Playing the ukulele is a great way to spend your spare time, and it’s easier than you might imagine. It can be as addictive as guitar playing. It’s small and portable which makes it a perfect songwriting partner when you’re on the go. This article renders a complete understanding of ukuleles and how they can be used.
Ukulele for Beginners
The ukulele is a small musical instrument, with similarities to a guitar, is made from a piece of wood and four strings. It’s been around for years and many aspiring people have learned to play it. It has the same string layout and tuning as a guitar and you can play several chords on it. The ukulele, however, produces high-pitched sounds more than a grand piano would. Playing it in this way, you can accompany yourself singing or writing songs using lyrics.
The History of the Ukulele
The ukulele was created in 1887 by Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian swimming champ on the US west coast. He had visited Hawaii and noticed that the Hawaiians played a similar instrument. He was so inspired by it that he started creating one for himself back at his place.
Ukulele arrived in the UK and US in the 1890s where it was popularised by early singers such as Al Hirt and Bing Crosby. It became hugely popular on the US west coast during World War II because it is small and easy to carry around. It became so widely used by soldiers that it was nicknamed “Jerrycan” after Jerrycan.
The ukulele’s popularity has been on the up since then mainly because of its simplicity. You can play it anywhere, which is one of the reasons why so many people choose it ahead of the guitar.
The Construction and Material of the Ukulele
The ukulele is a musical instrument that is 4/4-sized, which means it has 4 strings. It’s made from a wooden box (or sometimes a pineapple shell) and four strings, which go over a bridge and are secured with tuning pegs located on the side of the ukulele. The bridge is connected to one of the main sides of the wood body box. The ukulele has four strings that are tuned to the same notes as a guitar but in a different tuning. Two of the strings are called “low” and two are called “high”. Each string is made from either nylon, steel, or gut.
It is made from wood and it is usually sturdy and hard. Some of the woods used to make these instruments include koa, mahogany, and even cedar. These different types of wood lend the instrument certain sound qualities, so it’s worth choosing one that you like.
You can specialize your ukulele depending on which material you want to use. For example, some people choose high-sensitivity nylon picks while others prefer steel so they can get an even sound out of their strums.
Main Types of Ukulele
There are about 12 different types of the ukulele. The four most common ones include the soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. Each one has its own sound and playing style. A beginner should focus on one kind at a time.
The soprano is usually not ideal for beginners as it’s tuned differently from a standard guitar in terms of its distances between notes. It is ideal for people who have a good ear for music and are willing to put in the effort required. It’s a good choice for individuals who have an interest in jazz and blues because of its more complex sound.
The soprano is tuned C-G-D-A, C being the middle string on the guitar. In the ukulele, the most important note is G (not A). If you play a little low (B) B is being the second most important note, and C is being the sixth note.
Contemporary sounds include some of Stevie Wonder’s songs which feature his signature sound of using double notes at different octaves.
The concert ukulele is tuned to GCEA – the same as a standard guitar, but with a higher pitch.
All of its strings are in a single plane and not strung on individual neck-like pieces of wood. The strings are further apart than those on an instrument like the guitar, so it has a deeper bass. It also uses a different fingering system from most instruments, making it easier to learn to play. The concert ukulele is often used for people who are familiar with guitar or other string instruments. It’s easier to play than the soprano and has a wider range of sounds.
The tenor ukulele is the middle ground between a concert and the baritone. It offers all the same benefits of both, and it is tuned in 4th intervals, making it easy to play for beginners. The tenor has a deeper sound than a standard guitar because it is bigger and has one more string. Because of its size, it needs to be strummed harder to get the volume you need from it. It’s a great choice for people who like the sound of the standard ukulele, only being bigger and louder.
The baritone ukulele is tuned the same as a guitar. The baritone ukulele has four strings in the same interval as a standard guitar. In other words, three notes are played using one finger. To produce this pitch, the extra string is tuned slightly higher. It is easy to play and sounds great for people who want something deeper and richer than a soprano or concert ukulele. It’s particularly good for people who are interested in Hawaiian music that favor deep sounds. It renders a rich and full sound that is easy to strum. The baritone also plays in 4th intervals, making it fairly easy to play for beginners.
Other Types of Ukuleles
There are many different types of Ukulele’s available, each with its own characteristics. Some people prefer certain styles over others which makes it a good idea to learn about all of them before deciding which one to purchase.
Important Things to Consider When Choosing the Ukulele
When choosing a ukulele, it’s important to consider your size. Keep in mind that you need to strum harder with this type of instrument than with a guitar since it has more strings and is larger. If you’re taller than most people, look for an instrument that is at least ten inches from end to end. Smaller ones can be uncomfortable to play with and cause people to lose their grip on the strings.
Price is an important factor when choosing the ukulele. If you are a beginner, it’s good to choose one that is made of quality wood and durable, but without paying more than $200. In addition, you can save money by buying second-hand instruments and products that are overstock. These costs are usually significantly less than the original price because they have passed their warranties. Some online stores specialize in this type of merchandise, but you can find great bargains at your local music store as well.
Another very important consideration when purchasing a ukulele is the quality of the instrument. The instrument should be made of traditional Hawaiian koa wood, which is hard, durable, and gives the ukulele a sweet sound. To ensure you are buying an instrument of premium quality, look for a brand that guarantees it. In addition to this, the strings should be made of nylon so they are easier on your fingers and hands.
There are various instruments that include interesting and useful auxiliaries like a case or finger picks. This is great for those who want to get the most out of their purchase. You can choose an instrument with all of these accessories or simply pick out the ones you like without having to deal with any excess ones.
How Beginners Should Start Learning the Ukulele?
Once you’ve gotten the basic or standard piece of kit, ensure proper tuning of the instrument. It can be a bit tricky with four strings but there are plenty of free Ukulele learning videos online to help you work it out.
Learn the names of chords and use them in new songs. You should have ample knowledge about instruments played in cohesion with each other. That would help in producing an improved music background and a catchy tune. Learn a few songs or at least study what other musicians play.
Take time to practice in your breaks so that you get used to strumming the strings. It is important to master this skill as soon as possible. You can also add new chords or notes to the songs that you would like to play.
To improve your playing standards, try different styles of songs that may seem difficult at first but after some effort, would be easy to work through. One way to do it is through ukulele tablature, which renders notes for the song on a piece of paper with the chord diagrams and how to play it on the strings. There are also online video tutorials where you can learn from a professional player.
This is just as important as reading music. You can borrow a book from the library or buy one. Ensure that you understand it before you start to play with other people. You might be surprised by how much this improves your abilities when playing for others and getting feedback from them about what you do and don’t do well.
This way you will be able to learn different strumming patterns that go along with different chords. Strumming patterns are essential as it develops the music pattern and the syncing with the song. One needs to learn all strumming patterns for an effective and resounding display of music.
Lots of practice will help you to improve manifold and ensure quick progress. Eventually, you’ll be able to read music and start playing with others. You can progress from basic chords to songs that include different parts or instruments which are played in unison with each other.
Mistakes That Should Be Avoided While Learning the Ukulele
1. Not Using the Right Strumming Patterns
One of the most common mistakes made by beginners is learning few strumming patterns. It is indeed a challenge to play with only four strings but a great deal can be done if you have the knowledge of various chords, strumming patterns and know how to play what you want.
Many people tend to use them without knowing what they do or why they do it in the first place. The strumming pattern is a bit like learning how to structure sentences with some words being repeated or added. You keep on changing the chords by adding new notes into different chords that make it raise its level from being simple and ordinary music to something that is more complex and that can be appreciated by other players involved.
2. Playing Too Quickly Without Thinking About How It Sounds
Learning the art of playing the ukulele and its specific chords and rhythms is mandatory for a professional ukulele user. If your fingers are not on the right strings and you can’t comprehend the structure of it, that will make you play on the wrong notes and the sound will not be pleasing to the ear.
3. Not Knowing Anything About the Instrument
The ukulele is easy to use but it takes some practice and experience before you can play really well. Take your time and learn a lot of chords and strumming patterns before ever trying to play with others. To practice well, play in front of the mirror or in front of people.
4. Playing a Lot and Not Practicing
This may be the worst thing you can do for your progress. If you want to play well, make sure you practice every day and keep up with the pace, not just when it is convenient. This will enhance your playing abilities and provide confidence in a throng or on stage. This takes a lot of patience and time but it is worth the result in the long run.
How to Choose the Best Ukulele Brand for a Beginner?
1) The best way to choose the ukulele is to look at the features of the instrument and how they compare with other products. This can help you choose a suitable ukulele that renders high quality and durability.
2) Ensure that you have selected your brand before going for a ukulele purchase. Many companies have a reputation for having special deals or incentives for their customers which can save money on shipping costs or on future purchases.
3) Finally, it’s a good idea to ask other ukulele users how they are coping with the instrument and learning the skill. As everyone has different tastes and may have purchased different types of ukuleles, it’s a good idea to work out how others are using it.
This will help you to determine what your needs are and also what kind of instrument you should buy. If you’re buying online, look for reviews and feedback from previous customers and compare the instruments on different websites for an effective purchase.
Ukuleles enable a guitarist to learn how to play simple chords and strum a tune that is enjoyable enough for others to follow. In addition, the ukulele enables an aspiring music lover to learn different chords as well as play them in unison with other instruments. When learning this instrument, never try to rush it and always practice in between breaks at work, school, or home. This way, you’ll have the concentration to improve your skills and learn new chords and strumming patterns. It can teach a guitarist how to change chords without having to learn advanced music theory because it is simple enough for beginners. You can take this a step further by learning how to read musical notation which would help in playing with a smoother touch and feel. After a month of learning, you will be able to play many different songs and be ready for your next set of improvements.