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Thread: Advice: Adapting to uke after guitar

  1. #1
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    Default Advice: Adapting to uke after guitar

    I'm not really a beginner on uke, have messed with ukes for about 10 years but recently starting to get serious about it, playing in a uke band and learning finger style songs on my own. Sorry in advance for the length of the question. Here it goes...

    I have many years of guitar experience and know my music theory and guitar/bass guitar fret boards very well. But, for the life of me I can't learn the uke fret board or get real fluid in recognizing quickly how to make chord shapes on the uke. Instead I'm stuck in this place where I am always transposing in my head. For example, if I see an F# chord written, I will go up a fifth to C# and recall how I play a C# chord on guitar to find the fingering on the uke. If somebody asks me to play a line of notes, like C - D - E- F, I transpose up a fifth to G - A - B - C and think about where those notes are on the guitar to play them on the uke. I am getting faster at the mental transposing, but it's not becoming natural for me. Once I learn a song everything is fine, but I'm thinking about the notes and chords as if they are guitar. It would be nice to be able to play some sheet music on uke without transposing, but no can do.

    So, a questions for those who have made the shift from guitar to uke: is this just the way it's going to be, or were you able to get to the place where the uke fret board and chords are instantly known (without transposing)? Did it happen naturally over time or did you do some things to make it happen? Any tips on making it happen? If I used a baritone uke all would be fine, but I don't really care for the baritone - I'm a tenor (standard C tuning) guy. Hope this makes sense, it's kind of frustrating.

  2. #2
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    How about only playing the uke and leaving out the guitar for a while?
    Have a good soprano

    My whistling channel

  3. #3
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    Sometimes it's not good to bring a previous experience to a new effort. I played guitar for almost 50 years before I took up the uke 6 years ago, but I never learned music theory or to read music, I just played what people showed me or from a lead sheet. It didn't take me long to at all to be comfortable on uke, I basically memorized the chord fingering. Then a year later I took up the bass uke and slipped right into that too. Maybe my mind works differently by being able to segregate the uke from the guitar from the bass. In my cae, I never touched my guitars again after going to the uke.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 11 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 35)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

  4. #4
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    As mentioned, forget guitar fingering. F# is F# or Gb on every instrument. Learn basic chord positions, if you know 221,2221 and pentatonic scales the the rest is familiarity with fretboard.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2019
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    Like you I play guitar.

    Learning the fretboard is simple, put a capo on your guitar at the 5th fret and lower four strings of your guitar are exactly the same notes on both fretboards.

    Or any fretted note on the lower four strings of your guitar from the 5th fret is the same on bth.

    Me, I forgot about the guitar chord shapes and learned the uke chords.
    Col.
    From the UK with a bad case of MIAS.
    Korg PA700, Korg Kross 2, Gibson LP, Fender Jazz Bass,
    + Amps, PA, Boss GT100, mixer.
    Ukes - Kala KA-TEME and Risa ST electric solid body.
    Uke wish list, a Bass, make and model yet to be determined

  6. #6
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    Yes, as many have told the mental transposing won't work so well. Also many chords we use in ukulele, don't really have anyways the same fingering with guitar 6 strings.

    Just learn the new names of chords and notes in uke. While I have not been really active with guitar lately, I don't find having any difficulty remembering the guitar fretboard and chords. You won't in my opinion loose the guitar knowledge, by learning the the new chord names and fretboard in uke. Hope this helps.

  7. #7
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    For myself, I think in "instrument keys" rather than just C, F, G etc., so I'll play in "Banjo G" on my 5-string banjo but "Mandolin G" on my 4-string banjo (or mandolin).

    So I've also got "Guitar C" and " Ukulele C" etc. etc., the fact that guitar shapes and ukulele shapes are similar is irrelevant, if I'm playing ukulele in "C" I'll start in "C" on that instrument and take it from their, just as though it was a different set of chord-shapes for a different key on my guitar or whatever.

    The advantage in coming from a guitar background to the ukulele is that my fingers already "knew where to go" from one chord-shape to another so the learning curve was significantly shorter than it was when I first picked up the mandolin and I had to learn a whole new set of chord shapes!

    Just think of some 5-string banjo players ... a lot of claw-hammer tunes are played in different tunings. I've seen reference to one player using as many as eighteen tunings, for myself, three or four are enough

    YMMV - good luck
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  8. #8
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    Sep 2019
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    Thanks for the comments, I should've treated the uke like a new and different instrument from the start, probably would have been better. I like the idea of thinking about the uke being like a guitar capo'd at the 5th fret, should provide some help remembering the notes of the fret board.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Try this

    Guitar with Capo on 5th

    Foam under E&A to mute them.

    Play it as a large Uke.
    Col.
    From the UK with a bad case of MIAS.
    Korg PA700, Korg Kross 2, Gibson LP, Fender Jazz Bass,
    + Amps, PA, Boss GT100, mixer.
    Ukes - Kala KA-TEME and Risa ST electric solid body.
    Uke wish list, a Bass, make and model yet to be determined

  10. #10
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    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
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    Or treat the uke as if it is a baritone tuned DGBE and use all your guitar knowledge as is, i.e treat the uke as a transposing instrument .
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Flea soprano, C LW
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, A, EJ45LP

    !Flukutronic!

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