2 Feb 2015
Most ukulele strumming patterns are made up of really simple elements.If you can organise your strumming, it’s really easy to learn new ukulele strumming patterns and make up your own. Whilst you’re counting the beats in a song (i.e. 1, 2, 3 and 4), make your downward strums fall on beats 1 and 3, like this:
Until you get onto very complicated strumming styles, keeping the downward strums on these beats will help you keep in time and avoid that awkward situation where everyone else is strumming down when you’re strumming up!
When you strum a succession of downward strums, you do of course have to bring your hand back up in between strums. When you do this, try hitting the strings as you do (on beats 2 and 4). You’ll end up with this ukulele strumming pattern:
You can then start creating lots of basic ukulele strumming patterns just by choosing which beats you strum or miss the strings on!
Of course, you can always play the down strums on every beat, and put the up strums in between, on the ‘and’, like this:
Try missing out some of the up and/or down strums to create new rhythms. If you miss out a down strum (or more than two strums on the trot), it’s sometimes a good idea to us the ‘ghost strum’. This is where you strum the air, to keep your hand moving in time with the rhythm.
You can also dampen the strings, which stops them from ringing. Simply place your right hand flat on the strings. This can help to create a nice rhythmic effect, even when the basic ukulele strumming pattern is quite sparse.
Here’s one of the basic strumming patterns from earlier, but with dampening instead of gaps.
RELATED ARTICLES: Easy Ukulele Songs, Ukulele Styles
- Keeping a steady ‘up down’ rhythm with your right hand will help you stay in time and not miss a beat, even if this means you’re sometimes ‘strumming air’!
- If you accidentally strum when you should miss, or miss when you should strum, just keep going, your steady up and down movement will help you stay on the beat. Think of it as improvising!
- Missing out down strums in a rhythm is much harder than missing out up strums. Tap your foot on the beat and start slowly and steadily with these rhythms. Even better, get a metronome to keep time for you!
- Download our FREE Basic Ukulele Strumming Patterns and Strumming Styles PDFs for lots more ideas, styles and patterns that use different time signatures. Simply fill in the form in the green box for instant access (you’ll also receive 9 other useful ukulele PDFs!)