Revamped Ukulossary

Kanaka916

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I have no idea how many members use the glossary or if it's even needed. Anyway, I've re-worked the glossary and need your opinions/comments. If a term needs to be added, let me know through this thread.
 
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Kanaka916

Kanaka916

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Uke Glossary
Ukulele Anatomy:
  • Upper Bout - the upper bulge in the instrument's body
  • Lower Bout - the lower bulge in the instrument's body (almost always the larger of the two)
  • Scale Length - the average sounding length of the strings (to help the instrument's intonation, the saddle is angled so that the bass strings are slightly longer than the treble strings. The scale length is usually measured as the distance between the nut and the center of the 12th fret, multiplied by 2)
  • Body Length - the length of the body section of the guitar, not including the heelblock
  • Body Depth - the depth of the body (measured at its deepest point).
  • Total Length - the length of the entire instrument.
  • Nut Width/Fingerboard Width - the width across the end of the fingerboard where it meets the nut.
  • String Spacing at Nut - the distance between the 1st and 4th strings at the nut.
  • String Spacing at Bridge - the distance between the 1st and 4th strings at the bridge, measured at a right angle to the strings.
  • Saddle Width - the width of the saddle.
Ukulele Sizes are determined by scale length:
  • Soprano/Standard: Smallest size in the ‘ukulele family, the soprano has the recognizable plinky sound that everyone associates with the instrument.
  • Super Soprano: Soprano body with an extended neck and a 15-16 in. scale.
  • Concert: Medium size with a scale length of 15-16 in.
  • Super Concert: Has an extended neck with a 17 in. scale
  • Tenor: What most of the pros play, 17-18 in scale, gives a deeper, and usually richer tone with more sustain and depth.
  • Super Tenor: Has a 17 in scale on a larger body .
  • Baritone: A baritone is like a small guitar missing the two top strings. It is biggest of all and the different tuning requires some knowledge or quick transposing to figure out the chords.
Abalone: A highly prized shiny material obtained from shells and often used on ukulele fret marker inlays, on headstocks, or on binding around the edge of the instrument or around the soundhole.

Action: Referring to the height of the strings above the frets and fretboard.

Active Pickups: Usually louder and brighter. It also allows you to shape the sound of the pickup in a number of ways: volume, bass, midrange, treble, gain, phase, etc. Generally, the more expensive the cost, the more control it provides.

Arpeggio: A broken chord, usually played evenly low to high and back again.

Barre chord: From the French term barré. The technique of placing the left hand index finger over two to four strings in the fingering of a chord. The great advantage of using barre chords is that they are "moveable shapes" that can be applied at practically any fret.

Bending: The act of pushing or pulling a string sideways across the a fret to raise the pitch of a note by a half to full tone or more. Used extensively in rock and blues playing as well as in jazz.

Binding: The plastic strip around the edge of the soundboard, disguising the join between the soundboard and the sides of the guitar, and protecting the corners from being damaged. Although plastic is stronger, some manufacturers prefer to use wood for a more traditional appearance.

Bound fingerboards are also common - in this case a plastic or wooden strip is fitted around the edge of the fingerboard to disguise the ends of the frets.

Book Matching: Process by which a plank of wood is sawn down the middle and opened up like a book, so that the resulting two pieces are near mirror images of each other. The grain pattern of a 'book-matched' soundboard should reflect this symmetry.

Bracing: Strips of wood glued to the underside of the soundboard, which add strength, and help to transmit the vibration of the strings around the soundboard. The pattern of these struts varies between the different builders/manufacturers, and is part of what helps to give each make and model its own unique sound.

Break Angle: The downward turn of the strings behind the bridge and/or in front of the nut. The string area between the nut and bridge would be considered to be 0 degrees and perpendicular to that would be 90 degrees. So, an average Ukulele bridge break angle would probably be around 35 degrees.

Bridge: The block of hardwood (usually rosewood or ebony) attached to the soundboard, that holds the saddle, and where the ends of the strings are secured via tying, bridge pins or string knots. Three common types of bridges.
  • Tie Bridge:
  • Pin Bridge:
  • Pull through:
Bridge Pins: The small plastic pins (sometimes wooden on more expensive instruments) that fix the ends of the strings into the bridge. Sometimes these are replaced with heavier brass bridge pins, which can help to increase sustain, improve tone, and eliminate problems with wolf notes.

Bridge Plate: Piece of material on the sound board, under the bridge and inside of the body. It helps to reinforce the sound board from distorting under the pull of the strings on the bridge.

Capo: Capodastère in French, and Capo d'astro in Italian. In Italian, it means “head of fretboard.” Italian musicologist Giovanni Battista Doni reportedly first used the term in his book Annotazioni of 1640. A mechanical device that attaches to the neck by means of a string, spring, elastic or nylon band, or a lever and thumbscrew arrangement. The capo can be used to raise the key of a song to suit a vocalist as well as to lower the action and shorten the string length. Capos come in all styles, and can help your songwriting and playing.

Chromatic Scale: In Western music there are twelve steps between a note in one scale and the same note in the scale either below it or above it. e.g. C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G, Ab, A, Bb, B and then it arrives back at C

Chunking: A technique used to add a percussive sound to your strum; basically the equivalent of clapping, using your strings

Compensated saddle: These have a ridge that alternates between the front and back edge of the saddle, allowing for the difference in string tension between the plain and wound strings, and thus improving the intonation.

Course: A fancy name for a string i.e. 1st course = A, 2nd course = E

Cutaway: Commonly found on electro-acoustics, a cutaway makes it easier to reach the highest frets on the guitar, and play higher notes - particularly popular with guitarists who mainly play electric guitar, but want an acoustic as well. Some purists argue that acoustic with a cutaway don't sound as good. The acid test is to play it - if you like it, that's all that matters!

Direct In Boxes (DI Boxes): takes a high impedance, unbalanced signal and converts it to a low impedance, balanced signal. This allows the signal to be sent over long cable runs with significantly less signal loss (especially in high frequencies) due to the lowering of the impedance, and greater rejection of interference due to the benefit of common mode rejection in a balanced signal. Furthermore, the lower impedance (around 600 ohms is normal) allows an insignificant load to the input of a mixing console or preamp which is also designed to accept input from low impedance microphones. Can be either Active or Passive.
 
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Kanaka916

Kanaka916

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Revamped Ukulossary (Cont)

F-Hole: The F shaped opening in the sound board of some guitars, usually archtops or resonators.

Fingerstyle: Playing with the fingernails or fingertips with or without fingerpicks as opposed to playing with a flatpick.

Fingerboard: The piece of hardwood, directly below the strings, onto which the frets are mounted. Budget and mid-price instruments usually have a rosewood fingerboard, while more expensive instruments normally use ebony (a denser, harder wearing timber).

Flatpick: The original term for a plectrum or pick - used for plucking or strumming your strings. You usually see the term used for vintage country and blues players these days – it’s to differentiate their style from fingerpickers (fingernails) or thumbpickers (those that use curled, thumbnail-alike picks that wrap around your fingers.)

A triangular or teardrop-shaped piece of nylon or plastic used to pluck or strum guitar strings. Flatpicks are available in a large variety of shapes, sizes, and thickness. They are also made of different materials for the ukulele such as leather, felt & rubber.

Fretwire: Metal wire that is cut, and pressed into the fret slots, then it is shaped and beveled and also describes the distance between notes on the fretboard.

Fretboard: The fretted surface of the neck where you do the playing, sometimes known as the fingerboard.

Fretboard markers: Inlays are used to tell the player what fret their fingers are at. Often placed at frets 3, 5, 7,10, 12, and sometimes 15.

Hammer-on: A note sounded literally by "hammering" down with a left hand finger, often performed in conjunction with a note first plucked by the right hand on the same string.

Harmonics: Chime-like sounds achieved in two ways:
  • natural harmonics - by touching a string at any equidistant division of the string length (typically 5th, 7th, and 12th fret), directly above the fret with left hand, and striking hard with the right-hand fingers or pick near the bridge where there is more string resistance.
  • artificial harmonics - touching a string with the index finger of the right hand twelve frets higher than any fretted note and plucking the string with either the thumb or third finger of the right hand.
Headstock: The "top" of the ukulele where the tuning pegs/tuners are located.

Humidifier: Maintains a proper moisture level to prevent adverse effects of dry conditions, such as bad string action and buzzing, protruding fret ends, cracking, top-sinking and other damage to your instrument.

Hygrometer: An inexpensive device that tells you the relative humidity of a room with a good degree of accuracy.

Inlays: Decoration added to the soundboard, fingerboard and headstock. Usually made from abalone, although plastic and wood are also used. Inlays are normally placed on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets to make it easier for players to find and remember where the notes are.

Intonation: The instrument's ability to accurately produce the proper note at a given fret position. It can also be affected by a string change, humidity change or adjustment in action

Kerfing: Also called lining, kerfing is found inside an acoustic guitar and is not ornamental. It’s a strip of wood glued around the edges of the inside of the body in order to provide support and extra gluing surface where the top and back join the sides. This wood strip is kerfed, meaning that many small notches are cut into it so that it’s flexible and easily bent to the shape of the instrument.

Laminated Top: A soundboard (top) that's made from several layers of wood stuck.

Linear Tuning: Strings are tuned sequentially from low to high (Low G tuning for example)

Machine Heads: Placed on the headstock, and used to tune the strings. There open gear, closed gear and Pegheads. Sometimes a gear ratio is given for machine heads - e.g. 18:1, meaning that for every 18 turns of the machine head, the post holding the string turns round once. In theory, larger gear ratios make it easier to tune more accurately, although they also mean it takes longer to wind a string on when changing strings. In practice, as long your instrument has good quality machine heads, it should be relatively easy to tune up whatever their gear ratio is.

Mother of Pearl: A material made from the glossy inside of shells used for making fret markers, binding and decorative trims on a ukulele.

Muting: A technique used to muffle the ringing of notes, usually done with the edge of the hand placed gently on the strings near the bridge.

Nut: The small white block between the fingerboard and the headstock, which holds the strings in place. Usually made from plastic or composite materials. Ivory, Nylon, Tusq, Corian can also be used.
 
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Kanaka916

Kanaka916

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Revamped Ukulossary (Cont)

Palm Mute: A technique used to muffle the ringing of notes, done with the edge of the palm.

Passive Pickup: A magnetic pickup directly sending the signal from your string, through the wood, into the pickup and into the amp which creates the most dynamic, organic sound you can produce. Designed to sound good even without a preamp. The advantage of a passive pickup is low maintenance and should produce a warm, full and round tone.

Pentatonic scale: consists of five notes within one octave, that's why it is also sometimes referred to as a five-tone scale or five-note scale. A five-tone scale used often in rock.

Picking: Plucking or producing a sound on the guitar in general, either with the fingers or a flatpick. Sometimes refers to playing a single-note melody line.

Pickups (there are four main types of pickup used):
  • Under-Saddle Transducers (UST): The most common type of acoustic guitar pickup - a narrow piezo-electric strip that fits underneath the saddle, picking up its vibrations. Almost all guitars that are built as electro-acoustic will have this type of pickup fitted to them (some may also have an internal microphone). A good quality under-saddle transducer makes a powerful, punchy sound and tends to be good at rejecting feedback, making them popular with gigging musicians.
  • Soundboard Transducers(SBT): These pickups have a small flat pad that sticks directly on to the soundboard of the guitar (either outside or inside). Soundboard transducers can be quite difficult to fit properly - it usually requires a lot of trial-and-error to find the best position for the pickup element, otherwise they can sound very "boomy" on certain notes, and suffer badly from feedback problems.
  • Magnetic Soundhole pickup: These pickups fit across the soundhole, usually with some kind of clamp mechanism, and they work in the same way as an electric guitar pickup by using magnet(s) to pick up the vibration of the strings. The best feature of these pickups is that they don't have to be fitted professionally, and they can be removed again without making any alterations to your guitar (although some can be installed permanently if you prefer).
  • Internal Microphones: Small, internally-mounted condenser microphones produce a sound that's arguably more "natural" than any other type of pickup, although they tend to suffer from the most problems with feedback. For this reason, internal microphones are usually fitted alongside an under-saddle pickup and an on-board "blend" control, so if you find yourself suffering from feedback problems, you can turn down down the microphone and turn up the under-saddle pickup.

Power Chord: A chord consisting of the first (root), fifth and eighth degree (octave) of the scale. Power chords are typically used in playing rock music.

PreAmps: Prepares the signal coming from a pickup or microphones for further amplification. There are a number of reasons to get a preamp: boost a low signal, clean up a signal so that it sounds better coming through the amp, adjust the signal (e.g. volume control or equalizer) or blend multiple signals into one.

Pull-off: The opposite of a hammer-on. Performed by plucking a note with a finger on a higher note and pulling parallel to the fret to sound a lower note on the same string.

Purfling: Ornamental inlay strips typically placed inside the binding around the edges of the top of a guitar (and sometimes the back). In common casual usage, people often don’t distinguish purfling from binding.

Relative Humidity: The amount of moisture in a given volume of air compared to the amount it is capable of holding. In plain English.... high humidity is sweaty and muggy! In respect of ukuleles, particularly solid wood ukes, both extreme high and low humidity can affect tuning in the best case, but can actually damage the wood of the instrument permanently by either swelling or cracking it.

Rest: an interval of silence in a piece of music

Rosette: The term for a decorative strip or inlay found around the sound hole on an acoustic. Rosettes are purely cosmetic, but can be elaborate.

Saddle: A thin strip of hard material ranging from plastic to bone and set in a slot in the wooden bridge. Accurate saddle placement provides accurate tuning by ensuring the correct Scale Length. Accurate height of the saddle ensures the correct action and intonation.

Saddle Slot: The narrow slot in the bridge that the saddle fits into.

Scale Length: The average sounding length of the strings (ie the length of the part that vibrates). To help the guitar's intonation, and because the strings are not all at the same tension, the saddle is angled so that the bass strings are slightly longer than the treble strings - for this reason, the scale length is usually measured as the distance between the edge of the nut and the center of the 12th fret, multiplied by 2.

Setup: The general term given to the adjustment of various elements of the ukulele, in particular the nut and the saddle to provide optimum playing feel and accuracy and to adjust the action for optimal playing characteristics.

Side Sound Port: Provides the player feedback and tends to increase the overall volume.

Slash Chord: A chord such as G/B, meaning a G chord with a B bass note.

Slotted Headstock: A traditional method of finishing the head of the ukulele. Rather than having tuning pegs running through the head from underneath, a slotted headstock has the pegs running in to the instrument from the side, with the strings running in to the slots to be wound around the pegs.

Solid Top: A soundboard (top) that's made from a single thickness of wood.

Soundboard: The piece of wood (usually spruce or cedar) that forms the front of the ukulele's body. Also known as the "Top".

Soundhole: The hole in the soundboard allows the sound to travel outward, traditionally cut in the center but can be placed in various positions on the upper bout.

Strumming: Performed with a pick or the fingers. Generally consists of brushing across 2-6 strings in a rhythmic up and down fashion appropriate to the tune being played.
 
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Kanaka916

Kanaka916

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Revamped Ukulossary (Cont)

Tablature/TAB: A system of music notation for stringed instruments used as an alternative to sheet music. In tablature the notes appear as numbers representing the fret position on a set of lines representing the strings.

Tacet: Musical term to indicate that an instrument or voice does not sound.

Tapping: Involves using the tips of the fingers from your picking hand to hammer on and pull off strings in the same way you would using your fret hand. A hammer-on technique where a string is fretted and set into vibration as part of a single motion of being pushed onto the fretboard, as opposed to the standard technique being fretted with one hand and picked with the other.

Transcription: To write a solo, note for note, off of a recording.

Tonewoods: The woods used in the construction of the guitar, specifically the parts that most affect the sound or tone that the guitar produces (i.e. the top, back and sides of the body).

Tremolo: A technique performed with either a very rapid down-up movement of the pick or a pami plucking of the fingers.

Transpose: To change the key of a piece of music by a specific interval.

Truss Rod: A long metal rod that's built into the neck behind the fingerboard to counterbalance the tension of the strings. Loosening the truss rod increases the curvature of the neck, tightening it makes the neck straighter. When set correctly, the neck should have a very slight concave curve to it

Tuner: An electronic tuning device used by musicians to detect and display the pitch of notes played on musical instruments. Chromatic tuners allows all the 12 notes of the scale to be tuned.

Tuners (also tuning keys, tuning machines): 1) devices used to loosen or tighten the tension on the strings to create the desired tune when played. 2) geared apparatus for tuning stringed musical instruments by adjusting string tension. Machine heads are used on mandolins, guitars, double basses etc., and are usually located on the instrument's headstock.

  • Friction Tuners: How a friction tuner works is that the screw running through the peg tightens the peg itself against the metal collars on either side of the headstock until they grip.
  • Open Gear Tuner:
  • Closed Gear Tuners:
  • Pegheds/UPT – a friction peg with internal gearing
Vibrato: To vibrate by slightly altering a pitch higher and lower.

Voicing: The arrangement of the member notes of a chord, or placement of the melody or bass line within a harmonic progression.

Zero Fret: A building technique which involves placing a fret strip immediately before the nut, in the accurate place where the nut should sit. This leaves the nut to simply deal with string spacing and the zero fret to provide tuning accuracy.
 

itsme

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Wow, you've certainly put a lot of work into this. It's all good, basic knowledge and a great reference that any uke player should have access to, especially beginners who often don't know the terms used.

But I have to admit I haven't seen it before. I suppose I haven't really explored all the sticky threads, which often tend to get glossed over.

Anyway, I'll give it a closer look, but here are just a couple quick quibbles.

Transcription: To write a solo, note for note, off of a recording.
It's not just recordings. I generally think of a transcription as an adaptation of something originally written for one instrument so that it can be played on a different instrument, such as when a Bach cello piece is transcribed for guitar. It doesn't have to be note for note, as often changes are necessary to fit the range of the target instrument, sometimes that includes changing the original key.

Tablature/TAB: A system of music notation for stringed instruments used as an alternative to sheet music. In tablature the notes appear as numbers representing the fret position on a set of lines representing the strings.
Maybe add something like, "Not to be confused with "chord sheets" which are basically lyrics with chord names above them."

I see a lot of people asking for "tabs" when what they really means is they want the chord sheet.

Anyway, thank you for doing this. :)
 
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Kanaka916

Kanaka916

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Yea, regarding tabs . . . that's been an ongoing problem since the beginning. Thanks for pointing that out as well as 'transcription'. As many time as tab has been defined and explained, people continue to use it when asking for chords.
 

janeray1940

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Maybe add something like, "Not to be confused with "chord sheets" which are basically lyrics with chord names above them."

I see a lot of people asking for "tabs" when what they really means is they want the chord sheet.


Yea, regarding tabs . . . that's been an ongoing problem since the beginning. Thanks for pointing that out as well as 'transcription'. As many time as tab has been defined and explained, people continue to use it when asking for chords.

Thanks for getting this info out there. This is a pet peeve of mine even though I know it's not going to change (seems to be as common among guitarists as it is with ukulelists!) - but I figure the more people who are informed correctly and use the word correctly, the better, even if it's just a few!

And, hey - now I know what that notched wood thingie inside of a uke is called :)
 

Macmuse

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No Sopranino (Ohana and builders here) / pocket (Kala and the British one I can't recall at the moment)? And just happened on the post looking for a case for this size that points to a mention of the LoPrinzi bambino. :)

Guessing my comment wasn't taken as a suggestion - Soprano isn't the smallest generally accepted size for ukuleles. The sopranino/pocket/bambino are readily produced sizes that are smaller.
 
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kypfer

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Soundboard: The piece of wood (usually spruce or cedar) that forms the front of the guitar's body. Also known as the guitar's "Top".

Just to be in context, shouldn't that refer to a ukulele rather than a guitar ;)
 

dickadcock

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Well done.
I would mention that picks that seem ( to me) to be used most often with ukes include thick felt, rubber Wedgies™ & even leather. All seem to come closer to finger sound, with increased volume.
 
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Kanaka916

Kanaka916

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Well done.
I would mention that picks that seem ( to me) to be used most often with ukes include thick felt, rubber Wedgies™ & even leather. All seem to come closer to finger sound, with increased volume.

I'll make note of that . . . Thank You!
 

itsme

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In addition to adding the smaller sizes (sopranino, pocket, bambino), you are covering playing style so Campanella would be appropriate to add. Very well described by the OP of this thread: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?18887-Campanella-Style-Classical-Uke
I think John King put it pretty succinctly:

The early baroque masters of the guitarra española pioneered a style of playing now known as campanella. The campanella style is noted for a bell like quality of sound in which individual notes over-ring one another producing an effect very much like that of the harp. This is accomplished by playing each succeeding note in a melodic line on a different string. The ukulele adapts well to this style of performance due to its hallmark re-entrant (my-dog-has-fleas) tuning.

http://nalu-music.com/?page_id=42