Strumming a Ukulele: Amazing Guide + 5 Patterns!


The very first thing to understand about strumming a ukulele is that it’s not about how fancy or sophisticated you make a strumming pattern.

Since strumming is a type of rhythm, to be able to be effective, it should be constant and regular.

A gentle, constant strumming rhythm is at all times more pleasing to listen to than a very sophisticated strumming pattern performed out of time.

One of many first things that folks ask with any stringed instrument is: “How do I strum a ukulele?”

This looks like an easy question till you’re really holding the ukulele in your arms and questioning: “Should I use my thumb or my fingers? Or should I use a pick?

These are vital questions, however, as soon as you discover the solutions, you’re hit with much more questions like: “Do I strum quick, or slow, up or down, or down and then up?” Or, “do I need to strum only down or only up?” “Fingerpicking? How does that work?”

To eradicate confusion, let’s check out a few of these questions. First, let’s sort out the primary strumming approach, then we’ll delve into completely different ukulele strumming patterns you may try by yourself.

strumming a ukulele

Before you begin strumming, undergo these steps:

Strumming Hand Position

The very first thing that we have to cover is your strumming hand placement. You’ll need to place your right hand between the soundhole and neck for the very best sound. This is the sweet spot for strumming.

The proper resonance spot is completely different for every uke, however, virtually all of them are in this space.

Next, make a free fist with your hand, and attain out your index finger, nail down, to make contact when hitting the strings.

Now we have seen players put the tip of the thumb and index fingers together as if holding a pick to strum a ukulele. Particularly if you’re coming from a guitar background this is likely to be extra comfy for you. The thumb and index fingers will be your main “tool” to strum the ukes and hold the pick.

In both methods, you’ll need to make constant contact with each string. This contact is firm, however, under no circumstances should you consider flicking or pushing the strings with your strumming finger to produce sound!

Check our article on improving finger dexterity here!

strumming sweet spot

Methods to Strum

Many newbies attempt to strum with their whole arm, which results in really inconsistent stress on the strings, or they make a super tight fist which ends up in too much stress in your hand.

The proper strumming movement comes almost fully from the wrist. In case you are using the index finger to strike the strings consider contacting the nail on the way down.

The very first strum you should apply is simply taking place and then back up. You’re aiming for constant volume and timing from every string.

As soon as this turns into a simple and easy process, you’ll be prepared for extra advanced patterns. Strum the ukulele freely and be focused on the motion and the technique. Everything beyond this point is just playing with your favorite uke or guitar.

The basic point is to learn more methods and strumming patterns to feel confident about it. There are many lessons on how to set your fingers, how to find the sweet spot, and whatnot, but actually you just need to follow your instinct.


The time signature that we’ll deal with at the moment, and by far the most commonest one in fashionable music is the 4/4.

In the event you’ve watched any live shows or live music it is probably you’ve heard one of the musicians, typically the drummer, call out “one, two, one two three four.”

In a 4/4 now we have four bars and four beats per bar. Every number that the drummer is calling out corresponds to a beat.

That is how the band stays in time and plays together. Without data on the timing of a song, everybody can be playing at completely different speeds and it could sound terrible.

Even in case you are simply playing by yourself, you’ll need to keep in time because the rhythm of a key is a part of any tune.

We all the time advocate newbies picking up a metronome. At first, these will be very annoying to work with, however today we hardly ever practice without one!

On every beat, you’ll need to play a down strum. One of many secrets and techniques to an excellent strumming rhythm is to all the time keep your hand moving. Because of this in-between beats, your hand will come up.

In additional advanced strumming patterns, you’ll typically need to strum on one of these up motions. These half beats are notated with an “and”.

A very popular pattern that you’ll typically see is Down, Down, Up, Down, Up. One other option to say this would be “one, two, and three, and.”

You don’t name out the 4 because you don’t play it, however, you’d hold your arm moving so you’d play a Down (4) and a Up (and) without hitting the strings to complete that bar.

time signature of the song

Ukulele Strumming Patterns

Now that we have the essential down and up stroke mastered it’s time to determine how you can apply these to a tune.

Strumming patterns are notated by two symbols: Down (denoted with an upside-down bracket) and Up (Denoted with a V).

Normally the downstrokes will fall on our downbeats (1-2-3-4) whereas the upstrokes will fall on the offbeats (the second eighth half of every beat).

Needless to say, strumming patterns are mere solutions however you will need to challenge yourself with completely different ones to construct a toolbox of strumming strategies you could pull from at will.

The important thing to all of those patterns is that the wrist is making the identical movement irrespective of where the strum is positioned.

We’ll virtually at all times have that constant up and down movement; it’s merely a matter of when we enable our index finger to hit the strings.

The wonderful thing about strumming patterns is you could even practice them without your instrument in your arms!

Strumming Pattern #1

We are able to begin out with what’s referred to as the shuffle. This can be an excellent spot to begin because it permits us an easy means to determine different patterns.

The shuffle stroke is all eighth notes which means that we play DU DU DU DU DU or we hit the strings with each single wrist movement.

This provides you with a foundation for where the up and down strums lie as we get into extra advanced strumming patterns and nailing the chords.

strumming pattern 1

Strumming Pattern #2

Next, we are going to try one other well-liked 4 beat pattern. The rhythm for this will be 1 2 & 3 4 &. Because the downstrokes will fall on the beat that makes our strumming pattern D DU D DU.

Note that the 4 downstrokes are within the identical place that we play them. With the shuffle rhythm, we’re merely omitting two of the up strums to provide a unique rhythm.

Strumming Pattern 2

Strumming Pattern #3

We now learn the preferred ukulele strum: the island strum. The pattern for this can be D D U UDU. Note that since we now have two upstrokes in a row we won’t be playing beat 3 in any respect.

Every time starting a brand new pattern we discover it useful to internalize it by clapping and saying the rhythm that we’re playing. In this case that will be: 1 2 & & 4 &.

Strumming Pattern 3

Strumming Pattern #4

There are numerous instances on ukulele that we’ll additionally play in 3/4 time having only three beats to the measure. An easy strumming sample that we are able to use for waltz time is D DU D creating a rhythm of 1 2 & 3

Strumming Pattern 4

Strumming Pattern #5

Our rule of down strumming on the downbeats is just not hard and quick. Now let’s try that very same 3/4 sample however reverse the strumming by starting with an upstroke.

Now our pattern can be U DU D giving us alternating up and down strokes all through. Note that this provides us a softer sound originally of the measure.

Strumming Pattern 5

Take your time to master these primary strumming patterns and focus on your technique. Keep in mind that your hand and arm ought to at all times be relaxed.

It will present the smoothest strumming in addition to providing the least strain to our body. Keep a loose fist, have fun, and carry on strumming!

Conclusion on Strumming a Ukulele!

Whereas strumming is commonly a source of frustration for a brand new ukulele player, it doesn’t need to be. Everything comes with practice. You just need to loosen up and follow the tips and techniques explained.

Identical to anything else on the instrument, a little bit of time and practice will go a long way to getting the right sound you need out of your ukulele! No matter if it’s Hawaiian or any other strumming style, you need to enjoy the music and just play your uke.

Every beginner has some struggles with this, but once you play your first chord in the right position, you will get hooked on playing this instrument.

These ukulele strumming patterns are an incredible start, however, there are many different strumming patterns out there.

If you are having any questions or concerns about this topic, please let us know in the comment section and we will try to get back to you.

strumming lessons
Charles Steinhoff

Charles Steinhoff

Charles is here and I am guitar and ukulele enthusiast. Been playing these instruments for over 10 years now and I decided to share some of my knowledge and expertise with the world in terms of these stringed instruments and it's accessories.

Strings Kings
Strings Kings