Triplet strumming is a pretty useful thing to learn on the ukulele. It can add an extra dimension to your rhythm playing and open up plenty of new strumming possibilities. Here’s how to do it…
The clue is in the name when it comes to triplet strumming. What we’re trying to achieve are 3 evenly spaced strums that occupy a single beat. In theory that doesn’t sound too tricky but 3 is an awkward number. If you were to try a regular down up approach to deal with triplets you’d quickly find that your hand never really finishes in the right position for the next beat.
In the video below I break down the technique in detail. Don’t forget that you can slow Youtube videos down by clicking the cog icon and changing the playback speed (this is really useful when learning from videos).
The Triplet Strum Approach
There are a few ways to triplet strum but the most effective I’ve found is:
- Strum down with your index finger
- Strum down with your thumb
- Strum up with your index finger
Rinse and repeat. It sounds easy when it’s written down but in practice, it’s a little bit more difficult. Let’s break it down and go through each of those steps with a few additional tips to help you out…
1. Strum down with your index finger
The first strum is a good old-fashioned index finger down strum. Chances are you’ve played this type of strum plenty of times in the past.
The key to the first step however is to keep your thumb held high and make sure it remains above the strings when you complete the down strum. This might mean adopting even more of a flick style approach to your down strum than you have previously.
2. Strum down with your thumb
With your thumb perfectly placed you’re ready to make the second strum. A little rotation of the wrist here will cause your thumb to naturally make this second strum. Keep the contact fairly light here and it will help your fluidity.
3. Strum up with your index finger
The final strum of the triplet is the up strum. This one is very much like a regular up strum and shouldn’t pose too many problems. Try and aim to take your hand back to the position you started your triplet strum with.
Take it super slow
I pretty much always say take it slow when it comes to learning anything but this is even more appropriate when it comes to triplets. Because the strum itself is a little more complicated than a regular strum it’s very easy to lose your way and revert to what you know.
Go really slow to begin with. Slower than you think you need to. When you can play through a few bars of triplet strums without making any mistakes, increase the speed. Stick to this approach and don’t get too carried away.
Practicing without your ukulele
I actually practice triplets even when I don’t have a ukulele nearby. I will make the action and strum against my torso, my arm or anything else within reach. It may not work from the perspective of being able to hear what you’re playing but it will help you to develop the fluidity that you need when it comes to playing triplets.
Hopefully you’ve learned a few tips in this post that will have you well on your way to triplet mastery. Let me know how you’re getting on in the comments!