Ukulele Strums: Backbeat Chop, Bluegrass Chop

This is another way to play accents on 2 and 4. It's very similar to the reggae strums but it's executed in a completely different way, and special chords must be used to play it properly.

In bluegrass music there is typically no drummer, so to keep the group together and in time, the bass player plays on beats 1 and 3, and the mandolin player plays a chop on the back-beat or the off beat, 2 and 4.

Basically, the bass player takes the place of the kick drum and the mandolin chop takes the place of the snare drum. The Banjo then plays the melody using 8th notes.

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As a ukulele player you may find yourself in a situation with a bass player and no drummer as well, and find the backbeat chop a useful accompaniment.

Like the reggae strums, this makes a great accompaniment for any song. Accompaniments like this can also be found in jazz and popular music.

Ukulele Strums: Back-Beat Chop, Bluegrass Chop

Before attempting this, these previous lessons must be mastered:

Reggae lesson 1: Reggae, Rock Steady, and Ska Strum

Chords with no open notes must be used to perform the backbeat chop.

They can be found here

Let's perform what we could call the Backbeat Chop or the Bluegrass Chop.

Here's how to play it:

  1. Put your fingers on the notes of the chord, but don't press down as you would to play the chord - just gently rest your fingers on the strings, this will mute the strings.
  2. On counts 2 and 4 press down to play the chord and strum it. Right after you strum the chord, lift you fingers until they are gently resting on the strings again to mute them for the rests on counts 1 and 2

Here's how it looks:

Rest, strum, rest, strum, etc...

Fine tuning

Make the rest longer than the strum:

  1. Tap your foot 1, 2, 3, 4 make sure you are taping evenly, or use a metronome - start slow
  2. Then, over the taps - make sure you're counting evenly - say: Long, short, long, short. Say the short, shorter than the long and play the chop on the short.

Have fun! Use this for different songs and see what you think.

Ukulele Strums: Back-Beat Chop, Bluegrass Chop

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