View Full Version : Quick chord, strumming & strap questions

02-16-2017, 12:35 PM
So Ive watched the "The First 20 Hours" video and I was practising those chords he uses (G D Em C) and in the video, D is played with 3 fingers. Theres no way I can get all 3 of my fingers to do that, so I've been going thumb over to barre. It works pretty well aside from slowing changes down, but I was wondering if this was "acceptable" or if I should try another way?

About strumming, this is a weird one.

Ive watched a lot of videos on how to get started playing and almost all say that they can show you the chords used, but not the strumming pattern due to legal problems.

Why is that?

All I know about guitar shaped instruments comes from, well, guitars and tab is readily available in both magazines and online tutorials, so what is different about the ukulele?

Lastly, Id like to get a strap of some sort, but I was wondering if there was a consensus on whats good or not? Ive seen the sound hole ones, and was worried that may warp or damage the wood somehow? Can anyone give any tips?

And speaking of tips, do yall have any? Im practicing everyday, and am really loving this things bright tone.

Thanks all

02-16-2017, 01:51 PM
For the D chord you might try putting your 2nd finger across all three strings, or across the G and C strings and then use your 3rd finger for the E string. In my opinion you should keep your thumb in the middle of the back for support and not learn the D chord with the thumb as a barre. That makes it very difficult to switch quickly to any other chord. Again that's my opinion and your mileage may vary and others may chime in with different advice.

Strumming patterns aren't protected by copyright, so I have no clue why videos wouldn't show you the strumming pattern. melodies and lyrics are protected by copyright, at least in the U.S. On the other hand, strumming can be very individual, so make up your own strumming patterns.

I think the reason that ukulele tab is less common is that ukuleles are less common. And many ukulele players simply strum the chords while they sing, either singly or in groups, thus no need for tab.

I think the strap issue would depend on which size uke you have -- I have a tenor and I have no need for a strap. Why do you want a strap? Is your uke slipping? There are a variety of possibilities, some of which would require you to drill pilot holes and screw strap buttons into your instrument, others such as the sound-hole one you ask about don't require physically changing the instrument. Then there is the "ukulele leash" which I've seen discussed, where you create a large loop on one end to go up around your right upper arm, then across your back over to the head stock of the uke, where it ties around under the strings. But with the uke leash, at least as I understand things you still need to use your right forearm to secure the body of the uke.

Keep up the daily practicing!

02-16-2017, 09:52 PM
Just a couple of personal opinions ... not disagreeing with anyone ;)

If you can't get three fingertips down for a D chord, try using a "half-barre" with the tip of just one of your fingers bent slightly backwards to clear the top string.

For me, the strap should totally support the instrument so my hands are free to turn pages, drink coffee or answer the phone or door without having to take it off or hang on to it.

The "sound-hole-hooks" don't provide this level of support and I have reservations about the potential of ripping a chunk out of the top of an otherwise perfectly serviceable instrument.

As for practice, use a wide variety of material. Rather than sticking doggedly to just one tutorial and continuously just not being able to manage the next step, but getting bored with the material you can manage, get to a similar level with several books/courses. You'll feel a greater sense of satisfaction from being able to play more tunes and that "next step" somehow feels like less of a leap when you come to it.

This is a system I've used (continue to use) on several instruments. With the ready availability of second-hand music books on eBay or similar, it's easy to build up a small library of music for very little money. The books can always be sold on when you're finished with them ... try doing that with an on-line course!

YMMV ... Enjoy! :music:

02-16-2017, 10:28 PM
[\quote]As for practice, use a wide variety of material. Rather than sticking doggedly to just one tutorial and continuously just not being able to manage the next step, but getting bored with the material you can manage, get to a similar level with several books/courses. You'll feel a greater sense of satisfaction from being able to play more tunes and that "next step" somehow feels like less of a leap when you come to it.[\endquote]

I think this is a great suggestion Kypfer. When people are teaching themselves without benefit of face-to-face lessons with a teacher who has an organized approach to teaching beginners, using different books is a wonderful idea. Often the way one person presents material can be a bit hard for some people to grasp, but that same material explained a bit differently by a different person might be easier to learn. And once those concepts are learned, any/all of the books can be practiced from.

Plus it's a good idea in my opinion to learn several different approaches -- simple chord strumming, finger-picking, melody-playing are all important facets of ukulele playing to learn and working a little on each of them at the same time can offer a relief from frustration and often working on one aspect can lead to breakthroughs in other aspects.

Thanks for sharing those ideas!

02-16-2017, 11:35 PM

Here's a recentish UU thread with some suggestions for alternate D chord fretting. (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?125489-D-chord-barre-fingering-help&highlight=chord)

Personally, I would think about making C Am F G7 the first four chords that you learn. And practice those until you can make reasonably smooth changes between them before moving on. YMMV :)

Here's a a page which has some useful strumming patterns (with sound samples). (http://ukulelehunt.com/2011/06/29/ukulele-strumming-patterns/)

I think something really simple - like just repeating Ddu - is a good place to start But that will probably get boring fairly quickly :) Dduudu - sometimes referred to as the 'Swiss army knife' or Calypso strum - is a good one to get under your belt. Ukulele Mike is probably my favourite youtube tutorialist (?) and he has a great video about the Calypso strum (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWYm4u1YcR4).

02-17-2017, 12:51 AM
My fingers are small enough to fret D with fingers 123 on my soprano, but I sometimes use 234, as well as those illustrated in the link above - it all depends on the context and whatever works in the chord progression.

Download Uncle Rod's Bootcamp (http://ukulelebootcamp.weebly.com/). This is a free e-book containing common and less common chord progressions in all the main keys, gradually increasing in difficulty. It may look a bit daunting at first but read the introduction and remember his advice to practise s-l-o-w-l-y!! Even if you just learn the top line of the first three pages you will be able to play an awful lot of songs. The link includes a songbook.

If you find a particular chord change difficult, keep repeating it several times really slowly, and over days or even weeks. Don't despair if you struggle at first - it takes time to build the muscle memory.

Straps - I can't manage without a strap as I need my fretting hand to be completely free. I wouldn't risk sound-hole hook type but the Mobius strap (http://www.mobiusstrap.com/how.html) and the Uke Leash (http://www.ukeleash.com/) are possibilities. If you want to experiment you could bodge your own with a length of tape or ribbon, using a slip knot for adjustment - the common Four-in-Hand Knot (http://www.wikihow.com/Tie-a-Tie) used for dress ties works well. If necessary tie a shoelace round the headstock first and attach the tape to that - it depends on the width and thickness of your tape.

Personally I like the Uke Leash as it supports the headstock, leaving my left hand free, while the body of the uke nestles comfortably in my arm without causing tension. I just need to remember not to let go with both hands when I'm finished, though it won't fall to the floor. I tried the mobius type but found the head stock swung around too much, probably because of my female anatomy!

You can also attach a strap with magnets (https://www.supermagnete.de/eng/Magnet-applications/Fasten-the-ukulele-strap): Here the user has glued a magnet inside the uke but you can also sew it into a small padded pouch, drop it inside and shake into place.

02-17-2017, 01:21 AM
I think that you are in trouble. I don't think that there is any accomplished ukulele player that can not play a D chord in the first position, or an E chord, might as well throw that one out here as well, and there are even tougher chords ahead of you.

I can not imagine that anyone could lay legal claim to a strumming pattern. I have never heard of that. I mean, it is up down up down up up down down, or any combination of up down that one wants to use. I would like to know who is saying that.

02-17-2017, 03:28 AM
When I bought my first ukulele I also was frustrated with the D chord. While in Kaua'i I stopped at a local uke shop and the owner told me to do the thumb method. He called it the Moloka'i D. It worked but wasn't very efficient for changing chords. So I purposely avoided songs with the dreaded D. I found the chords to White Sandy Beach that had the dreaded D but also an F#m (that's a G7 shape shifted down one string) that immediately preceded the D. Now the D became easy by sliding the index finger to the second fret. With repetiton, muscle memory has set in and the D chord is easy peasy. Hope this helps.


02-17-2017, 04:37 AM
Lastly, Id like to get a strap of some sort, but I was wondering if there was a consensus on whats good or not? Ive seen the sound hole ones, and was worried that may warp or damage the wood somehow? Can anyone give any tips?

Consensus?! Ha, not when it comes to this :) There are those who refuse to use straps because they aren't traditional; there are those who love them; there are those who think anything wider than a 1/2" strap is overkill; there are those who like 2" guitar straps on their sopranos; there are those who go all out for custom straps; and there are those who refuse to spend the money and use a shoelace or paracord. Some love the soundhole straps; some hate them.

Me? I can barely even play a uke that doesn't have a strap. I can strum just fine, but since I'm a fingerstyle player I would rather work less on holding the uke and more on actually playing it. My strap of choice is the 1.5" ukulele/mando strap from Feedback Straps (https://www.etsy.com/shop/FeedbackStraps?section_id=15847944), tied to the headstock and with a strap button installed on the bottom of the uke, a la guitar.

As for which fingers to use - there's not really a right or wrong. Use what works, and you'll find as you play more, you may even finger the same chord differently depending on where you're going next.

02-17-2017, 05:30 AM
I found a couple of ways to form a D, I use a middle finger three string barr, my neighbor uses three fingers with his middle finger on the C string behind his index and ring fingers. His finger doesn't bend backwards. I can't use my thumb behind the neck because my thumb joint does bend backwards and after a minute it hurts pretty bad. I substitute some chords because I can't hold them. I sometimes transpose to a different key so I can play a song.

For a quick strap I use para chord and put a loop over the A string tuner knob, easy to remove and no modification of the uke needed.

Jim Yates
02-17-2017, 06:25 AM
Like janeray1940, I find it difficult to play anything more than first position chords, when I'm standing, without a strap. For playing up the neck or taking a solo, I can't be using my hands to hold the uke.
I often use leather boot laces braided for a strap, but on my reso-uke, which came with a heel pin, I use a flea market web belt with the buckle cut off. The strap buttons are a couple of bucks at most and, if you drill a pilot hole, are easy to install. If you don't feel comfortable doing this yourself, most music stores will do it while you wait.

97889 A couple of my uke straps

97891 A South American belt that I use on my tiple

97890 If you feel adventurous

Down Up Dick
02-17-2017, 07:42 AM
I play the D chord with a bent index finger, but I can also play it with 2 or three fingers. Keep working on it.

I was learning different strums, but remembering stuff is not one of my forte's. So I just strum however I see fit. I suppose if I was playing with others, I'd have to learn the group's strums.

Since I usually play seated, a while back I took most of the straps off my ukes and banjos. Now, I'm putting them back on. They really help to keep the neck up and to free one's fretting had. My favorite straps are Sherrin's Threads - STs. They're stiff and sharp looking. I use parachord with a piece of leather belt for the shoulder on my smaller ukes. I've also made uke leashes for a couple.

Learning new stuff is a grind, but when one is succesful it's a blast. And making stuff for your hobby is fun. :old:

02-17-2017, 10:48 AM
I often use three fingers for D, but use 213 instead of 123. Some how it fits better for me that way. Plus it makes transition to G7 easier - just move middle finger from string 4 to 3 and ring finger from 2 to 1 (this can be done as a unit), hit the E string with your index finger and there you are.

Jim Yates
02-17-2017, 05:56 PM
Like Down Up Dick, I use a bent back idex to form a D chord. It works well to go from D (2220) to D6 (2222) to D7 (2223) and back for a blues shuffle. You can also play A (2100) to A6 (2120) to A7 (2130) for a blues shuffle.

02-18-2017, 03:04 AM
During our weekly strap discussion there is no shortage of those who proclaim that they can't play without one. A few pop in and say that they don't use one. But like many things ukulele, it does not have to be a commitment to one side or the other. You can do either, depending on the circumstances. That is where I stand. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.