So you’ve just gotten yourself a ukulele and can’t wait to start playing it? Completing a full-fledged course seems too long a wait? Don’t worry, as we will help you learn the basics and start playing your ukulele within 15 minutes. Once you master these basic steps, you have all the freedom to learn more and get creative with your ukulele. Liven up the party with a happy tune or just enjoy some peaceful time connecting with your happiest self.
1. Know your Soprano from your Baritone.
It is always a good idea to start by knowing the different types of ukulele there are, and which type is yours. There are four different types. The smallest is the Soprano ukulele, which is 21 inches long and has 12 to 15 frets. It produces some really lively, jangly sounds owing to its small size and narrow frets.
The next one is called the Alto or Concert ukulele. It is 23 inches long and has 15 to 20 frets. Not only does it produce a fuller sound than the Sopranos, but it is also easier for beginner players as the frets are spaced further apart.
The Tenor ukulele is 26 inches long and perfect for a stage performance as it produces an even fuller sound, and a higher number of frets let’s you hit higher notes.
The largest ukulele out there is the aptly named Baritone. Thirty inches long with over 19 frets produces rich and deep notes perfect for sprightly, festive songs.
2. Get those strings right on tune.
The strings of a new ukulele are most likely not well tuned yet and you have to tune them first to produce the right sounds. It’s a good idea to use a tuner, or you can tune it with the help of another well-tuned instrument. Make sure you tune it to a GCEA tuning. This means that when you’re holding it right, the uppermost string or the one closest to your face must be tuned to a G and the farthest one must be tuned to A. Doing it is actually simpler than reading about it. Go on, try.
3. Now to the fun part — get strumming.
There are a few different ways to strum a ukulele, and you are free to try out different combinations. For starters, go for a loose fist with your index finger pointing towards your chest. Now slide this finger up and down the strings, so your nail touches the strings going down and the fleshy tip of the finger touches them while coming up. Now you can practice different patterns like: Down Down Down Down or Down up, Down up, Down up, Down up. That’s it, really. It’s that simple. Just get started.
Once you get a good hang of it, you can even explore different regions on the strings to strum until you hit what is called the sweet spot, which is where the strings produce the best sound. Different ukuleles can be a little different in this premise, but in general, it is the point where the ukulele’s neck meets its body.
4. You’re all set now; go crazy
While learning chords and practicing strumming patterns or learning more about your ukulele may be the conventional wisdom, the quicker and a lot more enjoyable way of doing this is to start with a few simple songs. “You Are My Sunshine” by Johny Cash and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole would be a good choice here. You can find entire lists of beginner songs to choose from. Do, however, try to finish and master one song first before moving on to another, as tempting as it may be to try out as many as you can.
In the end though, just remember that a ukulele is an extremely fun and sprightly little musical instrument that can be the center of attraction at social gatherings or a perfect companion during some me-time by the sea. Just sit back and enjoy playing your favorite chords.
Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adriano_guerra via flickr.com