1
Ukulele Strings
2
How to get a percussive sound on your Uke
3
Electric Ukulele
4
Ukulele Soloing and Improvisation
5
Different types of Uke Tunings
6
Singing and Playing Ukulele at the Same Time
7
Double Stops
8
Introduction to Modes
9
Summer Songs for the Ukulele
10
Intros, Turnarounds, and Endings

Ukulele Strings

One of the most important aspects of the ukulele is having the right strings. Good strings can make all the difference in sound, even making a cheap ukulele sound bright and awesome. Unless a ukulele comes with a quality string already on it, it is always wise to change the strings on a new instrument. Just remember as a beginner to follow certain guidelines on string makeup and tuning. It can be very easy to damage a ukulele with the wrong strings or by attempting to tune a string higher than it will go. Ukulele Sizes and Tunings Pocket or Sopranissimo With a length of 16 inches and scale of 11 inches these tiny ukuleles are often tuned DGBE. Similar to Baritone tuning just two octaves higher. Soprano The most well known ukulele size with a length of 21 inches and a scale of 13 inches. Most often tuned GCEA,[…]

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How to get a percussive sound on your Uke

Basic String Muting When you first start playing the ukulele, you often will be doing your best to not mute any strings at all. As you practice new chords it is common to play each string to make sure each note in the chord sounds. All fretted strings need to be pressed down firmly right before the frets and any open strings can’t be touched by any of your fingers. However, there will come a point where you will want to purposely mute strings. We mute a string by barely pressing down on that string that we do not want to sound. Using your index finger cover all the strings on the second fret, this will be a barre chord Bm7. Play this chord as normal, making sure each string is sounding. Now take much of the pressure off the fretboard so your finger is barely laying across the strings.[…]

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Electric Ukulele

In 1965 when Bob Dylan went electric he upset a number of people, he was solely an acoustic folk singer and his new debut sound didn’t sit well with the audience. Perhaps I will also upset some ukulele purists when I discuss the fun of an electrified ukulele. Now I know, the ukulele is an acoustic instrument and most people prefer it that way, but when you can take its signal and amplify it, you can add a whole new dimension and creative level to your final sound. How to Pickup That Uke Sound! A pickup is a transducer that can capture or sense mechanical vibrations that are then converted to an electric signal that is amplified. So the sound waves in a ukulele, guitar, bass, mandolin, or other instrument flow into the pickup and can than be sent elsewhere for processing. Some ukuleles actually come as electric-acoustic and already[…]

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Ukulele Soloing and Improvisation

One of the better ways to become a better ukulele player is to find others to play with. Granted this may not be easy given where you live, but the good news is that more and more people are taking up the hobby. If you absolutely cannot find anyone else to play along with there are plenty of apps and software these days to help accompany a player (it is ok to use guitar or other instrument backing tracks when learning to solo, it’s just like playing in a band). When it comes to learning how to solo or improvise on the ukulele it is also fine to learn on our own, but we eventually want some other musicians to help our solos to stand out. What is a Solo? Most of us know that a solo is a section or piece of music played by a single performer. Usually[…]

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Different types of Uke Tunings

The most common tuning for a ukulele is G-C-E-A,when each string is played starting at the G it gives us the famous “My dog has fleas!” My (G) Dog (C) Has (E) Fleas (A), a popular method of singing this tuning. These notes (GCEA) make up a C6 chord, The C is the root and bass note, the E is the 3rd, G is the 5th, and the A is the 6th making it a C6 chord. Because the uke only has four strings this C6 is also known as A minor 7 or Am7, but that is a discussion for another time. C6 tuning is also used for lap steel guitars, it is the tuning that gives instruments that “Hawaiian feel.” Most often when you here music that has an island mood to it, C6 is used. It was also common in old country music of Hank Williams and[…]

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Singing and Playing Ukulele at the Same Time

For many of us who pick up the ukulele it is not enough to just play, we also want to sing! While there are specific vocal techniques used in singing, in this article we are going to discuss a few pointers on how to start singing along with our uke. What is most important isn’t just an ability to sing, but a will to sing. A great singer works on their voice for many years, but in the very beginning they had to have the confidence to just do it. And think about this, some of the most famous singers out there really don’t sound all that great. Some singers are raspy, some sound like they are heavy smokers, some sing quietly, the key is they sing. It isn’t always necessary to have a great and trained voice, instead have a confident and maybe even a unique voice! Are You in[…]

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Double Stops

The technique of playing only two notes at the same time is known as a double stop, when done correctly it can sound very pretty on the ukulele. The key to practicing double stops is to make sure you only pluck the two strings that are to be played. Double stops are also great practice for your music theory, as they consist of two note intervals. Remember intervals are the difference between two pitches, and since we are dealing with two notes at a time here are some of the more common intervals (using the G major scale G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G): G-B is the major third interval, as the B is the 3rd note G-C is the perfect fourth G-D is the perfect fifth G-E is the major 6th G-G is the octave or perfect 8th If we want a G minor third interval? Well the G minor scale is G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F#-G so that[…]

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Introduction to Modes

What Are the Modes? The modes are simply scales taken from a reference scale, every note in this reference scale gives rise to a mode. The main and most important modes come from the major scale, namely that the seven notes of the same major scale will each be the starting point of a different mode (thus giving rise to seven modes). The Value of Modes The value of modes is that each mode of the same major scale corresponds to a precise degree of the latter, implying that each mode also corresponds to the chord on the same degree. The modes are very useful for improvisation on a grid of chords which are diatonic or even foreign to the main key of a track. It can also be very interesting on the same chord to play different modes to help evolve your improvisation (some of these modes have a[…]

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Summer Songs for the Ukulele

It’s summertime! Today the French have La Fête de la Musique (a street music festival), and we celebrate the summer solstice with a list summer songs for your Uke! The ukulele is the perfect instrument for lazy summer days and late night campfires after-all… They are small enough to carry almost anywhere making them perfect for parks, campgrounds, and downtown for a little busking! (Busking is setting up an impromptu show on a busy pedestrian street or sidewalk and playing music for money). Whether you are playing for an audience or just a couple friends, below is a perfect list of summer and sunny day songs for the ukulele. Everyone will smile when you play your uke on a warm summer day. Daydream This classic by the Lovin’ Spoonful is perfect for beginning and intermediate ukulele players. The chords are not too complicated and you can always use a cheat[…]

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Intros, Turnarounds, and Endings

By now playing your ukulele may often consist of looking up chords or tabs to a song and learning the specific chords necessary to play it. This is great in the beginning because it helps increase you chord knowledge; however, you will eventually want to add more to your songs. By adding melodic intros, turnarounds, and endings we end up accessorizing our songs and filling them out. In this situation the terms intro, turnaround, and ending can often be used interchangeably. We are simply learning popular harmonic progressions that help to start, transition, or end a song. Over time you may want to creatively make your own turnarounds and intros for the music you play. Once you have the basics down it is a lot easier to start substituting and experimenting with chords to find that perfect turnaround! The Turnaround The musical idea of the turnaround are chords or notes[…]

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