Curtis Kamiya Music

Strum The Ukulele Like Jack Johnson

Today's lesson will focus on a strum that I hear Jack Johnson do all the time, only adapted to the ukulele.

There are three things you need to be able to do to accomplish this strum:
1. You need to get the stroking right, in other words your right hand needs to go up or down at the right time.
2. You need to be able to execute a muted strum, at first with the free fingers on the left hand muting the strings.
3. You need to be able to make one up stroke a short note.

1. To get the right stroking, I'd recommend saying the down/up pattern first. If you get it in your head by saying it, it becomes much easier to strum. When you've got that down, execute the strum while muting the strings, just to get the rhythm. That way you're just working on the rhythm with the right hand, not worrying about chords or anything else.

2. Try making a muted strum. Strum one down regularly, then with your free fingers, cover all the strings an strum down again. When you mute, you want to touch the strings, don't press down too hard. Just enough to inhibit the strings from vibrating, but not enough to fret a note. You're looking for just a "chuck" sound, no notes. Once you've got that, try it with a Bb chord. Get the mute by lifting up on the strings, just enough to get a "chuck" sound. I think of it as "unsqueezing". Just loosen your hand, but don't take your fingers off the strings.

3. To get the short note just mute the strings immediately after the upstroke. You want that note to be shorter than the rest of the notes.

Here's the strum broken down into beats:

| 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + | 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + |
| D
__ D U D U D U_____U___U D U D___|
__________x x x_*___________X X X

The numbers stand for beats, the "+" symbols are the "and" beats. "D" stands for down stroke, "U" stands for up stroke. "X" is a muted strum, and the "*" symbols is to make that up stroke short.

Takes a little getting used to, but if you want to play some Jack Johnson on the 'ukulele, this is the way you do it. Good luck!