Getting Started with Ukulele - Introduction

The first, suggested lessons that ALL my private students and site members get.

PUBLISHED: Oct 31, 2013 • UPDATED: Apr 12, 2019 • LESSON CODE: ULB01-wk-i • VISITS: 217

ukulele Subjects: beginner

Getting Started with Ukulele - Introduction

Here are the first, suggested lessons that ALL my private students and site members get. This series of lessons sets the foundation and establishes common musicial terminology for communication and all future lesson material.

The whole goal of this series of lessons under the Getting Started with Ukulele lessons series is to get you playing basic chords in common keys using the common strums. Related side lesson material will be suggested and recommended.

First Things First - Selecting a `Ukulele

The first thing is to get a ukulele. The ukulele (pronounced yoo-kə-lay-lee, from Hawaiian: 'ukulele) comes in four common sizes: Soprano ( sometimes called Standard ), Concert, Tenor and Baritone.

four ukes

Common `Ukulele Tunings

Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the construction supports it and a string is available. There are three 'ukulele tunings in use today, C, D and G tuning - with C tuning the most popular. C tuning - both low G and high G is the tuning I use for lessons.

Tuning Your Ukulele

The best way to turn when you are first starting out is to get an electronic, clip-on tuner. These are available at all music store.

What Finger is What?

Just what are the fingers of the plucking and fretting hand called?

There can be a bit of confusion as to what the names and numbers of your fretting hand and the plucking or strumming hand are. Here are some of the fingering notations I've encountered over the course of my studying ukulele and guitar.

Which Way Is Up? - Up, Down, Ascending, Descending, etc...

What is up, down, higher, lower, top, bottom, ascending, descending on a ukulele? Up, down, higher, lower, top, bottom, ascending, descending should refer to musical pitch and not to direction as we know it.

The Learning Process - The Mind, Hands and Ears

For music and learning an instrument like the ukulele or guitar, it's all about the making the connection between the Mind, Hands, and Ear.

When listening to music, we enjoy it at the tempo the composer or artist intended - in real time. Only the ear is involved in passively listening and enjoying the music. Music is around us every day. It's what draws us to want to learn a musical instrument.

Efficient Fretting Hand Placement

Efficiency is the Key to Proper Technique and one of the many things that is hard to learn on your own. I have seen with the typical teacher or on-line video presentation that technique is the one common area where you don't get quality instruction or any instruction at all. And technique is one thing that can't be based on "do whats feels natural." An inaccurate statement that I hear all the time. What initially feels good is not what will lead to an efficient easy to maintain technique.

Default Finger Position

The four fingers of your fretting hand can span four frets, one finger per fret - this is the default fingering position. Start by placing your index finger on string four, fret one. Then add finger two to fret two, finger three to fret three and finally finger four to fret four. The thumb should be positioned flat and right behind finger one and two - the position of strength and offering the most support. Only the fingertips and the thumb print touch the instrument. The fourth finger will not be as arched much as the other fingers because of its size and relative reach. Unless there is an overwhelming musical reason for the thumb to get into the action its only role is to support the fingers, supplying opposite and equally pressing motion as the fingers.


End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!

Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Getting Started with Ukulele - Introduction at this time.

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Which Way Is Up? - Up, Down, Ascending, Descending, etc... • Updated: Jun 11, 2019

Up, Down, Ascending, Descending, Higher, Lower, Top, Bottom, What is up, down, higher, lower, top, bottom, ascending, descending?

Basic Open Position `Ukulele Chord Chart • Updated: Nov 29, 2019

A core set of basic ukulele chords that ALL Ukulele players should know - at least - in the five common keys of C, G, D, A and E. As well as the seventh chords for common keys. The chart is organized in common keys and covers basic chords in these keys. Of the 15 possible major and relative minor keys in music. There are five common keys to get started with: C, G, D, A, and E. These keys allow you to play quite a few popular songs. There's more in common between songs that your might think.

The Learning Process - The Mind, Hands and Ears • Updated: Jan 22, 2020

For music and learning an instrument like the ukulele or guitar, it's all about the making the connection between the Mind, the Hands and the Ear. When listening to music, we enjoy it at the tempo the composer or artist intended, in real time. Only the ear is involved in listening. This is passive listening and you're simply enjoying the music. This is what we do everyday and it's what draws us to want to learn a musical instrument.

Reading Ukulele TAB - Alternate Notation • Updated: Feb 12, 2020

TAB or Tablature Tablature is an alternate form of musical notation, which tells players where to place their fingers on a particular instrument rather than which pitches to play. TAB is sort of a secret language between guitar players and ukulele players. Although a shortcut to getting started it actually serves to alienate one from the rest of the music world. With fewer alternate note locations than the guitar, reading music on ukulele is a lot easier than you might believe.

Learning the `Ukulele Fingerboard (Finally!!!) • Updated: Jan 12, 2019

Most players struggle with learning the names of the notes of the ukulele fingerboard. There doesn't seem to a pattern and notes repeat. There is an easy way and it's easier that you think!

Most players know the names of the open strings for their favorite tuning.

In C Tuning the open strings, from ceiling to floor - your nose to toes are named G C E A, no sharps or flats.

Proper Fretting Hand Placement • Updated: Jan 24, 2013

Efficiency is the key to technique. This lesson shows the proper finger and thumb placement for the fretting hand.

Tuning Your `Ukulele • Updated: Sep 22, 2014

From tuning by ear to using an electronic tuner. The below lesson goes over the various tuning methods for tuning your ukulele. You ALWAYS need to play in tune.

Common `Ukulele Tunings • Updated: Apr 11, 2012

Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the ukulele’s construction supports it and a string is available.

What Finger is What? • Updated: Mar 22, 2012

Just what are the fingers of the plucking and fretting hand called.

There can be a bit of confusion as to what the names and numbers of your fretting hand and the plucking or strumming hand are. Here are some of the common fingering notations I’ve encounter over the course of my studying ukulele and guitar.

Related Books

Related Books for Getting Started with Ukulele - Introduction at this time.

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Ukulele Chords - C Tuning
Updated: Aug 31, 2019

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Getting Started with Ukulele - Introduction at this time.

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Getting Started Series of `Ukulele Lessons
Updated: Feb 25, 2020

This series of lessons is intended to take a beginning ukulele player, just Getting Started through the basics. Your goal, as well as mine, is to help you create a solid foundation for future learning and development with this fun, cool instrument - the `ukulele. This series of lessons are also a great refresher for all players who've been playing for awhile or are in a position to offer assistance or advice to fellow players.

Spend at least one week, if not more on the material presented in each lesson. Each one builds on the previous series of lessons. Take as much time as needed with each task. Skipping or rushing through will only come back to haunt you later down the road. You miss a lot when taking shortcuts or skipping around.

Suggesting and recommending lessons to visitors and players that haven’t had the benefit of a one-on-one personal evaluation with me is a bit of a challenge. Just as any one book does not address anyone player and their needs, a series of lessons has to be somewhat generic and cover a lot of material. Think of each set of lessons as a menu of choices.

They're over 600 currently available lessons online and counting for ukulele that I’ve created over the years. If you don’t see a particular topic or specific task you’re looking for I probably have something here or can create a lesson to address your needs.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

Related Assets for Getting Started with Ukulele - Introduction at this time.

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Basic Ukulele Chord Chart
Updated: May 11, 2019

A chart of the most common ukulele chords in the most common keys of C, G, D, A, and E.

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G
Updated: May 11, 2019

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G.


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