thumb on that reentrant 4th string. In order to correct this problem I play higher on the neck. My thumb will strike the side of the neck. I have been using this crutch in learning some split strokes with index D ring finger U combinations. My hope is that as the index finger learns its job I can rest my thumb on the first joint of my index finger, until I break the old thumbing instinct.

It seems to be working but don't expect instant gratification.

jimdville
10-18-2014, 08:49 AM
Once you have the basic index finger strum in your muscle memory the strumming world is your oyster. I've just produced a ukulele lesson series for Kala Brand Music entitled 26 Basic Ukulele Lessons. They are free and posted on my website. #5 deals with the basic strum.

warndt
10-18-2014, 02:04 PM
Once you have the basic index finger strum in your muscle memory the strumming world is your oyster. I've just produced a ukulele lesson series for Kala Brand Music entitled 26 Basic Ukulele Lessons. They are free and posted on my website. #5 deals with the basic strum.

Jim's lessons #5 and #22 will help tremendously. He is an excellent instructor...very easily understood!

Thanks Jim for putting these lessons up online.

PhilUSAFRet
10-18-2014, 03:32 PM
Before I got serious, I was a thumb strummer. Just practice different strums. They will come. When I was expanding my strumming patterns, I would mute the strings with my left hand and practice while watching TV, especially during commercials. Recently used this practice technique when learning Formby strumming. Play as slowly as needed while you "perfect" the strum. The speed comes with repetition. I still use the technique you are describing in an exaggerated way when playing blues, especially with my reso uke.

VegasGeorge
10-20-2014, 05:23 PM
I just discovered this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_CmQEnSHpQ

It seems to be working for me. I'm using the index finger, and the thumb has something to do too. This is a lot easier for me than just using the index only. I think its going to lead to good things!

jimdville
10-20-2014, 06:21 PM
Jim's lessons #5 and #22 will help tremendously. He is an excellent instructor...very easily understood!

Thanks Jim for putting these lessons up online.

Thank you warndt for your kind words!