The Basics of Strumming



‘Strumming’ is when we use the hand that is not forming the chord shapes on the fretboard to make the strings sound.

We do this by brushing our thumb/finger/fingers in a down (towards the floor) and up motion over the strings to make them vibrate. There are many ways to do this – but what is important first of all is to be able to play ‘in-time’. Most popular songs have four beats in the bar – this is why you often hear someone count 1 2 3 4 before a song starts.


To play in- time requires the Ukulele player to strum a regular beat – this could mean a down strum on beats 1 2 3 4. (This is Strum Pattern 1 which follows this introduction). 


To begin with, using your Thumb to brush down over the strings might be a good way to start, although, upstrokes with Thumb can be difficult. What is more popular and more flexible is to use your fore/index finger and strumming ‘from the wrist’ rather from the elbow. Two or three fingers can be used together.


In the following examples the beat is split further from 1 2 3 4 to include beats in-between 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +. Generally speaking – the down strums are on the main beats 1 2 3 4 and the up strums are on the +’s in-between the main beats. In some styles of music the main beat can be on the +’s.


Practice with the audio tracks until you can get an even regular beat in time with the click on the track.

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