View Full Version : A little strumming help.

07-26-2009, 12:59 AM
I recently picked up a Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele and feel I have been making steady progress through the basics.

One thing I get stuck on however is strum patterns. From what I have been reading it should be pretty apparent how you should be strumming, but for some reason I just get confused and left in the dust.

The book I bought to go with the ukulele has not been very helpful when it comes specifically to strumming.

The problem I have is not strumming correctly, but what strum to use to go with the song so it sounds right.

For example:


07-26-2009, 03:02 AM
Welcome to UU :)

As for strumming, I personally don't go by written notation very often, but try to use my ears. Elvis played that song in a certain way. I would approach it by experimenting with different strums until one sounds right.

I realise this isn't helpful to someone just starting out, so I played along a rhythm that sounded ok, then played it slow, and I've realised I was doing:
Down, Down, Up, Up, Down for each bar.

Does that help at all, or am I making it too complicated?

Aldrine's done some great video lessons on here, so I would recommend you start with those. Mr Guerrero is a total legend :D

Good luck,

07-26-2009, 03:55 AM
I agree with Anna. I don't remember ever trying to learn a specific pattern for a particular song. I think the way I really learned to change up my strumming, was playing for hours and just playing around and trying something different without over thinking it.

Don't forget to enjoy!

07-26-2009, 05:15 AM
I also concur here.
In the very beginning when you start to play you have to really concentrate on every aspect of the motions that go into playing. Where your hands are and what each individual finger is doing. The goal is to practice to a point where you no longer have to consciously think about all of that and can solely concentrate on the sounds you're making.

Ukulele JJ
07-26-2009, 05:46 AM
The problem I have is not strumming correctly, but what strum to use to go with the song so it sounds right.

The question of "what is the strum pattern for such-and-such" is a common one here, and it's made pretty difficult by the fact that, in most of the songs you're probably going to be playing on a uke, there's no ukulele in the song in the first place. Sometimes, there's not even a guitar or anything else being strummed. Which means there is no strum pattern. You might as well ask what the bongo drum pattern is. :D

So you basically have to come up with one yourself. And really, pretty much any pattern you want to play will probably do the job. After all, songs are open to interpretation.

But if you want to capture more of the flavor of a particular version of a song, you might try this:

Listen to the song, in particular the stuff going on "behind" the vocals.
What's the overall "rhythm" of the music? In other words, if you had a little hand drum, or even just the top of a desk, in front of you, what would you tap out on it with your hand to go along? This might be a simple "bum-bum-bum-bum..." or it might be "bumpity-bumpa-dumpa-dum" or whatever.
Now try to play that rhythm (adjusting as necessary) with your right hand on the strings of your uke. Just mute the strings with your left hand--don't worry about the chords. Treat your uke like a percussion instrument.
Finally, add in the fretting of the correct chords.

Hopefully that will help some.


07-26-2009, 07:27 AM
here's something that i learned in my h/s guitar class that has helped me and i don't know if alot of people think about it. i'm not very good at explaining stuff with words so if you need i could maybe get a video up explaining it.

first of all your right hand should be moving at a steady down up down up down up down up...
so instead of adding stuff in there, you should be taking out bits.
so a basic D,D,U,U,D,U pattern would start like this
D,U,D,U,D,U,D,U and turn to this D,_,D,U,_,U,D,U
your hand stays at the same rythmn the whole time, you just pull off at certain parts.
did that make sense or do i need to make a vid?

07-26-2009, 07:34 AM
I have only been playing ukulele since March 2009,but I agree
with all of the advice given in this thread! A friend visited today
to show me his new Makala Tenor,and we had a bit of a jam,
after which,he said that my strumming patterns/rhythms were
'great' and he wished he could 'do that'. Now,I don't consider
myself particularly gifted in that area, and as we played,I had
thought that HIS particular style was pretty good.So It's really
down to what you want it to be, and what you are prepared to
put into it,I guess? He has only been playing ukulele for about
three weeks by the way, but like me,has a bit of previous guitar
experience behind him.So mainly,enjoy what you do, remember
no matter how 'bad' you may think it is, someone else will think
that your playing is 'great'!

07-26-2009, 07:58 AM
I think I read on another thread that UkeHunt have a couple of good strumming books, so maybe you could head over there and check out their books.

But, I totally understand. I have a tendency to use the same strums (usually, a strum pattern I just learnt) on ALL the songs, regardless of type, but it does make for some very amusing renditions sometimes. I'm ok with that. :D

07-26-2009, 09:16 AM
Thanks a million everyone, the responses really cleared a lot up.

did that make sense or do i need to make a vid?

A video would be cool.

07-26-2009, 10:58 AM
Thanks a million everyone, the responses really cleared a lot up.

A video would be cool.

i'll do it. gimme a couple days.

07-26-2009, 04:45 PM
i count when i strum. at time, chords are changed within a bar.

for example...
a song might have 1, 2, 3 or 4 chords within a 4/4 beat/ count (a bar)
or 1, 2 and 3 chords withing a 3/4 beat/ count. if chords are changed
at the wrong timing/ beat, the strumming will be out too.

drum beat
moving my hand (strumming) according to the beat of the drum (of the
song) helped me alot. it might work for you too.

knowing the song by heart and do the above might help one to establish
one's own strum pattern (without referring to books)...

have fun with your uke!