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Thread: Transitioning from 'ukulele to guitar

  1. #1
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    Default Transitioning from 'ukulele to guitar

    Hey guys -

    I'm sure this topic has come up before (though I wasn't able to find a prior thread in my search), but I was wondering how difficult would it be to transition from 'ukulele to guitar.

    I likely won't do it for a while, but playing the 'ukulele has got me wondering about adding another fretted instrument.

    The reason I ask is I have no musical background at all. I can't read music, don't really get the theory, and am unable to play by ear, and don't understand the idea of different tuning or exactly what's the difference between a song in the key of C, D, or E. Yet, even with that handicap, I am still able to play the uke and make the songs sound more or less right.

    How confusing is it to suddenly have to account for two extra strings? Is the difference in the GCEA tuning of an 'ukulele that big a deal compared to a guitar's tuning?

    Color me curious and more than a little bit ignorant
    I got my wife, my dogs, and my Kanile'a. What else would I need?

  2. #2
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    Hard to answer these questions. Ukulele will give you more help with learning guitar than say piano. But with guitar you will still have to adjust to new chord shapes and everything else like the size and 2 bass strings.

    In short yes.

    I would focus on just learning guitar instead of seeing how ukulele helps you with guitar try to treat them like separate instruments. I hope this answers your question.
    Ukulele is more than just a hobby. Its a way of life.

  3. #3
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    The additional two strings is an extremely significant "handicap" in transitioning from uke to guitar. Chord shapes can differ radically and there are instances where strings are muted in order to play specific chords. Besides the fact that you are know barre-ing six steel strings across a 2" nut instead of 4 nylon across a 1.5" nut.

    Why not look at the tenor guitar as an option? 4 steel strings, can be tuned DGBE and sounds alot like a guitar. I play one and it's great.

    This is the link for the official Tenor Guitar Registry: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group...uitarregistry/

    Mike
    Mike Kaplan

    The Velvet Sirens
    Unique & Traditional Vocal Jazz and Swing
    http://www.thevelvetsirens.com


    "To this day, if I ever meet grownups who play ukulele, I love 'em." --Paul McCartney

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukulelecowboy View Post
    The additional two strings is an extremely significant "handicap" in transitioning from uke to guitar. Chord shapes can differ radically and there are instances where strings are muted in order to play specific chords. Besides the fact that you are know barre-ing six steel strings across a 2" nut instead of 4 nylon across a 1.5" nut.

    Why not look at the tenor guitar as an option? 4 steel strings, can be tuned DGBE and sounds alot like a guitar. I play one and it's great.

    This is the link for the official Tenor Guitar Registry: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group...uitarregistry/

    Mike
    Agreed. Two extra strings doesn't seem like a lot but it is a BIG difference. However, as lovely as the uke is, a guitar does provide a nice spectrum of sounds that your ear will certainly find appealing. I love my ukes but find that i play my guitars a little more these days.

  5. #5
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    I will have to agree on every point made here. Guitar is a whole different beast. I got one a few months back to figure out what is being done in certain tunes which of course use it instead of Ukulele and it can be pretty daunting. First, the strings are MUCH higher tension, second, there are six of the buggers. There is the whole muted strings thing...and strumming, which is different with the bass strings. Finger picking is a bare too because the strings are closer together.
    Fortunately, I came from an instrument that is arranged in circle of fifths/fourths, so I got a healthy dose of theory whether I knew it or not and the chord shapes were easy to find and translate (that's not a c anymore, it is a g and if I throw my capo here it is a big ukulele and so on).
    That said- I love the tone of the thing, but find my Baritone to be a much more favored companion. Fortunately it was cheap.

  6. #6
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    I have come from the opposite direction. I don't use standard notation for either instrument and don't feel its really necessary either. You don't need the theory to play but after a while you sort of feel like a "trained monkey" - just playing what others have done. Chord theory helps on the guitar (and the uke) so you can move up the neck and make chord adjustments and all. But do you need to know it - no you don't. I think you will advance a little faster having played the ukulele - for example your G chord positions will be your D chords on the guitar. Others will translate too. C would translate to G except that there is fretting of the 5th and 6th string that the Uke doesn't have. Same basic strum patterns and finger picking is finger picking for the most part. The only problem I am having coming the opposit direction is that sometimes when I see the D7 chord in songs I go to G7 from all the guitar years, but that's not really a big deal. Both are fun to play and after playing the ukulele, the guitar sounds really mellow! LOL! Have a blast!
    Last edited by deadpool; 07-12-2011 at 09:15 AM. Reason: typos
    Thanks


    Kala TEM

  7. #7
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    I play four fretted instruments (guitar, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele). While each of them is unique, the more fretted instrument technique you learn, the easier it is to switch instruments. If you feel comfortable on the uke, you have a good base for starting guitar. However, as many have pointed out, a guitar is not a big uke-- it has a wider tonal range, a very different dynamic capability, and, of course, more strings. But your uke knowledge will serve you well on guitar, as you should at least understand the tuning intervals (which are the same on the top 4 strings), and many of the chord shapes transfer over.

    However: while you don't need to be a genius musician to play the guitar, having a basic musical knowledge will help you a great deal when switching instruments. If you're moving from a GCEA ukulele to a EADGBE guitar, you will need to understand that the notes and chord shapes in the same positions are different. If you want to play uke tunes on the guitar, you'll need to understand how to transpose. And of course, you'll need to understand some guitar technique.

    If you really want to play guitar, go for it. However, if you're still struggling with your first instrument, you may find it daunting to add a second instrument so soon. Consider achieving a degree of proficiency on one instrument before moving to a second. And without going too geeky on you, understanding some very basic music theory (keys, note names, chord structure) will make transitioning from one instrument to another infinitely easier, because you can focus completely on technique; theory is the same regardless of what you're playing.



  8. #8
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    guitar n ukes are the same (for me)
    if you capo the guitar n play the first 4 strings, you'll be playing exaxctly the same as the ukulele.

    i play guitar, bass, charango, ukulele n ukelele.... have had no problem for adjusting to any of them.

    the difficult part of all this is "learning music". that's what took me years of hard practice n study. (still studying everyday)
    the fretting n struming n fingerpicking is very similar to all this instruments, of course with subtle variations.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by patico View Post
    guitar n ukes are the same (for me)
    if you capo the guitar n play the first 4 strings, you'll be playing exaxctly the same as the ukulele.
    I find this easier than transposing - I recently started playing uke after being pretty comfortable with the guitar. If you pick up a guitar, just start with the top four strings above the fifth fret and treat it like a uke until you get used to it. I think the two instruments compliment each other nicely.... as a guitarist, I'm often frustrated by the inability (or difficulty, anyway) of getting a full, rooted sound out of the ukulele. Having those two big fat strings to really fill out a chord and give it some bottom end is nice - and, like the others said, a completely different beast from the little uke.

    One other thing you might consider is trying a classical guitar. The strings are lower tension and very similar feel to a uke. It might make the transition a little easier.

    If you do get a guitar, you should check out this site:

    http://justinguitar.com/index.php

    If you click the lesson index in the left column, you'll see a nice progression from the most basic elements of guitar and theory up to some pretty advanced stuff. This guy has a great teaching style and the videos that go along with each lesson are great. Can't recommend this site enough.....

    Good luck....

  10. #10
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    I would consider getting a Requinto. It would make your transition much easier, as its size and soft nylon strings will be far more familiar to you.

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