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Master Ukulele Chords Your Guide to D, Dm, and D7

A Complete Guide to Mastering the D, D7, and Dm Ukulele Chords

How to play ukulele chords: D major, D minor, and D7

The D, D7, and Dm ukulele chords are essential chords all beginners should learn how to play.

For many beginners, the D chord will be one of the first ukulele chords you learn how to play. However, you may not learn at first that the D chord can be played in several different positions, and in variations such as D minor (notated as Dm) and D seventh (notated as D7).

Choosing the best position to use for a particular chord during a song depends on its proximity to the other chords in the song, and the sound you want to achieve.

When you’re making chord changes, it always helps to choose the fingerings that are nearest each other to reduce the time switching from one chord to the next. Keep reading for several suggestions on how to play D, Dm, and D7 ukulele chord.

How to Play the D, D7, and Dm Ukulele Chords

Here are five positions you can use to play the D chord on the ukulele, as well as three positions for D minor and D7. Below, we’ll go into more details about how to play these common chords. Tip: Save this image on your cell phone to use during practice sessions!

Ukulele chords: How to play D Major, D minor, D7 (Infographic)

SEE ALSO: How to Tune a Ukulele for Beginners

Playing the D major (D) Chord on Ukulele

The D chord ukulele players generally learn first is the major D chord in first position, played on the second fret from the nut.

Place your first finger, which is the index finger, on the fourth string at the second fret. Your second finger (the middle finger) goes on the third string, and your third finger (the ring finger) on the second string, all at the second fret. Leave the first string open and strum.

Congrats: you just played the D chord! Here are four more ways to play the same chord:

  • Lay your first finger flat across all the strings on the second fret and place your pinky on the third string on the fifth fret away from the nut.
  • You also can place your first finger across the first two strings at the fifth fret, place your second finger on the third string on the sixth fret, and your third finger on the fourth string on the seventh fret.
  • Another option is to place your first finger on the second string at the fifth fret, your second finger on the third string at the sixth fret, your third finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, and stretch your pinky to the first string at the ninth fret.
  • Lastly, you can put your first finger on the fourth string of the seventh fret, your second finger on the third string, your pinky on the first string of the eighth fret, and your ring finger on the second string of the ninth fret.

Playing the D minor (Dm) Ukulele Chord

Once you have the basic D chord down, you can move on to the Dm ukulele chord.

The simplest way to play the D minor chord is to leave the first string open, place your first finger on the second string at the first fret, and your second finger and third fingers on the third and fourth strings at the second fret.

Here are a couple more ways to play the Dm ukulele chord:

  • Lay your first finger across the first three strings at the fifth fret and place your third finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret. You can also use the same fingering and place your pinky on the first string at the eighth fret for an additional high note.
  • A slightly more complex version requires you to place your first finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, your second finger on the first string at the eighth fret, your third finger on the third string at the ninth fret, and your pinky on the second string at the tenth fret.

Playing the D7 Ukulele Chord

The D7 ukulele position adds a seventh note to the D chord and gives the chord a twangy sound.

The simplest way to play a D7 chord is to lay your first finger across all strings at the second fret and place your second finger on the first string at the third fret.

Here are three more ways to play the D7 ukulele chord:

  • Lay your first finger across all strings at the fifth fret and place your second finger on the third string at the sixth fret.
  • Another version requires you to put your first finger on the third string at the sixth fret, your second finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, and your ring finger on the second string at the eighth fret.
  • You also can play the D7 chord with your first finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, your second finger on the second string at the eighth fret, with your third finger on the third string and your pinky on the first string at the ninth fret.

The best way to learn ukulele chords is to practice playing songs for beginners. Working with a ukulele teacher is a great way to find songs that are appropriate for your skill level and will help you advance quicker. Search for a ukulele teacher today to get started!

If ukulele lessons are too expensive an option for you, you can also try taking online ukulele classes, which are a much more affordable option. Good luck learning the D chords and remember to have fun!

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Top 10 Essential Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners

Top 10 Essential & Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners

Top 10 Easy Ukulele Songs for BeginnersLooking for easy ukulele songs for beginners? You can’t go wrong with any of the tunes on this list by ukulele teacher Willy M.! Although each of these hits are easy uke songs for beginners, they might require you to learn a new chord or two.

10 Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners

Learning to play the ukulele comes with a whole catalog of fun songs. To help you out on your budding career as a ukulele player, here are the top 10 essential easy uke songs to play. Keep scrolling for videos of each.

  • I Make My Own Sunshine – Alyssa Bonagura
  • Riptide – Vance Joy
  • Mele Kalikimaka – Robert Alex Anderson
  • Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton
  • Upside Down – Jack Johnson
  • Tonight You Belong to Me – Prudence and Patience
  • Hey Soul Sister – Train
  • I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
  • I Do/Falling For You – Colbie Caillat
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

10. Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

In 1993, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole brought us his interpretation of two classic songs that have been inscribed into the American consciousness – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and the Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World.”

This track was featured on Iz’s album Facing Future, and since has gone on to be a staple in many movies. It was featured in Meet Joe Black, Finding Forester, 50 First Dates, Son of the Mask, and several other popular movies. Fun fact: the album Facing Future holds the record for the bestselling album by a Hawaiian national to date.

There are eight chords in this song, but they are not particularly difficult chords to play: C, G, F, Am – typical chords for the key of C, with E7, D, Dm7, and Em thrown into the mix for fun. I chose this song as #10 since it will probably require the most work, but it will definitely be appreciated by your audience.

9. I Do/Falling For You – Colbie Caillat

Next up on this list of easy ukulele songs is a combo of “I Do” and “Falling for You” by Colbie Caillat. Both Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz were at the head of the modern ukulele movement. Caillat has many songs that are great for the ukulele. I recommend learning both of these songs and playing them as a medley.

“Falling for You” isn’t necessarily a ukulele song, but it works great with “I Do.” “Falling for You” is in the key of D using D, A, Em, and G. “I Do” is in the key of G and uses the chords G, D, C, D7, Em, Am, B7, and Cm. The Cm might give you a bit of a challenge, but if you can tackle “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World,” I know you can handle this song as well!

8. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

I probably wouldn’t be writing articles about the ukulele if you hadn’t heard the song “I’m Yours.” The fact is, Jason Mraz took a simple ukulele line and married it to a tremendously catchy tune giving us this song that once is in your head, it just won’t go away. The cool thing for you budding uke players out there, is that it’s a really simple song to play, from the basic lead intro to the shuffling strumming pattern.

This song uses chords known as the “oldies progression” because they are common to a lot of popular songs from the 50s. These chords are really just C, Am, F, and G. Jason also throws in a D for the turnaround section to build a bit more tension. Give yourself a few hours of practice and you’ll have this song in the bag.

7. Hey Soul Sister – Train

After Jason and Colbie hit the charts, 90s wonder band Train came back with a Jason Mraz sounding groove entitled “Hey Soul Sister.” The song is very similar in structure to “I’m Yours.” Now I’m not saying Train copied Jason Mraz, well, maybe I am. I think the legal term is “heavily influenced by. ”

If you check out the chord structure, “Hey Soul Sister” is basically the same song as “I’m Yours,” but with different lyrics and a different pattern to the chorus. Essentially, if you can learn “I’m Yours” and transpose it to the key of G, you’ll have this song down. In G, the chord progression will be G, Em, C, and D.

6. Upside Down – Jack Johnson

One of my all time favorite songs to play is “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson from the movie Curious George. “Upside Down” only has 5 chords (E, F#m, A, B, and G#m), and the lead lick is very simple to play.

I personally like to play this song in the key of G (G, Am, C, D, and Bm). Like I suggested for Colbie’s songs, feel free to segue some of Jack’s songs together to create a good medley!

5. Tonight You Belong to Me – Prudence and Patience

At some point in your ukulele career you are going to be asked to play this song, made popular by Steve Martin’s rendition in the movie The Jerk. This is a fun little song, originally done by a girl band called “Prudence and Patience.”

If you have a coronet player to play with you, it’s even more fun! This is one of the most basic ukulele songs too, using only the chords A, D, G, and E with a Dm and an Eb thrown in for good measure. Have fun with this sweet, romantic tune!

4. Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton

A song that you probably didn’t expect to see on this list is “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. This beautiful song, which was written after he tragically lost his son Conner, is one that has brought tears and healing to countless people after their own losses. It is definitely a great song to have in your repertoire.

It’s not a very difficult song to play, but the bridge might take some extra attention. The main chords in the song are A, E, F#m, and D with a C#m thrown in. But in the bridge Clapton goes into the key of G for a minute, throwing in the G and C as well.

It might sound like a bit of a challenge, but it will be worth it to learn this meaningful tune.

3. Mele Kalikimaka – Robert Alex Anderson

When you play the ukulele, you won’t always be playing around a campfire or on the beach. Sometime you will be asked to play holiday music, and “Mele Kalikimaka” is one easy uke song you should have in your songbook.

“Mele Kalikimaka” was popularized by Bing Crosby but unlike most crooner songs, this one is pretty simple to play. G, D7, E, C, A7, and Am should get you through most of the song. It’s immediately recognizable and if you can croon a bit, you’ll really wow your audience!

2. Riptide – Vance Joy

I found this little gem on YouTube one day. The original song sounds to me like someone playing a classical guitar with a capo. However, this young lady does a killer rendition on the ukulele.

This fun ukulele song only has Am, G, and C chords, so even the most brand new uke players should be able to handle it.

1. I Make My Own Sunshine – Alyssa Bonagura

The final song I want to include on this list of easy uke songs for beginners is one of my favorite good time songs – “I Make My Own Sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura. This song features the ukulele and is infectiously catchy!

The uke chords are simple: G, D, Em, and C. I think Alyssa tunes down a half step in the original song, but you’ll be fine using these chords! Did you notice the oldies progression keeps cropping up again and again on this list?

Well, there you have it – the top 10 easy ukulele songs every beginner should learn. Practicing these songs until you master them is an excellent way to challenge yourself to get better at the ukulele. Need some extra help advancing your skills? Search for a ukulele teacher today and you’ll be playing all of these songs in no time!

Willy M

Author: Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston, NC. He is the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks, and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80’s. Learn more about Willy here!

 

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how to tune a ukulele

How to Tune a Ukulele: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

how to tune a ukulele

One of the first things you need to learn when taking ukulele lessons is how to tune a ukulele. Ukulele tuning is a must if you want it to sound good.

In this article we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on tuning a ukulele for beginners. Tuning can be difficult, but with this guide, you’ll become a master at tuning your ukulele before you know it.

This guide will teach you how to tune a ukulele to standard tuning, as well as how to tune various types of ukuleles including tenor, soprano, and bass ukuleles. You’ll learn how to tune a ukulele by ear and to itself, and you’ll also learn about uke tuners and tuning apps.

If you’re looking for something specific, you can jump around throughout the guide here:


How to Tune a Ukulele

If you know nothing about tuning a stringed instrument, check out this video on how to tune a guitar from world famous guitarist and songwriter James Taylor. This video covers a lot of details about tuning in general, and you can apply the same principles to tuning a ukulele.

Standard Ukulele Tuning

The ukulele is typically tuned to the notes G, C, E, and A. This has been the “standard” since the advent of the internet. Before the internet, you could find people who tune their ukulele to A, D, F#, B or even fiddle tunings like A, D, A, D or G, C, D, G.

Ukulele Tuning for Beginners

How to Tune a Ukulele With a Piano

Today, most of the books and videos you will find use G4, C4, E4, A4 as the standard ukulele tuning. The fours behind the letters represent the octave that you will find on the piano.

So if you happen to have a keyboard or a piano, C4 is known as middle C. If you tune your ukulele to match middle C, then the E above middle C, and the A above middle C, and then tune the first string to the G above middle C, you will be in what is known as standard ukulele tuning.

Here’s a good illustration of how to tune a ukulele with a piano from The Uke website.

Ukulele tuning with a piano

Image courtesy The Uke

How to Tune a Ukulele With a Tuner

So what do you do if you don’t have a piano? Well, you will need to get yourself a chromatic tuner. I use a Korg chromatic tuner, and I love it! I have tried a lot of other tuners, but the Korg is my favorite.

Tune Ukulele with a Korg Tuner

Korg CA-40 Electronic Chromatic Tuner – Image Courtesy Musician’s Friend

You can purchase several brands of tuners for a reasonable price at places like Musician’s Friend and Sweetwater. You will find that there are different types of tuners, and not all tuners are chromatic. Which leads us to our next topic, what exactly does chromatic mean?

If a tuner is chromatic, it enables you to tune to all of the notes. Guitar tuners are not chromatic. They’re calibrated to only pick up the notes that are used on the guitar in standard tuning. Which means they can tune E, A, D, G, B and E, but it’s hard to tune to C or F# or Bb, or any of the remaining notes that aren’t covered by a regular guitar tuner.

For this reason, I advise all of my students to buy chromatic tuners instead of standard guitar tuners.

How to Tune a Ukulele by Ear

If you get a used or vintage ukulele, you probably won’t have a tuner. Instead you might get some really old books or brochures and something called a pitch pipe. A pitch pipe is a neat mini harmonica that plays one note at a time when you blow into it. In some cases, you may have a pitch pipe that wasn’t designed for your instrument, so you have to know how to tune one string to the pitch pipe, and the other strings to the first string.

This can be a bit of a challenge, but I’m going to walk you through it. First, you need a reference note. Typically your reference note is middle C. When you blow on the pitch pipe, or play the note on the piano, you hear middle C. Then, you must twist the tuner on your ukulele until it matches. If you twist counter clockwise on the first two strings, you will tighten the string, and make it go up in pitch. So if you start on B, and twist counter-clockwise, you will be somewhere between B and C. If you keep twisting, you will finally get to C. But don’t twist too far, or you will overshoot C and end up on C# or somewhere between C and C#.

Likewise, if you twist clockwise, you will go down in pitch. So if you are on B again, and you twist clockwise, you will end up on Bb, or somewhere between B and Bb.

So when you match middle C on your pitch pipe to middle C on your ukulele, you’re ready to start tuning your ukulele to the notes on the fretboard on the C string. Now think about it for a minute: You have your ukulele tuned to middle C, and now you need to get an E sound, so you can try to tune the next string to that E. If you count up from C, you will eventually get to E. The first fret is C#, the second fret up from there is D. Then the third fret is D#, and then finally the fourth fret is the E you’re looking for.

If you hold down the fourth fret, you will hear an E that you can tune the next string to. Now remember, when you get to tuning that E string, you’re on the opposite side of the neck, so twist in the opposite direction than you did before. Twisting clockwise will tighten the string and make it go up in pitch. Twisting counter-clockwise makes the string loosen or go down in pitch.

Now that you have your E, count up until you find the G (which is before the A string) and tune it. The first fret on the E string will be F, the second fret F#, and the third will be the G.

Once you get the G string tuned (which seems like you’re going forward and backward on the ukulele, but that’s OK), count up to the A note. The first fret is G# and the second fret is A. Now you can tune to that pitch, and you’ll be all in tune.

A final note on tuning: Once you think you get your instrument in tune, your strings will probably have stretched a bit. Sometimes, depending on your strings, the humidity, the types of tuners you have, and the type of wood your ukulele is made of, your ukulele will not be in tune immediately after you tune it. So you have to go back through the whole process two or three times to fine tune your ukulele. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to play!


How to Tune Different Types of Ukuleles

Now you might have one of several types of ukuleles. They’re not all the same. Here is a chart that covers the various types of ukuleles and the notes of their standard tuning.

Standard and alternative tuning for different types of ukuleles


Alternate Tunings

You can create a few fun alternate tunings by tuning each string up or down two steps. I find that if you try tuning more than two steps, you will break strings. So if standard tuning is G, C, E, A, then try tuning the G to a G# or an A, and make chords out of the open tuning. What goes with G#? The E chord would work. So you could tune your C down to a B, leave the E alone, and keep the A or tune it to a G# as well. You could try Open C tuning and tune your top A down to a G. Or try C7 tuning, and tune the A to a Bb.

There are so many different types of tunings that you can try. If you find an alternate tuning you like, let us know in the comments section below! Here’s a refresher on basic ukulele chords.


Ukulele Tuning Apps

There are a lot of good ukulele tuning apps out there. Here are a few I recommend checking out:

iPhone

Free Chromatic Tuner Ukulele Tuning app

Free Chromatic Tuner

This free app works for both standard tuning and alternate tuning. You can download Free Chromatic Tuner from the iTunes app store.


Tuner Lite app for Uke Tuning

Tuner Lite

Tuner lite turns your smartphone into a chromatic tuner and pitch pipe.


Android

Fine Chromatic Tuner for Ukulele Tuning

Fine Chromatic Tuner

Fine Chromatic Tuner uses the built-in mic on your phone to help you get your uke in tune.


Chord! app for Ukulele Tuning

Chord!

You can download Chord! for both iPhone and Android. There’s a free and paid version, and the app allows you to find multiple tunings for lots of different stringed instruments, as well as chords, scales, and other useful information.


Now you know several ways to get your uke in tune. Ukulele tuning may seem difficult at first, but find the method that works best for you and keep practicing! Try practicing with these 10 easy ukulele songs.

Have you learned any cool tricks that help you tune your ukulele? Share them with us in the comments below! 

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston Salem, NC. He’s the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks, and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

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7 Hawaiian Ukulele Songs for Beginners

7 Hawaiian Ukulele Songs for Beginners

7 Hawaiian Ukulele Songs for BeginnersLooking for some authentic Hawaiian ukulele songs? We’ve compiled a list of seven awesome Hawaiian songs that everyone will enjoy. Whether you want to play these songs or just listen, each of them are popular hits with strong connections to the beautiful state of Hawaii.

We’ve included each song’s history, tips on how to play them, and videos of each song. We hope you enjoy listening and reading about the stories of these beautiful Hawaiian songs – in the spirit of Hawaii, “Aloha!”

7 Hawaiian Songs Featuring the Ukulele

1. “Blue Hawaii” – Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger

Elvis Presley loved Hawaiian songs and recorded many of them for his 1961 film, Blue Hawaii. However, this song actually dates back to 1937.

The song is a bit difficult to play on the ukulele because it uses chords from G# major. However, one helpful trick to playing this song the “easy way” is simply to take off all the sharps from the chords. Voila! You will now have a beautiful Hawaiian song with just four simple chords.

 2. “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

This song is a classic and a staple in any ukulele players’ repertoire. It’s a two-song medley that Hawaiian native, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, made famous. This particular version is so popular that it’s licensed 111 times in movies, TV dramas, commercials, and even websites.

The song utilizes many chords but they are all simple and, with some practice, easy for a novice ukulele player to pick up.

3. “Aloha Oe” – Queen Liliuokalani

Stepping away from the Hollywood influence, lets look at some lesser known, but very traditional Hawaiian songs. This song dates back to 1878 and is by the Queen of Hawaii at the time. Many call it Hawaii’s most famous composition.

The song has a beautiful story. The Queen composed it after witnessing a lingering embrace between a woman and man at the Edwin Boyd Ranch in Maunawili. The Queen herself said, “It’s a poem about love and passion, man and woman. It’s much, much more than just goodbye.”

The song is very simple to play on the ukulele using only three chords.

SEE ALSO: 10 Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners

4. “Hiilawe” – Gabby Pahinui

This song is an ancient hula standard about a love affair at a Big Island waterfall. The composer and date are unknown however the artist Gabby Pahinui transformed it into an anthem for slack guitar players.

Pahinui is known as a “folk hero” of the Hawaiian Renaissance. This is another easy song to play for any ukulele enthusiast!

5. “Hawaii ’78” – Mickey Ioane

This is one of our favorite Hawaiian songs. It’s a melancholy song that dates back to 1978.

This song was written in response to Hawaiian demonstrators clashing with the National Guard at Hilo Airport over land issues and resort development, which was crowding the island’s oceanfronts. The song is a slow song and uses only four repeating ukulele chords.

6. “Waimanalo Blues” – Liko Martin and Thor Wold

This is a fun tune from back in 1974. Its original name was “Nanakuli Blues.” It later became a political protest about the developments taking place all around Hawaii. The song is a simple form which uses a nice flat-7 chord in the turnaround.

7. “Palehua” – Amy Hanaialii Giliom and William Kahailii

This last song is a beautiful piece written in 1998. The song was inspired, composed, and recorded in Palehua. It is an easy song to play on the ukulele using mainly just two chords.

If you are interested in listening to even more beautiful Hawaiian songs, visit HUAPALA. To work on improving your ukulele playing skills today, start your search for a ukulele teacher near you!

All the information about these songs was taken from the article “50 Greatest Songs of Hawaii” written by Ronna Bolante and Michael Keany.

 

ChristopherS.Post Author: Christopher S. teaches bass guitar, guitar, and composition in Jamaica Plain, MA. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Humboldt State University. Christopher has been teaching students since 2004. Learn more about Christopher S. here!

 

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Photo by Oliver Degabriele

types of ukuleles

Types of Ukuleles: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

types of ukuleles

Whether you want to buy your first ukulele or upgrade to a new instrument, there are several different types of ukuleles to choose from. Here, ukulele teacher Michael L. introduces you to the different types of ukuleles so you can make the best decision for your goals and your budget…

When you’re shopping for a ukulele (for yourself or your child), it’s important to know the different types of ukuleles so you can find the right fit for you. There are several different types of ukuleles; they come in different sizes, pitch ranges, and distinct styles, which gives them each a different sound.

If you feel overwhelmed by all the different options, don’t worry, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the different types of ukuleles.


Ukulele Sizes

The first question you should ask yourself is: “what size ukulele do I want?” Traditionally, ukuleles comes in four sizes (also known as voices): soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.

Soprano Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Musician’s Friend

The soprano ukulele is the smallest, and the most common ukulele. The lightweight size makes them ideal for children with smaller hands.

If you have a young student who wants to take ukulele lessons, this may be the ideal ukulele for you. Soprano ukuleles are also generally less expensive than the larger-sized ukuleles.

Concert Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Guitar Center

The concert, or alto ukulele, is the next size up from the soprano. The main difference between the concert size and the soprano size is the length and width of the neck (concert ukuleles have a wider neck). You can tune both ukuleles the same way.

If you or your child need a ukulele that’s a little bit larger than a soprano, but still in the same general price range, you may want to consider a concert ukulele.

Tenor Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Martin Guitar

The tenor ukulele has a warm tone, in comparison to its two smaller counterparts. Some uke players prefer the tenor size for the rounder, more bass-y tone.

Tenor ukuleles are generally a little more expensive than concert and soprano ukes, but if you have a background with guitar, you may prefer the tenor ukulele due to its larger body.

Baritone Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Ukulele tricks

Moving up in size, the baritone ukulele is larger and has a deeper, darker sound. The baritone ukulele is generally tuned lower than other ukuleles. The four strings are usually tuned the same as the lower four strings of a guitar.

If you’re an adult switching from guitar to ukulele, you may want to try the baritone.

Bass Ukulele

types of ukuleles

In the last few years, a new size ukulele has been developed: bass ukulele. These are bigger than the baritone, but they can only be heard through a pickup, which adds more power to your sound. Most bass ukuleles are sold with pre-installed pickups.

Bass ukuleles have the same tuning as electric ukes (see below), but they’re much shorter. It’s actually quite astounding how low they can go in pitch (for such a small instrument).

 

More Ukulele Options

When choosing an instrument, it’s also important to decide if you want an acoustic, electric, or electro-acoustic ukulele.

Acoustic Ukulele

An acoustic ukulele is a traditional ukulele, which doesn’t have to be plugged in. If you get an electric or electro-acoustic ukulele, it can be pretty fun to experiment with effect pedals as well.

Electric Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Electric ukuleles are similar to electric guitars; they don’t make much sound unless they’re plugged in, and they’re usually made with steel strings and magnetic pickups, giving you a metallic sound.

Electro-Acoustic Ukulele

An electro-acoustic ukulele is similar to a standard acoustic ukulele, but it has a pre-installed pickup, so you can plug it into an amplifier. It usually has nylon strings, like acoustic ukuleles, so it has a more traditional sound.

Banjo Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image Courtesy Ukulele Guide

Another variety of ukulele is the banjo ukulele, or banjolele.  Instead of the traditional body of a ukulele, the banjolele is made with a small drum head on the body. The banjolele has the twang of a banjo with the light-heartedness of the ukulele.


Ukulele Brands

There are several ukulele manufacturers, and when you’re shopping for a ukulele, you should be familiar with some of the most popular brands. Let’s look at some of the most well-known brands.

Kala Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Kala Brand Music co

Kala is only 10 years young, but they make a wide variety of ukuleles. You can find ukuleles priced under $100, and up to several hundred dollars.

The budget ukuleles sound nice for their value and with their higher-end ukuleles, you can definitely hear the difference in the production value. They also make every size and most varieties of ukuleles.

Lanikai Ukulele

lanikai

Image courtesy Lanikai Ukuleles

 

Lanikai is a part of Hohner, a well-known, trustworthy instrument maker from Germany. In the beginning, Lanikai was only known for making cheap, introductory ukuleles. In recent years, however, they have stepped up their production value with some great sounding ukes.

If you’ve ever heard the band Beirut, then you’ve heard a Lanikai tenor ukulele in action. They also make every size and most varieties of ukulele.

Mahalo Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy amazon

 

Mahalo ukuleles are known for their unique designs. You can get ukuleles with smiley faces, some shaped like surf boards, some shaped like Flying V electric guitars, and other quirky designs. If you prefer something more traditional, you can still find this with Mahalo.

Most of Mahalo’s ukuleles are priced for a budget, with a great sound for the price. If you’re looking for something with higher production value, you can also find a few models with Mahalo.

Makala Ukulele

makala ukulele

Image courtesy Kala Brand Music Co.

Makala ukuleles are a subsidiary of Kala. At Makala, they pride themselves on making great sounding, budget-priced ukuleles. While there is a wide variety of designs, there’s a limited amount of sizes; most Makala ukuleles are soprano sized.

Makala ukuleles sound great for their value; they’re my favorite brand of introductory ukulele.

Kamaka Ukulele

kamaka

Image courtesy Kamaka Hawaii

Kamaka ukuleles sound magical, but if you want to buy one, be prepared to spend at least several hundred dollars for a new one. They come in a variety of sizes, but most are made in traditional styles (no banjoleles here).


As you can see, ukuleles come in several different shapes and sizes. With a little knowledge and research, you can find the right ukulele for you. I hope this helps you make sense of all the choices that are out there waiting for you!

Which type of ukulele do you use? What do you like about it? Let us know in the comments below! 

Willy MPost Author: Michael L.
Michael teaches ukulele, guitar, drums, and music theory in Austin, TX. He studied music theory and vocal performance at the Florence University of the Arts in Italy. In addition to private lessons, Michael teaches music to special education students in Austin public schools and foster children with Kids in a New GrooveLearn more about Michael here!

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One Easy Trick to Convert Guitar Chords to Ukulele Chords

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Are you trying to learn a song on ukulele but can only find guitar chords? I’ve played guitar all my life and have a collection of Gibson and Epiphone Les Pauls. For my birthday a few years ago, my girlfriend bought me an electric Les Paul-style ukulele.

I’d never played a uke before — ever. I had to go online to even find out how to tune the thing! Undaunted, I discovered the standard tuning is from the top string G – C – E – A. The G string is thinner than the C string, sort of like how a banjo has a thin string before the first bass string.

I suddenly realized something that made playing ukulele easy: the ukulele’s string order (GCEA) is the same set of intervals as the four thin strings on a guitar (DGBE), just up a fourth!

A fourth just means a distance between notes of four letters apart. You count each letter including your starting note, like A to D (A, B, C, D = four).

This means the same chord shapes you use for guitar can be used to make ukulele chords if you simply transpose that chord up a fourth.

How to Convert Guitar Chords to Ukulele Chords

As an example, think about a basic D chord. On a guitar, you only really need the four thinnest strings to play it anyway. When you play that same shape on a ukulele, what you get is a G chord.

guitar chords to ukulele chords figure 2Remember when you first learned the G chord on guitar? You can play a simple version of that on the last four guitar strings too, with the high E string fretted at the third fret, and the D, G, and B strings open.

Now if you play that same shape on a uke, you get a C chord. See? It’s just up a fourth!

guitar chords to ukulele chords figure 3Now think about an E minor chord. On the guitar, if you didn’t have those two heavy E & A strings you could play an Em with just one finger on the D string at the second fret and the three remaining strings open, right?

If you move that shape to the uke it’s still minor, and up a fourth from E is A (E, F, G, A = four). So what you get is an Am ukulele chord.

guitar chords to ukulele chords figure 4

Of course, this isn’t limited to one-finger chords, though on a uke there are plenty of them. Take a full barre chord from a guitar, remove the first two bass strings from the chord chart, and what you’re left with is this:

ukulele chord 5This is still a major chord shape on a uke. You can make it minor, or 7th, or sus4, or anything else the exact same way you would on a guitar.

Just remember to make the root note transposition. So, an A shape on guitar = D on a uke. B minor = E minor. C diminished = F diminished, and so on.

The great thing about barre chords is they can be put anywhere, so for example, a major shape at one fret is still a major shape at any other.

Guitar players are pretty used to thinking about the various barre chord shapes as being major, minor, 7ths, or what have you, and just putting them at whatever fret they need them to produce the right chord.

Those same shapes still work on a uke, only everything is moved up that 4th.

One last thing…

Because the top string on a ukulele (G) is thinner than the next, the uke lends itself to finger picking. If you’re familiar with the claw-hammer style from guitar, where your thumb plays the three bass strings (E, A, D) and your index, middle and ring finger play the top strings (G, B, E), you’ll find finger-picking on a ukulele super easy.

You simply alternate your thumb between the uke’s G and C strings, while the index and middle fingers play the remaining E and A strings, and you don’t need to use your ring finger at all – unless you want to!

I hope you have fun as you learn how to play the ukulele, it’s a truly fun and easy instrument to pick up quickly, and can be every bit as challenging as a guitar. Happy picking!

Post Author: Mike S.
Mike S. teaches guitar, cello, music theory, singing, and many more subjects in Lehighton, PA. He has been a professional musician and instructor for over 30 years. Mike owns his own recording studio and private teaching room. Learn more about Mike here!

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ukulele tabs

A Beginner’s Guide to Ukulele Tabs: How to Read Them and Where to Find Them

ukulele tabs

Want to learn some cool riffs on your ukulele? In this lesson, ukulele teacher Willy M. shares how you can read ukulele tabs and find them for your favorite songs…

Hello, ukephiles! Ukephile (pronounced “you-keh-file”) is a new word I just invented deriving from “uke” for “ukelele” and “philo,” Greek for “to love;” so it means “lovers of the ukulele!” Anyway, I digress. One of the hardest things for ukephiles is finding tabs for songs that you want to play.

Most of the time, we can find guitar chord charts and strum along with ukulele chords; but every once in a while, we want to be more daring and venture out into uncharted territory on the uke – by fingerpicking, or lead playing, or playing arpeggios, or any number of other cool things we can do on the ukulele. When we want to do those things, we naturally are going to need some tab, unless we want to figure it all out by ear.

Tab, or tablature, as it is commonly called among string players, is a very old method of notation for stringed instruments. It actually predates modern sheet music by several hundred years, and most scholars believe it dates back to the development of the lute and early guitar music.

How to Read Ukulele Tabs

The wonderful thing about tab is that it is incredibly easy to learn to read. Tab for the ukulele will look like four lines. Most of the tab you will find on the internet is for a ukulele tuned to G-C-E-A tuning. If the ukulele is tuned to another tuning, the tab will usually indicate this, as you’ll see that the pitch that each string is tuned to sits directly to the left of the tab.

The four lines of the tab represent the four strings, as mentioned, and they are represented from the G string, being the bottom line of the tab, to the A string, being the top line of the tab. So, from bottom to top: the bottom line is G, the second from the bottom line is C, the third line of the tab is E, and the top line of the tab is the top highest string of the ukulele, A.

When you see a number written on the tab, it refers to the fret that you are supposed to hold down when you pluck a note. Sometimes, you will see examples that are typed out like this:

ukulele tabs

In this example, you would play the open C and E string, followed by playing the fifth, then the third, then the open C string. You would then play the third, then second fret of the G string, followed by the open G and C strings. The rest of the example is pretty self-explanatory.

Reading tab is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Sometimes, you’ll find tab written along with the sheet music, and that gives you a good idea of how to play the rhythm, if you understand how to read rhythm on sheet music. And sometimes, you might find tab written with the rhythmic stems of the traditional sheet music notes written above the tab, without the accompanying sheet music. Either way, they are simple ways of helping you understand the rhythm of what you are looking at.

You might run into some symbols that represent hammer-ons, pull-offs, string bends, slides and the like, but they are more common to guitar tab, rather than ukulele tab. Keep in mind, though, that they might be there.

It’s usually pretty easy to figure out what these symbols mean. A bend looks like an curved arrow pointing up, a hammer-on has a little “h” in the symbol, whereas a pull-off has a little “p” in the symbol! Slides are lines from one fret to another, and vibrato is typically a zigzag line after a note.

Where to Find Ukulele Tabs

Now, where are you going to find these tabs? Well, I’ve done a lot of research for you and found 10 places where you can find ukulele tabs.

1. Uke-chords.com is a site that hosts tabs and chord charts. They are much heavier on the chord-chart side of things, but you might find a few tabs there. They do, however, include a lot of chord diagrams with their charts.

2. Ukuleletricks.com is a site for beginners with few tabs, but lots of chord charts and videos for beginning ukulele players.

3. UkuTabs.com is a great site for finding tabs and chord charts for the ukulele. It has a great deal of the popular ukulele songs out there that everyone wants to learn how to play. It also has a neat feature that lets you transpose the song into a key you want to play in.

4. Gotaukulele.com has a lot of tabs and chord charts for older songs. Some of the songs go way back to the 20s and 30s, and some of the classic rock songs from the 70s and 80s also make an appearance.

5. Ukulele-tabs.com is another chord-heavy site, but the chord charts are partially tabs as well, because they give you the strums written out between the chords (diagrams with little “x’s” for the strums).

6. Ukulelehunt.com is the best ukulele tab site that I’ve found with actual tabs. They have chord charts, as well, but they have tabs for popular songs. I was able to find a tab for “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream. They have Eric Clapton’s guitar part tabbed out properly! Pretty cool site.

7. LiveUkulele.com is another interesting site. It typically provides its readers with the tab and chord chart in one printable sheet.

8. Tabs4ukulele.com is one more chord-heavy site, but it also has a lot of the really popular songs, so if you have trouble finding a song on one of the other sites, check this site.

9. Ultimate-guitar.com has a lot of ukulele tabs, as well. I love this site. It has about every song imaginable out there for tabs and chord charts, you can transpose it to whatever key you want, and you can usually find tabs for every member of your band. Really cool site.

10. Finally, one last place to find tabs is your local music shop! If you’re looking for tabs to a particular song but can’t find them anywhere else, go talk to the people at your local music shop, and they can probably order it for you!

So, there is an introduction to ukulele tabs – where you can find them and how to use them. Hope this helps. Keep practicing, and good luck in your ukulele lessons!

Willy M

Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston, NC. He is the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age, from young children to folks in their 80s. Learn more about Willy.

 

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Guide to Ukulele Sizes: Which Size is Right for You?

Guide to Ukulele SizesDid you know there are actually four different ukulele sizes for you to choose from? Ukulele teacher Carl H. breaks down the differences between each size so you can choose the right uke for you…

In the last five years the ukulele has gone from a novelty, one that your aunt brings back from her trip to Hawaii, to an instrument featured in some of today’s most popular music. This instrument has been closely associated with the Pacific Islands, and now is enjoying a much deserved surge in popularity.

The ukulele is an unimposing and inviting instrument that is simple enough for beginners and yet masters of the instrument can amaze audiences. For the beginner, the task of selecting a ukulele from a range of ukulele sizes can be difficult. Let’s look at some information that can help decide what size ukulele is right for you.

Soprano

This is the smallest and the most common ukulele. Smaller than even a child size guitar, these instruments offer some advantages. These are small and light, so they make great traveling instruments. They lend themselves well to children with smaller hands. They are usually less expensive than the larger sized ukuleles. The action is very light, meaning that you won’t have to strain to fret the strings.

However, the small size does have some drawbacks. A small neck may pose a challenge for musicians with larger hands. Sopranos have the most limited range of all the ukuleles. The string tension is rather low, making it prone to accidentally bending the strings, making your notes slightly out of tune. If you have a young student who is showing some interest in the ukulele, this may be the right size ukulele for you.

Concert

Sometimes called an alto ukulele, the concert ukulele is very close in size with the soprano. Usually tuned the same as the soprano ukulele, the concert serves well as a beginner instrument and the next step in a ukulele player’s education. Concert ukuleles are often priced closely to similar soprano ukuleles. The main difference being the length and width of the neck. Often these ukuleles have a wider neck. If you are looking to stay close to the iconic sights and sounds of the soprano ukulele, but need an larger neck to accommodate bigger hands or a wider range of notes, then the concert ukulele fits you the best.

Tenor

Larger in body and scale, the tenor ukulele is the favorite of many performers. The tenor ukulele has a warm tone in comparison to the smaller two. The longer scale and larger body make it appealing to musicians coming from other stringed instruments such as the guitar. Also, stringing the fourth string with a low “D” conforms the ukulele to linear tuning like many other instruments. Be prepared to invest more on this size of ukulele. If you are a serious adult student or a guitarist looking to expand your musical resume, the tenor ukulele may be the right one for you.

Baritone

Another step up in size, the baritone ukulele is a deeper, darker sounding instrument. Somewhat removed from the typical sounds more associated with the instrument, the baritone is tuned lower than other ukuleles. The four strings are usually tuned the same as the lower four strings of a guitar, again blurring the lines between ukulele and guitar. The spacing of the strings are close to that of a classical guitar, making it appealing to play with more of a finger picking style. The baritone’s tuning makes it easy for a guitarist to try a different instrument without the learning curve. It also might be the right solution for a young student who may not be big enough to comfortably hold even a three-quarter sized guitar.

Whether you are a young student, adult beginner, or an experienced musician, learning to play the ukulele can be a fun and rewarding experience. When selecting a ukulele, remember there is no wrong size. Each type of ukulele has its own character that makes it unique. While one size may lend itself to your particular needs, each size has special qualities that are a joy to explore.

Once you’ve got a ukulele to call your own, get lessons to learn to play it! Search for ukulele teacher near you or online for private lessons.

carl h

Carl H. teaches ukulele, guitar, banjo, and drums in Bossier City, LA. He has been teaching for 8 years. Learn more about Carl!

 

 

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5 Easy Ukulele Songs to Play This Summer

5 Easy Ukulele Songs For Summer

There are dozens of easy ukulele songs to learn! Even if you don’t have a musical background, getting started on the ukulele is fun and easy. You can find a decent starter ukulele at your local music shop for around $40, and there are tons of free resources available online to help you strum your first chord.

To get started learning some easy ukulele songs, check out these great YouTube tutorials. We’ve picked out five easy uke songs to help you learn how to play the ukulele. In order to get the best sound, remember to tune your ukulele before playing. If you need help check out this helpful guide on how to tune a ukulele.

5 Easy Ukulele Songs to Learn

1. “I’m Yours” – Jason Mraz

This mellow favorite has just 4 easy chords: C, G, Am, and F. Get familiar with this chord progression, because you will need it to play tons of songs in the future! This strumming pattern might take you some time to master, but feel free to pause the video and go as slow as you need to.

2. “You Are My Sunshine” – Jimmy Davis 

Using just three chords, C, F, and G, you can play this instantly recognizable classic tune. Of all the easy uke songs, this one is sure to get a sing-along going!

3. “Stand By Me” – Ben E. King

Who doesn’t love singing along to “Stand By Me”? Once you master the strumming pattern, this easy ukulele song is a piece of cake.

4. “Ho Hey” – The Lumineers

Remember the chords from “I’m Yours”? Play with them in a different order and you’ll be strumming “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers. We told you that chord progression would come in handy!

5. “Twist and Shout” and “La Bamba” 

This is technically song five and six on our list, because with one chord progression you can quickly learn to play two easy ukulele songs!

If you want even more easy songs to play once you’ve got these down, check out our ultimate list of the best ukulele songs. Learn the 4 basic uke chords and practice with these 10 songs for beginners.

Need some help with your new uke? Check out the free online ukulele classes at TakeLessons Live. Private lessons with a ukulele teacher are also a great idea. A ukulele teacher can help you learn good technique, show you how to properly tune your instrument, and give you feedback on your playing skills. Good luck learning these easy uke songs!

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