View Full Version : Beginner to Beginners ref Formby Strokes

Uke Whisperer
02-27-2011, 08:36 AM
I am one of many beginners (based on comments in this Forum, other Forums and YouTube Videos) that when starting-out wanted to learn the 3 most popular Formby strums/strokes (Split, Triple & Fan). Within the first couple of weeks I learned the "basic" stroke of each and had begun practicing for speed. I was successful gaining speed (not Formby speed, but pretty darn fast) but I was NOT a happy "uker"! My basic versions didn't sound anything like Formby's or the Formby expert's, (as I call them)! I figured that the only issue had to be timing, even though by that time I was working on getting the syncopation correct. I practiced over & over to get syncopation of each of the 3 correct, but still they didn't sound like Formby's! What the heck was wrong? DUH! (meaning that the "light bulb was turned-on") ACCENTS! That was what I was missing! I began accenting the proper individual strums and things sounded better, but "no cigar". Then the "light bulb got brighter", the syncopation changed when I started accenting properly! It took only a couple of minutes from that point to "BANG", I had it! The accents raise the sound level of each individual strum's waveform, thereby increasing the width of the waveform as well, which slightly changes the overall timing!

SUGGESTION: Learn the basic strums first, practice for speed while adding the proper ACCENTS, THEN syncopate the timing! Hopefully this will save someone some of the time and frustration I went through!

I practice these strums first thing each session. 1. I don't want to "loose" the strums (an age thing); 2. loosens-up my fingers; 3. builds my confidence that "an old dog can learn new tricks"!

02-28-2011, 05:17 AM
These are good points. I think that alot of folks also forget "pull offs" when they do the split. This is key to the sound of this stroke.

Uke Whisperer
02-28-2011, 06:22 AM
These are good points. I think that alot of folks also forget "pull offs" when they do the split. This is key to the sound of this stroke.

Funny you should mention that! I fought and fought trying to coordinate what was called "tapping the string" (on one of the youtube instructional videos), tapping just the last of the stroke. Not until I read about "pull offs" was I able to accomplish it. I agree, it does make a key differnce! Thanks for adding that!

Chris Tarman
02-28-2011, 07:03 AM
Thanks for the tips. I think I'm getting pretty good on my fan stroke (I don't know if it's exactly like Formby's though.. but it looks and sounds cool!), but not so good on the other two. I can do something that approximates the sound of the split stroke, but I fingerpick it. It sounds kind of banjo-y (to my ears at any rate) but not quite Formby-esque. I pulled out Ralph Shaw's "Complete Ukulele Course" DVD last weekend and worked on the split stroke section. I was going to watch all of his "Essential Strums For The Ukulele" disc too, but ran out of time. It's sitting on my desk though, so maybe this week sometime....