Easy Alternatives to Chnking

Ukulele players love to blow chnks all over the place. It’s a useful technique to have in your arsenal. But it takes some practice to get down. I wrote a full guide to playing them in How to Play Ukulele Strums. But while you’re trying to get them down, here are a few alternatives you can use while you’re practicing them. And a few alternative strumming ideas for everyone else.

The Strum

The strum I’m recreating here is down, up, chnk, up, down, up, chnk, up. In shorthand:

d u x u d u x u

Which sounds like this using a chnk:

For more info on chnks and strumming patterns have a look at my ebook How to Play Ukulele Strums.

Body Slap

How do you do it? Slap the palm of your strumming hand down on the strings around the noise-hole area.

Advantages: Easy to do. Very percussive sound.

Disadvantages: There’s no strumming sound to it.

Muted Strum

How do you do it? A muted strum doesn’t require you to do anything different with your strumming hand at all. All you do is stop the strings from ringing by laying fingers on your fretting hand across the strings to stop them ringing. One finger will usually do the job but two fingers is safer.

In this example I’m playing a C chord. So I release the A-string then lay my index and middle fingers across the strings.

Advantages: You can do muted strums on down and up strums (not possible with chnks), they don’t break up the rhythm of your strumming hand, and they’re easy to do.

Disadvantages: They’re a bit wimpy compared to chnks.

Four Finger Muted Strum

How do you do it? Do a muted strum but strum with all four fingers. Try to line them up so they all hit the strings at about the same time.

Advantages: Louder and more in-your-face than a muted strum.

Disadvantages: Doesn’t have the same slap as a chnk.

Body Strum

How do you do it? Just like the four finger muted strum but you follow through and hit the body of the uke with your nails.

Advantages: They sound as close to a chnk as it’s possible to get without chnking. You can vary the sound you get my changing the amount of force you hit the uke with.

Disadvantages: Is a bit more tricky. It might damage your uke. Or your fingers.

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9 Comments

  1. Nola Roden May 28th, 2015 1:09 pm

    Nice tips. I prefer the mute with my hand. Although I stink at it! I’ll keep practicing. One of these days I’ll surprise myself! LOL

    Thanks for your free lessons.

  2. Kevin May 28th, 2015 4:03 pm

    Good stuff. It’s great to be reminded how each strum works and how their effects differ. Thanks!

  3. tjvonp May 29th, 2015 2:25 am

    Wait. What? WHAT?

    Apparently, at some point I deluded myself into thinking that whenever you said “chnk” you were talking about the muted strum. I’ve been doing that for SO LONG.

    Whoops. Time to learn something new.

  4. wastad May 29th, 2015 1:55 pm

    i’m trying to build up rhythmn’s using a mix of these techniques and some taps and slaps to – any suggestions on how to get fluent and add in the chord changes and keep a good hold on the ukulele, mine tends to jump and slide around.

    thanks

  5. Woodshed May 30th, 2015 4:03 pm

    tjvonp: Perhaps I should have been clearer! I keep assuming I’ve written a post about it only to realise I haven’t.

    wastad: For getting fluent, you can’t be starting really slow and gradually working up speed. Holding it, I’ve got less advice! I still juggle the uke around a fair bit when I’m playing.

  6. Geniebeanie October 16th, 2015 12:54 pm

    Love it – great tutorial for the chnk challenged like me.

  7. Woodshed October 16th, 2015 8:02 pm

    GenieBeanie: I’m very glad to hear that!

  8. roblo May 9th, 2016 5:48 am

    Versatility plus. Is there no end to the tricks a ukulele can do in the right hands? Inspired as usual, but heck do I need to practice my muting!

  9. Woodshed May 9th, 2016 4:32 pm

    roblo: Happy practicing!

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