View Full Version : Strumming?

09-08-2011, 06:26 PM
Got my first Uke yesterday. I can't seem to figure out strumming. Does anyone have some specific advice beyond "use your finger"? If I use my index finger like the Uke Minutes shows, I find that I either snag on a string, or I just glide over and don't produce any sound. If I strum more along the fingernail (I've been trying my thumb and index together, think making the "OK" sign with your fingers then using the thumbnail up and down), I can get good volume and pretty consistant up and down, but there is a LOUD sound being produced by my nail basically picking at the strings as it passes over.

Is there a good video or pictures with closeups of strumming? Thanks!

P.S. Does anyone have skype that would like to chat it up, or maybe get into a chat so I can show how I am doing it?

09-08-2011, 06:38 PM
First of all WELCOME to the wonderful world of the ukulele... This is a question that comes up frequently, and if you search you might find helpful answers and videos here on uu...So my advice....The simple answer is....it gets easier, just work at it. Your hand needs to learn how near to the strings it needs to be to get the best sound. It seems like, since you are getting a loud WAPPPP sound when you strum, you are letting from strum go too deep into the strings, and a lighter touch is needed. As far as HOW you actually strum, most talented uke players will tell you in the middle finger is the way to go, however, it doesn't make enough rock and roll for me. I use the same style you mentioned, index and middle together, as if i were holding a pick. A few good exercises to help you out... Start by counting to four, strumming down on 1 and 3 and up on 2 and 4....do this bunches and bunches relatively slowly, saying the numbers out loud until you've got a feel for how your hand should be. Then try counting to 8 very quickly (twice as fast) OR you could do what muscians do and count 1 "and" 2 "and" 3 "and "4 and the 1 2 3 4 being down strums and the "AND" being and up strum. This should be done more quickly than in 4 beats. Work on this until you feel very comfortable...Also work on changing chords, maybe from C to F to G.... Do this until you can do it without much thought. THEN pick out a song you like...something easy that you know extremely well, early beatles songs tend to work out well... And just strum along with a recording, or sing it to yourself....experimenting with different patterns. I find people often get REAL hung up on learning the EXACT strumming pattern to a song "Down down up down...ect" and always want to see it written out...All you need to do is listen to the original, and play something that works near to that, make it your own. And Always change it up, the more you learn the more strumming patterns you will find, i have a few different ones for each style of music i might play. GOod luck and feel free to PM me with any questions

09-08-2011, 08:49 PM
I have a student with Asperger's Syndrome who is learning the Ukulele...in my classroom, every day. I am not sure if everyone is aware of what it is like to work with one of these folks, but they can be a little challenging to say the least- that said, this kid is the reason I go to work everyday-he is the milk in my coffee.
He has fought with strumming from day one, doing this CRAZY strum with his thumb that sounds like hell and I am sure is destroying my strings at a rate I can't afford. I have shown him a thousand times how I do it, with my index finger...meat up nail down, over and over and he goes right back to the thumb.
Today we were playing "Let it Be" by the Beatles, which we are working on for a mass (I work at a Catholic School). I want to play the tune for my mass (we all have to write one) and I want to play it with my favorite kid (yes we have favorites), so we practice daily. Well, today, he decided that he was going to use his index finger. YES!!!
But, it still sounds terrible. I don't really care, because the other kids know what is up and won't say a word to him, but why can't I get it through his head?
"Hey...could you try to relax a little? Be a little gentler on the strings and they will sound like you want them too"
And he did it. He relaxed. He felt where the uke wanted him to play it, and he felt where the strings wanted to be strummed, and he was golden.
So, relax. And practice. And play with other ukers.
You will get there
Oh yeah- and welcome to our world. You are going to have a great time doing this...just persist.

09-08-2011, 10:59 PM
check out Woodshed's lesson on ukehunt:

There is a link in the text to the following video, make sure you check out the five or so related videos for other types of strums, and I highly recommed his ebook on strumming...


09-09-2011, 06:04 AM

09-09-2011, 07:32 AM
I'm way too lazy to read the other really long posts so I hope I don't repeat anything that was clearly stated.
One way to strum with a little less volume and more rounded is to strum with the flesh of your index finger, so your palm should be facing you. I never really had many problems so just keep practicing :)

09-09-2011, 09:10 AM
I'm way too lazy to read the other really long posts so I hope I don't repeat anything that was clearly stated.
One way to strum with a little less volume and more rounded is to strum with the flesh of your index finger, so your palm should be facing you. I never really had many problems so just keep practicing :)

This is exactly how I strum, I like the evenness between the down and up strokes that I can't get when my nail hits the strings. My teacher on the other hand, uses his thumb for the down stroke, and his index for the up stroke. I guess I am just not coordinated, because I have not been able to get the hang of that technique.

09-09-2011, 10:20 AM
The most important thing to recognize is that there is NO SUCH THING as the "RIGHT WAY" to strum. There are many different ways, and you may find that the one that works best for you is different than the one that works best of other people. Despite the statement I just made, one cannot ignore the fact that many thousands of ukulele players have found a few of the possibilities to be better than the others.

I find the two easiest strums to be:
- Flesh of my thumb for downstrokes and thumb or thumbnail for up.
- the tips of all four fingers and fingernails on the downstroke, a kind of brushing action - again with the thumbnail for the upstroke.

My teacher endorses the second one,**edited** but suggests that I use the flesh of my index finger for the upstroke when using the flesh of my thumb for the downstroke.

The other common downstroke is the flesh and/or fingernail of the index finger.

All of the above are for basic chording strokes.

09-09-2011, 11:51 AM
When I first started on guitar, about 15 years ago, the CD-ROM lessons I started out with had me use my thumb for the down stroke and the fleshy index finger tip for the up stroke (if you weren't using a pick). I have continued to strum that way ever since. When I started on the uke, I tried various methods, but still prefer the thumb down index up method. You may want to give that a try. I also didn't notice if anyone mentioned, but I also find if I strum over the fret board (around the 14th fret) it is easier than directly over the sound hole-you may want to give that a try too. Hope this helps. The main thing is just keep plugging away and all at once you will "get it".

09-19-2011, 10:11 AM

I'd like to add a question to this thread, or, at least, pose a problem: I find that when strumming down with my index finger, the g-string (top one) can, at times, dominate the chord; in fact it can overwhelm the chord, especially when playing a chord that uses an open g.

How can I stop doing this. It sounds, er, not good!