View Full Version : How many strums?

04-23-2013, 09:16 AM
I'm sure the pros get a good chuckle reading this section of the forums sometimes.

Well here goes, I have been hard at it with UR's Boot Camp for C. Got most of them down (the dims are hard), so wanted to treat myself by learning a song in C.
So I picked H. Williams, Your Cheat'in Heart.

So how many strums for each chord? Doesn't seem to be enough space between some chord changes to get 4 strums in? Watching utube hasn't helped either.

Obviously I'm confused, but that is nothing new. Thanks

Uncle Rod Higuchi
04-23-2013, 10:19 AM
First of all, I hope your time spent working on the Boot Camp practice sheets will enable you to
face any chord shape with a 'can-do' attitude... except FM7 :)

Also, the 4 strums per chord for the practice sheets work because you're not playing a melody/song.
When you begin playing songs/melodies, the number of strums is dictated by rhythm and timing
of the notes that make up that song/melody.

You may need to begin studying some Music Theory (very basic concepts - like how many beats per
measure and what values quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, etc have in relation to each
other at to the rhythm/flow of the song). Generally, songs are made up of measures of equal value,
that is a 4/4 song has 4 beats per measure while a 3/4 (waltz) has 3 beats per measure. This means
that each measure has the same total time value no matter how many notes come between the parallel
vertical lines. sometimes it's as few as ONE note, othertimes there may be many notes, but each
measure still 'adds' up to 4 beats (4/4) or 3 beats (3/4) as is appropriate. OK, 'nuf of that :)

Bottom line with re: to number of strums - "it depends on each song". Here's where your personal
experimenting will teach you what's appropriatie and what may not be. Working on the 'Timing' of a
song/melody is very useful and valuable. and whatever you do...

keep uke'in' :),

04-23-2013, 01:48 PM
Hi Focsle,

I share this issue with you as the majority of the chord charts that are available for songs show the chords but not how many strums or where to change. As advised by the knowledgeable members of this forum it is best if you are familiar with the song that you want to play. That will give you a head start. I usually get a copy of the chord chart and try to get a youtube version of the song that I like and WHERE I CAN CLEARLY SEE THE FRETTING HAND and watch it repeatedly, counting the strums and making notes on my chart. Start slow to get the chords and timing right then speed it up to the correct pace as you gain confidence. Ukulele Mike has some great instructionals on youtube. This isn't one of his but have a look anyway. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MteCoAo0kok

04-23-2013, 01:57 PM
As far as strumming goes, there is nothing written in stone saying to use a certain pattern, although there will be some exceptions. IMHO, if a certain pattern is suggested to one who is a beginner, the individual tends to focus on the pattern and not the song. That in turn kinda leads to frustration. Far too many folks try to emulate the original and that just doesn't work. Anyway, use a strum that feels comfortable to you and is rhythmic to the song. The object is to make the song yours as well as enjoying the moment.

04-23-2013, 03:45 PM
You might want to try ukelenny on you tube. Maybe stand by me he explains the strums per note and it gives a little confidence to us beginners because I for one never trust my own judgement.

04-23-2013, 04:57 PM
You might want to try ukelenny on you tube. Maybe stand by me he explains the strums per note and it gives a little confidence to us beginners because I for one never trust my own judgement.

I haven't watched ukelenny, but that's my suggestion, too. Here's just a "speck" of info....The single vertical lines on a music staff are called bars(measures). There are X number of beats per bar. If the song is in 4/4 time (look at the top left of the top line of the staff), there are 4 beats per each bar. Again, staying simple, if there are 4 quarter notes in a bar, each note gets one beat. Lets say that there's a C chord symbol over the first note and a G chord symbol over the 3rd note. If you're using a strum patter of 1 strum per quarter note, then you would do 2 strums on the C chord and 2 strums on the G chord (2+2=4 beats). There are a lot of people who get by without learning to read music. I wish I were one of them :).

04-23-2013, 06:00 PM

Thanks for that response, it certainly helps me when the songs are presented in that format. However, most of what I see when I'm searching for tunes is in this format

and this is where I have the issue and why I try to work it out as I mentioned above - it takes a lot of action on the pause/rewind controls. My logic says 4/4 time so 4 strums on each chord but I know that can't be the case as I usually end up with songs that are about 25 minutes long. Ha Ha.

It would be great (for beginners) if the author of these could put a number next to the chord box signifying how many strums of each. At least that would help us get the basic tune going, actual strum "patterns" are something that can be developed.

I realise this is a particularly selfish request and I would like to say that I for one am very grateful for the people who put these charts together and for everyone who contributes to this and the other forums. I am enjoying my challenge of learning the uke and without all of these people the instruments would just be hanging on the wall.

Onwards and Upwards

04-23-2013, 07:16 PM
The irregular spacing of the chord symbols imply that the timing isn't a uniform 4 beats per chord. I haven't heard that song in years, but in my mind I hear 3/4 or maybe 6/8 not 4/4. Just hit up YouTube and listen to it a time or two and you'll know in a hurry what the timing is.

04-23-2013, 07:17 PM
Thanks for all the replies. So much useful info.

I do get a little music theory having played the piano as a child. 4/4 time and all, beats per measure.

Maybe I should have asked a different way. Here is the example.

I get 3 beats @G7 and I am at the end of "cheating". Up pops the C over "heart", is that the 4th beat for that measure? And then whoa, all of a sudden we have the C7 over the very next word in the song, "will". So the C7 starts a whole new measure? 2 strums on C7 chord and 2 more strums with F chord?

G7 C C7 F
Your cheating heart will make you weep

Appreciate everyone's feed back, thanks again!!

04-23-2013, 07:31 PM
Listen to the song. I think you're right about 3 beats @ G7. I think that's a "pickup" measure, so it's not played for the full count. "Heart" isn't the 4th beat, it's the first beat of the next measure. I think you hold that for an entire measure before moving on to "will" (I think changing at "make" sounds better) which brings us back to "weep" for the start of the next measure.

6/8 time sounds just about right, which makes the pickup measure a half measure of three beats.

Now that I listened to some YouTube samples, a "bum-diddy" pattern works, and so does a slower "boom-chick" pattern. Neither one easily fits into 4/4, 3/4 or 6/8 but I think this guitar lesson outlines it fairly well.


04-23-2013, 10:04 PM
Your Cheating Heart....4 beats to a bar (measure)....The song starts on the 2nd beat .. so strum 4 strums on each chord for that line, start singing on the 2nd strum of G7. Change to C on heart. Keep the strumming steady, 1 2 3 4 ...Change to C7 before you sing "will".... will is again the second strum of C7. Change to F on "weep"...... You'll play 2 sets of 4 strums on and F chord.... try it, you'll soon get the hang of it! Have fun!

04-24-2013, 01:41 AM
I am not commenting about how many beats are in this song, 3 or 4, but I would like to explain what the author of this tab was trying to say. On the top of the page he put this 4/4 121234. I beleive what he meant was this is 4/4 timing, meaning 4 beats to the measure but the 121234 is not the way I learned it. I think he is trying to show the down up strokes on the four beats. A better way to show this is 1...2...3.&.4.&, with the numbers being the down strokes (total of 4 beats) and the &s being the up strokes. Therefore the strum pattern would be Down/Down/Down/Up/Down/Up. Many times, you will see strum patterns written like this DDDUDU.

I hope I didn't misinterpert what the author meant. If I did, someone please correct me so I don't cause more confussion.