At our recent Hawaiian lesson, several people asked, “How exactly do you do that “chucka” thing? Can you slow it down?”
That percussive chucky strumming sound that you hear in a lot of ukulele songs can be done either with your chording hand or your strumming hand. To “chuck” with your left hand, you just lift the chord partially, so the strings don’t ring and instead produce a deadened or muted sound. (You may be familiar with this effect, because it’s easy to do it unintentionally!) However, this only works if there are no open strings in the chord.
That’s why most players do the “chuck” thing by deadening the strings with the palm of their strumming hand. That may sound difficult, but it’s fun and not too hard to learn!
Stuart Fuchs does a great job of showing how to do it in this clear, step-by-step video. If you get out your uke and play along with him, you’ll be chucking within 10 minutes.
After you get the hang of it, you can chuck along with any song and mix up strums and chucks to create rhythms.
In this Hawaiian song, Mark Sinclair modifies a simple down-up down-up shuffle to something more like “up–up-chuck–rest,” but you could do “down-up-chuck-up” and get a similar sound.
In this cover of “I’m on Fire,” Mark is doing something along the lines of “down, chuck-up, down-up, chuck-up.”
If you can’t keep up at first, pause the video and do the strumming slowly until you feel confident. (Here’s a sheet with chord diagrams for I’m On Fire)