Strum your banjo for an instant banjo uke!

Here are a couple of lessons showing how you can strum your five-string banjo ukulele style. You can quickly switch to high-energy strumming when you want to kick some energy into a dance or just as a break from regular clawhammer.

Here’s an introduction to the strum I use most often:

I use my index finger for both frailing and strumming, but I recommend you use a different finger for each approach. The strumming wears your nail down fast. I’m switching my strumming to my middle finger but I’m not there yet, so I use the index in the video.

For happy strumming, you need to know what chords to play. So here’s a quick look at how to figure out the basic chords of a D tune:


Other uses for the strum

If you’re at a big, noisy jam and the players have wandered apart rhythmically, you can (politely) switch to the uke strum to bring them back together. The banjo uke sound cuts through everything and gives a steady beat for people to latch onto.

Why not open G?

I showed the strum and chords in double D for two reasons:

  1. Many people who watch my videos want to play old-time music, for which D is a popular key.
  2. It’s way easier to make the I, IV, and V chords up the neck in D.

If I want to strum in several keys without retuning, I use open G (gDGBD). I know many more chord shapes up the neck in that tuning, and it’s what I use for playing the kinds of tunes on Jim Bottorff’s site. However, old-time tunes usually insist on I-IV-V, and switching between G, C, and D up the neck in open G is a bear. So to make it easy on the old-time crowd, I chose a D tune and aDADE.


3 Responses to “Strum your banjo for an instant banjo uke!”

  1. 1 Merit December 3, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Wonderful and helpful stuff! Thanks for using ADADE.

  2. 2 Leslie August 27, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    This is a wonderful lesson. Thanks so much. All was perfectly described.

  3. 3 guitar and song October 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I really appreciate what you are doing and accomplishing. Looking for similar sites.

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