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How To Write Ukulele Songs With a Key Card?

Using a Key Card to Write Ukulele Songs

Writing a song is one of the most interesting experiences for every musician.

There’s no specific rule that you need to can follow when it comes to this, not when it comes to music.

You shall keep in mind that there’s a large space for creativity. Trying out different chord progressions to figure out what sounds best to your ears is something that I suggest every musician should try at one point or another.

However, let me discuss with you the basics of writing a song and what a key card is so that it’s easier and quicker for you to write your first song.

And without further ado, let’s get into it

What is the key card? 

This is basically a group of chords that are more often than not played together because they go in harmony, or in other words, they sound good together.

If you are a beginner and still not familiar with a lot of songs, you will be surprised by the number of songs you can play just by learning 3 or 4 chords that sound good together.

Usually, the difference between these songs is in the strumming pattern, this is why, for someone who is not professional or has never played any instruments, these songs sound too different. However, this is not the case for someone who is professional.

Even if you are just starting your music learning path, it won’t be long before you can tell that you are able to play this song just by seeing someone else playing it and in a while, you might be able to to do so just by listening to the song.

If you check out any key card, you will find that it is just a table containing different chords with a specific order.

These chords are arranged in a way so that each horizontal line contains a group of chords that are matching or are known to sound good when played together.

You can simply choose some of these chords and try to see how they sound then decide which chords you should use to write your new song.

Once you have picked your chords, it’s time to come up with a strumming pattern.

This is my favorite part because this is the part that makes all the difference and gives the song it’s special beat.

When you are done with the chords and their strumming pattern you become ready to add your lyrics and voila, you just successfully wrote your first song.

Understanding the key card – chart of chord progressions

If you take a look at a key card, you will see it is divided into two parts:

  •     A major key part (including the chords A B C D E F G).
  •     A minor key part (including the minor forms of the above-mentioned chords, i.e. Am Bm Cm Dm Em Fm and Gm.).

At the very top, you will be able to see the scale degrees, these are seven degrees arranged in Roman numbers from I to IV (progression chords).

The major key is further divided into three groups

  • The first group “I – IV – V“, i.e. first, fourth and fifth chord progressions, these are all major chords.
  • The Second group “II – III – VI” i.e. second, third, and sixth chord progressions, which happen to be minor chords.
  • The third group is “VII” i.e. the seventh chord progression which is a diminished chord.

Usually, the I, IV, and V chord progressions are highlighted. This is because they are the most common chord progressions used in all music everywhere.

This combination of chords sounds good all together and is called “figured bass or thorough bass”.  

On the left side, you can see the name of the key, and on the same horizontal line, you can find the scale

For example,

-    A key scale: A Bm C#m D F F#m G#dim

-    C key scale: C Dm Em F G Am Bdim

-    E key scale: E F#m G#m A B C#m D#dim

And so on...

If you are playing the figured bass, it would be only the chords in the I-IV-V progression

So if we take the above-mentioned keys as an example, it would be:

-    A key:  A D E

-    C key: C F G

-    E key: E A B

And so on...

Final Words

With all that being said, you should now be able to understand the key card chord progression

However, don’t ever hesitate to try a different bunch of chords and see how they sound, at the end of the day, this is what makes one song sounds better than the other.

Hopefully, you can find the right combination of chords for your new song and you found this helpful. Happy strumming!

Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners You Can Learn Today

Ukuleles' popularity has been increasing over the past couple of years, and there's a good reason for it.

A ukulele is a lovely, small instrument that you can quickly learn to play and use it to produce complex sounds.

And to get started, you can learn several songs using only a few chords.

In this article, I’ll list the easiest ukulele songs to play and how you can learn them in no time at all.

7 Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners

1. “Sweet Home Alabama” By Lynyrd Skynyrd

This one is one of the most popular ukulele song choices. Regarded as a classic, Sweet Home Alabama is incredibly easy to learn as it uses only three chords.

The first of which is the D chord. To play that one, you need to hold down the top three string on the second fret.

It suits any player as those with smaller hands can use three fingers while those with bigger hands can use a single finger to press down the three strings at the same time.

The second chord is C. It's even easier to play as you only need to hold down the third fret on the bottom string.

Third and last is the G chord –the second fret on the second and fourth strings and the third fret on the third strings.

If you’re familiar with guitars, you’ll recognize it as the D chord on a guitar.

Once you get a hang on these three chords, the songs become very easy to play and master very briefly.

You should follow the pattern that goes: two D chords, two C chords, and four G chords. Repeat it for the verse and chorus, and you’ve got your first song set.

2. “Just the Way You Are” By Bruno Mars

Just the Way You Are uses only three chords: C, A minor, and F.

We’ve already learned C together, so let’s dive into A minor.

You’d only need one finger to hold the second fret of the top string.

Finally, to play the F chord, you need to hold down the second fret on the top string as well as the first fret on the third string.

An extra tip: When you’re playing the A minor chord, use the middle finger to hold down the top string. As you transition from A minor to F, you can leave that finger where it is and use your index finger to hold down the third string.

Once you’ve mastered these chords, everything becomes very simple.

Eight C, eight A minor, eight F and then back to eight C again and the same pattern repeats over and over for both the chorus and verse.

3. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” By U2

This one is an excellent choice if you want to play something that comes off as a bit complicated.

But in fact, it’s quite easy as it uses only three chords: C, F, and G.

It only sounds so complicated because of the tricky effected guitar work.

4. “Someone like You” By Adele

Someone like You only requires the use of four chords instead of only three, but it's still smooth as the pattern is repeated throughout the whole song.

You simply start with four C, then four G, four A minor and finally end with four F.

After that, you repeat this pattern for the verse, bridge, and chorus.

Once you’ve gotten the pattern mastered, you can experiment with other strumming patterns to find the one that suits you the best.

5. “Let It Be” By The Beatles

​Using C, G, F, and A minor, you should be able to get this beautiful classic by the Beatles.

Although the pattern is a little more complicated than other songs.

For the verse, you’ll hit the following chords twice: C, C, G, G, A minor, A minor, F, F, C, C, G, G, F, F, C, C.

And for the chorus, you'll change it up a little to: A minor, A minor, G, G, F, F, C, C, C, C, G, G, F, F, C, C.

6. “Hallelujah” By Leonard Cohen

​You’ll need no cap for Cohen’s version. Jeff Buckley’s requires one on the first fret.

And there's no way to make a list without this one it. It's very popular and more straightforward than one would imagine.

To play the verse, you’ll hit: C, A minor, C, A minor, F, G, C.

On the other hand, you’ll hit F, A minor, F, A minor, C, G, C for the verse.

7. “You’re Beautiful” By James Blunt

​Using your four, easy ukulele chords is all you need with this one as well.

To play the verse, hit these chords: C, C, C, C, G, G, G, A minor, A minor, A minor, A minor, F, F, F, F. And then repeat it once more.

For the chorus, hit these chords twice: F, F, G, G, C, C, C, C.

Finally, play F, F, G, G, C, C, A minor, A minor, F, F, G, G, A minor, A minor, A minor, A minor, F, F, G, G, C, C, C, C.

Final Words

Learning a song on the ukulele requires that you work on one aspect at a time. Breaking down the song by vocals, strum, and chords will really help you.

Once you separate everything, it all adds up to a simple piece. Practicing the chords repeatedly helps you get everything running on autopilot, so make sure you take your time repeating the movements.

You can even try downloading ukulele tuner apps like Ukulele Tuner for Android or Tunefor Ukulele Tuner for iOS.

How To Travel With Your Ukulele

Traveling with your ukulele may sound like a disaster. but, by following these guidelines it'll turn out to be a simple process. 

To all the traveling musicians, here are some tips on the ideal way to travel with your Ukulele safely.

A Hard-Shell Case is the ideal choice

A hard-shell waterproof case with a strong locking latch should be your best friend.

You'll want to maintain your ukulele safe if it got dropped or banged or even got wrongly man-handed. The hardshell case is the ideal product for safety maintenance if any of this happens. 

Moreover, make sure you choose the right size of the case for your ukulele to fit in If there are spaces fill them with rolling t-shirts to keep your ukulele stable and in place.

Get Your Ukulele Prepared

Preparing your ukulele by loosening the strings for less tension is the most common and important tip. As the strings can be affected by the exposition to heat, pressure, climate changes and humidity.

However, these factors lead to the expansion and contraction of the wood which will make the strings snap and may break the saddle or the neck of your ukulele.

Identifications

Identifying your ukulele is a lifesaver tip. Luggage gets lost from time to time so you want to make sure it comes back to you if you lose it.

Put a label with your name and contact details outside and inside your ukulele's case.

And for more safety add the label "Fragile, Please keep dry and handle with care" to make sure your ukulele is carefully handed.

Accessories And Extras

We never know what's going to happen through a trip. So you better take your precautions and bring extra accessories and tools you may need for your ukulele.

Such as extra packets of strings, Nail files, a tuner, Etc.

Pack them separately from your ukulele's case to avoid suspicious checks at the airport.

Carry On Your Ukulele

Taking your ukulele as a carry on luggage is the ideal decision. Most airlines allow carrying on your musical instrument on board with you.

Therefore, you can keep it underneath your seat as long as it fits or in the overhead cabin.

The last plan that you may fallback to is that you leave you ukulele as checked luggage.

It's not the ideal plan but if you had to resort to it make sure you lock out your case carefully, Stick your labels with the identification and cautious, Loosen your strings. And you ukulele is all set.

Get On Board Early

The earlier you get on board the easier your process will be. Getting on board early ensures you the priority of having the needed room for your ukulele to be safely stored in the overhead cabin through the flight. 

Furthermore, protecting it from being tucked in with other passengers' luggage.

Most airlines have an option called "Priority Boarding" You may resort to this route if you can't get on board early, They'll provide your priority in being one of the first passengers to get on board.

Add Insurance

If you're going to check your ukulele in then added insurance may be worth looking into. You can take pictures/video of your ukulele before you check it in as an insurance proof of its statue before the flight.

Right after the flight and before you leave the airport check the condition of your ukulele.

In the event that it's damaged or lost, hand your insurance proof and make a claim immediately.

Road Trips

If you're heading to a road trip with your ukulele then, fortunately, you have options.

You can use whether the soft gig bag or the hard-shell case according to the room your car has.

Moreover,  you have to cover your ukulele's case with a colored blanket or towel (avoid using black ones) so you can keep your ukulele away from absorbing heat during exposure to sunlight.

Assuming that, you're going to step out of your car take your ukulele with you as the temperature can change fast and hit your ukulele with sudden heat leading to unnecessary damage.

How to Buy A Ukulele: Things to know before buying your ukulele

So you decide to buy a new ukulele. How exciting!

Is it your first time buying an instrument?

Whether you go to your local music shop or try to look at different ukuleles online, you will find a lot to choose from.

It’s something that every musician goes through at the beginning of their musical journey.

Yes, you might find this a little confusing, but you can’t see what you don’t know, right? If you know what to look for and what to consider before buying your ukulele then how hard can it be to make up your mind?

“Which ukulele should I get?”  “Why do they look different?” “How much money should I be spending on this?”

These are the questions that go through your head, right? Well, lucky for you, you stumbled upon this article because we are going to help you know what parameters to bear in mind to make the right choice.

So without further ado, let’s get right into it.

First things first, how big should your ukulele be?

Ukuleles come in variable sizes.  From soprano, being the smallest, to concert ukuleles, then come tenors followed by baritones.

And if you wonder if this difference in size affects the sound of the ukulele, the answer is “yes, of course it does”, actually the size of your ukulele affects more than just how it sounds which is the reason why deciding what size to get should be on the very top of your list.

It’s not much of a surprise that the scenario in which you decide to get a new ukulele will point you to what size it should be.

For incidence, and in my humble opinion, a soprano ukulele suits most beginners. It has the smallest size of all ukuleles and this is an advantage because not only does it allow more control especially, if you will play it while standing, but also, it doesn’t require much stretching so you will be able to play your first song sooner.

And even though this is the general rule, but in a different scenario, if your hands are larger than average then maybe it’s a better idea to consider a bigger ukulele, like concert ukuleles.

One mistake that a lot of folks who play the guitar and want to try the ukulele make is getting a baritone. I know it seems like the right option because baritones have the biggest size of all ukuleles and offer the largest scale.

However, the way I see it, these exact same reasons are why a guitar player won’t be too impressed with a baritone ukulele.

Baritone shares a lot with guitars; they almost sound the same which means it lacks that classic ukulele sound that gives the ukulele its uniqueness.

A better option would be buying a tenor ukulele; you will be able to get that rich tone and that admirable bright sound without compromising the size or the scale of your instrument.

Now let me explain to you how the size of the ukulele affects its tone;

A bigger ukulele has a richer tone and produces more resonance. In other words, Sopranos are quieter than other ukuleles, so if you have been playing the ukulele for a while and looking to upgrade your current instrument to perform for a crowd I would recommend you go for a concert or a tenor ukulele.

What about Playability?

Here comes one more thing to contemplate when picking the size of your ukulele. Bigger ukuleles have a longer scale, and if you are new to this, then I know you are not really sure what that means so let me break it down for you.

The scale of the ukulele extends all through its fretboard down to the saddle.

This is the space available for you to use your fingers, so a longer scale allows more distance between the frets and hence more playability.  The opposite is true for smaller ukuleles.

The budget

There is no solid answer when it comes to how much you should be spending on your ukulele, the call is yours at the end of the days but, there are a couple of things you need to go through.

First, while there’s a possibility that the expensive ukulele you will get won’t be as good as you expect it to be, there’s no chance whatsoever that a cheap ukulele will meet your expectations.

Even if it is tempting to go ahead and buy that - not too pricey - ukulele that looks pretty much the same as that much more expensive ukulele lying right next to it, chances are, the cheaper one doesn’t sound as good if it sounds good at all.

You are more likely to find yourself facing issues with it from the construction to the tones and tuning your ukulele and at no point will this be a good experience, especially if you are a beginner.

Secondly, soprano ukuleles are generally pocket-friendly; they are the least costly so investing in getting a soprano will most probably pay off. This is another reason why they are loved by beginners.

I’m not saying go ahead and buy the most expensive soprano you can find out there, but if anything, it’s adding value for money.

It goes without saying that the more features your ukulele has, the more expensive you should expect it to be, so the fancier you want your ukulele to be, the more money you should be spending on it.

Last but not least, the brand!

It is not much different from what you should do before buying anything else, search for the best brands.

Under no circumstances is it a smart idea to just go out on the market and buy the ukulele that seems more appealing.

Maybe you can google the best ukuleles available on the market and read some reviews about them.

Go to YouTube and check out some of the reviews on different ukuleles. There’s a lot that you can actually get out of this especially if you have done your research and narrowed it down to two brands that you need to compare between.  

A lot of players share their experience and you can hear how the ukulele sounds even before trying it out.

All in all, and with all that being said, I believe you are now ready to find the perfect ukulele. Happy jamming!

Ukulele vs Guitar: Differences between the guitar and ukulele

You know how they say “Share our similarities, celebrate our differences “? This is what comes to my mind whenever I think about how guitars and ukuleles are so much alike yet so distinct. Each has its own taste yet they smell the same!

If anything, each of these two has a spell on me, and I am pretty sure you can find a lot of musicians who enjoy them each at a time because each of them would uniquely and irreplaceably decorate your song.

At first glance, you can tell these two instruments meet on more than one common ground, from the same fret system to the same mechanism they produce sound, it may seem like they can’t possibly be THAT different, but this is not necessarily true.

So let’s browse a little deeper through the ways these two instruments differ from each other.

It all started here!

Believe it or not, these two instruments didn’t appear around the same time and don’t have a common origin!

The origin of the guitar goes back over 4000 years ago and even though the guitar has no clear backgrounds whatsoever, it is believed that it first appeared in Spain and the word “guitar” was derived from the Spanish word “quitarra”.

On the other hand, ukuleles originated in Hawaii, nevertheless, some say that they were brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants.

The size

It is crystal clear most ukuleles are much smaller than guitars and thus the frets of the ukulele are much closer to each other.

This makes playing the ukulele much easier because it requires less stretching, it’s lighter and is easier to carry around so taking a cab, or traveling in an airplane won’t be much of a hassle.  

This difference in size is one of the main reasons why they don't sound the same.

The strings

From the number of strings to the material it’s made of, it's all distinguishable.

Most guitars have 6 strings, which are mostly made of steel; they need high tension and sound louder than those of the ukulele.

On the opposite side, ukuleles have 4 strings which are mostly made of nylon and thus they happen to be much more flexible and don’t actually require much tension. The strings of the ukulele give a warmer tone compared to that of the guitar.

The extra strings on the guitar give space for more chords and scales, while the soft and delicate sound of the ukulele is very capturing.

Tuning

It might not come as a surprise that guitars and ukuleles are tuned too differently.

In standard tuning, a guitar is tuned E2-A2- G2-D2-B2-E2 whereas a ukulele is tuned G4-C4-E4-A4 except for Baritone which is tuned D3-G3-B3-E3

Notice how similar baritone ukuleles sound to guitars in standard tuning? The strings are tuned to give the sound of the upper four strings of the guitar!

Because of the way baritones are tuned, in addition to their size, it's hard to distinguish their sound from that of the guitar, to most guitarists who try them, the experience isn't exactly what they would call "new" and they're not really impressed.

Another difference is that the strings of the guitar are arranged from low to high which is not true when it comes to ukuleles.

This is particularly a reason why it can be a little confusing for guitarists to try to play ukuleles at first; however, it won’t be long before they get the hang of it.

Tip:  In standard tuning, if you have your capo on the fifth fret and you only play on the top four strings, you are technically playing the ukulele.

Riffs and chords

When it comes to riffs, no one can deny that guitars have the upper hand; this is because a guitar has more strings and the range of tones you can get out of it is more than that of a uke.

But this is not really the same case when it comes to chords.  

Actually, ukuleles do a much better job with chords due to the fact that you can find chords that require using only one finger and like mentioned above, the distances between the frets are smaller so you don’t really need to stretch your fingers much. 

It’s perfect for beginners, and even though the chords look different when played on each instrument, they sound too close.  

Technicality 

This is a major difference for anyone who’s willing to master both instruments.

First, let’s take a look at strumming a guitar in comparison to strumming a ukulele

For starters, strumming ukes is much easier and doesn’t require much precision. If you are a beginner, it won’t take you that long to get it right, on the contrary, learning to strum a guitar takes a while because you need to develop some skills.

Strumming sounds different with both instruments because of the fact guitars have more strings, not to mention how different the resonance of sound is in a bigger instrument. This ultimately makes strumming sound brighter and louder in guitars.

Secondly, fingerpicking

If you just started playing any of these instruments before trying the other then you should be focusing on getting it right, you will be experiencing the strings for the first time, and you haven’t developed a style yet but going from guitar fingerpicking to ukulele fingerpicking or the opposite is a bit challenging.

And lastly, using picks

It’s no brainer that a plastic pick would produce a different sound when hitting nylon than that when hitting steel strings, however, the style of picking differs as well.

Prices

The rule is, ukuleles cost much less compared to guitars.  An average beginner guitar can cost about 3 times the price of a good quality ukulele, so if you are on a budget and not sure which of these to try first then this should make it an easy choice.

Which is more suitabl​​​​e for beginners?

I am a big believer in “Different strokes for different folks”. People don’t share the same likes and that’s okay.

There is no wrong or right when it comes to this despite the fact that a vast majority would recommend getting a ukulele first because of its small size and lightweight, in addition to its flexible strings and simpler tones, it stands out for a start. You will be able to comprehend all the basics and it will teach you how the fretboard works at the same time it’s not too complicated so it’s never really frustrating.

How To Tune Your Ukulele?

There’s no doubt that tuning the ukulele would make the world of difference if you are a beginner.

Even if you are making a big progress with the techniques and you are putting a lot of effort into learning your chords, if you don’t keep in mind tuning your ukulele your songs won’t sound good, and if your ukulele is way out of tune the songs might not make sense at all, to begin with.

There are a lot of different ways to tune your ukulele. We will be covering them in this article so without further ado, let’s just jump into it.

How To Properly Tune Your Ukulele

1. First things first, you need to know the basic open strings tuning:

A quick way to sum it up would be G - C – E - A

From low to high; the 4th string is tuned G, the 3rd is tuned C, the 2nd is tuned E and the 1st is tuned A.

However, tuning a ukulele depends on its size. There are 4 different sizes of ukuleles; soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone.

The first 3 ukuleles are usually tuned as mentioned above but the baritone is tuned D - G - B – E.

If you have your ukulele tuned as mentioned above, it is in standard tuning and this is the tuning you need to play most of the songs.

Something that is popular among a lot of guitarists and ukulele players, is that in standard tuning, a ukulele is tuned to sound the same as the top 4 strings of the guitar. This is essentially true if you have a capo on the fifth fret of your guitar.

2. Using an electronic tuner to tune your ukulele

This is the simplest and easiest way to tune your ukulele.

I have been playing the ukulele for 8 years, and in my humble opinion, it’s perfect for beginners because simply, there’s no way that this could be wrong in addition to being accurate.

The first way to use an electronic tuner is to get an application on your smartphone.

This might be a little difficult if you are tuning your ukulele in a noisy place but that’s hardly the case and personally, I find it pretty convenient.

Another thing that you can try is clip-on tuner clamps.  

These clips work a little differently from the applications because instead of detecting the pitch through the microphone, these clips detect the vibrations when you clamp them onto the head-stock of the ukulele.

These clip-on tuners have the advantage of not being affected by the noise you have around you while tuning your ukulele and you can definitely use them in a roomful of noise without any trouble whatsoever, which is the reason why this is the most popular and practical method used by ukulele players every day.

The last and most professional way to tune your ukulele using an electronic tuner would be plugging it into a pedal tuner.

3. Tuning your ukulele to a piano

Another simple way to tune your ukulele is to depend on your ears and tune it to a piano.  

It is really easy once you get used to it because, for some people, it can take a little while to get used to it especially if they have never played the guitar or the piano before so they have no experience whatsoever how the notes sound like.

G C E A corresponds to sol do mi la. If you are tuning this to a piano,  go to the middle C and it should sound the same as the C on your ukulele, skip one key and the key after is E, then skip another key and the one after is G and the one right next to it is A.

4. Tuning your ukulele to itself, also known as, relative tuning of the ukulele

This is the least accurate method to tune your ukulele, however, it can come on handy if you are practicing by yourself or you want to play your ukulele and you don’t have a tuner nearby.

In this method, you will compare similar tunes on different strings and frets to each other; this is why this method is not really accurate.

Try the following steps in order.

  •    Play your A string (1st string) open and listen carefully.
  •    Put your fingers on the 5th (2nd string) fret of the E string, it should sound the same as the A string open.
  •    Place your finger on the 4th fret of the C string (the 3rd string) and it should sound the same as picking the E string open.

Then comes tuning the G string, now this depends on whether you are tuning a high G or a low G:

  • If you are tuning a high G string, place your finger on the 2nd fret on the G string and you should be playing an A note, in other words, it should sound like playing the A string open.
  • If you are tuning a low G note, place your finger on the 5th fret of the G string and you are now playing a C note, i.e. it should sound the same to playing the C string open.

Now, this method could be a little confusing at first I know, but the way I see it, even if you do have other methods for tuning your ukulele, practice this method because you never know when it might come in handy.

Another tip is, if you are going to be jamming along with your friends and you don’t have a tuner on you, try to tune any of the strings on your ukulele to sound the same as your friend’s and take it from there.

Also, and this is something that will help you sound a little less out of tune but not necessarily precise, try to tune your strings relative to your C string because it happens to hold its tuning the longest.

Final Words

Once you master tuning your ukulele, you will notice how different your music sounds and you will fall in love with this instrument even more, and so will your crowd.  Enjoy your tuning ride!

Amplify or Electrify Your Ukulele

Something that every professional ukulele player will need to experience at some point is amplifying the ukuleles sound.

Who wouldn’t like to have a louder, richer sound to their music? Isn’t this the way every good performance should be?

If you think about it, amplifiers and pickups are so interesting. Aren’t you excited to get your first pickup device?

Even if you already have an amplifier, the excitement to get a new one is never less than the first time because different pickups types don’t sound the same.

I have been playing the ukulele for over ten years, and today I am willing to take you through everything you need to know concerning amplifying your instrument.

What are pickups? How do they work? What are the different types of pickups you can use for your ukulele? These are the main questions I am going to be answering in this article so, without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

What Are Pickups? 

A pickup device is a transducing device that receives (picks up) the vibrations or sound produced by the Strings of your ukulele and then converts these vibrations into electrical signals.

These signals then go through an amplifier that makes them louder through a loudspeaker in a sealed speaker setup.

This, without a doubt, allows you to play for a large crowd, not to mention that in a way, it gives you the ability to add some sound effects to your song and make it sound better,

What are the different types of pickups you can use?

Every day, something new comes up, there’s always a big variety, a lot to choose from, something that almost always confuses us.

So let’s discuss the different types of pickups you could go chasing

First, you need to understand that a pickup device could be an under saddle transducer (UST), soundboard transducer (SBT), or an internal microphone. Each of these comes in its active or passive forms.  

The first step to decide which pickup device to get is to make up your mind whether you need an active or a passive transducer.

I will be explaining to you the difference between these two and which is more suitable for what purposes. But, before I do that, let me talk to you about UST, SBT, and internal mics a little bit.

Under Saddle Transducer (UST)

As the name implies, this type of pickup is added under the base of the saddle slot.

Usually, a UST is permanently installed into your instrument with an endpin jack.

This is because it requires holes to be drilled into the ukulele for the wiring which makes installing them more difficult than installing other types of pickups. 

The major advantage of using this type of pickups is that there’s a lesser chance of

Picking surrounding noise so it generally sounds much clearer than other pickups.

This is only because of the direct transfer of vibrations from the strings to the UST.

Soundboard transducer (SBT)

This is a small transducer that has a disk at its end. This disk sits on the soundboard of the ukulele from the inside.

The SBT has a jack that is installed in the end block to pick up the electric signals.

Occasionally, you can find external SBTs, however, these are not permanent and SBT are usually installed internally.

Unlike UST, this type of pickups can be affected by the surrounding noise. More often than not, they can pick up the sound of your hand movements on the instrument. However, if you make sure to position them correctly, you will get a fuller and more natural tone than that of UST.

Microphones 

This is my least favorite pickup because it is extremely sensitive to all the sounds around it, using it on stage is not that easy.

Yet, a lot of players like to use microphones while performing, especially big condenser mics.

Difference Between Active and Passive Pickups

Generally, pickups consist of copper wires that coil around a magnet.  When the pickup is placed on your element, the vibrations produced by the strings disturb the magnetic field of the pickup causing an electric current to pass through its wires indication the pattern of the song you are playing.

This electric current is then amplified and changed into a sound that you can hear through the speakers.

Active Pickups

An active pickup has an internal active preamp which is powered using batteries. This is why they have a higher output than that of passive pickups

Batteries used with active pickups can be: 3V watch batteries, 9V batteries, 2 AA batteries (18V) and a supercapacitor depending on your pickup.

Another difference between active and passive pickups is that an active pickup has fewer coils than a passive one.

This makes them less receptive to background noise.

Passive Pickups

The only advantage of this type of pickups is that it has a wide dynamic range.

Not only do they allow you to go from very soft and calming music to very loud strong beats, but also, they allow you to enhance the frequency of your music.

The downside when using passive pickups is as mentioned before, they have a lot of coils, which makes them susceptible to humming and background noise making them sensitive to feedback. In addition, they need an external preamplifier so they can’t be directly plugged into your speaker.

Final Thoughts

Whatever the type of pickup you decide that it suits you best is, in my humble opinion, it’s always a smart idea to look over the internet first for different brands and reviews.

You can even check on YouTube and learn about the experience of other ukulele players using pickups and you will also get to hear how they sound like before buying them or trying them out yourself.

With all that being said, I hope you have made up your mind about which pickup type you should be chasing down and that you found this article helpful.

How To Play The E Chord Ukulele?

Most of the chords that are played on the ukulele are really simple especially if you compare them to guitar chords.  

When someone starts learning how to play the ukulele, they usually start with easy chords.

In my humble idea, this is actually a smart plan for practicing.

Not only do you get to learn a lot of songs faster this way, but also it allows you to build calluses in your fingertips.

While I admit this way is more efficient, you can’t just learn a couple of chords and keep playing them forever.

Instead, it’s better if you work on building your steady base of ukulele chords.

A lot of times I come across people who have been playing the uke quite sometime now, yet whenever they figure out a song that has an E chord in it, they just skip it.

If you are a professional ukulele player or you ought to be one, you will have to learn to play the E chord sooner or later.

So in this article, we will go through what ways you can make that happens so please stay around and without further ado, let’s just jump right into it.

The first shape: 

  •    The index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  •    The middle finger on the 4th fret of the G string.
  •    Ring finger on the 4th fret of the C string.
  •    Pinky finger on the 4th fret of the E string.

If you look up the E chord, this is the way that is going to pop up on your screen most of the times.

It’s the classic way and considered to be the standard E chord shape.

The disadvantage of playing this chord in this way is that a lot of fingers are fitting into such a small space.

Same frets, different fingers:

Another way to play the same shape is to put your finger on the 2nd fret of the A string as mentioned above, however, you will barre the other 3 strings with one finger.

This is known as “The Treble up”.

This is very difficult to play especially if you are a beginner but, if you will practice enough you can surely get the hang of it.

The second shape:

It’s called “The Double Up”

  •    Index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  •    Middle finger on the 4th fret of the G and C strings.
  •    Ring finger on the 4th fret of E string.

This way is much simpler than the way mentioned above.

You use the middle finger on two frets which is why it’s called the double up.

It might take you some time to learn how to place your fingers in this matter through the song without muting any chords or causing any buzzing.  

Yet, mastering this is easier than learning to barre 3 strings for some people.

The third shape:

  • Index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Ring finger on the 4th fret of the C string.
  • Little finger on the 4th fret of the E string.
  • Middle finger is muting the G string.

Muting the G string is the challenging part when it comes to this shape.

Some people play this shape without muting the G string, which makes it an E5 shape.

Whereas this might go unnoticed in some songs, it won’t fit in others so maybe you should try and see how it sounds if you want to play it this way.

Now these are the most common ways to play the E chord on the uke, however, some unpopular ways to play it are:

  • Ring finger barring E, C, G strings
  • Muting the A string with any finger or maybe using the lower part of your ring finger as well.

So basically it’s the treble up method we talked about it earlier but blocking the A string.

Also, you can play something like this:

  • Index finger barre across the 4th fret of all the strings.
  • The pinky finger on the 7th fret of the A string.

Again, the barre will take some practice, but this is a lot like the C chord moved up one string, which might make it a little easier.

If none of the above worked, try this:

  • Index finger on the 1st fret of the G string.
  • Ring finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Middle finger muting the C string.
  • E string open.

If you are already familiar with the E7 chord, this will be a piece of cake because this is the same way it is played except that you mute the C string rather than fretting it.

And lastly you can try to play:

  • Index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Thumb barring E, C, and G strings on the 4th fret.

It’s my least favorite way to play the E chord.

It’s hard to change from other chords to playing the E chord in this manner and the other way around, especially if you need to make this change fast.

Conclusion:

Even though playing the E chord is a challenge for every ukulele beginner! It’s totally worth learning.

You can add a lot of songs to your playing collection if you learn it.

Add to this, for a lot of people, including myself, it is only fun when it’s challenging. This is the part that makes me feel satisfied and making progress.

My advice to you if you are trying to play this chord is to practice every day.  You don’t have to play a song right away, just play the shape of the chord, get used to it.

Make sure you can play a barre correctly, and when you feel like you are now familiar with it to a good extent, try to integrate it into a song.

Don’t try to go fast in your first trials, instead, take as much time as you need and focus in getting it right at first, then you can speed it up.

And last but not least, ENJOY!

How To Take Care of Your Ukulele?

No matter how much of a good quality your ukulele has, like all instruments, you need to care for it.

You might be thinking you don’t really expose your ukulele to any haphazard, but the truth is, just playing it and allowing all the oils from your fingers to get in contact with your instrument, is a factor along with many others why you need to spoil your ukulele and give it the necessary attention.

In this article, we will be going through the most important tips to take good care of your ukulele.

7 Tips on How to Take Care of Your Ukulele

1. Keep it clean

It goes without saying that you should clean your instrument every once in a while.

The sweat and grease from your hands are trapping dust on the surface of the uke which deteriorates the condition of the wood.

You can use lemon oil and a microfiber cleaning cloth to get rid of all the dust and stickiness.

It’s a smart idea to clean your ukulele after each time you use it, or at least try to pick up this habit.

To be honest with you, cleaning the body of my ukulele was never an issue. However, the tricky part is cleaning the fretboard. I usually clean it after I remove the old strings when I am restringing my instrument, which is almost every 3 months.

Yet, every couple of weeks I try to slip a clean rag underneath the strings to clean the board.

2. Avoid the effect of humidity

It’s a well-known fact that humidity affects wood.

You should worry more if your ukulele is made of solid wood because laminated wood is much more tolerant of humidity.

What happens is, the wood absorbs the water vapor from the air and as a result, it swells. You might observe that your neck is bent or that you have a heightened fret action.

Moreover, low humidity can harm your instrument as well because it dries the wood.

If this happens, you will notice some shrinkage in your ukulele, in addition to loosening of the braces which causes buzzing because of the lowered fret action.

Add to this, the fact that wood cracks and breaks when it is deprived of moisture.

What you need to do is know where and how to store your ukulele.

In my humble opinion, getting a hygrometer to monitor the humidity level is the ideal way to make sure you are not messing up your wood.

What you want to do is keep your ukulele stored in about 50% relative humidity. A little more or a little less won’t be too bad but make sure it’s not more than 10% above or below 50.

The easiest way to control the weather surrounding your ukulele is, of course, using your AC. Nevertheless, you can use case humidifiers, or portable room humidifiers to control humidity as well.

3. Restring your Ukulele regularly

Although this will differ from one player to the other, you need to consider how frequently you play your ukulele and based on that change your strings.

One thing that you shouldn’t do is waiting till a string breaks and then only replace that string.

Not only are you settling for worn out strings because if one is damaged then chances are, the rest are broken as well, but also, if you think about it, the rest of the strings will sound dead in comparison to the new string.

There are some few signs you need to change your strings:

  • The increasing need to tune your instrument. Usually, if your strings are tired, they can’t hold in place as much as usual and they loosen too quickly.
  • You might be able to see a variation in the strings or even feel like the strings aren’t as smooth anymore. So, if you run your fingers across the strings and run into any grooves, it’s about time you chase a new set of strings.
  • Last but not least, if your ukulele sounds a little dull.

New strings have a bright loud tune that’s ever so capturing.

You will need to keep tuning them for a couple of times because they are still stretching, but they will make your song sound a lot better.

4. Don’t Go too Harsh With The Pick

Personally, I don’t like using picks at all, yet, if you do, make sure you don’t go ahead and scratch your instrument all over.

What you want to do is, learn how to strum without letting the pick touch the body of your ukulele.

5. Use Your Capo Properly

Believe it or not, it’s quite easy to damage your instrument by improper replacement or removal of your capo.

A lot of times players break their strings or cause neck dents just because they’re not being careful.

Make sure that your clamp is wide enough while placing it to avoid rough friction with your neck and similarly, make sure to unclamp it then remove it not just pull it off.

6. Use a Case

From my personal perspective, this is necessary if you want to avoid damaging your ukulele.

A lot of people may tell you that it’s not a smart idea to get a case, when you only play at home and your ukulele is not really that expensive, nonetheless, the way I see it, what if the only time you decide to take it to your friend’s house to jam along, you drop it and it breaks?

If you are a professional and you play outside, then there’s no doubt getting a case for your instrument is a must.

7. Handle your Ukulele Properly While Playing

What I mean by this is, not to recklessly hold your ukulele.

For me, I am the kind of person who’s always goofing around their friends, and just like having fun.

But whenever I’m playing my ukulele or my guitar, I pay attention not to drop my instrument.

You can cause a lot of damage to your ukulele if you just keep dropping it every now and then, from simple scratches to serious breaking, you won’t like any of it so let’s make sure we don’t go down this road and focus on spoiling little your buddy.

I think that’s it for this list, hope you guys find it helpful.  

How To Read Ukulele Chord Diagrams?

As a beginner, it might be a little confusing when you first check out different chords and try to understand how to read the diagram.

For a majority of diagrams, it is not really hard to get the diagram.

However, some symbols won’t be intuitively understood especially if you are a self-learner.

The good news is, the minute you start grasping how these diagrams work.

You will be able to learn a lot of chords in no time ergo; it won’t be long before you find yourself playing new songs.

So stick around till the end of this article and hopefully comprehending ukulele chords will become a lot easier!

First Base

  • To start off, you need to think of the diagram as another ukulele placed right in front of you.
  • You are facing the fretboard and the strings are demonstrated as the vertical lines, and you are looking at the fretboard from the top.
  •  There’s a thick horizontal line at the top of the diagram representing the nut of the ukulele.

N.B: Some chords don’t start at the nut. In this case, you won’t find a thick black line at the top of the diagram. Instead, there’s a horizontal line with a number on the top right or the top left.

This number corresponds to the number of the fret acting as if it’s the nut.

  • The strings go (G C E A) from left to right, and accordingly, the horizontal lines represent the frets.
  •  The name of the chord is written on top of the diagram.
  • A lot of times it’s abbreviated like, Am for A minor, or Dmaj7 for D major 7 and so on ….  
  • The shape of the chord is pointed out using black dots.
  • Each of the dots on the diagram shows you where you should be placing your fingers.
  • In some diagrams, you will be able to see some numbers written next to each dot.
  • These numbers represent which finger should be placed at this exact position.
  • The numbers go 1,2,3, and 4 for your index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers respectively.
  • A circle is made opposite to the strings that should be played open i.e., no fingers are to be placed on this string.

For example, if you check the G major chord, you should place your index finger on the second fret of the c string.

The middle finger should be placed on the second fret of the A string, and lastly, you need to place your ring finger on the third fret of the E string.

Because you will find an open circle opposite to the top string, you should conclude that you will be hitting this string as well while playing the G major chord.

Is it possible to play a chord without strumming all strings?

YES, it’s actually something that a lot of beginners skip, especially if they don’t take any lessons.

Somehow, there’s a common faulty idea that the strumming hand is always to be hitting all the strings.

However, some chords have “muted strings “.

When a string is muted, it should not be played at all.

You will find an “X” mark on top of the diagram opposite to this string.

  • To mute a string, you should rest one or more fingers of your fretting hand on it, without actually fretting it.

An example of a chord that has a muted string is D#m9.

Bar Chords

If you have a bar chord, it means you should be pressing down multiple strings at the same time.

A lot of times you will need to bar all the strings, using them as a capo.

Usually, you only need to use your index finger to get it done. Yet, rarely, you can use other fingers to bar a chord as well.

Lastly, there’s another – less professional – way to understand how a chord works.

You won’t find it in most music studying books, but you will find it a lot if you are trying to learn a song over the internet or watching a YouTube tutorial.

This is what they call “Text Chords”.

It’s simply a way to simplify a diagram.

Numbers are used in order to indicate where each finger should be.

Each number represents the fret number on the specific string.

The order used for the strings being GCEA.

If there’s an open string to be played, it will be represented by the number “0”. And if there’s a muted string, it will still be represented by the symbol “x”.

So if you look at the examples mentioned above, if you want to use numbers to demonstrate a G chord it will be “0232”.

And the D#m9 will be demonstrated as “35x6”.

So this is basically everything you need to know to be able to read any ukulele chord diagram you want to learn. Happy Strumming folks!