View Full Version : In a DDUUDUD rut

11-26-2015, 01:34 AM
I really practiced this one when first starting out. Now even when I try another, I end up switching to that one unconsciously as the song goes on. I watched the "Feel the Strum" DVD and while this helped me to figure out strumming on my own, it hasn't stopped the mid-song takeover. Anyone have this happen or see it with others? Any ideas?

Happy Thanksgiving!

11-26-2015, 01:43 AM
In general, you tend to repeat what you have practiced the most. I used to practice new strums on muted strings while watching tv until I "mastered" the strum. It is especially hard at a uke gatherings where everyone else is doing the down-up-down shuffle, but force yourself. Stop if need be and start again with the strumming pattern you are trying to learn. If you continue to have problems, perhaps an inexpensive drum machine might help. A sophisticated version of a metronome, you can tap out the desired strumming pattern and follow it much as you would the metronome. Also, when playing along with a video or cd, focus on the drummer or bass player to help.....great sources of strumming patterns. Strumming is a skill much like any other aspect of playing. You'll get it, just keep practicing.

Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

11-26-2015, 04:41 AM
Thank you, Phil! You are, as always, full of helpful ideas. I will focus on one at a time and really try to master it. Love the drum machine idea, too.

11-26-2015, 05:45 AM
Trsarah, I am right there with you. Five years and I'm stuck on dduud. I'm going to follow this thread carefully. I'm guessing though that practice is gonna be the only answer. I've watched the vids and tried feeling it and have tried just practicing strum robotically...still revert to dduud waaaay too frequently. I've been trying to add songs to my frequently played list that need a different strum pattern and really working on that song til it feels natural. Oh, and adding a few fingerstyle pieces, like Europa to get into a different groove. It's a slow go. Good luck.

11-29-2015, 08:20 PM
Have you looked into chunking and palm muting? They can add some variety. Try a different time signature as well!

12-01-2015, 09:32 AM
I'm still pretty much a beginner but one thing that I like is when song tutorials have different strum patterns. Here are a few that I thought were fun to learn:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RA6_Wcnedw Like a Rolling Stone (guitar tutorial but pretty basic chords, so easily transferable, a few different strums in here)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s--izcaG8wg Iron Man (I started this one for the first section but ended up enjoying the 2nd and 3rd sections more. He's on a Low G but I play it on both and it's fine)
http://ukuleleunderground.com/2014/08/uke-lesson-81-say-it-aint-so-weezer/ (This is the hardest song that I know and I still haven't put any real time into the solo bit yet. Really fun to play though when I can get through the first bits cleanly)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ajONct4UUk Cage the Elephant -- Cigarette Daydreams (this strum is pretty simple but I still think it's fun to play)

12-04-2015, 05:28 AM
Have you looked into chunking and palm muting? They can add some variety. Try a different time signature as well!

This is what I would recommend. Try playing songs that just simply wont work with that strum pattern... Try practicing a reggae type pattern with emphasis on the up strum, start with a chunk on the 1 then an upstrum on the "and" ex. XUXUXUXU (x=chunk) Have you learned how to swing yet? You can even take your DDUUDU pattern and make it sound very different with a heavy swing to it... Just ideas, I like what Farmer Jones said also try 3/4 or 6/8 time signature songs there are plenty of them if you search... Message me if you would like to discuss further, I am here to help. Enjoy the uku!

Phluffy the Destroyer
12-04-2015, 10:53 PM
I'm not seeing the problem, except that you're bored.

You know... music theory is an interesting thing... There are probably 5 or 10 chord rotation formulas that have been used in Western music for hundreds of years. Some of the most popular music in the last 5 decades can be played on a ukulele using the same 3-5 chords. (Somewhere either here or at Ukulele Hunt there is even a list of around a hundred songs or better using the C, G, F rotation. If you want to talk about a rut, THAT'S a rut!) Somehow, even though there are thousands of pieces of music that share these same principles, good songwriters have managed to make their music fresh and new by making small changes in the way they present their music.

Someone linked to a video of a song presented by Aldrine that uses 3 distinctly different strum patterns. I've been doing this for a while, and I was happy to see someone post a video from an actual expert using the method. It will make this post sound a little less crazy... I started using this method about a 6 months into playing the ukulele when I realized 4 simple things.

First: A single ukulele cannot replace a band, and unless you only play folk songs that quickly becomes a problem. Bands tend to use multiple elements to express music through the different instruments. Even though guitars are the bread and butter of most popular bands, one section of a song might feature drums and another might feature a bass or some off the wall instrument. So, you might find that expressing each instruments part when it comes up is not only more challenging (and ultimately more enjoyable to play), but it can key into the individual elements that different people may identify with the song. There are many parts to a song. There are introductions, bridges, refrains, syncopated notes and chords, endings, tacets, solos, key changes, and probably a few other really cool ways to make your presentation unique. If you're trying to play a ukulele version of a song by a band, it becomes even more important to treat different aspects of a composition separately.

Second: Virtually all ukulele music is either wrong or just plain garbage. Because of copyright laws and unreleased music most of it is either altered to avoid lawsuits or stuff someone just kind of figured out what they though sounded right. Since all the music you're likely to use is second, third, or fourth hand; there is no Earthy reason to constrain yourself to any particular interpretation of the music you want to play. This leads directly into my next epiphany...

Third: When one professional covers another professional's music it is almost always altered in some way to make the new interpretation reflect the new artists skills and talents. Most ukulele players aren't professionals, but most of us aren't stupid either. Even if the basics of a song aren't your original work; the idea of expressing music as an individual is incompatible with the notion of wanting to sound like someone else.

Fourth: There are songs that really do have one pattern that works for the whole song. That doesn't mean the same pattern will be particularly useful for anything else though. I played a Saigon Kick song early on that had sort of a D DU D DUD DUDU pattern all the way through it. I've never found another song that pattern has even sounded remotely good to... Spending a lot of time perfecting "one-off" patterns used for entire songs that can't be applied to other songs is not as productive as perfecting the ability to play patterns for a few bars and learning how to switch between patterns as seamlessly as possible.

Now, I love the DDUUDU pattern. I use it a LOT as a base for songs, and often use it for either choruses or verses because it sounds incredibly dynamic when it's backed by simpler patterns. For instance, I play a song that starts out with UDDD for the intro and leads naturally into DDDD for the verses. The chorus sounds more DDUUDU, but there is a weird kind of refrain between the end of the choruses and the beginning of the verses that sounds kind of DD_DD_DDUUDU with a couple of down strums thrown in for effect. There's also a bridge with a key change on the DDUUDU about 2/3's of the way through. None of those elements lasts more than a few bars, but by arranging the music this way I was able to make the song sound considerably more entertaining by incorporating multiple, extremely simple strum patterns than would be possible just playing DDUUDU for 3 minutes.


Someone with actual talent could jazz that composition up even more...

To be fair, I don't always do this because I actually enjoy a lot of very simple music, so I tend to play a lot of uncomplicated stuff as well. However, any of the 3 people who follows my Youtube page will recognize the method to my madness when I play this way. What I've learned is that I don't need to get bogged down in perfecting a different pattern for each song. Instead, I've managed to learn a pretty expansive set of patterns that I can combine for different short term uses. The most useful patterns tend to just naturally get used more often, and so I have a much better mastery of frequently used patterns than the ones that are less useful. Those, like the DDUUDU pattern, tend to get used the most in songs that I want to present in a more simple style simply because they are the most useful patterns I know.

So, there you go... food for thought. Your mileage may vary.

12-05-2015, 12:16 AM
From historical experience, 40+years of playing music, I find a lot of ukers play what they were taught as beginners and don't really think outside the, "this is the strum pattern for this song" box. Uke players especially, seem to be addicted to sheets of paper; following the chords and words without much thought.
It can be difficult, if you have no previous knowledge of how a tune goes, to work up a version and so a simple strum pattern can be used which, may get you through the song, but does little to add feeling, passion or tension to a tune.
We are fortunate today that so much information is available at the click of a key and there are not many tunes which are not definable.
So I come to the point. I listen to the rhythm and beat as much as the lyrics. It is handy to have some chords written down initially until I have internalised the tune. I will strum down, up, roll, pick etc according to the rhythm and feel, until I can play the tune, usually at a slower pace, recognisable without the words.
It is harder than I thought to put this into words so I will attempt to make a video shortly.

Down Up Dick
12-05-2015, 08:53 AM
I suppose that I gotta go back and learn all the strums someday, but I usually just strum the way it sounds good to me. Sometimes the same strum the whole tune, sometimes not.

I guess that's why playing for one's own amazement is a great way to go. I seldom get negative criticism. :old:

12-05-2015, 10:26 AM
I suppose that I gotta go back and learn all the strums someday, but I usually just strum the way it sounds good to me. Sometimes the same strum the whole tune, sometimes not.

I guess that's why playing for one's own amazement is a great way to go. I seldom get negative criticism. :old:I'm with you Dick. Strumming to me is more something I feel. I know some mechanical strums that I resort to if I can't get a feel for the music, but most of the time I go with the flow.

tas hicks
08-03-2016, 09:06 PM
I suppose that I gotta go back and learn all the strums someday, but I usually just strum the way it sounds good to me. Sometimes the same strum the whole tune, sometimes not.

I guess that's why playing for one's own amazement is a great way to go. I seldom get negative criticism. :old:

Hi I just stumbled on this post thanks for the pleasure of reading it ,in particular that last line about one's own amazement :)sounds like me ,cheers all.

08-03-2016, 10:25 PM
Thanks for finding this Tas. Its a great thread. I didn't know of this problem as I'm still so new to the uke but I can see if i'm not careful, I could end up with it. What a pity that poster was banned. He sounds like he would have been good value.

08-13-2016, 02:19 AM
This isn't a solution to being in a rut. More of a fun diversion.

Carter style picking tutorial from Aaron Keim



08-13-2016, 06:25 AM
I can recommend the DVD by Ralph Shaw "Essential Strums for the Ukulele"

which reminds me, I must watch it again some time soon, as there's plenty on there I've yet to learn.

08-13-2016, 08:23 AM


That's good stuff, thanks.

Al Davison
09-06-2016, 04:15 PM
I'm a "go with the feeling" strummer, too. I spent 25 years as a bad rhythm guitar player in various bands so, the strumming sorta comes natural to me and I never even look at the recommended strum patterns.
One of my teachers when I was younger was very strict about learning the "classical" ways of playing but he also told me repeatedly "don't forget to just have fun and noodle around with stuff!" Best lesson ever!