Recently I got my hands on a Ukulele Chord Changer from Troubadour Music. For those of you that don’t know, a chord changer is a device that straps on to the neck of your ukulele and allows you to play chords at the press of a button. My initial interest in the Chord Changer was sparked when my dad asked whether I thought he could play the ukulele with his arthritis.
Who is it for?
The ukulele chord changer isn’t for everyone, so if you already know a few chords and have no trouble with your hands then it’s probably not for you. It’s aimed at people with reduced fine motor skills and young children. In my dad’s case, he has quite a short range of motion in his fingers and would almost certainly struggle fretting the more difficult chords than involve four fingers. I actually think it suits young kids pretty well too – my youngest son Max is 3 and I’d like to get him playing soon. I think the chord changer would be a great help to get him started.
Does it work?
I’ve been using it on my Peavey Jack Daniels concert uke and it seems to fit pretty well but struggles with some of the chords that are fretted higher up the neck – I think this is because it’s better suited to a soprano uke. Generally it plays the chords pretty well and is easy enough to use. There are 8 chord buttons on top of the device that allow you to play 8 chords but through being a little selective with your strings and a few button combinations you have access to a lot more.
Obviously there will be limitations, you’re not going to be hammering on, pulling off, sliding and generally embellishing your chords but that’s not really what the ukulele chord changer is about.
How much does it cost?
The uke chord changer and songbook set costs $32 direct from Troubadour Music. At the moment there aren’t any distributors in the UK but I believe that is set to change soon. Mine came pretty quickly from America (around 5 days or so) and bearing in mind that was over Christmas that’s pretty good going.
Despite the fact that I can play chords fine, I think it’s a pretty good addition for me to have. It’s going to be really useful for my youngest son to start to learn ukulele and it’s also going to be great to help my dad out.