Here we go with a little music theory (not too much though). Take a look at the circle of fifths below, yeah it looks complicated and in truth, it can be a little bit – but we’re going to take a really basic look at it today and it won’t be scary.
I was watching some harmonica lessons a few weeks back and one those lessons was to restrict your improvisation to a single hole which gives you just 2 notes to play with. It’s a real challenge to try and play something interesting with just 2 notes and it makes you focus more on other things like timing and dynamics/volume. Without a doubt it improves you as a player, so I wondered how that might be adapted to ukulele.
You should really take the time to get to know your ukulele, otherwise when you hear someone mention the nut or the saddle you’re not going to have a clue what they’re talking about and you might end up looking the fool.
Getting to know uke
To add to the other million ukulele diagrams out there I’ve created one too…
Hopefully it should all make sense to you. But to give you a bit more information…
The head of the ukulele holds the tuning pegs and makes a great place to leave your clip on tuner attached to.
The tuning pegs are for helping to get your ukulele in tune. Usually when your ukulele is quite new, you’ll find that you need to tune up each time you pick up to play but once your strings are stretched out you shouldn’t need to do this quite so much.
Tuning pegs mainly come in 2 varieties, geared tuners (usually found on laminate ukuleles) and friction tuners which are often found on more expensive ukuleles. This is a very general rule of thumb though.
Neck & Frets
This is the place where your fingers will spend most of their time. The frets run across the neck getting closer together the further up the neck (towards the body) they are.
Ukulele bodies come in different shapes. The most common shape is the double bout (seen on the diagram above) but there are plenty of others on the market – there’s even a few flying Vs! Generally, the larger the body, the louder the ukulele.
Bridge & Saddle
Together the bridge and saddle have the job of passing the vibrations from the strings to the top of the ukulele in order to get it to make an audible sound.
Fingerpicking can be a little bit daunting if you’re only used to strumming chords on your ukulele. Here’s my approach to get you started with ukulele fingerpicking the simple way. You’ll be up and running in no time. It’s easy when you know how…
Do you ever get to that point where you’ve been playing through the first part of a song and then suddenly you hit a sticking point? Your timing has been bang on but you just can’t make the next chord change in time. It happens to everyone. Here’s the quickest way to fix that problem… Continue reading
If you really want to develop your ukulele skills as quickly as possible then it’s important to get yourself a practice schedule sorted out as soon as you possibly can. Check out my daily 20 minute practice schedule to get you improving quickly.
You won’t get very far on the ukulele without being able to chuck with your strumming hand. It’s actually pretty easy to do but takes a bit of practice to get right. Continue reading
If you were only ever going to learn one strumming pattern assuming that you’ve got a few basic strumming patterns down, I’d definitely recommend you make it this one. I’ve heard this strumming pattern referred to as ‘old faithful‘ in the past because of it’s versatility. It works on just about any song and is a great pattern to default back to if you’re not sure what pattern you should be playing… Continue reading
When you start playing ukulele you’re going to encounter a lot of ukulele chord boxes. It’s worth knowing how to read these so you can learn a host of new chords. Here’s how you read a ukulele chord box…