View Full Version : Acoustic Guitarist interested in the Ukulele but feeling uncertain

11-15-2017, 07:55 AM
Hello, all. I've played acoustic guitar for around 15 years and am interested in maybe getting and learning to play a Uke. I've played several in some stores, and my initial thoughts are that I like the sound, but that learning all the chords will take a little mental-readjustment.

My hesitation to get one is just not being sure if I'll really like it. I mean, I love playing chords and singing, so I know it'll be a good fit in that sense. But my question is related more to the fact that I know very little about the instrument in terms of its various styles and what all else there is to play on Ukes besides just some simple chord progressions. (But, granted, isn't all music chord progressions?)

It'd also be helpful to hear any guitarists on here share what drew them to the Uke (what they especially like about it...what things you may like about Uke vs Guitar in some music...etc).

Any music/artist suggestions to hear more examples of Uke music would be appreciated. I did skim the table-of-contents of the Ukulele for Dummies book and saw that it had sections on fingerpicking, combining melody and chords, blues, rock, jazz, etc - that was helpful for me to know.

Thank you!!

11-15-2017, 08:06 AM
You can play just about anything on a uke. Here are a few videos to show you some possibilities:

John King playing Bach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=935ExOpT5bI

Surf rock by Taimane Gardner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAnFEsozP_o

Led Kaapana playing slack-key style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBv2O3L0btk

Go for it!

11-15-2017, 08:18 AM
Thanks for the youtube links, Gary! I also just ran across Cynthia Lin's album "Ukulele Days" which I'm listening to for more musical exposure for myself to the ukulele.

11-15-2017, 08:19 AM
Look on youtube for Wilfried Welti. I think you will find his music interesting.

11-15-2017, 08:58 AM
@LNW - Just get one! You can own a very nice quality laminate ukulele for about $150. If that's too hefty, cheaper ones can be had for much less. The risk is small and if you are into making music(it sounds like you are) there is a good chance you won't be sorry you got it, even if it turns out uke isn't gonna be your new main thing.

To address your questions:
- If you know chords on an acoustic guitar, you already know chords on a uke in standard tuning. There are two fewer strings to fret, so it is actually easier once you get used to it.
- Most styles that can be played on an acoustic guitar can be played on a ukulele. Of course, there will be some adjustments to accommodate the strengths and weaknesses of the instrument.
- I dabbled around with steel string acoustic guitars for about 15 years before I discovered the ukulele. I like dabbling in ukulele because I find it to be relaxing and fun.

Get a uke! What could go wrong! :music::shaka::music::shaka:

11-15-2017, 09:03 AM

also see youtube
James Hill Voodoo Child
anything by
Jake Shimabukuro

have a few friends who love playing Uke and Guitar
they seem to transition between them easly

yours truly

Croaky Keith
11-15-2017, 09:09 AM
There's lots of ex guitar players on here, they found the uke a better 'fit'. :)

A baritone uke normally comes tuned D G B E like the top four strings of a guitar, a normal uke will be in re entrant g C E A, you can fit a low G to have it linear tuned, or you could have a tenor uke & tune it to D G B E - lots of options.

11-15-2017, 11:42 AM
This may help, or it may hinder...
If you use the same chord shapes on a uke as you do on guitar then they are transposed 5 frets up...so a c shape open string guitar becomes F on a uke, a G shape on guitar becomes C on a Uke. What I am trying to say is the chord shapes are the same patterns, they just become 5 frets higher, does that help, or hinder??? :-)

11-15-2017, 12:43 PM
I treat ukulele not as a mini guitar, but as a different instrument. So I would not go into much analogies like a capo put on a guitar 5th fret.
If I were you LNW, I'd get no baritone uke with strings as the top 4 strings of guitar.

Instead get a re-entrant ukulele and learn play it in traditional way, no pick like that Taimane girl in above video, looked wierd. She maybe should get a guitar lol.

11-15-2017, 05:03 PM
Hi, LNW!

I love playing chords and singing too. I play both guitar and ukulele. You are lucky to find Cynthia Lin's album "Ukulele Days". She is great musician and ukulele teacher. I loves her voice and ukuele.

If you like such ukulele accompaniment style, I recommend you Uncle Rod Higuchi. He is my ukuele hero. Just go to his ukulele boot camp page.

There are many nice his ukulele mp3 files up there. I download them all and make 4 albums by myself and put them into my iPod. His vocal and ukulele accompaniment is great. They smell Hawaii and sound very happy ukulele. His holiday songs are very good in this season!

Patrick Madsen
11-15-2017, 09:21 PM
I've been playing guitar for going on 59 years and uke for around 6. If anything, the uke has taught me how to really run the top 4 strings much better.

I thought I would give up the guitar after starting with the uke, they were just getting too cumbersome playing while sitting down. Then I bought a Steel string Pono baritone. It showed me how much I missed the steel string sound and especially the two bottom strings of a guitar. So now I'm having a custom parlor guitar made by George Thomas. The build started last week.

It took me maybe a 1/2 hour to figure out the chord structure. A chord shape is a chord shape; they just have different names depending on the key it's tuned or played in. Don't worry about various styles; you either have soul or you don't. Main thing is get out there and play. You'll find your lead riffs will be better defined on your guitar after a few months playing a uke. I don't play my tenors much lately; mostly a couple high end baritones.

11-16-2017, 11:43 PM
For some interesting reading, Google search "ukulele for guitar players"

11-17-2017, 06:12 AM
I played rhythm guitar for almost 50 years before playing the uke, which happened kind of by accident. A little over 4 years ago I was leafing through a Musicians Friend catalogue and came across a ukulele that looked like the Fender Telecaster guitar I bought not long before. The uke was only $60, so on a whim I bought it to hang next to my Telecaster just for fun. A couple of weeks later I received a postcard from the Los Angeles Music Center for their annual summer Play-Along seminars, which I attended for guitar a few times, but this time it was for ukulele. Hey, I thought, I have one, so I signed up.

I did a little research online for chords and found them to be straight forward, and also was incredibly impressed when I viewed Bros. Iz, Jake and a few others, wow, this little thing can be virtuoso. I did a little practicing, but had a lot of trouble forming chords, then discovered about the sizes. I didn't know mine was a soprano, so I went out a day before the Play-Along and bought a tenor, much better for me.

I attended the first of the three day Play-Along (of which there were about 300 participants) and I was hooked. When I got home I joined The CC Strummers, a seniors group that meets twice a week, and the Westside Ukulele Ensemble (from which I dropped out a year later, not the right fit). I also took up the bass uke. The end of the story is, I took to the uke world so well, I HAVE NOT TOUCHED MY GUITARS SINCE.

11-17-2017, 07:06 AM
Played guitar for forty seven or eight years; got a ukulele
and haven't really touched a guitar since.So much better
to work out chord progressions and melodies on, and so
much more portable! Gave away all my guitars after a few
months uke playing!

11-17-2017, 08:01 AM
Hello, all. I've played acoustic guitar for around 15 years and am interested in maybe getting and learning to play a Uke. I've played several in some stores, and my initial thoughts are that I like the sound, but that learning all the chords will take a little mental-readjustment.

I'm also a guitar player first. I would say your worry about learning chords isn't really a concern. The ukulele is tuned like the first 4 strings of the guitar, so the chords are actually the same! They are just in a different key. Since you know guitar the learning curve isn't very daunting, you'll be playing songs on day 1.

One thing that drew me to the uke is that they are really fun and addictive to play. I think its size makes it extra easy to pick up and hard to put down. I got hooked right away.

And an added plus is that I feel that uke playing has improved my guitar playing as well. I don't know why, maybe it's finger agility.

11-19-2017, 05:52 AM
I played Cello for 10 years, then discovered ukulele. They are very different yet similar in some ways. I love my cello when I want some serious musical outlet, but I found myself picking up the uke way more often. It is just plain fun to play an Uke. I feel like the sound of an Uke just perks all my cells and make me feel alive. My cello and Uke don't contradict each other, I think each make me a better player for the other. To me it all comes down to time management...

12-06-2017, 06:05 AM
Been there my friend. For me it was curiosity. A friend that was a long time guitar/bass player in a band shoeed up once with a ukulele and performed over the rainbow (of course). But it got me thinking. Four strings, nylon, hmmmm. So I built two ukuleles. One a soprano and one a concert using the cigar box guitar method. Each time, the sound drew me in, I learned more on here and other places, a bigger tone became an obsession. So I bought a cheap china (but good sounding) tenor Uke from Donner. I struggled with the lack of bass, but discovered many artists sing the bass register and uke the snot out of any style you can imagine. Changed it to a LOW G.

The killer? I have carpal tunnel that limited my guitar time. But the uke has nylon strings, sweet! I still have my guitars and will get back to them after the holidays (too many requests for Ukulele Christmas stuff now) and really decide if it is only uke or not. Then there is the perception that uke players are descendants of Tiny Tim, the uke is a toy, that's cute, yada yada. Treat it like water off a duck's back, let it roll. Then wow them with Hendrix! Google James Hill's version of VoodOO child!

The ukulele in linear tuning is similar to the first four strings on a guitar fretted at the fourth or fifth fret! Then you can see the uke "C" chord is part of the guitar G Chord, etc. It's all connected man!

You will pick it up super fast as a guitarist, it may consume you though! ATB

12-06-2017, 09:10 AM
I've been a guitarist for 26 years and picked up ukulele about four years ago. I love the simplicity and clarity of the instrument. I rarely play guitar anymore, but I play ukulele every day. Consequently, my fingerpicking on lead guitar has seriously improved as a completely unintended result.

12-06-2017, 11:37 AM
I'll add my voice to the others who gave up guitar after discovering the uke. I traded my Ibanez and Peavy amp (plus a little $) for a Martin C1K.

The difference between me and those other guys is that I truly sucked at guitar. Horrible. I tried to teach myself, on and off, for years and never progressed. Then I borrowed a friend's uke on a camping trip and just started plucking strings. My wife said, "wow, I can actually stand listening to you on that thing". After a reading a few books and becoming "ok" my wife offered to buy me lessons. That plus some of the UU and other videos and...

I'm now passable uke player. In fact, I was playing on the back porch this summer and overheard my new neighbor say, "he's good". I think he just caught me at the right time but, for me, the uke has been way easier and thus fun (or vice versa?).

I do have a guitar playing friend (actually a drummer first and foremost) who says he struggles with uke because of the reentrant tuning but I don't think he's given it much chance - cause he's good at guitar. And I suck.

12-06-2017, 11:53 AM
Long-time-classical guitarist here. Check out The Ukulele Kings. I see someone's already suggested James Hill. I recently got a baritone and a (reentrant) tenor and play both! :)

Just a fan
12-07-2017, 04:28 AM
Another converted guitarist here. I found the uke from finding out about Jake Shimabukuro (the famous "While my guitar gently weeps" video) and Joe Brown doing "I"ll see you in my dreams" at the Concert for George (Harrison).

I like the portability and the simplicity of the uke. I love playing jazz chords and opening myself up to playing a whole genre of music I couldn't before. Do you know how to play a F#dim7 on a guitar? I don't. No clue. I can play it on the uke. Life is good.

P.S. Join a local ukulele jam group. You'll find them so much more friendly than most guitarists.

12-11-2017, 12:05 AM
I play both and enjoy both.

I find some chords are easier on one instrument or the other, so will sometimes put down one and pick up the other when I'm sitting down to play music.

Learning chords when you've never played anything is hard. Learning a few extra chords for uke is easy once you have started learning.

I reckon get one and have fun.

12-11-2017, 05:58 AM
Make sure you buy a decent uke to begin with. Problem w uke, is that a cheaper one will discourage you from playing due to cheaper tone and intonation.