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Thread: Strumming consistency issues

  1. #1
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    Default Strumming consistency issues

    So I've been playing ukulele for about a year now, and I have always strummed with my thumb. About a month ago, I started practicing "chucking", and realized I can't do that with a thumb strum...or at least, I don't know how. So for the past couple weeks I have been trying to strum with my finger, either up and down with my index, or down with index, and up with thumbnail, but for the life of my, I cannot get a consistent sound. Either I hit the top string harder than the rest, or my strum is too soft, and the chuck is way too loud. I've pretty much got the chuck thing down, I think, just the dang strum consistency. Any tips?

  2. #2
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    Feb 2017
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    First of all, keep practicing. That overcomes all problems.

    Secondly, don't embrace consistency; it is kind of boring. Use the different fingers to exploit their individual sounds when you want them. Similarly, experiment with strumming near the bridge or over the neck for even more variation.

    I know that was contradictory. Learn to be consistent but also unlearn consistency so that you can vary the dynamics of your playing

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoJive View Post
    So I've been playing ukulele for about a year now, and I have always strummed with my thumb. About a month ago, I started practicing "chucking", and realized I can't do that with a thumb strum...or at least, I don't know how. So for the past couple weeks I have been trying to strum with my finger, either up and down with my index, or down with index, and up with thumbnail, but for the life of my, I cannot get a consistent sound. Either I hit the top string harder than the rest, or my strum is too soft, and the chuck is way too loud. I've pretty much got the chuck thing down, I think, just the dang strum consistency. Any tips?
    Ergonomics are important. We all get into bad habits of positioning our bodies and arms and hands when we play. Standing vs. sitting.

    The position of your uke is important. How is it angled out and up. Do you have it tilted back to see the fret position markers on the front of the fretboard? Don't do that. Rely on the side markers if you have them.

    Where are you resting your strumming arm on the uke? How are you using your finger to strum? (James Hill has a good video about how it should be similar to flicking paint off of your finger.) Ar you playing with your other fingers curled or flat? (No right or wrong way.)

    Play it slowly. Watch how you are holding it. Watch your hand and how your fingers are striking the strings. Too much on the edge of your index finger? Finger too flat? Are you rotating your wrist and forearm too much. Playing from your shoulder? Moving your forearm up and down too much? Where on the uke are your strumming? Ideally it should be where the fingerboard sits above the sound board. But your uke may not work for that.

    Observe your stroke and adjust. Then consciously assume the position that works for you and practice that until you no longer have to think about it.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  4. #4
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    I have found it more natural to kinda pinch my index and thumb together, like holding an invisible pick. I don't have long nails, so that might be a hindrance, but I'm not sure. I have tried flicking the finger as well as standing, sitting, strap, etc. I made a short video so you can hear. I think it sounds terrible, ha.

    https://youtu.be/oiTO7MmJw4E

  5. #5
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    I'm the odd one out, as usual - I tend to strum down with all 4 finger nails when I want to do chunking.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoJive View Post
    I have found it more natural to kinda pinch my index and thumb together, like holding an invisible pick. I don't have long nails, so that might be a hindrance, but I'm not sure. I have tried flicking the finger as well as standing, sitting, strap, etc. I made a short video so you can hear. I think it sounds terrible, ha.

    https://youtu.be/oiTO7MmJw4E
    It is important to find your own style. I personally strum down with a loose fist but the ring finger is the primary strummer. Sometimes I will slightly alter it and other fingers some into the equation. On the upstrum I keep the same hand posture but I always use the thumb on the way up (sometimes the knuckle, sometimes the nail).

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