Ukulele for Dummies - Third Edition

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Product Overview

Series: Dummies

Format: Softcover

ISBN: 9781119736608

The ukulele is a fun, versatile, and popular instrument. It's an ideal starting place for inexperienced musicians who want to play some tunes. This friendly, straightforward guide gets you started on the path to confidently jamming in various styles. Written by the teacher behind the top ukulele web site in the world, this book covers choosing and caring for a uke, playing your first chords, and learning some songs that sound great on the ukulele. ©2021, 336 pages


  • Understand ukulele features and terms
  • Get your uke in tune
  • Strum in patterned rhythms
  • Play chords and melody
  • Perform solo with confidence
  • Maintain your instrument
  • Discover ten top ukulele master



Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 2

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 3

Part 1: Getting Started with the Ukulele 5

Chapter 1: Exploring the Ukulele 7

Understanding the Uke's Advantages 7

Loving the sound 8

Joining a vibrant community 8

Appreciating the uke's practicality 8

Sizing Up the Ukulele 10

Meeting the family: Daddy uke, mummy uke, and baby uke 11

Deciding which uke is best for you 11

Taking a Tour: The Anatomy of the Ukulele 11

Becoming a Well-Versed Ukulele Player 15

Strumming along to hula in Hawaii 15

Swinging and picking across the USA 16

Rockin' and rollin', and getting down with the blues 17

Diversifying into ever more styles 17

Chapter 2: Tuning Up to Sound Great 19

Knowing Some Musical Terms 20

Notes as letters 20

Half steps and whole steps 20

Chords and scales 21

Major and minor 21

Pitching into Tuning Basics 22

Unravelling Tunings for Your Instrument 22

Exploring the most common tuning: gCEA 23

Using other tunings 24

Choosing a Tuning Method 24

Going hi-tech: Tuning with an electronic tuner 25

Listening and repeating: Tuning to the audio track 26

Stringing along: Tuning to a guitar 26

Seeing in black and white: Tuning to a piano or keyboard 26

Tuning your uke to itself 27

Chapter 3: Discovering How to Handle Your Ukulele 29

Holding On to Your Ukulele 29

Positioning yourself to play 30

Standing up 31

Sitting down 31

Holding your uke left-handed 32

Developing Your Strumming 32

Strumming in the right spot 33

Strumming in the right way 34

Refusing to use a pick! 34

Pressing On to Fretting 35

Positioning your fretting hand 35

Locating where to fret 36

Discovering how strongly to fret 36

Adjusting when things don't sound right 37

Playing and pain 37

Part 2: Starting Out with Chords and Strumming 39

Chapter 4: Playing Your First Ukulele Chords and Songs 41

Playing Music without Reading Music 42

Reading chord diagrams 42

Deciphering chord diagrams for lefties 44

Playing a Song Using Two Chords 44

Creating a C chord 44

Fingering an F chord 45

Starting your first song: "Li'l Liza Jane" 46

Developing Your First Strumming Patterns 47

Using strumming notation 48

Filling in with ups and downs 48

Finding an easy way to follow rhythms 49

Discovering Seventh Chords 51

Getting to grips with G7 51

Adding the E7 chord 52

Taking off with your second song: "I'll Fly Away" 53

Practicing Minor Chords 55

Attempting A minor 55

Moving on to D minor 56

Majoring in E minor 56

Playing your first minor-chord song 57

Chapter 5: Drumming Up More Strumming Patterns 59

Pocketing the Ever-Useful Swiss Army Strum 59

Adding Pep with Some Strumming Variations 64

Changing chords within bars 64

Strumming strongly and weakly 65

Introducing the time signature 66

Checking out chnks 71

Strumming for Various Genres 72

Getting down with blues strumming: The shuffle 72

Becoming upbeat about the reggae off-beat 73

Rocking without strumming 75

Rolling your strums 76

Deciding on an Appropriate Strumming Pattern 77

Chapter 6: Meeting the Chords and Their Families 79

Getting to Know Chord Families 79

Practicing the Three-Chord Trick: The I-IV-V Progression 80

Fingering Barre Chords 82

Going flat-out for B flat 82

Deciding to play D7 85

Playing B minor 85

Moving Chord Shapes 87

Budging up barre chords 87

Discovering new moveable chord shapes 88

Inviting Round More Chord Families 92

Geeing up the G chord family 93

Finding out about the F chord family 94

Playing according to the A chord family 94

Discovering the D chord family 95

Easing the Chord Changes 95

Changing D and A the easy way 96

Refingering E minor 96

Shuffling B7 97

Breezing through D7 97

Part 3: Picking and Single-Note Playing 99

Chapter 7: Coming to Grips with Tabs and Notation 101

Tapping into Tabs 101

Stringing notes along in tabs 102

Fretting notes in tab 102

Sequencing notes in tab 103

Playing simultaneous notes in tab 103

Chording in tab 104

Strumming in tab 104

Reading Rhythms 104

Splitting into quarter notes 105

Holding on for half and whole notes 106

Dividing further: Eighth and sixteenth notes 106

Dotting and tying notes 107

Resting and Repeating 109

Taking a rest 109

Repeating and repeating 110

Putting Everything Together 112

Starting with a simple tune 112

Moving up the neck 113

Shifting positions 113

Chapter 8: Discovering Fingerpicking Patterns 117

Introducing the Fingerpicking Technique 118

Picking Up Some Picking Patterns 120

Getting the lowdown on the up pattern 120

Rising and falling: The up and down pattern 123

Playing all together: The simultaneous picking pattern 123

Thumbing around: The alternate picking pattern 125

Chapter 9: Combining Melodies and Chords When Playing Solo 131

Strumming Melody and Chords Together 131

Thumb-strumming the melody 132

Using up strums 134

Strumming between the melody 134

Finger-strumming the melody 137

Picking Out Melodies and Chords 139

Faking a strum 139

Fingerpicking to combine melody and chords 139

Chapter 10: Picking Up Some Soloing Techniques 141

Getting Articulated on the Frets 141

Hammering-on 142

Pulling-off 143

Sliding between notes 144

Bending notes 147

Producing vibrato 149

Putting everything together 150

Picking Your Way to Great Solos 150

Being all fingers and thumbs (in a good way!) 151

Picking alternately: The running man 151

Using a pick 151

Strum blocking 152

Inventing Solos the Easy Way 153

Soloing using chord shapes 153

Playing all the chord shapes 153

Soloing with scales 154

Part 4: Discovering Genres and Styles 157

Chapter 11: Rocking Out with Your Uke 159

Rocking Out with Chords 159

Keeping it simple: Three-chord punk 160

Adding a fourth chord 160

Powering up with 5 chords 160

Building tension: Suspended chords 161

Strumming Rock and Punk Rhythms 162

Bo Diddling 162

Iggy Popping 163

Making Your Uke Talk: Soloing Tips 163

Phrasing like speaking 164

Articulating questions and answers 164

Moving up the fretboard for tension and release 164

Chapter 12: Playing the Blues to Lift Your Spirits 167

Playing Blues Chord Progressions 168

Performing a simple 12-bar blues 168

Varying the 12-bar blues 168

Shuffling the blues 172

Turning the Blues Around 176

Leading the Blues 178

Soloing with the Blues Scale 179

Discovering the first position blues scale 180

Using the second position blues scale 180

Scaling the heights with solos 181

Chapter 13: Saying "Aloha" to the Hawaiian Style 185

Strumming in the Hawaiian Way 185

Turning Around, Hawaiian-Style 188

Progressing to the Hawaiian turnaround 188

Soloing the Hawaiian turnaround 189

Stretching Out to Play "Alekoki" 190

Chapter 14: Jazzing Up Your Uke Playing 193

Turning Around, Jazz-Style 193

Using Hot Jazzy Chords 195

Strumming in That Jazzy Way 196

Playing a ragtime tune 196

Hitting the split stroke 198

Chapter 15: Strumming Up the Jawaiian Style 201

Starting Up Some Jawaiian Strumming 202

Practicing the touch strum 202

Drumming up the thumb 'n' strum style 203

"Jamming" with Bob Marley 205

Chapter 16: Getting Classy: Classical Masterpieces for Ukulele 207

Strumming Up the Classics 207

Picking the Classics -- Classical Guitar Pieces for Ukulele 210

Playing Campanella Style 213

Chapter 17: Ukuleleing the Holidays 217

Playing the Twelve Days 217

Ringing in the New Year with "Auld Lang Syne" 219

Making a Noise with "Silent Night" 220

Part 5: Buying and Looking After Your Ukulele 223

Chapter 18: Weighing Up Your Options When Buying a Ukulele 225

Buying Your First Uke 225

Assessing how much to spend 226

Picking a size 226

Avoiding problems 227

Deciding Where to Buy 227

Buying from a shop 227

Purchasing online 228

Obtaining Your Second (and Third, Fourth, Fifth ) Ukulele 228

Thinking about solid versus laminated 229

Considering types of wood 229

Plugging In: Electric Ukuleles 231

Lowering the Tone: Bass Ukuleles 232

Chapter 19: Splashing Out on Essentials and Accessories 233

Picking the Right Strings 233

Getting Hold of Optional Accessories 234

Clipping on a tuner 234

Bagging a case 235

Recording your performance 235

Leaving it standing up or hanging down? 236

Strapping on your uke 236

Capturing the right capo 236

Feeling for a pick 237

Going Mobile 238

Finding uke chords 238

Tuning up 238

Keeping time with a metronome 239

Recording tunes 239

Chapter 20: Restringing, Maintaining, and Adjusting Your Uke 241

Restringing Your Ukulele 241

Deciding when to restring 242

Removing the strings 242

Tying the strings at the bridge 243

Looping the strings round the tuning pegs 245

Stretching the strings 246

Maintaining Your Ukulele 246

Cleaning after playing 247

Storing your ukulele 247

Tackling humidity 247

Diagnosing and Solving Uke Problems 248

Adjusting strings that go out of tune 248

Deciding that the strings are too high: Lowering the action 248

Fixing a buzzing sound: Raising the action 249

Fighting against out-of-tune strings high up the fretboard 250

Part 6: The Part of Tens 251

Chapter 21: Ten Ukulele Players to Know 253

Ernest Ka'ai (1881-1962) 253

May Singhi Breen (1895-1970) 254

Roy Smeck (1900-1994) 254

George Formby (1904-1961) 255

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (1985-) 255

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (1959-1997) 256

Jake Shimabukuro (1976-) 256

Amanda Palmer (1976-) 257

James Hill (1980-) 258

Zach Condon (1986-) 258

Chapter 22: Ten Ways to Get Involved in the Ukulele Scene 259

Joining a Ukulele Club 260

Visiting a Ukulele Festival 260

Making a Video 261

Playing Live 261

Going Online 262

Spreading the Uke News 262

Entering a Contest 262

Teaching Someone 263

Writing Your Own Songs 263

Seeing a Show 264

Chapter 23: Ten (or So) Tips for Improving Your Playing 265

Playing Very Slowly 265

Refusing to Rush Things 266

Recording Yourself 266

Playing with and for Others 267

Practicing in Sections 267

Knowing When to Stop Practicing 267

Stealing from Everyone 268

Varying Your Inversions and Verying Your Invarsions 268

Opening Your Ears 269

Enjoying Yourself 269

Busting a Rut 270

Chapter 24: Ten Greatest Ukulele Chords 271

Invigorating C (with a High Note) 272

Shimmering A Minor 7 (High Up) 272

Melancholy F Major 7 273

Complex G9 273

Chilled Out G6 274

The "Hawaiian" D7 274

Uncomfortable A Augmented 7 275

Jazzy C9 276

Menacing F Minor 9 276

Nostalgic E Diminished 7 277

Part 7: Appendixes 279

Appendix A: Chord Charts 281

Appendix B: Reading Standard Musical Notation 285

Appendix C: Audio Tracks 291

Index 297