Learning How to Play
There are lots of great resources on the web for learning how to play. Most recommend getting a chord chart & learning the most common chords. I’ve found Dr Uke’s beginner site especially useful. He has provided some common chord progressions to practice. I find it helpful to practice them a few times before I start to play a song.
This songbook from the Bytown Ukulele Group covers all the basics: ukulele parts, how to read chords, & how to strum. The songs are all children’s songs but you should know them so they would be easy to play.
I also found Uke School to be helpful. I actually read this site before I bought my ukulele.
Tiki King’s Lessons are another good resource for getting started, from how to hold the uke to strumming patterns & songs.
Need to Buy a Ukulele?
There are lots of reviews on the web. Ukuleles are relatively cheap compared to other instruments. Like anything, I’m sure you get what you pay for. There is a range of prices from less than 50 to hundreds of dollars. The local music stores in Petawawa & Pembroke carry ukuleles.
I bought a Mahalo, it’s cheap – it was only $39 – but I think it sounds fine. I figure if I ever decide to upgrade I can pass it on to my kids. It’s great for a beginner if just want to test the waters you’re not out too much.
I’m already itching to upgrade though I just upgraded! I still enjoy playing my $40 Mahalo.
There are different sizes of ukuleles to choose from. The soprano sounds the pluckiest & tends to be preferred by women. The concert is slightly larger. The tenor is larger with more frets & is popular with men because it accommodates large fingers & rests nicely in your lap while sitting down. The tenor is more mellow sounding & is the instrument of choice for many performers. There is also the baritone – the largest of all. The baritone is tuned differently & requires different chords. I do have instructions on how to convert if you need this info. The baritone chords are closer to guitar chords because it is tuned similarly to the guitar.
Staying in Tune
A tuner is very important – if your uke is not in tune, it won’t sound good & you’ll quickly get frustrated. A clip-on tuner is definitely a worthwhile investment, but if you’re like me & keep forgetting to buy one, don’t fret!
Check out these instructions for tuning by ear – you can use a piano or other instrument or you can tune to the audio clip provided. Tuning by ear is a learned skill, so don’t get too frustrated if you are still not in tune. Read the instructions anyway & you will learn how to tune your uke.
A much easier way of tuning is by using a chromatic tuner. You pluck the string & it will tell you what note the string is tuned too. TunerR is available online, you just need a microphone, and if you have an iPad, iPhone or iPod look for the Cleartune App in the app store.
It takes about a month for new ukulele strings to settle so expect to go out of tune quickly when you’re just starting out. Tightening the screws on the back may help. If there are no screws/gears, your uke may never really do well staying in tune.
Not Sure You Want a Ukulele?
No worries, still come on out to join us. You will still be able to sing along & I will have an extra uke for you to try. There are lots of 2 & 3 chord songs to try!