The iconic percussive sound of “chucking” is synonymous with the ukulele and ukulele music. What is chucking, how do you produce a chuck, and where can you apply the chucking technique? Read on below to learn how to chuck strum a ukulele and bring greater depth to your playing.
What is Chucking?
Chucking is a percussive way of strumming where the player strums and mutes the strings at the same time with the strumming hand.
How to Chuck
Let’s break the chucking technique into three steps: Down, Mute, and Flick.
Step 1: Down
Slowly allow the strumming hand to strum down. Stop the downward motion before the index finger comes in contact with the strings.
Step 2: Mute
Place the side of your strumming hand on the strings.
Make sure that the side and/or the palm of your hand is in contact with all 4 strings to mute them.
Step 3: Flick
Take your index finger and flick down on the muted strings.
Using the index fingernail makes a crisp clean chuck or muted strum; however, the index fingernail is not essential to making the chucking sound.
Notes and Tips:
You may have to adjust the position of your palm or hand to be able to mute the strings and flick down with your index finger comfortably.
Keeping the neck at a 45-degree angle may help the palm cover the strings.
If the placement of your hand to mute the strings feels awkward, try strumming where the base of the neck meets the body of the ukulele. You will notice that the string tension is lighter and there is more room for the strumming hand to mute the strings.
Step 4: Chucking While Strumming
Strum down slowly and let the palm come in contact with the strings first.
When you feel the strumming hand come in contact with the strings, the index finger will flick down on the muted strings.
Repeat the process slowly, completing each step individually. Gradually speed up to melt all three steps together. Eventually, the three steps will melt into one fluid motion.
Below is a very common strumming pattern called the “Island Strum” with chucking on counts 2 and 4. Because the Island Strumming Pattern is so common, it can be used for dozens of ukulele songs.
A chuck could be added to any strumming pattern where there is a downstroke, so feel free to experiment with this technique and apply it to a familiar song to add dynamic and musical interest. Now that you’ve learned how to chuck strum a ukulele you’re ready to expand your playing.