View Full Version : Guitar and Uke: practicing together?

07-20-2018, 08:51 AM
I'm a life-long guitar player. Six months ago I picked up a uke and fell in love with the instrument. Since then I've become serious about learning and unlearning habits and have become much better with the uke, esp. right-hand. My practice time for several months was dedicated 100% to the ukulele.

But I need to (and want to) keep playing guitar. Does anyone have trouble practicing both instruments simultaneously? Do you do switch days, weeks, or as you feel like it? Suggestions?

07-20-2018, 09:35 AM
You might not like my answer. Having played guitar for almost 50 years, 5 years ago I took up the uke and bass uke, haven't touched my guitars since, I find the uke far more gratifying.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. http://www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos (https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos)

Jim Yates
07-20-2018, 09:52 AM
There is a lot of overlap in skills. I still sometimes think in guitar terminology while playing the uke, D7 when I should be thinking G7, but I don't think my guitar playing has suffered since I took up the uke.
I'm assuming that by "practicing both instruments simultaneously," you don't mean at the exact same time. For a second I was imagining a one man (or woman)band.

07-20-2018, 10:15 AM
I either play guitar or bass with our uke groups. Never could figure out how to play the uke.

I occasionally switch with our other bass player where he'll play my bass & I'll play his uke. The only chord I know is C, otherwise I just try to find whatever fits while playing his uke. Playing by ear avoids confusion between chords for uke & guitar and provides great practice!

07-20-2018, 10:25 AM
Muscle memory will adapt to both instruments in time. I play guitar (acoustic, electric, classical, and tenor) as well as ukulele and mandolin. I will switch from day to day. Sometimes play one instrument for several days before switching to a different one. Again, muscle memory will take over.

07-20-2018, 10:28 AM
I still play both consistently. I think it depends on what your current goals are. I will be playing background music for a wedding using both uke and guitar. When I practice the set all the way through, I switch between both. If I'm working on a specific piece or touching up songs, I will spend an evening with just the one.

It's definitely possible, and the crossover of skills, as Jim states, has been a benefit to me more than a detriment. But, I would say, that if you are attempting to become a virtuoso, you should probably just pick one and master it. I have no such desire and like tinkering with anything that will make noises that I like.

07-20-2018, 10:59 AM
Thanks everyone. Let me clarify: I actually prefer to play uke but I need to keep playing guitar. My problem is how to organize and practice each of them and get the most of it. The more I play uke I realize it's a completely different animal, although there are clearly some crossover skills.

07-20-2018, 11:32 AM
I don't think of ukulele as a completely different instrument from guitar. I think of it as the first four strings of a guitar with a capo on the 5th fret. I play uke and guitar, and I practice/play both as needed. Some songs work better for me on ukulele and some work better on guitar. I try to play both at least a little bit each day. Switching between them isn't a problem for me, but I do prefer playing Tenor ukuleles and short-scale guitars, just to ease the transition by minimizing the physical size difference between the two, if that makes any sense. :cool:

07-20-2018, 01:07 PM
This may not help, but this what I do. I started with learning the Uke and then started with the guitar and lessons. Whatever I learn on an instrument I learn on the other instrument. I force myself to learn on the other. We go to both Uke and guitar song circles. It forces me to play both. I usually play different songs at the circles but it does give me a few spares if my choice is taken. The Hawaiian songs on guitar are difficult and never my first choice. Trying to play those vamps and sing those lyrics, wow. I’ve been playing for almost 5 years. You’d think I’d be better but I’m also getting older.

07-20-2018, 02:28 PM
You could try practicing the same songs on the guitar that you are practicing on the uke :D it's a bit of fun & will help you with the crossover, each instrument will help the other :D

What a great idea! Just gave it a shot... and man, that is tough. Especially because the right hand strumming is completely different on each instrument.

The uke is soooo much more sensitive.

07-20-2018, 07:21 PM
Zero issues here. Capo the 5th fret of a guitar and you're on one of the octave scales of an 'ukulele. I exclusively play only soprano 'ukulele and full size electric and dreadnought acoustic/electric guitars and play U-Bass EADG with zero issues switching between them. Ric

07-21-2018, 06:02 AM
I'll second the idea of trying DGBE (linear) on the ukulele. Of course, it depends on what size ukulele you have. It's standard tuning for a baritone size ukulele, but I'm using DGBE on my electric tenor ukulele.

I worked out the notes for Red River Valley on the guitar, and it's the exact same fretting on that ukulele.

My father learned to play mandolin, then guitar. 60 years ago he took up the 5-string banjo to play Ragtime, and has played that nearly exclusively for the last 45 years. I handed him my ukulele to look at, he asked about the tuning, and I showed him a couple of chords. In less than 10 minutes he was playing. This gives me the impression that an understanding of music theory goes a long way. I'm working on it.

07-22-2018, 03:06 AM
Once you get used to it, there's really no issues.

I play acoustic guitar, classical guitar, bass guitar, ukuleles all simultaneously with no issues.

07-23-2018, 02:33 AM
I just picked up an electric guitar a week ago after toying with the idea for 6 months. I have found that learning guitar is helping my left hands speed as well as technique. I am glad I started with Uke, the steel strings still are taking some time to build even more caleses as well as hand strength to get some basic cords. The strumming is easier on the guitar, but I have high hopes.

I am also trying to learn from the missteps I may have made learning to play the ukulele. One is start with too cheap of an instrument, and second is to jump around for knowlege and UAS. I started with an electric so that I can practice after everyone goes to bed, but would still like an amp, some day. I would also like to get a KLOS carbon fiber guitar, but I am trying to figure out how to set those up as rewards not just because I saved enough money.

07-23-2018, 06:28 AM
Ya gotta get an amp!! Figuring that you have a solid body electric, would be a bore not playing thru an amp. Have fun with your new acquisition.

07-23-2018, 06:29 AM
I’ve played guitar since I was 15 (now 73) and took up the Uke about 4 years ago. I was finding it very difficult to play guitar as my left wrist was/is collapsing. I sold off my guitar collection and started buying good Ukes. It still hurts to play for long periods but much less so than playing guitar. I miss the dynamic range.

07-23-2018, 06:43 AM
Once I started playing ukulele it became my main instrument, over guitar. The ukulele also steered me into appreciating and mainly playing stringed acoustic instruments. I still play my acoustic guitar occasionally and I still enjoy it (maybe even more so) because it feels like I'm playing a grand piano with its strong bass and long sustain- compared to my more played and treble intense ukuleles.

07-23-2018, 11:40 AM
I agree, a lot of overlap between guitar and uke. I played guitar for many years before uke, but similar chord shapes made it easier for me to learn uke, and I play way more uke than guitar for fun now. I'm playing rhythm electric guitar in a classic rock band, gigging 2x/month, so before my Sat. night gigs, I need to stop playing uke and switch back to exclusively guitar for at least a day prior to the gig. If I don't do that, soprano uke muscle memory wants to play the much smaller uke chord shapes, instead of the bigger guitar shapes, and I have a clam fest at the gig. The D chord on guitar is the same exact shape as G on uke, and should be one of the easiest guitar chords to play, but I can mess it up if I don't give myself enough time to adapt back to the larger guitar. Kinda embarrassing! :wallbash:

07-24-2018, 07:24 PM
I go back and forth between a dreadnought guitar and a soprano 'ukulele without ever skipping a single heart beat with zero practice.They're both 12th fret octave stringed instruments that deserve zero thought to play on key. ZERO!!! Ric