View Full Version : Learn the Fretboard

06-04-2015, 11:18 PM
Hey guys, I have been strumming the uke for quite awhile and would like to dive into the world of fingerstyle playing.

Here's the problem, I am a bass guitar player. Besides the similarity of both having 4 strings, everything else is different. I would like to learn the notes on the uke fretboard but I am afraid that it will mess up my knowledge of the bass guitar fretboard.

Can our brain differentiate the two instruments and we can safely learn both instruments without getting messed up?

Can any doublers share your experiences?

Adrian Ortiga
06-05-2015, 12:09 AM
i play short scale bass , and certainly knowing the notes of a uke before learning bass helped a quite a lot, and nope you wont get confused

06-05-2015, 12:39 AM
I consistently read feedback on that question, at least from the majority, that playing one complements playing the other. I am about to learn the bass. I guess I'll see if that applies to me. I know my uke playing made playing my dulcitar quite simple.

06-05-2015, 05:16 AM
Having played both bass and guitar for many years prior to picking up up a uke last year, I'm still struggling with the high G string of the re-entrant tuning. But as far as acclimating to the rest of the fingerboard, it's been surprisingly easy. Chords were a bit of a challenge at first, when seeing for example a G, it was tough at first to not play the guitar form which is a C on the uke.

If anything, it's had a positive affect on my bass playing. After fingerpicking the uke, I find myself using the thumb a lot more on faster passages.

06-05-2015, 07:38 AM
I have no problem at all switching back and forth between the ukulele and the bass. It does sometimes confuse me to switch between guitar and uke. Mostly it surprises me that improving my skill on the uke makes my bass playing better. You can safely learn many instruments without getting messed up.

When I played guitar I used a capo a lot so I got a lot of practice at looking at one key on paper and playing another. I also played saxophone for many years and had to transpose all the time. Learning multiple instruments and doing a lot of transposing will make you a better musician. I know people (I'm not one of them) who can pretty much play in any key on any song and barely miss a beat. I know that learning more instruments and transposing has caused me to learn more music theory which has made me hear things and understand things in new ways.

This is a subject of constant debate among woodwind players, kind of like which strings are better among ukulele players. If you play in a lot of bands, you are often expected to
play clarinet, saxophone and flute and to play all sizes of the sax. Flute is in C. Clarinet (mostly) Bb. Saxophone is Eb, Bb (mostly). And each requires a different lip and fingering. Pros are pretty much required to play all of them. There are some really great players who have decided to concentrate on just one (Eddie Daniels is famous for giving up sax for clarinet, early in his career Benny Goodman doubled on sax and clarinet). (I have found that at some point playing the sax will to some degree mess up your clarinet playing, but that clarinet playing tends to make your sax playing better. To meet the flute is neutral in its effect). They have claimed that playing more than one instrument limits their potential. But that has to do more with the lip and the different fingering techniques than it does with the key the music is in which is no issue at all. If I ever get as good on ukulele as Eddie Daniels is on clarinet, maybe I'll give up the bass. ( That will never happen.)

06-05-2015, 12:27 PM
I switch from guitar to ukulele (high and low G) to banjo (5-string, various tunings) to mandolin with very little trouble.

I tend to play in "the easy keys" C,D, and G mostly, so not too many sharps or flats to worry about.

I'll pick up whichever instrument is "flavour of the moment", play a few scales, then I'm good to go.

I find scale-length can be more of a problem than actual tunings. On a soprano or concert ukulele or mandolin I can play up to the 7th fret without moving my thumb, but it's all down to practice ;)

06-05-2015, 02:45 PM
Easy way out: tune the uke to G-C-F-Bb (low G) and play exactly as you did on bass, but some octaves higher. :cool:

06-07-2015, 05:22 AM
Can any doublers share your experiences?

I walked around this problem with playing low G on tenor. Finally I ended up with a baritone ukulele.

the fretboard is the same if you play tenor with low g or a baritone with dgbe

enjoy the higher notes