Beginner

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

1
What ukulele should I buy?
2
How to read chord diagrams
3
How to read ukulele tabs
4
Parts of the ukulele
5
Types of ukuleles
6
Ukulele History
7
How to tune a ukulele?
8
First steps – Learn the basics

What ukulele should I buy?

If you are thinking about buying your first or your next ukulele, you are probably hesitating a lot. That’s why we wrote this article to help you make a good decision according to your budget. Actually, the first decision you have to make is how much you want (or you can) spend. And then know on what you are spending it. Ukulele sizes Ukuleles are manufactured in four common sizes or formats : soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Regarding tuning, the soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles use the same in general: from fourth to first, G C E A; the baritone is tuned one fourth lower: D G B E, exactly like the first four strings of a guitar. Sizes are defined by their scale – that’s right, the string length – and by the size of the body, which accounts for the sound quality. When it comes to deciding[…]

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How to read chord diagrams

It’s common, when we begin playing ukulele, to start by learning a few chords. Normally, we will find them drawn as boxes with lines and dots. Let’s see what this is about. Four strings, four lines For the ukulele, we use a box with four vertical lines, that represent the four strings, and a varying number of horizontal spaces (which are the spaces between the frets). The line on the right corresponds to the first string of the ukulele, i.e., the on that’s closest to the ground when we carry it in ready-to-play mode. Therefore, on the left side of the diagram we have the fourth string. Where do I put my fingers? On each string that we need to press, there will be a dot on the string, so we’ll put a finger there. If a string needs to be played without being pressed, a circle is placed on[…]

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How to read ukulele tabs

Tabs are an alternate writing system to standard musical writing. They are a simple way to symbolize the music to be played on a string instrument (for example, the ukulele). And it is as easy to read as it is to write. Here are the keys to it : Horizontal lines represent strings We use four horizontal lines to represent the ukulele strings. The upper line corresponds to the first string (the one that’s near our leg) and the lower line to the fourth string (the one that’s next to our heart). Numbers indicate which fret to press (and which string to pluck) On the lines, we’ll see numbers indicating which fret we have to press (with our left hand if we are right-handed), and which string we have to pluck (with our right hand, if we are right-handed). That is to say, if we see, for example, a 2[…]

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Parts of the ukulele

We are going to make a brief description of the parts forming our uke, and a short description of their use and function. Body the body of the uke is the soundboard, which allows to amplify the strings vibration. The body is basically made of 3 parts. The top soundboard, which is the most important in any acoustic instrument. Its calibration, the quality of the wood used for it, and so on, define most of the instrument’s final tone. The two other parts are the sides and the back. In the interior part of the body we will find the bracing, which purpose is to reinforce and support. It is a vital part too, as an overly rigid bracing may drown the sound out, since it would not allow the soundboard to vibrate properly. Normally, the body is made of wood, although metallic bodies (such as the National Resonator models)[…]

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Types of ukuleles

We can find 4 types of common ukuleles, of varying sizes and scales (string length). From smaller to bigger, we have : The Soprano, Concert, Tenor, Baritone. Less common are the sopranino and bass ukulele. Characteristics Type Scale length Total length Tuning sopranino (piccolo or pocket) 11″ (28 cm) ~16″ (40 cm) D5-G4-B4-E5 or C5-F4-A4-D5 soprano (standard) 13″ (33 cm) 21″ (53 cm) A4-D4-F#4-B4 or G4-C4-E4-A4 (most common) concert (“super soprano”) 15″ (38 cm) 23″ (58 cm) A4-D4-F#4-B4 or G4-C4-E4-A4 (most common) tenor 17″ (43 cm) 26″ (66 cm) A4-D4-F#4-B4, G4-C4-E4-A4 (most common), G3-C4-E4-A4, or D4-G3-B3-E4 baritone 19″ (48 cm) 29″ (74 cm) D3-G3-B3-E4 bass 21″ (53 cm) 30″ (76 cm) E1-A1-D2-G2 (source: wikipedia) Range of notes of standard ukulele types Sizes Standard Ukuleles The soprano ukulele is considered to be standard. The concert format is a little bigger than the standard one, it’s a little more convenient to play[…]

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Ukulele History

To talk about ukulele is to talk about Hawaii islands, beautiful wahines, dancing hula with feather leis and never ending white sand beaches. However, and unlike what your first impression may be, the ukulele does not technically originate in Hawaii, nor is it part of traditional hawaiian music, which is only based in chants and rudimentary percussions (na mele oli) used as accompaniment to dances (hula). Actually, the origin of the instrument is way closer to us than the Paradise Islands of the Pacific ocean. The ukulele (or uke) is a plucked string instrument, that generally has 4 strings, which can be doubled (hence the six-string and eight-string ukuleles). In order to find out about its birth, we need to trace back to the late 19th century, more specifically to the Portuguese island of Madeira, from where the British boat SS Ravenscrag set sail towards Hawaii, with 423 crew members[…]

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How to tune a ukulele?

If you are reading this you are probably new to the world of Ukulele. In case you are new to ukuleles, or if the ukulele is your first instrument (if you already played an instrument, you’ll probably already know this… or not!) you ought to know that it is very important to tune your instrument before playing. Actually, it’s important to know when it’s out of tune, especially because: You ear will get used to the sound of some chords, and to how there are related to one another. The instrument and the strings are designed to operate under a certain tension. A low tension can lead to issues of strings screeching on the frets. An excessive tension may cause the strings to break, or worse (bridges out, or less usual, cambered neck) When you get to play with someone else, he/she will be glad your instrument is properly tuned.[…]

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First steps – Learn the basics

People believe that the Ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to play, and they are quite right: it will just take you a few minutes to learn some chords and play your first song. (Being an accomplished player is another story…) First, you need to tune your uke. As for any instrument, it’s very important to play on a ukulele that’s tuned. Next thing is holding the ukulele. Holding the Ukulele If you ever played acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and so on, you will not have any problem. If not… you won’t have any problem either! I guess you’ve already seen a guitar player, right? Well, it’s the same thing. If you are right-handed, your left hand will be in charge of the neck, and your right hand will strum or pluck the strings. If you are left-handed, it’s just the other way around.   Simply pull the strings,[…]

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