Jane Cameron- How Ukulele Changed My Life

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Some people buy cars, some people sell everything to go sailing around the world but for my money you can’t beat picking up a uke for a mid-life crisis! I first decided to teach myself uke in July 2010, mainly because I was singing with two novice guitarists who kept changing chords at the wrong time – I needed to play some sort of instrument just to keep them on track! But one thing led to another and before I knew it I was obsessed – every spare moment would find me… read more

Source: Jane Cameron- How Ukulele Changed My Life | Spruke

How To Lead A Great Ukulele Jam

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

By Jim D’Ville

As the popularity of the ukulele grows, so does the number of ukulele groups and jam sessions. How to make yours better than average? In this article Jim D’Ville shares practical tips that EVERY jammer and jam leader should know!

Ukulele Jam

This article is in C6 tuning (g, c, e, a).

Introduction

Join the ukulele revolution and after an incredibly short learning curve you are ready to jam! Yes, the jam session, crown jewel of the phenomenon known as the ukulele club. But how does one go about facilitating an “interesting” jam, not one in which people sit stone-faced like Easter Island statues staring at their music and strumming in a rhythmically mono-syllabic down-up-down-up pattern with the musicality of someone dribbling a basketball?

Get The Group In Tune

If you want your jam session to sound good from the very first note, get the group in tune. Have everyone tune-up their ukuleles, then have the group tune their ears and voices. I use an A-440 tuning fork to accomplish this (since the first string on the ukulele in C tuning is tuned to A). Strike the A fork on your knee and place it on your uke. Hum the resulting A tone. Get the group to join the hum fest. At this point you can introduce the concept of playing together in time. Strike the fork again, place it on your uke and count off 3-4-1 (4/4 time-four beats per measure). On the 1, get everyone to loudly sing: “AAAAAAAAAAAA!” In a group setting, this usually comes out sounding pretty good.

How does one go about facilitating an “interesting” jam, not one in which people [strum] with the musicality of someone dribbling a basketball?

To read the complete article in full click here to go to James Hills’ www.ukuleleyes.com website

The headings in the rest of this brilliant article are as follows:

  • Use The Numbers
  • Choosing The Right Songs – One-chord Wonders
  • Scrap the Sheet Music
  • Move Up To Three Chords!
  • Call-and-response
  • The Blues
  • Create Simple Arrangements
  • Get Some Harmony Going
  • Playing In Different Keys
  • Bring Everyone Along

 

Care and Feeding of Your Ukulele

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

By Gordon and Char Mayer

From buzzing and broken tuners to storage and re-stringing, Gordon and Char Mayer take you through the essentials of ukulele maintenance and DIY repair.

Introduction
We’re Gordon and Char Mayer, otherwise known as Mya-Moe Ukuleles. In this article we’re going to cover three things:

1. how to take care of your ukulele
2. how to fix some common issues
3. how to recognize problems that are best left to a professional.

Restringing your uke headstock image

Most importantly, you bought your ukulele to play it. It is made to be used. In fact, a strong argument can be made that playing it will keep it in better condition. If you keep it in a case, then you likely won’t play it much; strange, but the very act of getting up out of your chair and opening the case is often too much of a barrier. Better to keep it on a wall hanger or floor stand where you can just pick it up and pluck it if only for a minute or two. Just don’t put it in a place where it receives direct sunlight (more on this later).

To read more please click here to see the original and full article on James Hills’ www.ukuleleyes.com website.

It is a very useful resource that we highly recommend you take some time to read. The sections are as follows:

  • Cases, stands and transportation
  • Heat and humidity
  • Care of the finish
  • Re-stringing and changing from a high 4th to a low 4th
  • Intonation
  • Buzzing
  • Sharp Fret Ends
  • Broken or loose tuner
  • Other issues
  • Summary

We encourage instrument owners to play and enjoy their instrument. It doesn’t need to be handled like an egg, but following some common sense measures will help to minimize problems.
Re-stringing your instrument is the best thing you can do for its tone; this often fixes apparent buzzing and intonation problems that have crept up as well. You should be putting on new strings about every 3 months. When you do, you’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes.

 

New Ukulele T-Shirt Has Companion Song

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Following the launch of our latest Limited Edition T-Shirt titled “UKES NOT NUKES!”,  we were sent a link to this great song by one of our members and prolific singer/songwriter Mookx Hanley of Byron Bay, Australia. We think it is very cool that he already has written a song that embodies the spirit in which we designed this cool t-shirt.

You can listen to his song by clicking the play button below…

And if you want to get your very own “UKES NOT NUKES!” T-Shirt to wear, click the shirt below for all the details. But make sure you do it NOW as this Limited Edition design, available in 4 eye-catching awesome colours, is only available until March 27th.

Ukes Not Nukes Limited Edition T-Shirt Image

Now the way the T-Shirt works is that we must hit our goal of 40 tees before they get printed. So if on the end date (March 27th) we have hit target then your credit card will be charged, the shirts will be printed and posted out all over the world. If, however we don’t hit target, no one will be charged and no one will get their tees. So let’s get ordering and we can all enjoy wearing them.! 🙂 They can be sent just about anywhere in the world, and if you combine your order with a friend or with your uke club members, you can save heaps on shipping costs.

We are hoping this tee will bring about world peace in no time LOL! Click here to get yours now!

These T-Shirt sales allow us the budget to keep the Love My Ukulele community alive.

Ukulele Song Writing

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

By Matt Hicks

So you’ve been playing the uke for a while. You’re pretty happy because every time you video a cover of a song YouTube fires back that it recognises it as a possible infringement on copyright. You’re there. You’ve arrived; but something is missing. You find yourself thinking that you’re just churning out the same songs as everyone else.

Now there is nothing wrong with churning out the same old songs. The ukulele is best as a community instrument on many levels but occasionally you’ll feel you want to do something different. What better way is there to turn peoples heads at the uke club or even on YouTube than by writing your own song?

I know that many people will think that is a near impossibility. Many people think songwriting is a skill that only a few people are blessed with. Well I’ll let you into a little secret: For every great song even the best songwriter creates, there will likely be about ten really bad ones. No one is born a great song writer. It takes a lot of persistence, bloody mindedness and a bit of cheek.

Top Hat & Wand

A bit of cheek? What could I possibly mean? Well writing a song is a bit like learning a magic trick. Most people who learn how to do an illusion are usually a little disappointed that the explanation for how the trick is done is very simple. It’s the delivery that makes it astounding. Writing a song believe it or not is very similar. Have you ever learnt to play a song by your favourite artist and, once you’ve mastered it thought “Why couldn’t I have written something so simple?” The truth is that most people can and the following guidelines I hope will help you.

Three Chord Wonder: You may have heard this term before. Most of the early Beatles songs and many great hits consist of just three chords. The first stumbling block of anyone aspiring to write on an instrument is getting the tune together. Believe it or not it’s not necessarily about having an ear for music. There are some specific rules which, if you follow, will help you come up with a tune.

All chords follow some specific rules in that the notes that make up the chord will sit at specific places within the scale of that key. Many simple songs are made up of chords in the 1st position and then use the 4th and 5th. Take the chord of A to start a song. The next chord will be the 4th note in the scale which will be D and then the next on the 5th will be E. AD and E are a popular mix for the twelve bar blues. Below are some chords with their 4th and 5th position chords. I’ve chosen them because they are fairly easy to play on the uke.

A D E
C F G
D G A
E A B
G C D

Now depending on what kind of song you want to write, it’s always worth having a play with the many variations of those chords to give the uke song a bit of variation and make the listener think you really are the mutt’s nuts at song writing. A great way to do this is by playing a 7th chord rather than the basic version. That means playing, for instance C7, F7 and G7. Or you can just put in one 7th chord such as the G7. Take a look at the video below. It’s a cover of an old Hank Williams song. The chords are C F and G7 is immensely simple but very effective.

So forget about the amazingly complex chord run downs, the ukulele is an instrument that is both forgiving to the player but also demands that the song is strong enough to stand on its own. Often the simpler the music, the stronger the song.

Lyric Writing

Now to writing lyrics. Well now I can’t teach you about what to write. To be honest this will be your most daunting task because not many people are happy to put their necks on the line by writing something and then putting it out there for people to love or not love. Here are some rules that I go with when I write on the ukulele.

Limericks- Start off by writing lines to fit into a limerick. This is whether you are writing a serious song or a jokey song. If you’ve not written a song before frankly the more practice you get using a format that you have grown up with the better. Perhaps you were brought up with gospel music or country etc: Use your roots to fit your words into. It will come a lot easier. Using limericks means that you can fit in quite a few words but you only need two of them to rhyme. i.e:

The boy stood on the burning deck
His trousers made of cotton,
The fire travelled up his pants
And made his mother feel just rotten.

Rhyming couplets such as the limerick above means you can put a lot of information in the lyric with only minimal rhyming needed. You’ll find that you can fit this format into most genres and music styles.
Cliches-Don’t avoid lyrical clichés. You may think they can be cheesy and vomit inducing and mind numbingly unoriginal but the simple fact is that clichés are clichés because they work and they continue to do so to convey what the writer wants to say. Even if you find a better way to say it later on, just go with the flow with some time honoured imagery. Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire is a perfect example. Simple, a huge cliché but one of the best three chord wonders ever written.

Accept it for what it is-Whatever you write accept it for what it is. It is the best reflection of your talent and ability at that moment in time. Don’t be ashamed of it. You may not want to play it in front of anyone for the minute but you have made your mark and you have begun an infuriating but exceptionally fulfilling process. Remember that when you play something on a ukulele, more often than not most people are not expecting to hear great things. They either think it’s a toy or they just think there is no way you will get a decent tune out of it. In other words you just can’t lose. If your song crashes, it doesn’t matter. If it does well it’s a real bonus. Regardless, most people whether friends or in an audience are often very receptive to the fact someone has shown balls enough to not only write their own song but play it in front of someone else. That takes guts and most people know it.

What you write about is up to you of course. I tend to like writing a story in my head and often the words then follow sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. For instance last Christmas I decided to write a song. I chose to write about a Turkey. Turkey starts with a T so that means the name of the bird has to start with T. I chose Tarquin. Turkeys get eaten at Christmas so I thought I’d inject some human relationships into the mix and discuss how his Mum uses euphemism to hide the fact that he is destined for the chop i.e. he’s going to be Santas Little Helper. Helper rhymes with Belper which is somewhere in the North of the UK which happens to have a lot of poultry farms.

When you get a bit of practice, you’ll be amazed at what comes together. Don’t force it. Don’t start with a preconception of the sort of song you want to write. I started trying to write serious, off the wall, philosophical songs and ended up writing about Turkeys and online gambling. The trick is to conserve energy and go with the flow. Don’t wear yourself out putting conditions on a song which will write itself if you let it. Don’t burn yourself or take yourself too seriously or you’ll get writers block before you’ve started.

The last tip is don’t write for yourself. The ukulele is a community instrument. It is made for playing to other people. In pubs and gatherings there is nothing worse than a self indulgent songwriter pouring out complex lyrics about their love life that only he or she understands. It’s a real turn off. If you can show the audience that you wrote the song for their enjoyment then you have won them over already. Singing and playing a song is a bit like giving a sales pitch. If you look convinced the audience will be convinced. That takes some balls to do if you can pull it off but it works a treat.
Below is a little song I wrote a while back which you may like. Go get writing and all the best.

About Matt Hicks

Support the LOVE MY UKULELE CLUB

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Jamie Houston - Founder of the LOVE MY UKULELE CLUB

Did you know that the LOVE MY UKULELE CLUB is run 100% by me, Jamie Houston – that’s me in the photo. I live in Wellington, which is the capital city of New Zealand, and I have a huge passion for all things UKULELE!

My biggest challenge with the online community that I have created, is the cost of funding it. As I write this we are approaching Christmas 2013, and since launching the LOVE MY UKULELE CLUB in January 2013 I have spent over $5000 designing, building, creating, maintaining, updating, posting, outsourcing, promoting, responding, collaborating, troubleshooting and the list goes on!!! And most of this has come from my own pocket, along with some help from T-Shirt sales and other fund-raising.

The exciting news is that we currently have over 7300 Likers on our Facebook Page, and have a very popular Website that is almost 100% populated by great content from you, the members. We have an informative BLOG, a section that features your PHOTOS with over 250 submissions, and the newest addition is the VIDEO section, which you are loving, based on the massive number of views some videos are getting, and we are getting new submissions almost every day! We also have other social media sites setup and linked to our website. We have Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus and YouTube. I also have lots of new ideas for 2014 and just wish there were more hours in the day. Among other things, we are planning to have a classified section for buying and selling ukes, an international directory of ukulele players and ukulele clubs, as well as a directory of teachers. How does that sound?

Recently, some of you awesome people have expressed a desire to support the CLUB, so I have put up this page so you can do just that.

I welcome any and all donations, big or not so big, and you can be assured that they will be used to continue spreading the spirit of the ukulele worldwide as this awesome community grows even bigger!

Thanks for being part of the journey with me 🙂

Click the DONATE button below to make your contribution.

 

                                                                     

It’s Only Rock’n’Roll – Yet It Moves People

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

By Cliff Adams.

It’s only rock and roll… yet it moves people since… well, name your year between 1942 and 1954. One of the classic rock backgrounds is what can be called the Chuck Berry rhythm. My example will be in the key of C. But bear in mind it can be transposed to any key (and was originally played in another key).

Chuck Berry CD Cover

“Johnny B. Goode” gives us a fine example of an easy Chuck Berry rhythm for the ukulele. It is a simplified 12-bar blues progression: four bars of C, two bars of F, two bars of C, two bars of G, two bars of C. His rhythm has an eight beat swing feel. If you strum each measure with a syncopated down then a quick up motion each quarter note, you get eight beats to every bar.

C C6In this song, Berry emphasizes the third beat of every four. So with eight beats to each measure the strum is: one and TWO and three and FOUR and…, a true back-beat. He not only strums those two beats more loudly, but on them he raises the fifth (of each chord) to the sixth. In a C chord, that fifth is the G note, so he raises the lowest G to an A. If you strum a first position C chord, you play the fourth, third, and second strings open, and fret the first string on the third fret: G, C, E, C. If you fret that third fret with your ring finger, it is easy to place your middle finger on the second fret of the G string to raise it to an A.

F F6Moving the progression to the F chord, in the open position, place your middle finger on the second fret of the fourth string, play the third string open, fret the second string with your index finger on the first fret, and play the first string open: A, C, F, A. The fifth of an F chord is the C, so on that back beat, it needs to raise to a D. If on that strum you place your ring finger on the second fret of the third string, the C raises to a D, the sixth in an F chord. Strum those two measures the same way you strummed the opening four bars of C.

G G6The two bars of G chord offers two easy solutions for this strum. In a G chord, the fifth is a D, so it will need to raise to an E, the sixth of a G chord. If you play the first position G chord with an open fourth string, your index finger fretting the third string on the second fret, the second string fretted on the third fret with your ring finger, and the first string fretted on the second fret by your middle finger, you get G, D, G, B. To raise the D to an E, you can either lift your ring finger off the second string which allows it to play as an open E string, or place your little finger on the fourth fret of the third string raising the D to an E. The first way is easier, but unlike the way you have been strumming the C and F chords, you keep the fifth note of the chord in addition to the sixth, rather than just raising it and eliminating it. Either will work, but the little finger on the fourth fret of the third string is my favorite rock way of playing rock and roll on an ukulele.

Go Johnny go!

ABOUT Cliff Adams

Your Microphones and You (P.A. Systems Part 2)

Monday, November 18th, 2013

By Ralph Shaw – Professional Full-time Ukulele Entertainer

Last time, I gave you some basic tips when getting and using your first P.A. Today we’re looking at important choices to be made when purchasing microphones to plug into your P.A.

Before we discuss microphones I feel it is important to first say a few words about:

The Microphone Stand

Tall, thin, silent and elegant; the presence of a microphone on a stand adds focus and gravitas to a performance. Think of the singer who walks out and stands at the microphone. The seemingly inanimate mic. stand, as it is usually called, is a pedestal for an object that makes humans sound like gods. Somehow it draws the audience focus as much as a bright spotlight. For sheer charismatic appeal, a friend of mine, singer/guitarist Josh Minsky, equates the presence of a microphone stand to having a second performer onstage with you. The microphone and its accompanying stand are seldom pondered but they’re as vital to the performers’ stage presence as the costume and the smile. I urge you to consider this phenomenon if you are considering getting a headset microphone. Such a microphone may be suitable for dancers, clowns, evangelists and anyone else who needs to jump around and wave their arms about. But unless you absolutely need to be fully mobile I’d suggest staying with the traditional setup.

The stand can have a weighted base or tripod style with folding legs. I prefer the latter as it’s lighter and easier to store. In order to make room for your ukulele plus strumming arm you’ll want to stand back a little from the stand, so you’ll need a microphone boom (pictured above). This is a rod that attaches to the top of your stand and holds your microphone exactly where you need it. If you’re also using an instrument microphone then you don’t need to buy another stand. You can get a clamp which attaches to your existing stand. The clamp supports a second boom which holds your instrument microphone.

The Vocal Microphone

The industry standard for vocal microphones is the Shure SM58 microphone. It’s the cardioid, dynamic (ice cream cone shaped) microphone you always see performers using. There are better sounding mics in the world but this is a reliable and robust microphone that rarely lets you down. For optimal sound quality you need to sing close to the microphone; say about three or four inches. In other words your mouth needs to maintain a distance from the microphone equivalent to the breadth of a hand. Your body can gyrate all it wants but your head needs to stay still if you don’t want the sound to get louder and quieter.

The Condenser MicrophoneA different way to go is to use a condenser microphone, such as the Shure SM87A. With this microphone the performer, or performers, can stand up to several feet behind the microphone. If you use a condenser microphone to pick up the total sound from both your voice and the ukulele then positioning is very important. The microphone needs to be placed in such a way that the voice and ukulele volumes are in balance. This microphone is more forgiving with movement than the dynamic microphone and the sound quality can be excellent. Sometimes whole bands will stand around a single microphone to play. But it doesn’t work in all situations. Condenser microphones pick up more external sound than you expect, so watch your mouth when you turn away to say things that you think the audience can’t hear. Feedback can also be a problem with these mics. especially in group situations. They also usually require a power supply such as a battery or 48V phantom power (usually supplied by the mixer). Before buying a condenser microphone make sure it’s what you need and that your mixer/amp can supply the phantom power if necessary.

The Instrument MicrophoneIf you want to plug your instrument directly into an amp then your uke needs to have a pickup either built into it or stuck onto it. I will be making another blog post about ukulele pickups soon so keep an eye out here, or better still you can read about all things ukulele and ukulele performance in my book, which you can buy here.Truly though, you’ll usually get a better sound by using an external microphone. Once again the Shure company can claim the most widely used instrument microphone of all. The Shure SM57 invented by Shure engineer Ernie Seeler, is a microphone you can use onstage or in the studio. It shouldn’t let you down, in fact, it’s been used to amplify speeches by every president since its introduction in 1965. Mr Seeler, expected his microphone to be used for classical orchestras. He despised rock music which, ironically, is where his microphone has been most used for the last four decades. There is no word on what he thought of ukuleles.

When buying sound equipment: Remember that being louder does not equate to sounding better. Seek equipment that retains as much of your natural acoustic sound as possible.

ABOUT Ralph Shaw

Your First P.A. System – Part 1

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

By Ralph Shaw – Professional Full-time Ukulele Entertainer

controls for an AER amplifier

If you’ve been playing for a while you may be getting to the point where you need to supply your own Public Address system, or P.A. This can be a daunting prospect if knobs, buttons and blinking lights generate a cold sweat. Today some help from one non-techie (that’s me) to another (that would be you.) on using a basic P.A.

Being at the mercy of other people’s bad sound systems can be funny but is rarely fun. A friend of mine Paul Latta runs a Las Vegas style Polynesian dance company. His tales of bad PAs that his clients have supplied (usually to avoid renting professional sound gear) are quite hilarious. My favourite is the time he arrived at a gig and the client handed him a childs’ my first Sony CD player. In order to avoid such situations it can be beneficial to get your own gear.

 

What Is a PA Exactly?

PA, Sound System and Amp are fairly interchangeable terms meaning: equipment that makes you louder.

 

PA’s/Sound Systems can have multiple components including: microphones, a mixer, an amplifier, monitor speakers and main speakers which all connect by cables. You don’t really need all that stuff. An Amp (shorthand for amplifier, but it also includes a speaker and inputs for a couple of microphones) is a single device that does the job.

 

What Do I Need?

Think about your requirements. The average ukulele entertainer needs a P.A. that is:

–       Loud enough to be heard at most of the gigs you expect to be doing.

–       As natural sounding as possible. What comes out of the speaker should be like your acoustic sound only louder.

–       Reasonably portable. Think about how you travel to gigs. Will it fit in your vehicle? Can it be carried by bike, bus or on the plane?

–       Reasonably priced. Generally, the more you pay the better you sound.

–       Simple to use. Forget any piece of equipment that is so complex you feel you need a Masters degree in acoustic sciences to work it.

 

What’s Available?

The good news is that many PA companies now sell portable amps tailor-made for independent small-scale performers. Just plug in your microphones, adjust the sound controls and sing. They require little expertise, are reasonably priced and sometimes have a built-in battery for outdoor gigs where no electricity is available.

 

How Much Should I Spend?

An “okay” sounding amp can cost two or three hundred dollars. That was my budget twelve years ago when I went shopping for an amp at my local music shop. Rob, the owner, insisted on showing me an amp that had just come in (German-made by AER) it could be lifted with one hand. The sound was clean and powerful and without distortion at loud volume. It was also five times over my budget but I knew right away I had to get it. To pay for it I sold all my multi-component gear-a purchase I never regretted-the new amp was an improvement over the old PA in every way. I’m not necessarily saying that and AER amp is what you should get. Look around, these days there are more choices and prices have come down. Try some out and see what works for you.

 

What Do All Those Knobs and Buttons Do?

To illustrate this I’ve grabbed a picture of the control panel of a guitar amp (cross out the word guitar and put in ukulele if it makes you feel better.) You can see it has two main sections called Channel 1 and Channel 2:

 

Channel 1 – If your instrument has an electric pickup plug the ¼ inch cord from your instrument into the Channel 1 “input”. If your uke doesn’t have a pickup you’ll need to play it into a microphone.  

Note: Most microphone cables have an XLR connector – that’s a chunky connector with 3 pins inside. You can buy an adapter to take your XLR so you can plug into the ¼ inch socket.

 

Channel 2 – This is for your vocal microphone. You can see that this input takes the XLR 3-pin connector from a standard microphone cable.

 

Gain – Each channel has a Gain control meaning that your instrument and voice each have their own volume knobs. When turning on the amp always start with each Gain and Master volume set at zero. Increase the levels slowly so you don’t blow your speaker. Turn up the Master a little and then adjust each Gain so voice and ukulele are in good balance. Then turn up the total volume to the required level using the Master.

 

Clip – If a red Clip light is coming on then your Gain is set too high. So turn down the Gain and increase the master volume. If your master is turned up full, your Clip lights are on and you’re still not loud enough – it’s time for a bigger amp.

 

EQ Controls (equalization) – Bass, middle and treble are used to adjust the frequencies of your sound. Set them to center position. Listen to your sound. Is it too tinny? Then turn down the treble a little (or turn up the middle). Too boomy, then turn down the bass. Different rooms and different crowds require different EQ settings. If possible get someone with experience to stand in the audience and inform you what adjustments should be made. If you’re not sure, keep them centered.

 

Effects – Some amps have effects built into them. The most common two are reverb and echo. I never use echo but reverb is useful. It fills out your sound (like singing in the shower) and that’s good, up to a point. The Return knob gives you more and more reverb. But keep it subtle. If it’s turned up to where people notice you’ve added reverb then it’s too high. The eff. (effects) pan allows you to put more effect either onto your voice or your instrument.

 

Not all amps are exactly as described. You’ll find every PA has its own idiosyncrasies to figure out, so don’t be afraid to learn on the job.

 

Having your own gear will add to your performing confidence. Many facilities, such as community and old folks centers, for example, will boast that they have a PA for you to use. But be wary – it may be a my first Sony!!

 

Next time: Some microphone basics for you.

ABOUT Ralph Shaw

 

 

Play Ukulele In 2 Minutes

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

By Marylou Stout Dempler

Now that you have your ukulele, you can learn to play it in just two minutes without reading music or tablature. Just follow these easy steps:

Berry Bernson of Fox 41 TV gets a Ukulele Lesson from Marylou

Hold Your Ukulele

Hold the neck of the soprano, concert, tenor or banjo ukulele in the left hand. If you are left handed the ukulele must be restrung and the steps reversed.

Cuddle the ukulele like a little puppy in your arms resting it upon your chest.

 

Tune Your Ukulele

I recommend an electronic tuner like the Intellitouch © professional tuner with a backlight or the Intelliouch © PT-2 Tuner “Bare-Bone” which has no backlight. Lanikia also sells a programmed electronic tuner. Find the one that works best for you and fits your budget.

The strings are tuned G C E A.

The First String A, is the string facing the floor.

The Second String E, is above the A.

The Third String C (Middle C on the piano), is below the top string.

The Fourth String G, is the top string.

 

Finger Positions

The left hand index finger is #1. The second finger is #2. The middle finger is #3. The pinky finger is #4. Do not count the thumb.

Rest the thumb behind and in the middle of the instrument’s neck.

The right hand index finger is in a pointing position (all other fingers closed) and pointing to the strings over the sound hold.

I use a pick and I prefer that my students use one. There are several different brands, shapes and sizes for different effects. Many ukulele players use the felt pick, which produces a flat, dull, soft sound. As a guitarist, I changed that immediately. I wanted my strings to be heard. Take your uke and go to your local music store. Try out several different brands and thickness of picks. Find the sound you like when you strum your ukulele.

 

Fret Board

The ukulele has frets on the neck.

The first fret is from the nut right below the tuning pegs to the first fret wire.

The second fret follows and continues down the fret board.

Fret markers (dots or symbols) are placed at intervals on the fret board to help locate frets quickly. The markers usually begin at the third fret, fifth fret and so on.

 

Finger Positions On The Fret board

Each finger corresponds with each fret. Finger #1 is played on the first fret. Finger #2 is played at the second fret. Finger #3 is played at the third fret. Finger #4 is played at the fourth fret. Now you are thinking WHOA! I’ve run out of fingers on my left hand. You are right but don’t panic! The #4 finger is used on the fourth and fifth frets. When you play notes or chords through the fifth fret, you are playing in the first position on the ukulele fret board.

 

NOW START YOUR STOPWATCH. You are going to play the ukulele in 2 minutes or less.

 

Step 1 Place your #3 (ring) finger on the third fret. You have just made a C chord.

Step 2 Strum the strings down over the sound hole while holding the C chord formation.

Step 3 Keeping Strumming and sing. This symbol / means down strum.

 

/ / / / /

 

Row Row, Row, Your Boat

 

/ / / / / /

 

Gently Down The Stream

 

/ / / / / / / / / / / /

 

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily

 

/ / / / /

 

Life Is But A Dream!

 

YOU DID IT! YOU SHOULD HAVE A BIG HUGE SMILE ON YOUR FACE!

You just played your first song on the ukulele!

 

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

 

BARITONE UKULELE

If you have a baritone ukulele follow the directions and steps above however the tuning will be E B G D.

The chord formation is a G Chord. You can also play this on a guitar but do not strum the fifth and sixth strings. You need to form other notes on the guitar for a full G Chord.

 

That was EASY and now you are playing music on your ukulele!

 

If you have musical questions, email me at [email protected] Play Ukulele In Two Minutes (c) 1998 by: MaryLou Stout Dempler All rights reserved.

ABOUT Marylou Stout Dempler