View Full Version : The Consquences of Not Listening in Music Class

07-12-2008, 01:42 PM
Hi there!

I'm completely and utterly new to the ukulele, and after a day of owning one, all I can play is Twinkle Twinkle, using my thumb to "pluck".

Unfortunately I still have many questions, and I fear that no one is as lost as I am. How saddening. Anyway, I was hoping that you guys could help me out.

So, here I go:

- What do I need to know? Like the "basics"? I know the strings play GCEA.. but that's about it.

- What are chords and tabs? What's the difference?

- How do I read them? I think I was looking at tabs earlier, but all I saw was a bunch of numbers, and those scared me.

- Would I be able to use guitar tabs/chords to play ukulele songs? How would I convert them?

- Should I just be focusing on strumming and all that before I attempt any songs?

That's all I can think of.. for now. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Edit: I almost forgot, how am I supposed to know what sort of strum pattern I should be using for the song?

07-12-2008, 02:20 PM
The basics and chords, from Tonya:


Chord transposition wheel, from thr Tiki King:


Many Ukulele Chords and guitar Chords have the same fingering on the Fretboard:

It's the same 12 Fret Octave. The Chord shapes are the same. Try This on Guitar:

[G][G][G] [C][C] [D][D][D] [C][C] [G]Hang [C]on [D]Sloopy, [C]Sloopy hang [G] on

Now, using the IDENTICAL FINGERING on a GCEA tuned Uke:

[C][C][C] [F][F] [G][G][G] [F][F] [C]Hang [F]on [G]Sloopy, [F]Sloopy hang [C] on

Try playing Wild Thing, to the same Chord progression.

Try playing Louie Louie, to the same Chord progression.

Try playing How Does it Feel, to the same Chord progression.

Do You see the Pattern? It's the same basic 1 4 5 Rock 'N Roll Progression that You can play Hundreds of songs to, with the same fingering as You are used to on Your Guitar. Try it and Enjoy!

07-12-2008, 02:39 PM
There are also loads of tutorials on Youtube- just do a search and something useful is bound to come up- plucking, strumming, chord patterns, how to play particular songs... all kinds of nuggets of information.

Good luck and happy uking!

07-12-2008, 04:15 PM
Thanks guys. Hopefully I'll be able to pick it up soon. Is it normal not to be able to hold down the strings for chords at first? I though it was my nails, so I cut them, but it's still hard to press down without messing up another string and getting that strange clunky noise.

Any suggestions?

P.S. What is the wheel for? You have to bear in mine I have no musical knowledge.. at all.

07-12-2008, 05:16 PM
Welcome to the wonderful world of learning the Ukulele.

Seven weeks ago I was were you are, I did play trombone in jr high school so I kind of knew what the notes mean.

The best advice I can give you is get the " Ukulele Method Book1" by Lil' Rev, the DVD "Essential Strums for the Ukulele" by Ralph Shaw and start watching ALL of Aldrine's videos on this site and here too http://www.iamhawaii.com/videos/search?searchshow=Ukulele+Lessons&class=show

Read all the threads here too lots of knowledge.

As for holding down the strings yes you should be able to. I took my cheepy first uke to a guitar store and the filed the slots to lower the strings and it made it way easier to play.

Good luck and keep on strummin.

07-12-2008, 07:07 PM
Thanks again, guys. (:

07-13-2008, 06:22 AM
You're a "noob", right? We're not gonna learn everything on the first day. :D

Your fingers are gonna hurt because it's a new thing for them to be doing. It'll get better.

There is a lot of info on the net for ukuleles. Uke Hunt used to send out a finger picking tutorial for people who signed up for his site. Don't know if he still does it. You tube (as previously stated) has tons of stuff on it. Also, go through all the info here at UU. Aldrine's the man. His lessons, tips, etc. are excellent. Good teacher! You'll find way more stuff around than you can possibly use -- well, that's true for me.

Good Luck. Bet you already are doing better than you think you are. It sneaks up on you.

07-13-2008, 06:33 AM
P.S. What is the wheel for? You have to bear in mine I have no musical knowledge.. at all.

Here's a video about the chord wheel (it's not as pretty as the tikiking one, but it's the same principle):

Hope that helps.

07-14-2008, 06:13 AM
It just struck me that all the beginning ukulele literature I've read has worked on assumption of musical knowledge, when not all ukulele beginners will have this. I've decided to quickly draw up the basis of music with emphasis on playing the ukulele:

Firstly, the basis of music is a series of possible notes, that are named by how they appear on a keyboard:
Regardless of the fact there is no keyboard on a ukulele, the notes are still treated in the same manner. Look at the leftmost white key in that diagram. This is an A. The white note next to it is a B, and next to that is a C. Follow the diagram all the way up to G. After G is A again, and the sequence continues. What is the right-most key in the diagram?........ you should have got B. If not, read over that section again. Now, the black notes are all either flats or sharps. Sharps or notes one step above a white key (so the first black key could be called A sharp) Flats are notes one step below a white key (so the first black key could be called B flat). You should now be able to describe the entirity of that diagram. You'll get something like this:
A, Bflat, B, C, C sharp, D, E flat, E, F, F sharp, G, G sharp, A, B flat, B.....
Each of those steps is called a semitone. To get from C to C sharp we go up one semitone, to go from E to F we go up one semitone.

Going over to the ukulele, play your lowest string. This is A. The number of frets after which you press down equals the number of semitones higher than the A the note will be played.
Look at the diagram again, as you go from left to right, you come across C, which is your second highest string, then E which is your second lowest string, then G which is your highest string, and then two semitones after G we have A which is your lowest string.
Try and do the following: Fret in a certain position on your top string so that it sounds like your bottom string naturally sounds. Fret in a certain position on your second string so that it sounds like your second lowest string naturally sounds. Once you can work on this sort of level you are understanding fundamentally what the ukulele does.

The only bit left to understand is chords, which is actually very easy. A chord is any three (or more) notes that have set semitonal distances between the notes. Say you wanted to play C major. You would first play a C, then 4 semitones above it, which is an E, then 3 semitones above that, which is a G. To get any major chord, you take the note 4 semitones above the root of the chord, and the note 3 semitones above that one. Try working out D major....
You should get D, F sharp, A.
To get the following chords, do the following semitonal distances:
Major = 4,3
Minor = 3,4
Diminished = 3,3
Augmented = 4,4
Dominant seventh = 4,3,3
Major seventh = 4,3,4
Minor seventh = 3,4,3

The sevenths will need all four strings of your ukulele, but with the other chords, you can use the fourth string to play any of the notes of the chord a second time (should be in a different octave to the other time this note is heard, and it should usually not be the middle note of the chord.)

Various ukulele sites will show you how to fret certain chords, or read tabulature or sheet music, but this knowledge will take you from knowing absolutely nothing, to having an understanding of what's going on with your ukulele when you play, or what the sheet music actually means when it tells you to sharp every F. :)

07-15-2008, 08:29 PM
Those last replies really helped me out. You guys rock! I skipped a day of practice because of the aching fingers, and now I find it much easier to hold the strings down. They seem softer, somehow, but that's probably just my fingers?

Unfortunately, I messed up the tuning of my uke by accident so I can't practice the semitonal stuff just yet. But once I retune I'm sure I'll be fine. That little Music 101 course helped a lot, Doodinthemood. Thanks!

I also find Aldrine's lesson really clear. He is a good teacher. (:

Shukria, guys! (: