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Thread: Most Common Newb Mistakes

  1. #1
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    Default Most Common Newb Mistakes

    Hello! I'm a self taught newer player. Since COVID restrictions prevented me from learning in person or going to a class and money being tight has prevented me from buying lessons online, I have depended on (and been grateful for) those on YouTube who post lessons for free.

    But, I feel like maybe I missed some of the basics because I went straight to learning chords and maybe skipped out on some very important techniques or learner's tools that anyone who knows what they were doing would teach first.

    What are some of these basics that I should seek or look into to read about or watch videos on? What are some common mistakes newbs make? What was something you learned in the beginning that you found absolutely invaluable as you progressed?

    Thanks for all your knowledge and help!
    Last edited by Crixa; 03-15-2021 at 08:14 AM.

  2. #2
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    Get a proper setup for your ukulele(s). So the strings are a good height for you. The intonation is good. The frets are level and the ends aren't sharp.
    You don't want to have to press hard to play a clean note. Barre chords are much easier to make. Your uke will usually sound better as well.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don't begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    --Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  3. #3
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    I would say the most basic problem is rhythm. We spend hours learning chords and playing scales. We get to the point where we can reel those things off non-stop. But that's wankery. It isn't until you can deploy those things within, and in support of, the beats of a metronome that it becomes music.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    Get a proper setup for your ukulele(s). So the strings are a good height for you. The intonation is good. The frets are level and the ends aren't sharp.
    You don't want to have to press hard to play a clean note. Barre chords are much easier to make. Your uke will usually sound better as well.
    How does one get a proper set up? I have very little idea what any of what you said means. lol

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    I would say the most basic problem is rhythm. We spend hours learning chords and playing scales. We get to the point where we can reel those things off non-stop. But that's wankery. It isn't until you can deploy those things within, and in support of, the beats of a metronome that it becomes music.
    How would you suggest one begin to learn and practice rhythm? I know very little about music but I am willing to start learning low level stuff if it means becoming a better player.

  6. #6
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    I would agree with the above comments. You will need to seek out resources and learn about things like setups and other basic info. Learn as much as you can. One of the things I found helpful many years ago when I took guitar lessons was to learn to read music on the guitar. I had already been a strummer for 20-plus years, had been able to read music on a clarinet when I was a kid, but did not know the notes on a guitar. Learning where a note would be on the fretboard, learning half steps and whole steps, and scales, did really fill in a lack in my knowledge. This is a good skill to have, though one can be a decent player and not be able to read music at all. The Hal Leonard books are good for learning the notes on the uke.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crixa View Post
    How does one get a proper set up? I have very little idea what any of what you said means. lol
    Quote Originally Posted by Crixa View Post
    How does one get a proper set up? I have very little idea what any of what you said means. lol
    A great resource for new players is www.gotaukulele.com by Barry Maz. He offers tips, information, a little instruction and ukulele reviews aimed specifically towards new ukulele players. Things like how to change strings. Having a setup done. All sorts of info I wish I had known when I first started playing uke. He's located in the UK, but the information is universal.

    A setup is having the strings on your uke lowered to make it easier to play. If it isn't done when you buy your uke, you can have it done by a luthier or guitar repair person. I hve arthritis in my hands, and having the "action" of the strings lowered (just means changing the way the uke plays) helps me to make chords and notes easier. Especially on the first two frets. Makes barre chords much easier as well. I sometimes sacrifice a little volume for ease of play, but it's worth it.

    Most ukuleles are shipped with strings that are too high for easy playing. So the height of the strings at the nut and the saddle should be lowered to improve the action and the sound. It's not critical. You can play it without getting one done. My first uke was a Fender Nohea tenor. I bought it on Amazon. It practically took a pair of ViceGrip pliers to make a first or second fret barre chord. After about 6 months, I had a setup done at a local music store and it became much easier to play, and the sound was better as well.

    The easiest way to improve rhythm is to play with a metronome. Slowly at first and then speed up as you improve. You can and should tap your foot steadily with the tempo of the song. 4/4, 3/4 times are the most common. Examples: One, two, three, four. or One, and, two, and, three, and, four, and. The tap of the foot is the number, the raised foot is the "and" count.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don't begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    --Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    A great resource for new players is www.gotaukulele.com by Barry Maz. He offers tips, information, a little instruction and ukulele reviews aimed specifically towards new ukulele players. Things like how to change strings. Having a setup done. All sorts of info I wish I had known when I first started playing uke. He's located in the UK, but the information is universal.

    A setup is having the strings on your uke lowered to make it easier to play. If it isn't done when you buy your uke, you can have it done by a luthier or guitar repair person. I hve arthritis in my hands, and having the "action" of the strings lowered (just means changing the way the uke plays) helps me to make chords and notes easier. Especially on the first two frets. Makes barre chords much easier as well. I sometimes sacrifice a little volume for ease of play, but it's worth it.

    Most ukuleles are shipped with strings that are too high for easy playing. So the height of the strings at the nut and the saddle should be lowered to improve the action and the sound. It's not critical. You can play it without getting one done. My first uke was a Fender Nohea tenor. I bought it on Amazon. It practically took a pair of ViceGrip pliers to make a first or second fret barre chord. After about 6 months, I had a setup done at a local music store and it became much easier to play, and the sound was better as well.

    The easiest way to improve rhythm is to play with a metronome. Slowly at first and then speed up as you improve. You can and should tap your foot steadily with the tempo of the song. 4/4, 3/4 times are the most common. Examples: One, two, three, four. or One, and, two, and, three, and, four, and. The tap of the foot is the number, the raised foot is the "and" count.
    This is great info! Thank you so much!

  9. #9
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    Before going for a setup, pick up a string height gauge, like this one:
    https://www.amazon.com/AZMUSIC-Strin...5849036&sr=8-8

    Now you can measure the "action" (height of string above fret) to see if it is high or not. If you have an uke under $100, it will not be worth taking to a luthier as that money can go toward a better uke from a seller that includes setups (like Mim's Ukes). On a cheap one, you can try it yourself.

    I use YouTube as my main resource. You can also learn rhythm by playing along with the video, which I do some because a metronome is no fun. Explore to see if you might like fingerstyle playing or chord/melody. You can transition to either of these on YouTube. Almost everyone starts with chords and then wonders what might be next as you are. It did not hold you back at all and likely helped because you met early success and learned that you like it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crixa View Post
    How would you suggest one begin to learn and practice rhythm? I know very little about music but I am willing to start learning low level stuff if it means becoming a better player.
    Quote Originally Posted by Crixa View Post
    How would you suggest one begin to learn and practice rhythm? I know very little about music but I am willing to start learning low level stuff if it means becoming a better player.
    There are many ways and I suppose it is ultimately a personality issue. I actually like my metronome. I kind of think of it as Denzil Best accompanying me as Thelonious Monk. Whoa! That was probably one of the more arrogant presumptions I've ever uttered, but you get the point. The metronome lays down the beat and I put my stuff in-between the chimes.

    I'm not a music teacher and I don't have a curriculum to offer. However I can remember that 8th notes seemed really important to learn. Once I started parsing measures that way, it really seemed to fit most of my needs. Since we're still in isolation I would suggest searching youtube for counting rhythm or metronome exercises.

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