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How to read ukulele tabs
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Parts of the ukulele
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Ukulele types and sizes
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Ukulele History
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How to tune a ukulele?
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Alternate tunings
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First steps – Learn the basics

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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Ukulele types and sizes

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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Alternate tunings

There exist a lot of ukulele tunings. You’ll find on this page a non-exhaustive list of the most useful ukulele tunings. Tuning in D6 re-entrant This is quite a common tuning, though it’s practically used only by sopranos, even though we could also use it with the Concert. The notes corresponding to this tuning are A D F# B, which is, if we think about it, exactly one pitch higher than the standard tuning. Being a re-entrant tuning, remember that the fourth string is higher than the third and second strings, and a pitch lower than the first one played open. Linear tuning in C6, or Low G This is a very common tuning, especially for tenor ukuleles. Actually, we will have the same notes as in standard tuning, but the fourth string will be tuned one octave lower, hence being lower than the C note from the third string,[…]

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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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