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View Full Version : Starting on the Guitar really helps



katysax
02-18-2015, 05:54 AM
Reading a lot of threads here makes me glad that I played the guitar long before I played the ukulele.

One thing the uke literature seems to lack that is available for guitar, is much instructional material for picking patterns. There is a lot of instruction on strumming for uke, and there is a lot of tab. But i'm really glad I learned a lot of picking patterns on the guitar that I've adapted for the uke.

Another advantage of playing guitar is that guitar players use capos a lot more than uke players. There is a real incentive on guitar to learn how to transpose because it is so common to adjust keys using a capo. You can do this on a uke, but I don't because there just isn't that much room on the fingerboard. The transposition skills are very useful.

This might not be the guitar but more the influence of the internet. When I learned to play guitar as a teenager, my friends and I would get together and play. We did not have chord sheets written out. We'd know what key the song was in and we'd figure it out. So when you learned guitar you learned what chords were commonly used in what keys and what the relative changes were when you changed keys. We all played to some degree by ear. This seems to be a missing skill in the uke world. I've gotten lazier myself and rely too much on what is written out.

Icelander53
02-18-2015, 05:58 AM
Interesting post. I just wish I had started about 35 years earlier.

Inksplosive AL
02-18-2015, 07:46 AM
I noodled on guitar and bass after being taught some music theory on keyboard as a child I never could put the two together. I bought a ukulele and thought great another dust collector but I kept at it. I found this forum and read a bunch thinking what am I missing. I paid for an online course that I never bothered with the teaching style seemed too childish for me. Then after some reading I kept seeing references to UBC or Boot Camp after a short trip I figured out it was Uncle Rods Ukulele Boot Camp. http://ukulelebootcamp.weebly.com/

This teaches exactly what you are talking about teaching chords by key.

~peace~

Wicked
02-18-2015, 10:41 AM
There are many, many more guitar resources available than ukulele. Nearly all of it is applicable to the ukulele. Just because you see a ukulele blues book on the shelf does not mean that it is the better option than the 20 guitar blues books - it usually isn't.

The best way to become a better ukulele player is to become a better musician, so people shouldn't get wrapped around the axle about whether something is ukulele specific or not.

deschutestrout
02-18-2015, 10:43 AM
Learning ANY stringed instrument is a gateway drug to picking up another and having a foundation to build from.

bnolsen
02-18-2015, 10:55 AM
Interesting post. I just wish I had started about 35 years earlier.

+1

Also I've grown tired of just strumming chords for vocals and have started doing more picking patterns myself just to keep things interesting, for both me and probably for my uke terrorized family as well.

I'm not feeling the need to start guitar playing. Maybe if I could find a tenor sized guitalele with a 2.25" or wider nut....

katysax
02-18-2015, 11:10 AM
These days I don't play guitar much any more. I find it a little hard to switch back and forth, especially since I've been playing uke a lot. I do agree that whatever makes you a better musician will make you a better uke player.

It's true that you can adapt almost any guitar resource for the uke, but it requires some adaptation, and in many cases the skill required to do the adaptation is higher than the skill the material is aimed at.

Nickie
02-18-2015, 11:34 AM
I used to rail at the thought of trying to play guitar, even tried twice, and gave up. But last night we watched a you tube video on Slack Key guitar tuning, and that was the first time it EVER made any dang sense to me. Live long and slack key on Ledward!

UncleMoon
02-18-2015, 12:19 PM
There are many, many more guitar resources available than ukulele. Nearly all of it is applicable to the ukulele. Just because you see a ukulele blues book on the shelf does not mean that it is the better option than the 20 guitar blues books - it usually isn't.

The best way to become a better ukulele player is to become a better musician, so people shouldn't get wrapped around the axle about whether something is ukulele specific or not.

Agreed. Whenever I'm looking for a chart for ANY song, I start at ultimate-guitar.com Even though they often have a "ukulele" version, I normally look at the guitar sheets. Chords is chords.

Rllink
02-18-2015, 01:20 PM
Interesting post. I just wish I had started about 35 years earlier.When I say that, my wife says, "if you had started this years ago, you wouldn't be having so much fun with it now.".

ksiegel
02-18-2015, 01:44 PM
I played guitar for 40 years - all by ear, or looking at the chord diagrams - and was competent at best. I finger picked ( naked fingers - never got he hang of finger picks) by ear, could occasionally do a decent walking bass line while playing a melody, never really got the hang of single string soloing, and never even heard the phrase "circle of fifths".

Then I tore a tendon and ligament n my left elbow. Goodbye, guitar. I even bought a beautiful Epiphone ES-175 Reissue with super light strings as part of my physical therapy - didn't help - after about 10 minutes, excruciating pain. So I was giving up. No more music making for me.

Then my late father-in-law gave me an old Harmony Uke from the 50s. Not expecting much, I tuned it up by ear, and started playing. And playing. And Playing!

Found out I can play for hours without pain (as long as I don't try and stretch my fingers too much.) Then I found UU.

Then I started looking at other ukes at local stores and a Guitar Center. Ordered one in November 2010 (The Cordoba), and ordered my Kala from MGM in late December 2010, before the Cordoba had arrived.

I've acquired a couple since then. (g).

But I met someone local to me on UU, who told me about the local Ukulele club, so I went (Thanks, Fitncrafty!), and for the first time in around 25 years, I played and sang in front of other people.

That was 3 years ago.

Now I play at open mics, jam sessions, and I've gotten a few slots at the local Farmer's Market, performing with Fitncrafty's son Zach as my Roadie/Partner. Oh - I've made a couple of videos on YouTube, also. (g)

One thing I've found at the song circles and jams is, people who play ukulele aren't weirded out by the instrument at all. people who play strictly "folk instruments", and think of the uke as a toy, are often very surprised. The guitar and banjo players use capos like they were born to it, and have asked me why i don't use one. My answer is that I don't need it - just need to find the key the song is in, and I'll figure it out. Some of those same people (many of whom are professional, or professional-caliber musicians) have complained that they can't follow what I'm playing, because they don't know the position my fingers are on the fretboard. (I one the other hand, are expected to know any of the chords that they are playing, by sight and/or ear). I usually just tell them that all they need to know is the key, and have good ears. the key of C is the same key, regardless of whether it is on uke, guitar, mandolin, alpenhorn, steel drum, saxophone, or marimba. (Erhu, not so much...)

My other comment is "You guitar players and your capos, all over the neck - Sharps here, flats there.. it isn't natural!" (oddly enough, only the fiddlers got that, the first time around...)

So I've found that the guitar players don't transpose, they just use a portable nut, and play the same patterns in different places. Playing the uke, I've been forced to transpose, when I play with those folks. I pay them back often enough - I use the Gm chord on a regular basis, and I'm finally coming to grips with diminished chords. Let them follow me on those! (Bwa-ha-ha-ha!)



-Kurt

SteveZ
02-18-2015, 02:15 PM
As a very young kid had a couple years of accordion lessons. While I was a lousy accordionist, it did get me to be able to read music and understand some theory at a young age. The was followed by five decades of get-by six-string guitar playing. If it was not for all that I would never have given the four-string based stuff (mandolin, tenor guitar, tenor banjo and ukulele) a shot. Nowadays, I'm strictly four-string based and love it.

Could not agree more that being a guitar picker has made the ukulele a lot more fun. Being able to make strings jump out at certain times, singularly or in combination, is just something that one picks up while guitar playing. I don't know how anyone can play most R&R just by strumming.

kohanmike
02-18-2015, 08:58 PM
I started playing guitar 50 years ago during the Baby Boom rock influence. Took some lessons, but mainly played rhythm, very little picking. When I started playing uke 18 months ago, I found my guitar experience really helped, but since then, I haven't touched my guitars. Just recently I started playing bass, but I don't want to loose the ukulele, so I make myself play uke too even though I'm practicing bass a lot.