Beginner

Collection of ukulele lessons and tuts for beginners. All the basics you should know to start your Uke day.

1
Different types of Uke Tunings
2
Ukulele Warm-Ups
3
Common Chord Progressions
4
Advanced Ukulele Practice
5
Ukulele Troubleshooting
6
Fingerpicking Basics
7
How to Restring your Ukulele?
8
The Barre Chords
9
8 Chords you should know
10
How to practice playing Ukulele

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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Ukulele Warm-Ups

Take a Breather This goes for any activity, not just playing the ukulele. Sit up straight with the best posture that you can muster and breathe. Deep breaths counting in to 10 and out to 10. Spend 5 minutes just relaxing and breathing, there is no exact science to it, after all we aren’t attempting transcendental meditation or astral projection. Whatever breathing exercise helps you relax and chill out will work. I think we all would be happier people if we just took some time every day to focus on our breathing! Warm Your Hands Literally warm your hands, using warm water or friction, get those muscles ready for some stretches. While you are at it use your hands and body heat to warm your ukulele a little. The wood sounds better and your fingers work better when they are warm! Finger Stretches Not only should you stretch your fingers[…]

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Common Chord Progressions

One of the best aspects of playing the ukulele, is getting to write your own songs. Of course we all begin by learning some of the more popular Uke tunes, but as time progresses most players want to pen their own unique tunes. To do that we need to learn a little about chord progressions. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, writing songs is really not that difficult. There are specific formulas that nearly every songwriter uses and progressions that have stood the test of time, yes of course a great songwriter knows when to bend the rules, but the basics are nearly always followed. In fact, by the end of this article you will realize just how many songs share the same chord progressions! A quick legal note: it is perfectly acceptable to use common chord progressions, they cannot be copyrighted. It is the melody[…]

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Advanced Ukulele Practice

OK, so we already discussed some basic practice techniques in a previous article. Great advice about keeping your ukulele tuned, setting aside time to practice, playing slowly at first, using a metronome, and playing along to songs you like. After a few weeks and months of this we start to advance, but instead of a peak we find a plateau! Often when folks pick up a musical instrument, they try it for awhile and then get frustrated and slowly practice less and less. Trust me, I give music lessons, and it’s quite common for folks to peter out in the beginning. However, there are those dedicated few who keep with it, they follow the beginner advice and they practice, but then they get to a point where they have trouble moving further up. While a plateau is common with every skill, I’m going to give you a few pointers on[…]

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Ukulele Troubleshooting

Whether we have been playing ukulele for a few months or perhaps just started there is always a good chance that we will run into some basic problems. Sometimes the problems are minor and easy to fix, other times they might be major issues (which may mean a particular ukulele is not playable). When it comes to troubleshooting any instrument, or anything at all, the key is to always start with the basics and check off any potential problems. IT employees who fix computers will often say that folks always forget the simplest stuff first… like plugging in or turning a machine on in the first place! Below is a guide to some basic ukulele headaches and how to potentially fix them. Tuning This is the number one beginners issue; in fact, this may be one of the most serious issues for all instruments! If what you are playing is[…]

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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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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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8 Chords you should know

When it comes to learning chords, it is important to know not only the notes (frets on each string) but also the fingering (what fingers to put on each string). Learning a string instrument such as the ukulele is based a lot on memorizing patterns and figures; which form chords, scales, and chord progressions. A same chord can be played in a different way according to the musician, but also according to the previous or next chord in the song, though this is a bit of an advanced topic for a beginner. 3 Must-know chords The first 3 chords you should learn are C, F and G. They correspond to degrees I, IV and V of the C major scale. C Chord – 0003 The most basic chord just requires one finger on the third fret of the first string. It is recommended to use the ring finger of the[…]

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How to practice playing Ukulele

With a thin fretboard and four strings, most people can easily learn how to play the ukulele. Learning how to play is simple, provided you take the time to practice. Some quick advices: Learn how to keep your ukulele tuned. Buy a digital tuner or use one online, if you wish to practice near a computer. Digital tuners will tell you if the notes are too high or too low, whereas with online tuners you will have to match the notes they produce using your ear. The more you tune your instrument, the faster you will be able to go through this process, and you will even learn how to tune it by ear. Choose a moment to practice, preferably every day. You can spend minutes or hours practising, but don’t stop doing it on a regular basis, if not you will not improve. Play slowly in the beginning. Whether[…]

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