A `Ukulele is:
- Light Weight, Affordable and Portable
- Easy on the Fingers ( Four Strings, Four Fingers )
- Less Need for Strumming Accuracy
- and a low level of expectation - so we can get away with a lot.
The music you play can be as simple or complex as you want. The ukulele is a powerful musical instrument for communication in its own right. And, did I mention it's a blast and lot of fun to play and explore.
It's the new social instrument for this millennium and here to stay this go around - the craze is over.
So what's stopping you? Go get yourself a ukulele and get going.
Getting Started with Ukulele?
First thing is to get a ukulele.
It is generally true that you get what you pay for when it comes to buying an instrument and a ukulele is no different. Get a few, they come in four sizes and all different shapes, wood, finishes, acoustic, electric, solid body, archtop. There is even a banjo and bass ukulele. Plus they are fun, any size
The above image is a selection of the characters available in a FREE font from www.ffonts.net show the wide variety of ukulele shapes - all of them real.
You can take your ukulele playing to any level. From a few simple basic chords to complicated solo ukulele arrangements like I have available right here on LearningUkulele.com.
Selecting a `Ukulele
The 'Ukulele (pronounced oo-koo-lele) comes in four standard sizes: Soprano (sometimes called Standard), Concert, Tenor and Baritone. The Baritone is tuned just like the four thin strings of a standard tuned guitar and called "G" tuning (D G B E). The Soprano, Concert and Tenor is typically tuning in a "C" Tuning (G C E A) or "D" tuning (A D F# B). The Tenor can also be tuned like the Baritone ukulele with a high or low string four.
A `Ukulele is:
- Light Weight and Portable
- Easy on the Fingers with Four Strings and Four Fingers - a perfect match
- Less Need for Strumming Accuracy
- There isn' a lot expected from a ukulele player
The music you play can be as simple or complex as you want. The Ukulele is a powerful musical instrument for communication in its right.
And, did I mention it’s a lot of fun to play and explore.
And a side note - the ukulele community is one the most welcoming and helpful communities among musicians. Open to helping and sharing with any level of player.
Ukulele Study Plans
One of the hardest things about learning a musical instrument is the overwhelming amount of material available. And with the Internet and YouTube this is more more true than ever. Even an instrument deemed to be as simple to learn as the ukulele. However, with the right plan of attack and taking inventory of what you might already know – It can be done.
I've been asked many times to put together a plan of attack for getting started and getting beyond the basics. There is no better recipe for success that a proven plan and organization for development. These lesson pages are intended to provide material for developing your ukulele skills and expanding your music knowledge.
Music..., regardless of your instrument, involves parts or all of these elements: Melody, Harmony and Rhythm. Then putting it all together in Songs, Compositions, Arrangements, Orchestration, etc...
Visit the `Ukulele Study Plans section of the site
A Few Recommended Lessons
Here are a few ukulele lessons to get you stated. Lessons on the possible tunings of ukulele, the various sizes, basic chords, strums and more...
Or check out the Weekly Lesson Series of lessons for getting stated with ukulele.
Common `Ukulele Tunings
Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the ukulele’s construction supports it and a string is available.
There are three somewhat common tunings in popular use today, C, D and G tuning - with C tuning the most popular.
- A dedicated page on Common and not so common ukulele tunings
Reading Ukulele TAB - Alternate Notation
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.
Basic `Ukulele Chord Fingering
The art and science of chord fingering. Learning your basic open position chords in common keys.
We have four fingers and there're all not equal. Some shorter then others and some stronger that others. Everybody's hand is a little different. This does play a role in fingering chords. A example shows up with the first chord we will cover, a C major chord. It is a one finger chord. That one finger can be anyone of your four fingers.
Which Way Is Up? - Up, Down, Ascending, Descending, etc...
Up, Down, Ascending, Descending, Higher, Lower, Top, Bottom!!!
What is up, down, higher, lower, top, bottom, ascending, descending?
Up, down, higher, lower, top, bottom, ascending, descending refers to musical pitch and not to direction as we know it. Up and higher refers to the raising of musical pitch. Down and lower refer to the lowering of musical pitch. Top refers to the upper note of a chord voicing or musical phrase and bottom refers to the lowest note.
Learning the `Ukulele Fingerboard (Finally!!!)
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.
The Harmonized Major and Minor Scale Charts
The Major Scale or Ionian scale is a diatonic scale, made up of seven distinct notes, plus an eighth which duplicates the first one octave higher. In solfege these notes correspond to the syllables “Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti/Si, (Do)”, the “Do” in the parenthesis at the end being the octave of the root.
The Trouble with TAB
TAB, short for tablature is a form of musical notation using numbers and letters on a staff that that corresponds to the number of strings of fretted string instrument. Theses number tell a player which fret to place their fingers on the fingerboard.
TAB has a history with lute music from centuries ago and has found wide use in the music publishing industry catering to the guitarist who can?t or doesn?t want to learn to read. TAB doesn?t exist in mainstream music, primarily by some music magazines and on the internet.
Learning to read TAB can be accomplished in minutes. Learning to read standard music notation takes a little longer.
Common Ukulele Sizes
The ukulele comes in four (4) common sizes: Soprano (sometimes called Standard), Concert, Tenor and Baritone.
A ukulele can can be tuned to any tuning as long a s there is a string available and the construction supports it. With that in mind here are the common tunes for the four common sized ukulele.
The Baritone ukulele is tuned (D G B E), just like the thin 4 strings of a standard guitar. This is called "G" Tuning.
The Soprano, Concert and Tenor ukuleles typically uses "C" Tuning G C E A or "D" tuning (A D F# B). The Tenor can also be tuned like the Baritone ukulele.
Comparing the four different sizes of ukulele that are in common use today.
A ukulele can have a mellow-mainland or bright-island sound.
Woman is at a uke festival with a lovely soprano ukulele under her arm. Another woman walks up and gazes admiringly at the first woman's uke, at which point the woman holding the uke looks over and says with a smile; "I got it for my husband." Second woman nods and says, "good trade."
The Ukulele History
In 1879, a Braguinha arrived in Hawaii on a Portuguese ship loaded with laborers destined for the sugar cane fields with a Portuguese instrument called a Machete . Hawaiians made the instrument their own and calling it "ukulele" which translates to "jumping flea," It's believed to have originated because of the way a performer's fingers jump around on the strings.
Three immigrants in particular, Madeiran cabinet makers Manuel Nunes, José do Espírito Santo, and Augusto Dias, are generally credited as the first ukulele makers
Here is a link to a great article on the history of the ukulele by Dagan B.
The Ukulele Timeline
The third wave of the ukulele corresponding the influence of YouTube and the Internet.
Check out all the famous people and musicians associated with the ukulele on the ukulele musicians page .
Weekly TV host Arthur Godfrey keeps ukuleles in the spotlight.
A shift from the popularity of radio to most household have access to a TV and the second wave of the ukulele craze.
Ukulele craze revived by GIs returning home from South Pacific after World War II.
Ukuleles all the rage. This corresponds to the popularity and availability of radio in the decade of the 20s to 40s.
Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California USA unveils ukulele to the world. The Panama–Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was a world's fair held in San Francisco, in the United States, between February 20 and December 4 in 1915. Its ostensible purpose was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it was widely seen in the city as an opportunity to showcase its recovery from the 1906 earthquake.
Portuguese sailors introduce Hawaiians to small four-stringed instrument that gave rise to the ukulele. King David Kalakaua was influential in the initial rise of popularity of the ukulele.
Ukulele virtuoso and master educator James Hill has a great take on how the three ukulele crazes have spread — They ALL corresponded to the adoption of new vehicle for the delivery of mass media. He has a great point that Radio, TV and the Internet all created a sense of community around the ukulele.
Simulating Various Ukulele Scale Lengths
If you don't have any concert size instruments nearby to try in a store you can create the scale length on your tenor with an inexpensive capo. A capo on the second or third frets of a tenor leaves you with a scale length (and fret spacing) similar to a concert and the neck width at that level should be very close to that found on most concerts. And if you want to get an idea of what a soprano scale would feel like put the capo at the 4th fret and you'll be almost exactly at the standard 13 5/8 inch length. However the width at that point on a tenor will in most cases be greater than at the nut of a soprano.
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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee
Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys
Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too. — Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg
I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent. — fatveg — Portland
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LearningUkulele.com has one of the largest collections of lessons, songs, and TABS, luthiers, ukulele builders, ukulele festival and club information, and, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!