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View Full Version : The "Cowboy Strum?"



JackLuis
09-02-2016, 06:45 AM
I'm trying to play Johnny Cash songs and some Willy Nelson, but I can't get the right type of strum. This is my fault because I generally like to strum with the lyrics which may be wrong, but I tend to be weird, people tell me.

Without the base stings of the guitar on my uke, it's hard to duplicate the d-d-u-dd or what ever it is. I've listened to a lot of Cash & Nelson but can't 'get' it. Can anyone give me a clue?

jollyboy
09-02-2016, 06:56 AM
I recommend you check out this recent thread (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?122398-Alternate-Bass) and watch the Aaron Keim video.

What you need IMHO is the 'bum-ditty' rhythm for that authentic country vibe. You can achieve it with clawhammer but clawhammer is hard ;) The Carter-style strum that Aaron demonstrates (particularly the second version with a single up-pick) works great, again IMHO.

jollyboy
09-02-2016, 07:13 AM
And just for fun here's Maybelle in action...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewnfWoSQz3o

To my mind she is basically playing bass, rhythm and lead all at the same time... and that's pretty awesome :)

(I'm sure someone will be along in a minute to tell me that's technically incorrect :p)

Croaky Keith
09-02-2016, 07:59 AM
To me, it looks like alternate base string & strum in that vid. :)

jollyboy
09-02-2016, 08:12 AM
To me, it looks like alternate base string & strum in that vid. :)

That's basically the gist of how it works - she is also picking out parts of the melody too.

Edit: Here's the wikipedia entry for those interested (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carter_Family_picking).

JackLuis
09-02-2016, 11:02 AM
Oh Jollyboy you're leading me into the temptation to actually learn how to play! Thanks for the video. I actually bought a thumb pick and a couple of finger pics a while back but couldn't up strum with the thumb pick.

Still it doesn't cover what I was really asking for. Johnny is using a simpler pattern in Frankie and Johnny and The Man in Black is ....

Oops Company at the door. Later, Jack

PhilUSAFRet
09-02-2016, 12:01 PM
Are you aware you can go down to the YouTube gear icon and slow that video down?

jollyboy
09-02-2016, 12:52 PM
Oh Jollyboy you're leading me into the temptation to actually learn how to play! Thanks for the video. I actually bought a thumb pick and a couple of finger pics a while back but couldn't up strum with the thumb pick.

Still it doesn't cover what I was really asking for. Johnny is using a simpler pattern in Frankie and Johnny and The Man in Black is ....

Oops Company at the door. Later, Jack

Lol :D The basic pattern isn't actually too bad once you've managed to train your thumb to do its own thing. I have myself achieved a level of barely competent :) And it's all doable without picks, although the picks do look cool. On the other hand - the way that Aaron and Maybelle weave in melody notes completely boggles my mind.

Cash does do something similar - referred to as the 'boom-chicka' - but he usually sticks to a single bass note on each chord (I believe), rather than alternating. So it's basically pick-downstrum-upstrum. This is how Man In Black is played, and also Folsom Prison Blues (for example). The Carter-style pattern will work with the latter for sure, dunno about MIB.

JackLuis
09-02-2016, 04:58 PM
I got lead down another rabbit hole into Modal Music and "It Anin't Necessary So" by the web links. Really interesting but I was looking for a "D-U UD kind of answer. But while I was diverted I found chart of strums in my music, which I have been trying to organized alphabetically and it was listed as a #10, Country Strum

It is shown as, D-DUD-D

I have been learning how to vary the volume of my fast strumming patterns to adapt to the stings and the responsiveness of My Fat Zebra Tenor. My strings tend to "overdrive" because of the low tension but the uke is so responsive, volume wise, that it gets all muddy if you beat it hard. She needs to be caressed a little. :)

The Boom chicka = D-udu-D?

river_driver
09-02-2016, 05:52 PM
And just for fun here's Maybelle in action...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewnfWoSQz3o

To my mind she is basically playing bass, rhythm and lead all at the same time... and that's pretty awesome :)

(I'm sure someone will be along in a minute to tell me that's technically incorrect :p)

Mother Maybelle was the Boss. Massively influential on early rock & country music. She humbly refered to her technique as "church licks".

OP, search for threads on "chucking" or "chunking". It's a percussive technique that can get you that boom-ditty sound.

Edit to add irrelevantly: that's some damn interesting technique on the Autoharp!

kypfer
09-02-2016, 09:34 PM
And just for fun here's Maybelle in action...

To my mind she is basically playing bass, rhythm and lead all at the same time... and that's pretty awesome :)

(I'm sure someone will be along in a minute to tell me that's technically incorrect :p)

The effect is exactly that, often called "thumb lead" in banjo circles. where the basic melody line is played on the lower strings and one or more strings played with a finger as a drone/rhythm accompaniment.

She also has the benefit of a full rhythm section behind her, of course ;)

This also demonstrates, what to my mind is the "correct" use of a capo. Figure out a chord sequence (in any key) which gives you the notes you need for the tune, then slide the capo up to give the pitch needed for the voice. Saves having to figure out all those (macho?) difficult picking patterns and get on with delivering a polished performance.

river_driver wrote:

... that's some damn interesting technique on the Autoharp!

First time I've seen an autoharp played like a lap dulcimer ... seems to work !

jollyboy
09-02-2016, 10:47 PM
The Boom chicka = D-udu-D?

The boom-chicka is a mixed picking and strumming technique. The basic form is:

1. Pick single bass string (Technically, on the guitar, this should be the bass note of the chord you're playing but you can fudge it on the uke).
2. Down strum.
3. Partial up strum hitting the bottom two or three strings (again this is how it works on the guitar I prefer just picking the 1st string on the uke - you just sort-of catch it with your finger on your way back up).

The only real difference between this and the Carter-style technique is that, with the latter, you alternate strings on the initial bass pick. You essentially get the same rhythm (which is really the key to making things sound 'country') - clearly 'boom-chicka' and 'bum-ditty' are really only at one degree of separation :)

Check out this guitar tutorial for Folsom Prison Blues (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etYciOKiPUQ).

FYI: It's a lot easier to play it in D (D G A7) than E on the uke :p

jollyboy
09-02-2016, 10:54 PM
Here's some more of June shredding that autoharp (with some tall guy in the background):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqft7YlHTKo

kypfer
09-03-2016, 01:16 AM
Here's some more of June shredding that autoharp (with some tall guy in the background):


... and playing right on through with a broken string - class - and nice to see the man on a mandolin for a change :music:

JackLuis
09-03-2016, 02:54 PM
I played FPB, Man in Black, and Frankie and Johnny today, with Gary my neighbor, who wanted to play electrified, and I faked it quite well. As long as Gary was doing it, I could but I can't carry Gary around to help me.:old:

CeeJay
09-03-2016, 04:51 PM
Boom Chikka on a re-entrant use the key of C and use the C string as your bass string....But it best on a Guilele then you can thump on the A and D strings on the appropriate frets of course.

https://youtu.be/MEDw4C6mFZY

I used a slide on this....but you may get the idea.. (I can't sing for sh*t)

JackLuis
09-03-2016, 06:15 PM
Boom Chikka on a re-entrant use the key of C and use the C string as your bass string....But it best on a Guilele then you can thump on the A and D strings on the appropriate frets of course.

https://youtu.be/MEDw4C6mFZY

I used a slide on this....but you may get the idea.. (I can't sing for sh*t)

Really Twangy. But I even sting my Bari re-entrant. I thought about a guitalele, but four strings is enough.