Ukulele Lesson: The Boom Dit-ty Strum

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.

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Left Hand Finger Dexterity Exercise: Ukulele Mike

Scales can often seem a chore but Ukulele Mike demonstrates a relatively simple exercise that will strengthen and improve the flexibility of your left-hand fingers.  This looks like an exercise that will make a difference while being easy to learn for beginners and for those with less flexible hands.

Ukulele Accessories

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There are a great many accessories available to go with the ukulele and enhance your playing.  The Ukulele Hunt website has reviews of many of the types available, so I thought I would just write about what I found to be useful and why.  This may give others some idea of what accessories would suit them.

In a previous post I talked about the types of straps that I prefer so I won’t go into these accessories.  Probably the main accessory that is essential is a tuner.  My two ukuleles have built-in tuners that are really good, but I do keep a Snark clip-on tuner on hand in case of battery failure.  The Snark is easy to use and is not affected by any surrounding noise because it works by detecting vibrations.  These are small tuners and don’t take up much room in your bag or uke case.  There is only one problem.  As I have mentioned before puppies and young dogs will eat them if given half the chance, so beware.  A Snark is not a dog snack.

When playing on your own it is good to have a capo to change the key without changing your fingering.  Although I like to be able to play a song is several keys, sometimes I can’t find exactly the right key to suit my voice without using one that is just too hard for me to play and sing at the same time.  This is when a capo is really useful.  I have one of the Jim Dunlop clip on ones for ukulele and it is quick and easy to fit to the fret board.

Sometimes I like to use a pick.  There are various types of these available for the ukulele.  I have some felt and leather ones.  I know that you should not use hard plastic picks because these can gouge in the ukulele body and the strings.  They also make an irritating clicking sound.  The felt ones for ukulele make the least noise but they are rather thick and large, so I used a guitar pick and traced around this on a felt pick with a ballpoint pen and then cut it down to size.  I found this easier to control when playing and it is less likely to catch between the strings.  The leather ones, while quite large, are thinner and more like a guitar pick so are easy to use and are good if you want a crisper sound.

Ukulele stands are useful, especially if you have more than one ukulele.  I have a small folding one.  If I have only one ukulele with me, I usually rest it in a chair when I’m not playing.  With this type of stand you do need to be careful that the uke is balanced correctly or it can topple over, which defeats its purpose.  My ukes are concert sized and if you have a larger sized uke you would definitely need a bigger stand.

A non-essential accessory that is great fun is a finger shaker.  You slide it on one of the fingers on your strumming hand and it shakes to the rhythm as you play.  This works really well on fast songs.

Another great thing to have is a kazoo.  When there is a brass section in a song this makes a fun substitute.  And if your kazoo goes soggy and won’t work, replace the insert with a piece of tissue paper or use the transparent window material of an old envelope.  It is also a good idea to hang the kazoo from a cord around your neck then you can spit it out when playing and it’s time to sing again without hitting someone.

I have found all of the above accessories to be worthwhile purchases, but do check out what is available.  You might find something that you like better.

Happy strumming.

Kat,     Bayside Ukes member