Author Topic: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!  (Read 7355 times)

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Offline justinguitar

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UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« on: December 12, 2013, 11:27:11 am »
"You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room." Dr. Seuss

Offline Borodog

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2013, 04:37:02 pm »
Thanks for doing some uke lessons! The uke is a great instrument.

I don't have a specific question, but I just wanted to prattle on a bit about uke tuning and uke chords. The chords on the ukulele are a lot less mysterious to guitar players once you realize that, barring the complication of the re-entrant tuning (i.e. the 4th string plays the highest note on open strings), the uke is tuned to the same intervals as the bottom (location-wise) strings of a guitar, just up a 4th or 5 frets. So the chord shapes are all the same, they just become the chord a 4th higher. For the chords you demonstrated C shape becomes F, D becomes G, G becomes C, Em becomes Am. Etc. This also means that all your guitar barre chord shapes work as well. Very often on uke you end up playing inversions because the root of the chord is not on the 3rd string (the bass note), but if you're playing with a bass, guitar, or piano player (or along with a recording) they are likely hitting the bass note for you. A & G shaped barre chords (which are only different semantically on a 4 string uke) will have the root on the 3rd string.

If you do a lot of playing on the bottom 4 strings of your guitar and often leave the bass notes for the bass or piano player, there's a uke your you. It's called a baritone, and is larger, but still very small compared to a regular guitar. It's tuned just like the bottom 4 strings of a guitar, DGBe, not re-entrant (i.e. the D string is lower than the G string in pitch, not higher). I have one of these and I love it. You don't have to transpose to a different key in your head to play regular guitar notes, chords, shapes, and neck locations. E shaped barre chords have the root on the D (4th) string and A or G shaped barre chords have the root on the G (3rd) string. If you do a lot of lead type stuff, you can do it all, but you just have to translate your bends into slides because of the nylon strings. You can still get a decent vibrato or a small "curl" bend out of a nylon string, maybe even a semi-tone, but you usually can't make full tone bends.

As an aside, a popular instrument in big bands used to be the arch-top baritone guitar, which was tuned like a regular guitar but had no A or low E strings.

Another fun instrument you might be interested in is the 6 string ukulele; different manufacturers use different names like guitalele or guitarlele (I have a Cordoba; Yamaha makes an inexpensive one a well). These are essentially like half scale classical guitars tuned up a 4th, no re-entrant tuning. Super easy on the fingers, fun to play, plays exactly like a regular guitar that is capoed at the 5th fret.

Lastly I'll mention the strumming location Justin mentioned. Part of what gives the ukulele it's particular sound, in addition to the nylon strings and the small size/high tuning is that strumming location. Because you are exciting the strings near their center, you get a lot fewer extraneous frequencies in the spectrum . Hence you get a "purer" tone. You can do this on your guitar as well; play near the center of the string and you will get a much more "chimey" sound, almost like a harp. If you have a larger scale uke like a baritone, you can also strum or pick behind the sound hole just like you would your guitar, as long as you have the body supported somehow.



Insert humorous signature here.

Offline RickK54

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2013, 04:10:21 pm »
Enjoyed the lesson Justin. Just back from the Uke's birthplace Hawaii and learned a lot about the instrument and it's history. The flea stuff comes from the name of the instrument...a combination of two Hawaiian words Uku and Lele - apparently the locals saw Portugese sailors coming ashore playing a Spanish guitar and they called it a dancing flea to reflect the movement of the fingers.

Many Uke's these days come with a low G....mine did but at the first change I'm going to revert to the classic set up.

It's a fun instrument and it was great to see the kids playing them on the beaches there! Very cool.

Offline Buzzb

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2013, 07:40:45 am »
Hi Justin. Thanks for doing these uke lessons.

I have a question about UK-001 under "chords:"

You show four chords: C, Am, F and G with fingering.

Shouldn't the C be: 0 0 0 3?

Offline close2u

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2013, 09:19:30 am »
Buzzb
you're right
I will pass this on thanks
:)

Offline Gwenver

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2013, 10:41:09 am »
Justin, thanks for the ukulele lessons you have finally convinced my wife to join the family uke ensemble. You may be interested in the ubass phenomenon , basically! a bass ukulele. At present these are rare and expensive but making your own is the work of an hour. First buy a 100 small black nylon wire ties on amazon 99p , then a secondhand mid quality half sized classical guitar £10-15 on gumtree. Throwaway the original strings and buy a set of Aquila silver rumblers . Drill four small holes in the bridge , feed the strings through the holes then out of the sound hole tie a loop in the ends using wire ties pull the strings through then using more wire ties attach the other ends of the strings to the winders and there you are a ubass for a tenth of the new price

Offline Worriedwizard

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2014, 05:39:44 pm »
Hi, I play a little bit of ukulele, a few songs which work well are day dream believer, king of the swingers, stand by me, leaving on a jet plane, I'd like to learn stairway to heaven and sweat child of mine, the riff works well on the uke, but that's the only bit I know.  ;D

Offline lurch

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2014, 09:14:25 pm »
I got a Uke ages ago to see if I could spark my daughter's interest in music, I lost the chord book it came with, and it oily got strummed out open in whatever tuning it had settled to. Just bought a guitar, found this site, so dusted off and tuned up the Uke and I'm going to have a go at both.

I have a £15 "Vintage" Uke (soprano IIRC), and it's shocking for going out of tune in just a few chords, although a bit if string stretching/knot tightening might not go amiss. Problem is that it seems to have an intonation issue in that you play something as low down the neck as a G, but the C string sounds off, but a re-check of the tuning shows it's spot on (for once). Time to buy a slightly better Uke if I'm to actually learn it? Also hoping Little Lurch will want to do more than just hammer away on the strings and at least learn three easy chords to swap between and make up a song if not play something known. While I'm at it, can "lighter" strings be obtained for a Uke? They're a bit firm for her little fingers to press down easily. If I was to get another Uke, it'd be a concert, does the extra string length make anything easier?

Thanks all.

Offline lurch

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 12:40:28 pm »
I managed to answer my own question. Tried a few Concert sized today, and ended up with a Soprano. It's an Ashton UKE200SP, QC on it was a bit lacking, but I got money off!! Sounds great, unlike my Vintage, it knows what intonation is... Playing the Concerts, they just don't seem as bright and zingy as the Sopranos. Playing an Emaj using a bar across strings 2,3,4 on fret 4 then moving to the C#maj same bar on all string but add fret 6 on string 4 didn't make it jump out like it does on the Sops.

Is there, and if not, can there be, an Ukulele area for general Uke chat, the guitars have one, be a shame to have it all mixed in with that.

Offline tenuge

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2014, 07:23:01 pm »
Hi, does anybody know where to purchase the Maton Uke, that is "featured" by Justin? Especially in the region of Netherlands, Belgium, Germany... UK is also ok. I own a Mazon Guitar and like it quite a lot, may I can get her a little sister ;-)
Cheers,
Thorsten

Offline lurch

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2014, 07:57:46 pm »
If you visit the Maton website you will see a link to dealers in each country.

There are Maton dealers in the UK that hold the guitars, but I've not managed to find one of their linked dealers that actually stocks their Ukes. If the dealer links don't lead you anywhere, you can contact Maton direct for a supplier. Worst case is, if you search eBay, and don't limit your search to your country, you can get them shipped by a company in Australia called Howards (I think), but shipping really isn't cheap. £100 for the UK, and you can buy a nice Uke for that alone.

Offline pgwillia

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2014, 04:56:14 am »
Justin, is there a googly eye on your uke?  What's the story there?  I bet it's a good one.

Offline lurch

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2014, 12:25:31 pm »
I'd be mortified if anyone did that to my guitar or Uke. My daughter is under strict instructions that there are to be NO stickers any where near my gear!

Offline Vegas89084

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2014, 06:14:22 pm »
Just wanted to post a 'thanks' to Justin for doing this.  I've been struggling a bit with guitar, and the uke might be a better fit for me.

Offline ufr-eagle

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Re: UK-001 • Getting Started on The Ukulele!
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2014, 09:24:49 am »
Hi Justin,

when will the next Uku-lesson go online?

regards

ufr-eagle

 

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