Strumming patterns are the bread and butter of playing ukulele.
And they can also make or break you.
“If only I could figure out the strumming pattern to this song.”
What if I told you there isn’t a magic strumming pattern for a song? What if the best pattern is the one you come up with?
In order to come up with the right strumming pattern, you start by using what I consider my favorite strumming pattern of all time. As someone who’s played ukulele for over 25 years, this is still my go-to pattern whenever I’m first learning a new song. And I suggest you do the same!
But I’m warning you…
This pattern is super easy.
Because of that, a lot of people overlook it, but that would be a mistake.
I explore all this and more in the video.
I show you a medley of four popular easy ukulele songs you can apply this pattern to and give you the steps for implementing it in your own playing.
Be sure to watch to the end where I show you how to create variety in your strumming!
Best Ukulele Strumming Pattern
There’s a big misconception that the more complicated your strumming is, the more musical or interesting it will sound, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The truth is… you can play the most complex strumming pattern, but if it’s played out of time, you’ll sound terrible (sorry!). What actually makes you sound musical is how well you can keep time, not what pattern you’re strumming.
So when you’re learning a new song for the first time, the best strumming pattern to start with is the one that allows you to do two things:
- Lock into the consistent beat of the song. Every song has a consistent count or beat most commonly counted in four or in three and it’s your job as a rhythmic instrument to find that beat and play steadily.
- Make smooth chord changes. Any problematic chord changes will interrupt your consistent strumming rhythm so it’s important to pick a pattern that is easy enough to allow you to ensure each chord is dialed in!
This is why my favorite strumming pattern is the DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN strumming pattern played to a count of four (1, 2, 3, 4, and so on).
I warned you this is easy, but see how musical this can be by strumming this simple chord progression to play a popular song medley.
In the video, I use this chord progression to play Hey Soul Sister by Train, Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver, and With Or Without You by U2.
How to Create Variety in Your Rhythm
When you start with a simple pattern like this one, it becomes easy to begin to add variety.
For example, you might add in up strums between the down strums and count out loud 1 and, 2 and, 3 and, 4 and, and so on.
Surprisingly, there isn’t some magic, secret strumming pattern for a single song.
You actually have the ability to create the perfect pattern by finding the beat, playing to the beat, and then, adding variety to that pattern with your own creativity.
So when in doubt, start with down strums!
And if you want to be able to have the skills to be able to learn the chords and find the right strumming pattern for any song, then, join me in Strumming Tricks where I give you a step-by-step plan to go from complete beginner to proficient strummer on ukulele.
Yes, I liked your downstrumming video. I am enjoying my uke very much. Hope I’ll be ready for your blues lessons starting on the 29th at 1:00 pm.
Glad you found it helpful, Karen! Thanks for your comment.
I had broken my wrist a few years ago and couldn’t play my guitar yet. So I took up the ukulele and love it. I play all over and love it. So fun. I am 75 going on 21. Lol. Enjoy your helpful hints. Thanks for being there
Welcome back, Nancy! I’m glad you’re feeling better. 🙂
I really enjoyed the strumming lesson. I’ve been using my thumb or a felt pick, and not the index finger….So I am going to practice your method…
Thank you so much.
Awesome, Irene! Glad I could share this with you!