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How to Chuck On The Ukulele

If you want to take your ukulele strumming to a new level, this is your chance to do it!

by Jennifer VanBenschoten

Hey there, Ukesters! Are you ready to learn how to chuck on the ukulele? Maybe you’ve been playing ukulele for a while and you’re bored with all the same old strumming techniques. You’ve probably heard a lot of other ukulele performances and are ready to add some fun percussion sounds to your ukulele playing and jazz up those same old songs, right?

If you want to take your ukulele strumming to a new level, it’s time for you to learn how to chuck ukulele!

How to Chuck On The Ukulele

When someone talks about how to chuck ukulele, they’re referring to a strumming technique that is a way to strum and then quickly mute all the strings of your ukulele, creating a kind of percussive effect in your song. When you incorporate this percussive strumming effect into your ukulele playing, it will give your songs a more “rock song” feel.

Learning how to chuck ukulele will also give you a leg up in learning some more advanced muting techniques on your ukulele. Practicing your chuck strumming will help with rhythm, coordination, and expressive playing.

Read more: Ohana Ukuleles And Everything You Need To Know About Them

Believe it or not, learning how to chuck ukulele with your strumming hand will also help you learn how to do left hand muting techniques on your fretboard. It gives you better control over the sounds that come out of your ukulele, and that can make you a better ukulele player!

Other names for chucking ukulele

While this technique is basically taught the same way everywhere you go, you may see it called by different names. Remember what Shakespeare said when he talked about a rose by any other name smells just as sweet? Well, you’ll find a few different names that people use to refer to this technique.

Don’t confuse this technique with another one called palm muting. Palm muting refers to a technique that uses the heel of your strumming hand to mute the strings of your ukulele while doing fingerpicking. Palm muting is most often used in Travis picking, and not as a strumming pattern like chucking is.

But if you’re getting tips from other ukulele players, some of them will call it chunking (with the ‘n’ in there) instead of chucking. Both of these names refer to the same basic technique of using the side of your hand to mute the strings in between a strum for a distinct percussion-like sound. But now I’m getting ahead of myself – on to the tutorial!

How to chuck ukulele

  • Start by establishing your strumming pattern on your ukulele. Strum for a few bars as you normally would.
  • To chuck ukulele on your next strum, curve your index finger slightly. I like to establish very light contact between my index finger and my thumb on my strumming hand (I use my right hand) to give both fingers a little more support.
  • As you down strum on your ukulele with your curved right finger, allow the fleshy part of your hand under your thumb to come into contact with the strings and stop your strum right there – you’ll know it when you hear it.
  • You can only chuck ukulele on the down strum, so play normally on your next up strum.

Sprinkle those chucks everywhere in your strumming patterns for some fun and funky songs!

How to recognize chucking on ukulele tabs

Now that you’re familiar with chucking on the ukulele, you might have noticed it in some ukulele tabs for your favorite songs. Some songs on the ukulele include chucking as a way to add some percussion to the rhythms of the song.

If you’re reading ukulele tablature, you’ll see that there are numbers on each of the four lines representing the ukulele strings that indicate which frets to press down on to make the chords or chord melody. But when you see a row of X’s on all the lines representing the ukulele strings, that’s where you’ll do chucking!

Remember that chucking on ukulele can only happen on the down strum. When you see a row of X’s on your ukulele tablature, that means it’s chucking on the down strum.

You may also notice the symbols for chucking on the ukulele in fingerstyle or chord melody tablature. In those instances, it may take a little bit of practice to teach your fingers what to do. But keep practicing, even if it’s just a few minutes every day, and you’ll see progress!

Tips for learning how to chuck ukulele

If I’m 100% honest, I discovered how to chuck ukulele by accident.  I had been playing ukulele for a few months and I was getting kind of bored with the same old sounds I got from strumming. One morning I was practicing in one of my big oversized plaid flannel shirts, and the sleeve kept coming in contact with the strings. I didn’t want to stop strumming to move the sleeve away from the strings, so I tried to mute the strings with my sleeve. But what I actually discovered was how to chuck ukulele!

When you’re just learning how to chuck ukulele, there are a few things you can do to make your practice sessions more effective:

  1. Get started by practicing a simple muting of the strings first. The way to do this is to do a regular down strum, and then quickly place the side of your thumb on your strumming hand on the strings to quiet them. Practice this a few times, and then speed it up. Eventually, you want to have the side of your hand mute the strings almost at the same time you strum them for a nice percussive sound.
  2. Try chucking on different instruments if you can! Since I’m most definitely “suffering” from UAS (ukulele acquisition syndrome), I have plenty of different ukuleles to practice chucking. You might notice a big difference between instruments – some instruments might be easier to chuck, some instruments might be more challenging. Find the one that’s easiest for you and use that until you get the hang of it!
  3. Another tip that I used to master the art of chucking ukulele was to practice my strumming with different fingers. Sometimes I’d use my index finger and sometimes just my thumb. When I felt confident enough to be able to strum with either or both of those fingers, I found I was able to really nail down the technique needed for chucking ukulele.

So there you go! Learning how to chuck ukulele is one of the most satisfying things I ever did as a beginning ukulele player! Try some of these tips and see just how much fun it can add to your favorite songs.

Ready to learn more great songs and chord progressions for your newly acquired chucking skills? Take a look at all the great courses available on the ULTP membership site! You’ll find everything you need to take your ukulele skills to the next level!

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