View Full Version : Bluegrass. thoughts?

Uke Gently Weeps
07-02-2010, 03:29 AM
Well my dad has a bluegrass band, and I run sound for them, and sometimes fill in on bass. I was thinking of learning mandolin but I don't really want to learn a whole new set of chords. Should I tune a mandolin same as my uke, with a low G of course, or just play my uke? Or give up bluegrass and start playing death metal ukulele?

07-02-2010, 03:38 AM
Jumpin Jim's newest music book is Bluegrass Ukulele.

07-02-2010, 04:47 AM
I've really been attracted to bluegrass lately, myself. I have been trying to learn to pick out a few tunes in bluegrass style on my tenor with the low G and on my soprano with the high G. The soprano reminds me most of a 4 string banjo, with re-entrant tuning and all, so maybe you should consider either a 4 string banjo tuned like a uke, or a banjolele. You could try just playing your regular uke, but in a bluegrass band, it would be hard to compete with the real banjos and dreadnaught guitars.

07-02-2010, 05:19 AM
I play alittle bluegrass on my uke. Some Ole Crowe Medicine Show, anybody?

07-02-2010, 06:31 AM
Wagon Wheel for the win.

07-02-2010, 06:39 AM
Why not just pick up a banjolele? Instant bluegrass uke!

07-02-2010, 06:48 AM
Unfortunately a uke tuning on mandolin wouldn't sound quite right. The riffs and runs would be very different, but might be okay if you're quick enough on the fingering. Some guitarists use a guitar tuning on the mandolin to expedite the playing; again, the same results. I empathize because I'm a guitarist who learned mandolin. When I started learning uke, I found myself mixing up the chords between uke and mando. I now play much more uke than I do mandolin. My recommendation is to learn the mando in its true, acceptable standard tuning. YMMV. ;-D

07-02-2010, 06:57 AM
I think alternate tunings on a mando would mess up the intonation. You might have to set the bridge in a different place or compensate it differently.

I think I would stay with the standard mando tuning - it'll sound best that way. Doing your double stops and such would also be a lot harder in an alternate tuning. If you do use the standard mando tuning, you'll be all set to learn the fiddle after that!

07-02-2010, 07:10 AM
I think uke is a perfect bluegrass instrument. I say go for it!

07-02-2010, 07:31 AM
Wagon Wheel for the win.

Indeed. The first song of theirs I learned on the uke was their rendition of "Silver Dagger." Incredibly easy, incredibly soulfull.

07-02-2010, 09:48 AM
There's been a fair amount of bluegrass uke videos on YT....

Taylor Stringflinger
07-02-2010, 10:22 AM
As a fella who's picked both I'd suggest you play which ever you're most interested in at the moment. Mando's work best in their original tuning, so if thats the route you go stick with the gdae. Nice thing about mando is the k position. learn that and you'll be choppin all over the fret board with little memory required. That being said, there's just something fun about pickin those ol fiddle tunes on a uke...

07-02-2010, 10:53 AM
Ken Middleton has lots of bluegrass tab available at http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=a18e92d5e21704b1d5a101cf914073b4c36f42da 6da76fa6

He has lots of videos that correspond to those tabs so you can watch it played while working on the tab. Just check out http://www.youtube.com/user/KenMiddletonUkulele

Great resources for learning bluegrass on uke.

07-02-2010, 01:06 PM
I play with a bluegrass/folk cover band - I play both my baritone and concert ukuleles. I've just picked up the mandolin, but that is going to take a little getting used to. I like what the ukulele brings to old bluegrass and folk tunes.

07-02-2010, 03:21 PM
I have been wanting to try Wayfaring Stranger on a banjo ukulele. Just picked up a Dixie that is made almost entirely out of metal. Not quite sure if the tuner for the G string is going to hold up. May have to replace it. Always thought some Nickel Creek numbers would sound good on the ukulele. Spit on a Stranger by Pavement (covered by Nickel Creek) and When in Rome are two that seem to work in that style on the ukulele. Just some suggestions.

Uke Gently Weeps
07-02-2010, 03:29 PM
Thanks for the replies folks. My dad has a mando around that never gets any use. I'll have to fool around with it. I just hate to split my practice time between the two. I'm going to post this in the song help forum, but I would like to learn this mandolin part, one uke as well if someone wants to tab it out for me.


07-02-2010, 09:03 PM
The ukulele is a percussive stringed instrument, like the mandolin. Using a "boom chucka boom chucka boom chucka boom" strum on a ukulele renders itself well to bluegrass jams and circles. Ric

07-02-2010, 11:47 PM
I played mandolin in a Gospel Bluegrass ensemble at our church. After 2 years of playing mandolin, I gave it up. It was too difficult for me to be learning the songs, singing harmony and trying to pick a break all at the same time. I just wasn't having any fun. I sold the mandolins, bought a "gathering" of ukuleles and now I'm having a blast. The folks in the ensemble were pretty skeptical the first time I showed up with a uke instead of a mandolin. After the first couple songs, they changed their minds. In this group, I simply play a uke tuned high g, chop it like a mandolin and when I play breaks, I don't worry about trying to play them like I was playing a mando. I just play something that fits. They all agree it works great.