The beat

When you listen to music, you may feel the urge to stomp your foot along with it. That’s because you are following the beat or rhythm of the song, which is its driving force. The beat or rhythm is created by the strumming of the ukulele, which is the pattern of up and down strokes that you use to play the strings

This post is about strumming, strumming patterns, the Island Strum and finger picking/plucking.


Primarily, a stroke or strum is defined as a sweeping motion in which a fingernail, fingernails, thumb, or plectrum brushes past multiple strings to play a chord. When not using a pick, you usually use the nail down and the fingertip up.

The dominant hand is mostly used for this action, but some left-handers also do this with the right hand to avoid changing the strings of the ukulele.

Above all, use your wrist and not your whole arm to strum. This is important! The best place to strike the strings for most ukuleles is around where the body of your instrument meets the neck, but you’ll have to try it out as there may be some differences between them.

Furthermore, you need to learn how to strum, strumming, to play good Ukulele songs!

If you are an absolute beginner, you should start with this one:

Constant beat

The most important thing is that you have to have a constant beat while strumming. Therefore, you can use a metronome to help you. You can use a regular metronome, or you can use one downloaded to your phone as an app.

Normally you keep the beat by counting (1, 2, 3, 4 for 4/4 and 1, 2, 3 for 3/4) until you get the beat into your hand and head. Other times you put and between the numbers. One and two and…

In our post about rhythm you can learn all types of music genres. Go to the link.

Strumming patterns

First of all, for learning to strum you need to learn some strumming patterns. It is several of them, and they also can be changed during the song. If you don´t know which one to use for your song, then you must try out different strumming patterns to match the song.

Strumming patterns can be showed as text (D U or d u) for down and up, or arrows (down and up). The indicates a missed strum, and an X can be a sign for a chunk down (muted strum). Se our post about Chunking.

(d) or (u) can indicate a muted strum in either direction with you fretting fingers resting on the strings to mute them.

For making a percussive click you also can use a dead strum. This is made with your fretting hand. You simply stop the strings for ringing by laying your fingers across all of them.

For starting with some simple strumming patterns:

  1. Down, Down, Down, Down by counting one, two, tree, four (DDDD)

  2. Down Up, Down Up, Down Up, Down Up while counting one and, two and, tree and, four and. (DUDUDUDU)

    You can also try this two the opposite way: Up, up, up, up or up down, up down, up down, up down

  3. Down, down up, down, down, down up (D-DUD-DU)

  4. Down up, down, down up, down (DUD-DUD-)

  5. Down, down up, up, down up (D-DU-UDU) (called The Island)

In addition, for making it more interesting you can try out Swing Time. The down strum is longer (about twice as long) than the up strum.

Some others:

  1. D-DU-UD- (one and, two and, tree and, four and). This is a popular pattern.

  2. D-D-DUDU


Half-bar Patterns where the chords changes regularly

  1. D-DU

  2. DUXU

Two Bar Pattern if the chords changes more slowly. The song will be better if you change between this two.

  1. D-DU-UDU and -UDU-UD-

For ¾ you can try out these ones:

  1. D-DUD-

  2. D-DUDU

Her you have another instructive video about strumming patterns:

And finally, one more for beginners:

Clearly strumming:

However, if you want to learn more clearly strumming, you can watch the video below. Using your thumb for more power and also how to position your index finger for down- and up-strums, for more clarity and control.

How to strum really fast:

Watch the especially relevant video below to learn:

  1. Posture

  2. Path

  3. Position

  4. Pressure

And then som more tips:

Advanced Ukulele strumming technique:

Furthermore, here you have another demonstration with the use of four fingers up and down.

Island Strum

Island Strum Ukulele Tutorial for beginners:

How to play Island Strum 2.0 Easy || Ukulele Strum Lesson 😃🎶

And – what about this video:

Stop Asking for Strumming Pattern (and learn how to figure them out yourself)



Plucking is the opposite of strumming. You just set one string in movement, and plucking several strings simultaneously requires a technique called finger style or fingerpick.

Fingerpicking can also be on one string at the time as plucking. For instance, the fingerpicking as you can learn in this video for Blues Pattern.

Or this ones:

Most importantly, now it´s just to practice. Good luck!


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Finally, Basic Ukulele was founded in 2015 with the aim of making it easier for anyone who wants to learn or find out more about this wonderful instrument.

Yes, we love the Ukulele!