Getting into the rhythm of a strumming pattern is something that challenges many beginners. The following video demonstrates a useful technique using an egg shaker to improve your strumming. A shaker that fits onto one of the fingers of your playing hand would also work.
I also like to use a finger shaker when playing with a group as it adds another dimension to the overall sound. Although don’t overdo this. One or two shakers in a group are enough. You don’t want to sound like a hail storm.
Syncopation is a technique that sounds fantastic on the ukulele and can really enhance your playing style. It is also good when you find instructions for this method that are easy to understand. The following video does this well.
A lot of beginners have trouble playing the E chord. Manitoba Hal Brolund shows the many ways to play this chord in his helpful video.
Often when you have two or several ukuleles there is one that you play more than the others. It’s your favorite and it just feels and sounds wonderful. So how do you bring back the passion for your other ukes if they are being neglected?
To make the most of your collection it can simply be a matter of increasing your repertoire and playing the right song for the right uke. Some music sounds better when played on a particular size or type of ukulele (eg resonator or banjolele). But if, like me, you have two ukuleles of the same size and a similar type this won’t make much difference.
I have two concert ukes. I bought the second one because I love the feel and the sound it makes and the size suits me. It is so playable that I was not using my other concert ukulele, which seemed a complete waste. A couple of other members of our group have low G strings on their ukuleles which can give more of a bass sound to a song. So I replaced the high G string on my first use with one of the Aquila Red Series low G strings and it sounds completely different. It’s also great to play with a felt pick, especially on the “boom Dit-ty strum” (see earlier post) and makes the uke more resonant.
The low G works particularly well on a Tenor sized ukulele but you can even put one on a soprano uke. You will have a deeper sound while still playing the chords for the GCEA tuning. A Tenor ukulele with a low G is a great alternative to buying a larger baritone ukulele, especially if you find the fingering too difficult with the change of chord structure necessary for the DGBE tuning.
Have a look on You Tube as there are many videos with a comparison of low and high G strings, as well as reviews for wound and unwound strings.
Now I can switch between ukes depending on the song and am enjoying playing both my ukuleles. So if you feel you have been neglecting one of your ukes, try a low G for a change of sound and some renewed enthusiasm.
Here’s another great strum to add to your repertoire. Ukulele Zen’s Stuart Fuchs gives a helpful lesson and demonstration of the “Boom Dit-ty” strum. It’s good to be able to put a name to this familiar strum, which can be used in lots of songs.
Swinging the beat can really improve your ukulele strumming style. For those who want to develop their playing technique here is a simple and clear lesson on this method by Katie DeNure.
A lot of beginners have trouble playing barre chords. The Ukulele Teacher gives a great lesson on how to master this technique no matter what size your hands.