Last Updated on April 16, 2021.
Chunk strumming the ukulele is a skill that every ukulele player has to pull off before their ukulele-learning journey is complete. Playing the ukulele is quite easy and fun. Learning how to chunk strum is just as easy and fun.
As a beginner, this technique will help you to get a better grasp on the ukulele and all the sounds it is capable of producing.
What Exactly Is Chunking?
You probably already hear a lot of chunking sound while listening to regular ukulele music. The chunking technique allows you to mute the strings before strumming. Some players call it playing with ”dead notes”.
Chunking is a catchy sound that you can make in between changing chords or to simply make your music sound more cheery to reach that real ukulele sound. This technique is very common, and many musicians use it in their songs and music tracks.
The chunking technique is used to add a percussive sound to the strum, practically the equivalent of clapping sound. As soon as you’ve learned the basic strumming patterns, this is the very next thing you will need to learn
How To Chunk On Ukulele
There are two places in your palm that you can use to produce a dead note. You can either use the fleshy part of your palm along the side of your pinky, or you can simply use the side of your thumb. You can try both and choose the more comfortable way.
Here’s a video example:
Now, let’s go ahead and practice this technique.
1. How To Chunk Strumming With Your Palm
It will seem very simple, but it will need a bit of practice until you become comfortable with it. Here is what you need to do. First of all, before strumming, make sure that the fleshy part of your palm is resting lightly on the top of the strings.
Also, make sure you’re not being heavy-handed while touching the strings with your palm. Once your palm is in place, start strumming with your index finger normally. This has to happen quickly as you mix strumming with chunking.
Here’s what happens, your palm is damping the strings to mute it. The ukulele will still give the chord sound, but it will be different from how it normally sounds when it’s not muted. If you do it correctly, you will get a very nice and melodic “chunk” sound.
This is a great way to break the strumming pattern and to add a special character to what you’re playing.
2. Chunk Strumming With the Side Of Your Thumb
To chunk while using the side of your thumb, strum down using only three or four fingers of your strumming hand, then instantly dampen the strings with the side of your thumb. Your thumb should be pointed towards the ground. Once you do it correctly and quickly, you will hear a very nice “chunk “sound!
Once you manage to get the hitting of the strings and the immediate dampening, you can then start practicing with chords. Such as C, G, Am, or F. As those are really good chords to practice with and will make you feel more comfortable using them.
Those chords are used in numerous songs, which gives you the chance for more experimentation and practice.
Tips to Chunk Strum on the Ukulele
So here’s a few additional tips which will help you improve this technique.
The X Mark on the Ukulele Tab
When you read a ukulele tab, you will find the chunks represented by an X mark. And now that you’ve learned different ways to produce the chunking sound, whenever you see an X mark on the ukulele tab, you know exactly what to do!
Don’t Use Too Much Force
Always remember that chunking does not require a lot of force. After a bit of practice, you will be able to create a fairly nice chunk sound with minimal effort. So, make sure not to hit the ukulele hard and don’t dig into the strings on the down strum.
Take your time learning about this technique, and in no time you will become a pro.
How To Chunk On A Ukulele, Final Thoughts
Strumming the ukulele produces a peaceful, beautiful sound that can help both the player and the listener relax. The chunking technique will help you introduce a certain pattern to your music to make it more interesting and active. Chunking the strums is very simple and easy to learn, once you get it right, you can enhance your music to a much higher level.