1
Love songs on the Ukulele (Valentine’s Day Issue)
2
Christmas Music on the Ukulele
3
How to Get the Best Ukulele Sound?
4
Fingerpicking Basics
5
Common Ukulele Techniques
6
How to chunck?
7
How to Restring your Ukulele?
8
The Barre Chords
9
Ways to play the dreaded E major chord
10
The Ukulele Vamp

Love songs on the Ukulele (Valentine’s Day Issue)

What better holiday to have near the end of a cold and dreary winter than Valentine’s Day? It seems strange we don’t celebrate love at the height of spring or the warm days of summer, but hey I don’t make the rules. For those ukulele players who made New Years resolutions to start practising more, we have a few weeks to prepare the perfect love songs for our ukulele. Below are a few song examples for the beginner and more advanced player to learn for Valentine’s Day, hopefully they will impress your love to be or an audience just simply in the spirit of such a romantic day! La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf) The French cabaret singer-songwriter Edith Piaf wrote this song back in 1946, and was made popular with an English version by Louis Armstrong. The title can be translated as “Life Through Rose Colored Glasses” or its[…]

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Christmas Music on the Ukulele

Every year Christmas music seems to encroach on us earlier and earlier, we see the decorations in the store and hear the music over the speakers. Even those who are driven nuts by this perpetual holiday, must admit how infectious Christmas music really is. Even if you do not particularly celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas, or the Winter Solstice, it is difficult not to tap your foot and hum to the best Christmas songs out there. When it comes to playing Christmas music, there may be no better instrument than the ukulele. After all the ukulele is already associated with fun and smiles, add some catchy tunes into the mix and you have a winning combination. The earlier Christmas music of chants and psalms, really aren’t the best for the ukulele. A piano or a harp is more suited for some of the more traditional songs. The 1930’s –[…]

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How to Get the Best Ukulele Sound?

Learning to play any instrument takes time, while the ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to learn, you still need to take the time to develop enough skill to make it sound great. There are a few basic pointers to make sure you are guaranteed to wow folks when you play the uke for them! The Right Ukulele I see many articles out there about how to make a cheap ukulele sound great, the best way is to not be cheap, luckily with ukuleles we aren’t talking about huge price tags. From the very beginning it is essential that you have a proper uke to play. Music is a great business these days, there are a ton of instruments to buy, supplies to get, and lessons to purchase. Unfortunately, not everyone is out to truly help you in your journey, many instrument makers out there both locally and foreign[…]

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Fingerpicking Basics

In a recent article we discussed advancing our scale routines using specific fingers for each string on the uke, that way we could start peppering our chord progressions with notes. The basic and beginning way to play the ukulele is to use the index finger or thumb (or both) to simply strum up and down, however once we start adding in notes we get into the fun world of fingerpicking. Below we will discuss some basics on fingerpicking, however there is nothing wrong with just doing whatever works for you. One of the keys to fingerpicking is actually having memorized your chords and being able to switch quickly back and forth in a progression. If you are still having trouble with that you may want to hold off on fingerpicking for awhile, otherwise it is difficult to be focusing on both hands at the same time. Grab your Uke and[…]

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Common Ukulele Techniques

After you have spent some time learning your chords, scales, basic music theory, how to read sheet music, and tablature you realize you want to start adding some flourishes and new techniques to your Uke repertoire. There are multiple ways to improve your sound and make your audience think you are a master at the ukulele! Hammer-Ons A hammer-on is a method of moving up from one note to another without re-plucking a string. Basically you play the string one time, yet by hammering on you can play multiple notes. Place your index finger on the second fret of the E string, pluck the string and immediately press down on the 4th fret of the E string. Here you played two notes with only one pluck of the string. If you play fast enough you can also hit the 5th fret of the E string, thus striking three notes on[…]

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How to chunck?

Weird name, huh?  You’re probably wondering how to chunck, or learn about what “chuncking” is.  Chucking is a fancy sound you can make in between changing chords, or to just make your music sound upbeat and cheery to get that real ukulele sound. You probably hear a lot of chuncking when you listen to regular ukulele music, and you didn’t even realize you did! here’s some helpful ways on how to chuck. Place a part of your hand over the strings. I like to use my wrist or lower palm area of my hand.  this is to mute the strings so it doesn’t sound like a chord when you strike the strings. once you know your strings are muted, strum the strings with your fingers while your hand is still on the strings. You should get a muted “chuck” sound. The reason why it’s called a chunck sound is because[…]

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How to Restring your Ukulele?

Want to change you ukulele Strings? That’s a good idea, because one of the most important parts of your stringed instrument… is the strings! =) Don’t skimp on good strings, the better they are the better your Uke will sound. Another important factor is how the strings are put on, you need to make sure they are put in the right place and in a clean manner. Haphazardly tying the string all around itself looks terrible in the long run. The first step is buying yourself some new strings, I have always preferred Aquila NylGut strings. If you have others you would like to try that is fine, but remember that the more you pay the better they likely will be. I often buy strings for all my instruments at one time from a site called JustStrings, they offer good prices and all the brands I could want. Do not[…]

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The Barre Chords

Barre chords, or Bar chords, are usually a nightmare for guitar players, nigh impossible on the mandolin, but lucky for us, much more manageable on the ukulele. A barre chord is made by pressing down on one or more strings across the ukulele fret, often completely across, but occasionally only partially (known as a partial barre). To put it simply place your finger on the bottom string 3rd fret to make the well known C chord. Now place your index finger completely across all the strings on the second fret and your pinky finger on the bottom string 5th fret. You have basically taken the C chord shape up two frets to make it a D chord. That’s really the simplicity of barre chords, once you have the shape of a chord you can move it to make another chord (also known as moveable chords). Your index finger acts as[…]

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Ways to play the dreaded E major chord

The dreaded E major chord… As you first start to learn uke chords the first one is usually C. Super easy! =) And then the Am, F, G, C7. No problem at all! D is a little more difficult and then wham we hit the E major wall. Very few beginning students can bend their fingers properly to play this chord. First off a little music theory, the E major chord is made up of the notes E, G#, and B. All major chords are made up of the root, 3rd, and 5th of the scale and the E major scale is E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, and D#. The root note is E, the 3rd note is G# and the 5th note is B. So anywhere on the ukulele that we can find the notes E, G#, and B we will have an E major chord. The chord[…]

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The Ukulele Vamp

In music a vamp is not a bloodsucker… it is a form of Ostinato. Ostinato is a repeating phrase used throughout a piece and in between songs. For those of you who are guitar players you may be familiar with riffs, riffs are another form of Ostinato as they are musical figures that repeat throughout a song, and sometimes alone define a song. Some of the most famous riffs out there are “Johnny B Goode”, “Sunshine of Your Love”, and “Smoke on the Water”. When it comes to the ukulele we have the vamp. Back in the 30’s and 40’s when ukuleles were very popular, bands would often see the words “vamp till ready” placed in between songs and sheet music. The vamp was a musical filler for musicians to keep the upbeat feeling going before transitioning to the next song. In a previous article we mentioned common chord progressions,[…]

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