Join Daniel Ho for an in-depth discussion in this video Know your uke, part of Ukulele Lessons: Fundamentals.
- We'll be referencing the parts of the ukulele in the book so I'd like to talk a little bit about that. First of all, this is the headstock. This is the nut and the fretboard. These, of course, are the strings. The face. The bridge. And the tuners, how we tune the strings. I always prefer geared tuners if you're looking for an ukulele. There are friction tuners that have pegs in the back and it tunes at a 1 to 1 ratio so it's very difficult to get a short scale instrument in tune.
So geared tuners are nice and they also hold the tuning of the instrument better. A little bit about technique and how to hold it. I use a strap because I believe that your hands should be dedicated to playing notes, producing pitches on the instrument 100%. So when you have a strap holding it up you don't have to hold the instrument. If you play without a strap, oftentimes you're gripping the ukulele with your forearm like this and holding it and if it's a hot day and you're perspiring it's going to slip out.
Your left hand would be supporting the neck, cradling the neck, in this part of your hand, which doesn't allow you to reach the first string or any of the strings very easily or to change positions. Using a strap eliminates those responsibilities and you can actually just play notes. It's a lot easier and you'll find you can play for hours and hours without any muscle tension or pain or anything. Left-hand technique.
Like sports, you want to be as efficient as possible. You want to use as little movement with your fingers as possible. So keep them very close to the strings and the fretboard. Your fingers generally parallel to the frets, like this. Not off to the side. If you're not using a strap and you're holding up the ukulele like this, then you're approaching the neck at an angle and if you want to use your pinky you have to do a wrist switch like this which takes too much time.
Keep your fingers generally parallel to the frets, very close to the fretboard (plays ukulele) so when you're playing pitches you can barely see them move. Your thumb is a counter pressure for your fingers. They should be directly opposite your fingers on the back of the neck, not hanging over the neck like this. If it's hanging over the neck, then you don't have a lot of flexibility and room to move with your hand.
So it's a counter pressure finger so you don't want to put it off to the side, but right behind it like this. Okay, so that's left-hand technique. Right-hand technique: we're going to be doing so many different things with our right hand. The general thing to keep in mind with your right hand is to always keep it relaxed, whether you're playing finger style (plucks ukulele strings) or strumming. (strums ukulele) So just keep your hand very relaxed, don't have any tension. It'll make your tone sound a lot nicer and your rhythm feel a lot smoother.
- Reading tablature
- Changing chords
- Navigating a musical map
- Strum patterns
- Adding percussion with mute strokes
- Using movable chords
- Transposing the blues and the minor pentatonic scale