The beat

Ever found yourself tapping your foot to the rhythm of a song? That’s the power of the beat, the heartbeat of any piece of music. In ukulele playing, this beat is brought to life through strumming, a pattern of up and down strokes on the strings.

In this article, we delve into the world of strumming. We’ll explore various strumming patterns, introduce the Island Strum, a popular pattern loved by many, and even touch on finger picking/plucking techniques. These elements are crucial in creating a rich, vibrant sound on your ukulele, allowing you to play a wider range of songs with more expression and depth. So, let’s get strumming!


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

Imagine the rhythmic pulse of island music, the sound that makes you want to sway with the rhythm. That’s the essence of the Island Strum, a strumming pattern that’s as integral to ukulele music as the instrument itself.

The Island Strum is like the heartbeat of a song, a 4/4 rhythm that breathes life into the music. It’s this rhythm that makes the Island Strum so versatile, fitting seamlessly into a wide range of songs.

But the Island Strum isn’t just about blending in. It’s about making a statement. Its unique rhythm adds a distinctive touch to the music, setting it apart from other strumming patterns. This blend of adaptability and individuality is what has etched the Island Strum into the annals of ukulele history.

Mastering the Island Strum might seem daunting at first, but with persistence and practice, it becomes an instinctive part of your playing, unlocking a myriad of rhythmic possibilities.

So, why not infuse your next ukulele session with the spirit of the islands? Try the Island Strum and experience the rhythm that’s at the heart of ukulele music. Enjoy your musical journey! 🎶

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)


Imagine strumming as a grand, sweeping motion that sets all the strings of your ukulele into vibrant motion. Now, envision the opposite – a precise, focused action that sets just one string vibrating. This is the essence of plucking.

When you pluck, you’re selectively choosing which string to set in motion, creating a distinct note. However, what if you want to pluck several strings at once? This is where a technique known as finger style or fingerpicking comes into play.

Fingerpicking involves using your fingers to pluck multiple strings simultaneously, creating a rich, layered sound. But don’t be fooled into thinking that fingerpicking is limited to multiple strings. It can also be applied to a single string, much like plucking.

For instance, consider the fingerpicking technique used in a Blues Pattern. Here, you’re not just plucking one string at a time, but doing so in a rhythmic pattern that creates a unique sound characteristic of the blues genre.

So, whether you’re strumming a lively tune or plucking a soulful melody, remember that each technique has its place in making music on your ukulele.


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.

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