Arts & Entertainment, Music

Strumming Techniques

Jake Shimabukuro

Lesson time 08:44 min

Discover strumming techniques and how to get the best sound out of your ʻukulele.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Using Your Index Finger · Positioning Your Strum


[00:00:00.00] [INSTRUMENTAL 'UKULELE MUSIC] [00:00:12.38] - All right, so now we're going to talk about strumming. And the easiest way for me to explain it is just all we're going to be doing is we're going to be playing all the strings at once. Okay? And the most basic introduction to strumming is with our thumb. You just want to lightly touch the string and you want to apply some pressure and then let your thumb slip off the string like that. [00:00:41.69] The feeling that your fingers should have when it's releasing the string is, it's that same feeling of like when you put your foot on the edge of a curb and you let half of your foot start to slide off gently. And you just put more and more weight on your foot. And then that moment where your foot just slides off the curb. That's the feeling that you want to have with your fingers. [00:01:07.69] So it's like yeah, my thumb is here. It's on the string. And I'm putting more weight, more weight on it. More weight, more weight. And then it slides off just like that. That's the feeling. You know? Sliding off the string. [00:01:23.10] And that's the feeling you want to have every time you're playing a note or even if you're playing a full chord. Like if you're holding a chord and you're just playing all the strings and you're starting at the fourth floor and you're just working your way down. Just like that. It's just applying that pressure and then letting it slide down just like that. There we go. Again. One, two, ready, slide. Just like that. Very nice. [00:01:52.29] And the most important thing is when you do it, sometimes it's almost like you need to get into character. Sometimes if I'm playing a piece, depending on what kinds of emotions or what that piece is reflecting or expressing, I almost have to take a little moment to get into character, to get into that headspace, to feel that emotion. And then play because if you don't have that inside of you before you make contact it's just going to be like an empty box. [00:02:36.13] [INSTRUMENTAL 'UKULELE MUSIC] [00:02:42.29] Strumming with your index finger. In the beginning, for me, it's important that you learn how to strum with an up stroke. And when I say up stroke, you're going to take your index finger and the fleshy part of your finger here. You're just going to place it against the first string. And you're just going to do this. You're going to do the opposite of what you did with the thumb. You're going to apply some upward pressure and you're just going to let it go back up. Just like that. [00:03:16.16] So the same way that your thumb went down the slide, your index finger is going to go up the slide. When you're strumming down with your thumb you're using the fleshy part of your thumb. Right? Now, if I were to strum up with my thumb again. What just happened? I'm using the nail of my thumb now to make contact. Right? [00:03:44.41] So that's going to give me a completely different timbre, completely different color. Right? So...

About the Instructor

Called the “Jimi Hendrix of the ʻukulele,” Jake Shimabukuro won worldwide acclaim for his fresh and fearless musical interpretations. Now he’s sharing his approach so anyone can experience the joys of the ʻukulele, from the simple chords that make up hundreds of songs to more complex fingerings and compositions. Learn how to adapt songs you love for ʻukulele or write your own. Stop worrying and start strumming.

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Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro teaches you how to take your ʻukulele from the shelf to center stage, with techniques for beginners and seasoned players alike.

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