View Full Version : How to learn Chord Melody Soloing for Baritone Ukulele

09-03-2018, 10:25 AM

I'm learning Baritone ukulele and I'd like to try some chord melody solo style. I was looking for a book on it but I can't find one for baritone. I have a soprano but I have learned the chord shapes/names on the baritone so when I play my soprano, I play it like a baritone and it plays a 5th higher (or lower I can't remember).

So I think that a chord melody book for GCEA tuning wouldn't work on my baritone because I'd play the right notes but they wouldn't match up with the right chord.

I play a little piano too and what I learned is to put the melody as the top note of the chord. I suppose this is pretty much the same with ukulele? So it comes down to learning the appropriate chord inversions?

I've been focusing on some simple bluegrass songs and they're mostly in the keys of G & D. So I think if I focus on say the key of G, I could come up with the chord inversions to keep the melody on top and kind of figure it out myself. I suppose a book would be easier because the author would have done this part and one could learn it quicker. But it seems like I could figure it out myself. At least for a couple songs.

So am I on the right track?

09-03-2018, 11:44 AM
Yes. You will probably learn more by composing things yourself rather than following a book. Remember that often chord fragments/double stops are sufficient to give the flavour. No need for the full inversions all the time.

Cat M
09-05-2018, 11:15 AM
I don't know of a book that has songs arranged for baritone chord soloing. But here are some general tips I learned recently as I'm figuring out how to do chord soloing.

I started by learning to add/alter notes in the first position. Sometimes the melody note is not in the chord you need to play. So an inversion may not provide the solution. So you need to alter the top note on whatever chord shape you're using.

For example, play a G chord in open position, and experiment with how many different notes you can play on top of that chord. How would you play an open G with B on top? (Two choices: mute the E string or fret the E string on the 7th fret.) How many different notes can you put on top of an open G? On a baritone, any note on the E string works because the other strings are open on G. (Doesn't mean they'll all sound good but you can reach them.)

It helps if you know the G major scale in first position. But at this stage, it's not so important to play the notes that "sound right." It's more important to just start learning to change the top notes on all your chords at will.

Next, try the same thing with Em in the first position. Experiment with which notes you can put on top. (Em is the relative minor to G so you're still in the key of G.)

Pretty soon you'll be practicing all your first position chords with various notes on top.

Then you can move on to inversions and practice in the same way, figuring our which notes you can have on top with each new chord you learn.

This approach has been helping me move away from those basic chords that we all hang on to for dear life at the beginning!

09-05-2018, 12:53 PM
Go to Spencer Gay’s Ukeeducation website and play any of the GCEA tunes (low G) on Baritone. Things will be a 4th lower than written—but will still sound “right” overall.

09-05-2018, 03:54 PM
When I first wanted to learn I tried regular tuning concert and then asked the late Mike Lynch about it since I’d just got a baritone. He told to play the same songs. They’ll be in a different key but sound just as good if I was soloing. He was right.

09-06-2018, 11:11 AM
The Ukulele Way from James Hill is about Chord Melody. There are 2 Variations of every lesson: Reentrant (High G) + linear (Low G). The linear Lessons you only have to transpose to play on the Baritone Uke.

09-10-2018, 05:41 AM
When I had a baritone I had it tuned to the same notes as the top four strings on a guitar. DGBE. As long as the music named the chord I played the top four strings and ignored the bass notes when chording. So I used guitar books, also mandolin, just watch that the music is within the range of the ukulele, lowest note would be D.

09-10-2018, 07:37 AM
Maybe I'm missing something, or overcomplicating it, but I think there is a problem in using a chord melody book for regular ukulele with a baritone. The chord shapes would be different and the melody note wouldn't fit in the same way. The tab wouldn't be accurate.

As an example:


The melody note is the A which is the open string. The F chord shape fits this well as it keeps the melody on the highest string.

On the baritone however, an F is a different chord shape and the first string is fretted on the first fret. Which means I couldn't play that A there, or I'd need an alternate F chord fingering.

In this example they don't tab the chords, which I think would be really helpful in learing. But in some other books/pages, they do tab the chords and if I play it on a Baritone the tabs for the chords aren't going to work.

Am I missing something?

09-10-2018, 09:21 AM
I should have explained, I’d bought Mike’s first book and was very new to the concept. It did sound like the song, enough that I could sort of get the timing. The thought was as I advanced I could invert chords or do whatever to pick out the melody. I never got very good because I discovered I don’t like chord melody. I like when other people do it but not me. To be honest I'm still not that good as a player.

09-10-2018, 10:27 AM
I think you are getting it but you’re also getting a little confused.

Easiest is to play the same chord shapes on the Baritone and accept that you’re playing the melody and the associated chord harmony in a different key. Alternatively learn how to play the shape for an F chord with an A note on the top string (3565, 7565 or x565).

If you’re playing on your own then the former is easiest. If you have to play in a particular key to fit in with others then you need to do the latter by playing different shapes.

09-10-2018, 10:42 AM
Thatís why I only solo chord melody. Too lazy to change to common key.