Why Is Strumming in Ukulele So Hard

Ukulele enthusiasts often ask me why strumming on ukulele is hard compared to other stringed instruments. Well, the answer is simple. The smaller gap between the strings and the softness of the nylon string makes it difficult to strum on ukulele. 

The gap between the strings is smaller in ukulele compared to guitar and other stringed instruments. 

So, fingers got stuck in between the strings and it seems hard for beginners. 

Also, there are nylon strings that could break if we strum hard. Beginners are scared of this and don’t strum confidently.

These are some common things that make strumming difficult in ukulele.

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Common Problems People Face in Ukulele Strumming

Common Problems People Face in Ukulele Strumming

If you want to learn ukulele as a complete beginner here are some common problems that you would face during learning this instrument. 

  • The softness of Nylon strings – Nylon strings that are used in ukulele, are softer than steel strings. So, it should be handled with care. If you strum hard and your fingers get stuck between them then the strings can break. However, with time you’ll improve your strumming and fingerpicking skills and the nylon strings would become easy to play.
  • Small Fretboard – Ukulele fretboard is smaller in size compared to a guitar. Obviously, you will face difficulty holding the scales in between the fretboard. Even if you are an existing guitar player.
  • Less gap between strings – Another common problem ukulele beginners face in strumming is the less gap between the strings. Due to the smaller gap, your fingers could get stuck in between the strings. 
  • Often detunes – As Nylon stings are used in ukuleles, they tend to detune oftentimes. If the strings are new then this problem is prominent. As the strings get old, this problem mitigates.

So, these are some common problems beginners face when starting with their ukulele.

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Another common question beginners often ask me is,

Can You Strum a Ukulele Like a Guitar?

strumming in ukulele vs guitar

Strumming patterns in the ukulele and guitar are almost the same. But, the strings are made with different materials so the way you strum on them is different.

You cannot strum a ukulele with the same force as a guitar. Guitar has steel strings that have high elasticity which makes them more durable than a less elastic material.

On the other hand, ukulele has nylon strings whose elasticity is lower compared to steel strings.

So, you have to strum ukulele gently. 

Also, ukulele is a fingerpicking instrument. However, exceptions are always there. But the main strumming style in ukulele is the fingerpicking style.

Unlike guitar where both fingerpicking and plectrum are used in strumming definitely, the strumming style is different in both instruments.

Is It Easier to Strum a Ukulele With a Pick?

Strumming in Ukulele with Pick

If you have played guitar with a pick and finger, you would be aware that both sound different, both apply different force on strings (Pick applies more force on strings) and both have different challenges in strumming. 

As the pick applies more force on the springs the nylon strings used in ukulele obviously get damaged with time if you use the pick frequently.

If you are a beginner then you may apply more force through pick which can break the strings.

However, strumming a ukulele seems like a pick, definitely, it’s not. 

That’s why most ukulele players use fingerpicking in ukulele. 

However, there are special ukulele picks available in the market, in case you want to check.

How Do I Get Better at Strumming on My Ukulele?

practice ukulele to become perfect




Getting better at ukulele is not an overnight process. It takes time and routine practice to become better at ukulele. 

There are two ways to practice ukulele.

Additionally, you can follow these guidelines.

  • Use your thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers to pick the 4 strings of ukulele respectively. You can watch Youtube videos on how to hold the strumming fingers on ukulele.
  • Practice U-D alternatively. 
  • Practice with the metronome in different tempos.
  • Practice different strumming patterns such as U-D-U-D,D-D-U-D, D-U-D-U etc.
  • Try to play your favorite songs while picking with all the 4 fingers I’ve mentioned above.

These are some common things you can do to improve your strumming skills on ukulele.

What Is the Easiest Way to Strum a Ukulele?

Fingerpicking is The Best Strumming Technique For Ukulele


As I have told you above, ukulele is a fingerpicking instrument so you should keep your mind on practicing the fingerpicking style on ukulele.

However, occasionally you can use a pick to strum ukulele but the common and easiest way to strum a ukulele is fingerpicking. 

How Many Hours a Day Should You Practice Ukulele Strumming?

It depends on many factors. Such as,

  • What is your motive to learn ukulele? Do you want to learn it as a hobby? Or do you want to become a professional ukulele player? Definitely the second one will need more practice hours.
  • Are you an existing guitar or other stringed instrument players? If yes, then you will learn ukulele faster. So, you don’t need to practice hours of hours in a day.
  • Beginners should not practice continuing for hours any instrument. This will be overwhelming for your overall health. Your fingers would be in pain, the tip of the fingers will get hard. Posture will also create difficulty as guitar or ukulele playing postures are not ergonomically good. 
  • You should gradually increase your practice hours.

6 Most Common Ukulele Playing Mistakes

Here are common mistakes beginners do when learning ukulele. To become a good ukulele player you should avoid these mistakes. 

  1. Wrong posture – Right posture is very important for musical instrument players. If you become familiar with the wrong posture you will face different health problems such as backpain, fatigue, etc. So always play your ukulele in the right posture.
  2. Fingerpicking and pressing frets with only one or two fingers – Beginners use only one or two fingers to pick and press the frets. To make yourself faster on ukulele you should use all four fingers on both sides. Use thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers respectively for the strings G,C, E,A. Also, use Index, middle, ring and little fingers for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th frets. 
  3. Practice for hours at beginning – Beginners should not practice for more than 30 to 45 minutes a day. Gradually increase your practice time when you get familiar with ukulele fretboard, fingerpicking and posture.
  4. Not using Metronome – Practicing with a metronome will increase your accuracy in tempo. Tempo is the most important thing in music. So, you should always use a metronome when practicing ukulele. 
  5. Directly started playing songs – After watching some YouTube videos and reading notations people started playing songs directly on ukulele which is not a good practice. You should first practice some strumming and fretboard exercises for a few days and then start playing any songs.
  6. Do not warm up – Beginners do not warm up and start practicing songs directly. You should first warm up with fretboard and fingerpicking exercises in every practice session before playing songs.


I hope you’ve got the answer, to why it seems hard to strum in ukulele. I have tried to explain this topic in detail in this article.

Although it seems hard it’s not if you are passionate about learning ukulele. Even, not any instrument is hard to learn for a dedicated person.

Definitely, your hands don’t fit the fretboard of the ukulele “at first”, with time you will be familiarized with this and you will see the change.

Let me know in the comment section if you have another question about ukulele. I will definitely answer your question


Gautam Roy is a recording engineer and a blogger from India. He loves listening music, playing Guitar and Ukulele, writing, and travelling. He is also an active investor and a successful entrepreneur.

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