ukulele101

Ukulele 101: Basics

Getting your own ukulele for the first time is unforgettable. I remember carrying the tiny package with me on a hot crowded subway in New York City with growing anticipation as I reached closer to home and closer to getting my hands on my new toy. When I finally got home and unwrapped my uke, I sat on my bed, eyes glued to my computer screen, absorbing everything there was to know about caring for and playing my uke.

As for many, the internet was my teacher. I unfortunately knew no one skilled in ukulele playing (in fact, I didn’t even know anyone who owned a uke!) but thanks to YouTubers like The Ukulele Teacher, Endless Summer Ukulele¬†and websites such as Ukutabs.com and UkuleleHunt.com, I was able to grasp the basic concepts of playing the uke. It wasn’t until joining Uke Club where I mastered strumming and finger placement (my biggest problems!). I encourage you to go out and find a group of cool people to play with. You may be able to learn tips not found on the internet!

Many in the club share this experience. In fact our very own Vice President and first guest blogger, Fafa Khamsidi put together a video to help out anyone who is just getting into playing the uke. There may be many videos introducing the basics of playing the ukulele, but none as great as this one!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1fm8jfg33U]

Here’s more from our guest blogger:

Hey! I’m Fafa Khamsidi, Vice President of RIT Ukulele Club. I’ve been playing ukulele for about 6 years now, but I’m still learning more about it all the time! I’m self-taught and I learned how to play purely through a basic diet of sloppy handwritten chord charts, Julia Nunes videos, and songs off of UltimateGuitar.com. It was all very clumsy. I didn’t even know any decent ukulele websites. So to make sure any New-kuleles (Uke Club’s term for new ukulele players) out there don’t end up like 13-year-old me, I’m going to try and relay everything I’ve learned to you folks!

TUNING

  • G C E A– from top to bottom! for soprano (beginner), concert (mine), and tenor. Baritone (biggest) is tuned DGBE equivalent to bottom four guitar strings, producing deeper sound.
  • Use an electronic tuner! top two strings pushing it away makes it higher, pushing in makes it lower; opposite for bottom two strings. match it up with the center line.
  • RELATIVE TUNING– A will be reference point, as it is with all string instruments (all string instruments have an A string). Tune to fifth fret on E to sound the same. fourth fret on C tune to open E. second fret on G to sound same as open A.
  • FALLING OUT OF TUNE– often with new ukuleles they can fall out of tune pretty quickly. most people get over this by constant tuning until the strings stretch out a bit over time. stretching is done by playing loudly and playing a lot. it’s healthy exercise for your uke!

CHORDS

  • BABY’S FIRST CHORDS– C, G, Am, F. Most songs use these chords, and a lot of them use exclusively these chords.
  • the only way to make switching from chord to chord easier is through practice practice practice!!
  • STRUMMING– I strum with my thumb, but probably only because I learned absolutely nothing about strumming from anyone. strumming with your thumb is fine, but everything I’ve read online says you’re supposed to be strumming with your hand like a pretend gun. except with your thumb closer to your pointer finger.
  • D.DU.UDU– basic strum pattern! most songs use this strum pattern, most songs we play in ukulele club use this strum pattern, and it is one of the easiest strum patterns to master! don’t tense up, though. gently bouncing through this pattern should come smooth and natural. keep your wrist relaxed but controlled, skipping along with your up-down arm motions.

I’M YOURS- Jason Mraz

BABY’S FIRST SONG– not usually the first song we teach in ukulele club, because You and I uses a few more chords, but I’m Yours is a song everyone knows and uses the chord progression I showed you before. I personally like to use this song to first introduce people to ukulele. Here are the chords!

Alright cool, thanks for listening! Hope anyone super-new to ukulele learned a few things from this video because I know I already have. Next time I’ll teach you guys some more advanced things!

Until next time, keep calm and uke on!

P.S We have a very exciting show coming up soon. Save the date for Uke After Dark!

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