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View Full Version : To transpose or not: a guitalele question...



mr79
01-07-2014, 07:46 AM
Hey up, and happy new year to everyone!

For Christmas I was lucky enough to get a Gretsch guitalele... I love it! It sounds so nice, but it's definitely thrown down a gauntlet to my musical ability.

The question I've got, which I haven't found an answer to: with it being tuned ADGCEA, a fourth higher than guitar, is it better for me to play direct guitar chords on it and accept that what I hear is a fourth higher (so I play a 'C' chord but hear an 'F'), or would it be better for me to treat the guitalele as a separate instrument in its own right and transpose (rename all the chords on my chord chart, let my brain get used to a C being called an F)?

I would one day like to learn guitar too, and I guess I'm thinking that transposing is going to muddy the waters further down the line... but having the chords come out different to the one I play is foxing me too.

I realise this is probably a 'personal choice' kinda thing, but wondered if anyone could throw some knowledgeable reasoning on this here musical amateur...

Cheers!

dhoenisch
01-07-2014, 08:33 AM
My insight would be that if you think you will ever playing with others, I would say you might want to use the correct chords, so if you need to play a C, use the correct fingerings for C. That's just my personal preference. Or, when you get a guitar, you can always keep it capo'd at the 5th fret :).

Dan

sirwhale
01-07-2014, 08:54 AM
When you start playing the guitar your knowledge of chord inversions will be good :)

mds725
01-07-2014, 09:00 AM
I've had to deal with a similar thing playing both a tenor ukulele (GCEA) and a baritone ukulele (DGBE). When I'm playing by myself, I just use the same chord shapes on both instruments and end up playing the same song in different keys on both (the C chord shape on my tenor is a G chord on my baritone). When I first started playing a baritone in groups, I would do so only if I knew the songs we were going to play ahead of time and I would write on the sheet music the chord shape I would use to play the same chord on a tenor ukulele. (For example, if the song called for a G chord, I would write in the letter "C" over the letter G, and in a different color ink, so that when it was time to play a G chord on my baritone ukulele, I would make the tenor ukulele C chord shape, which produces a G chord on a baritone. In essence, if a song is in the key of G, I play it on a baritone as if it's in the key of C.) Playing the baritone frequently got me familiar with the baritone names for tenor chord shapes, so I know know without thinking that to play an F chord on a baritone, I use the tenor ukulele chord shape for a Bb, etc.) I hope that someday I'll become proficient enough with baritone tuning that I'll be able to play it without having to either transpose in my head or write the name of the equivalent tenor chord shape on my sheet music.

Helms
01-07-2014, 09:08 AM
I can't wait to receive my Gretsch Guitalele, which should be here in a week or two.

I have a few years of guitar, so it's not really an issue for me. But I think that if you want to play guitalele (and ukulele for that matter) with others before you learn to play guitar: transpose! You have to know how to play every chord on the ukulele and guitalele (basically the same thing, with the difference of two extra strings), so that you can play with others.

If you do however, plan on learning the guitar before you'll want to play with others, a mixture of knowing every guitar chord and ukulele chord makes it very easy to spot which chord you're holding when playing the guitalele and therefore transposing should be fairly simple at that point. - That is however, only if you know most of the chords on the uke.

Ondrej
01-08-2014, 08:42 PM
My insight would be that if you think you will ever playing with others, I would say you might want to use the correct chords, so if you need to play a C, use the correct fingerings for C. That's just my personal preference. Or, when you get a guitar, you can always keep it capo'd at the 5th fret :).

Dan

:agree: It's practical.

kissing
01-09-2014, 02:55 AM
I am a living example of someone who started playing ukulele.... learned baritone ukulele... learned guitalele... and then learned guitar.

It's definitely worth it. After a while, it becomes very easy to play the right chords on the respective instruments. In fact, it's like having an unfair advantage; the chords ARE the same shapes.

It's also a very useful skill to have. Some sets of chords are easier played with a guitalele/ukulele tuning, while others are easier with guitar tuning.
On my guitar, sometimes I like to capo the 5th fret (turning it into a guitalele) for songs in keys of C and F, because it's easier chord shapes.

mr79
01-09-2014, 06:38 AM
Hi all,
Many thanks for your opinions and advice - so, generally it seems best to do both. I have to say, that having spent the past few days practising I do seem to be picking chords up faster than I was before... it's like having to think about what these chords are on other instruments is unlocking some of the mystery!

Anyway, I think I've gone and made it even harder for myself by getting an Ohana sopranino too (it was cheap! I couldn't say no!), which sounds better tuned ADF#B... transpositions all round...

Cheers!

Wicked
01-09-2014, 06:57 AM
I always preach learning tunes in their original key. This makes you a better player by forcing you away from the easier first position chords, but more importantly, it allows you to play with others. It may seem petty, but other musicians will not take a ukulele player seriously if they cannot play "Take Five" in Eb minor (for example). (Eb minor is not a particularly easy key on guitar either.)

Don't worry about your eventual transition to guitar. Focus on the instrument that you have in your hands.... it will all contribute to guitar playing later.

By the way, I will finally have my Gretsch "guitar ukulele" next week. Have fun with yours.

iamesperambient
01-10-2014, 05:33 AM
Hey up, and happy new year to everyone!

For Christmas I was lucky enough to get a Gretsch guitalele... I love it! It sounds so nice, but it's definitely thrown down a gauntlet to my musical ability.

The question I've got, which I haven't found an answer to: with it being tuned ADGCEA, a fourth higher than guitar, is it better for me to play direct guitar chords on it and accept that what I hear is a fourth higher (so I play a 'C' chord but hear an 'F'), or would it be better for me to treat the guitalele as a separate instrument in its own right and transpose (rename all the chords on my chord chart, let my brain get used to a C being called an F)?

I would one day like to learn guitar too, and I guess I'm thinking that transposing is going to muddy the waters further down the line... but having the chords come out different to the one I play is foxing me too.

I realise this is probably a 'personal choice' kinda thing, but wondered if anyone could throw some knowledgeable reasoning on this here musical amateur...

Cheers!


if you are going to play with others, figure out the correct chords and transpose everything,
and look at it as a guitar with a capo on the 5th fret. If you are playing solo look at it as a ukulele
with extra bass strings.

katysax
01-10-2014, 05:56 AM
It's not that hard to learn how to transpose on the fly. Get one of those cycle of fifths charts. Or write it down or download it from the internet. Put it beside you. Look at the chord written on the chord sheet and then play a chord one chord to the right. So, when you see F written, play C. And so forth. Within a couple of weeks you'll probably have the cycle of fifths memorized and transposing the chords will be second nature.