One of the first things that you’re going to need to get used to when playing ukulele is how to get started strumming and working out some useful strumming patterns. Here are some handy ukulele strumming patterns for beginners to try out…
How To Strum
Strumming a ukulele is a little different to a guitar, as a rule of thumb (which is in fact a terrible term to use here) you should be strumming using only your index finger. Keeping a fairly loose hand you want to hit the string with the nail of your index finger when strumming down, moving your hand from the wrist rather than the elbow.
Basic Strumming Patterns
Here’s a few basic patterns to get you moving…
Pattern 1 – All Down Strums
The first strum pattern that you should get used to is 4 down strums per bar. Try your best to keep the timing evenly spaced between each down strum. It’s really important to keep the down strums spaced evenly after you’ve finished a bar. It helps to count out loud with each down strum. This may all seem a little easy to begin with but keeping your timing even is incredibly important and will help you when we move onto more complex patterns.
Pattern 2 – Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up
In this pattern we start to do some up strums. Now you’re well and truly comfortable with 4 down strums per bar, we’ll look at adding an up strum between each down strum. Your hand is already travelling upwards to return to a position to be able to make your next strum so all you need to do is catch the strings with your index finger as your hand is making that movement. Again we’re trying to keep the space between every strum completely even – think or your hand like a pendulum keeping a constant motion. When counting your strums out loud, the up strums should be spoken as the word and – counting like this 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and.
Pattern 3 – Down Down Down Up Down
We’re starting to get a little more complex now. This pattern drops out some of the up strums and becomes a lot more interesting for it. Count the strum pattern out like like this… 1, 2, 3 and 4 – strumming down on the numbers and up on the and. This may take a little getting used to and although counting out loud does sound a little ridiculous it is incredibly helpful and will get you where you want to be much faster. There’s a saying – if you can say it, you can play it. One thing to watch for on this pattern is that you keep the spacing really even between the bars. The up strum between beats 3 and 4 can throw you off a bit.
It can be a little dry practising strum patterns over and over so I’d suggest that you just try and do a little bit each day, just set a timer for a few minutes and you’ll be strumming with the best of them in no time.
If you really want to get your strumming perfected then I would recommend taking a look at Al Wood’s brilliant ebook How To Play Ukulele Strums. The book starts at beginner level but will have you strumming complex rhythms in no time. I bought it myself and still use it now. For just $12 I highly recommend it.