Which to learn: guitar or ukulele

Play music is something that I think everyone should try.

You might be thinking that you can only be good if you are already talented but the truth is practice makes perfect.

Yes, someone who is talented will learn faster and find it easier to level up. However, if you practice enough, you can sound a lot more professional.

If you are checking this article then you are not sure whether to start playing the guitar or the uke.

Let’s first agree that there’s no right answer to such questions because, at the end of the day, it’s a personal preference.

So please don’t expect me to give you a solid answer to this question.

Anyways, I can still help you answer this question yourself because I can guide you through the differences between these two instruments to help you make up your mind.

I‘ll also mention some of the challenges that you will be facing when you try any of these instruments, in addition to some tips and tricks to make them easier for you.

Hope that by the end of this article you will be able to see things clearly and make up your mind.

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

First off, the size and shape

It’s crystal clear that guitars are much bigger than ukes.

Moreover, a standard guitar has 6 strings, on the other side, a ukulele has only 4.

If you take a closer look at the build of both, you will be able to see that ukes have a thinner fretboard.

This is specifically an advantage over guitars because one of the very common challenges when starting to learn how to play the guitar is stretching your fingers.

Even though this is can be applied in most cases, yet, if you have big hands then you don’t need much stretching.

On the contrary, playing the uke when you have big hands is not a piece of cake.

Secondly, the riffs and chords

No one can deny that when it comes to riffs, guitars are the best.

Not only do they have more strings so technically, they can produce a larger range of tunes, but also they have an acoustic or sometimes electric charm.  

Ukes on the other side are louder and tunes sound more cheerful.

You will be able to find a variety between ukes themselves because some ukes are larger than others.

What about the chords?

Well, chords are a lot easier to play on ukuleles.

A lot of these chords require using only one finger, unlike guitars.

The fretboard on uke is smaller than that of the guitar so the distances between each fret and the neighboring one are smaller.

This makes it easier to play ukes because as I mentioned above, you do not need much stretching.

Something that you need to ask yourself is, why do you want to play this instrument?

For some of you checking this right now, they simply want to play an instrument to be able to sing along to.

And that can turn the table all around, the reason being, you will need to figure out what sounds best with your tone of voice.

For example, if you have a low vocal range of voice then ukulele is not the way to go simply because the tunes are too bright.   

Furthermore, some of you want to play some melodic acoustic tones and in this case, a guitar is a way to go.

But if you’re on a different page and you want to play something that will sound simpler and more appealing then, I recommend you play the uke. Add to this the Hawaiian touch the ukulele gives your song.

Consider the techniques 

When it comes to strumming, these two sound a lot different because the number of strings is more on a guitar.

This makes guitars sound a lot fuller and louder; yet strumming a guitar needs much more precision than that needed when playing a uke.

You will need to give it some practice and be a little patient.

Which is easier and faster to learn?

There are a lot of angles to look at in order to be able to answer this question.

It is a non-ending debate, a lot of people will say that it’s much easier to play the uke but in so many scenarios this is not necessarily true.

Anyhow, it’s in not arguable that the learning curve for ukes is easier.

So if you are a beginner and you want to be able to play music faster without the need of much practice, pick the uke.

Most ukes are much smaller, easier to control, they have fewer strings, and you will learn to play a new song in a matter of days.

Personally, even though I play both instruments, some guitar pieces are just engraved in my heart.

When it comes to guitars, it’s a little bit more complicated.

At first, you might feel like you are making slow progress and that’s why some people just give up.

However, if you give it some time for the callus to form on the tips of your finger, I guarantee you; you will master a lot, and the more you learn, the easier it is to learn even more with guitars.

Which is more affordable? 

Money is probably one of the things you are thinking about right now.

No one wants to waste their money on something that they won’t keep around and not sure if they will keep using and that’s only normal.

The obvious choice, if you are looking for something that won’t cost much, is to buy a ukulele, not a guitar.

Guitars are much more expensive than ukes. Actually, even a secondhand guitar will cost more than a good quality brand new uke.

Conclusion

By now you should be able to at least decide which you are leaning towards more.

Let me tell you this from my own experience, whether it’s easy or hard to play an instrument, pick the one that goes with your personal favorite music style.

If you pick a ukulele because it’s easier and you don’t like its sound then there’s no point.

And if you decide to go with the guitar just because you want to look more professional or because it’s mainstream at school or college, you will eventually give it up.

Whatever you pick, be patient, allow yourself to understand the positions of your fingers and how to move between the frets.  

Stay motivated and get creative with your music.

And most importantly, ENJOY!!

 

Play music is something that I think everyone should try.

 

You might be thinking that you can only be good if you are already talented but the truth is practice makes perfect.

 

Yes, someone who is talented will learn faster and find it easier to level up. However, if you practice enough, you can sound a lot more professional.

 

If you are checking this article then you are not sure whether to start playing the guitar or the uke.

 

Let’s first agree that there’s no right answer to such questions because, at the end of the day, it’s a personal preference.

 

So please don’t expect me to give you a solid answer to this question.

 

Anyways, I can still help you answer this question yourself because I can guide you through the differences between these two instruments to help you make up your mind.

 

I ‘ll also mention some of the challenges that you will be facing when you try any of these instruments, in addition to some tips and tricks to make them easier for you.

 

Hope that by the end of this article you will be able to see things clearly and make up your mind.

 

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

 

First off, the size and shape

 

It’s crystal clear that guitars are much bigger than ukes.

Moreover, a standard guitar has 6 strings, on the other side, a ukulele has only 4.

 

If you take a closer look at the build of both, you will be able to see that ukes have a thinner fretboard.

 

This is specifically an advantage over guitars because one of the very common challenges when starting to learn how to play the guitar is stretching your fingers.

 

Even though this is can be applied in most cases, yet, if you have big hands then you don’t need much stretching.

 

On the contrary, playing the uke when you have big hands is not a piece of cake.

 

Secondly, the riffs and chords

 

No one can deny that when it comes to riffs, guitars are the best.

 

Not only do they have more strings so technically, they can produce a larger range of tunes, but also they have an acoustic or sometimes electric charm.  

Ukes on the other side are louder and tunes sound more cheerful.

 

You will be able to find a variety between ukes themselves because some ukes are larger than others.

 

What about the chords?

 

Well, chords are a lot easier to play on ukuleles.

 

A lot of these chords require using only one finger, unlike guitars.

 

The fretboard on uke is smaller than that of the guitar so the distances between each fret and the neighboring one are smaller.

 

This makes it easier to play ukes because as I mentioned above, you do not need much stretching.

 

Something that you need to ask yourself is, why do you want to play this instrument?

 

For some of you checking this right now, they simply want to play an instrument to be able to sing along to.

 

And that can turn the table all around, the reason being, you will need to figure out what sounds best with your tone of voice.

 

For example, if you have a low vocal range of voice then ukulele is not the way to go simply because the tunes are too bright.   

 

Furthermore, some of you want to play some melodic acoustic tones and in this case, a guitar is a way to go.

 

But if you’re on a different page and you want to play something that will sound simpler and more appealing then, I recommend you play the uke. Add to this the Hawaiian touch the ukulele gives your song.

 

Consider the techniques

 

When it comes to strumming, these two sound a lot different because the number of strings is more on a guitar.

 

This makes guitars sound a lot fuller and louder; yet strumming a guitar needs much more precision than that needed when playing a uke.

 

You will need to give it some practice and be a little patient.

 

Which is easier and faster to learn?

 

There are a lot of angles to look at in order to be able to answer this question.

 

It is a non-ending debate, a lot of people will say that it’s much easier to play the uke but in so many scenarios this is not necessarily true.

Anyhow, it’s in not arguable that the learning curve for ukes is easier.

 

So if you are a beginner and you want to be able to play music faster without the need of much practice, pick the uke.

 

Most ukes are much smaller, easier to control, they have fewer strings, and you will learn to play a new song in a matter of days.

 

Personally, even though I play both instruments, some guitar pieces are just engraved in my heart.

 

When it comes to guitars, it’s a little bit more complicated.

 

At first, you might feel like you are making slow progress and that’s why some people just give up.

 

However, if you give it some time for the callus to form on the tips of your finger, I guarantee you; you will master a lot, and the more you learn, the easier it is to learn even more with guitars.

 

Which is more affordable?

 

Money is probably one of the things you are thinking about right now.

 

No one wants to waste their money on something that they won’t keep around and not sure if they will keep using and that’s only normal.

 

The obvious choice, if you are looking for something that won’t cost much, is to buy a ukulele, not a guitar.

 

Guitars are much more expensive than ukes. Actually, even a secondhand guitar will cost more than a good quality brand new uke.

 

Conclusion

 

By now you should be able to at least decide which you are leaning towards more.

 

Let me tell you this from my own experience, whether it’s easy or hard to play an instrument, pick the one that goes with your personal favorite music style.

 

If you pick a ukulele because it’s easier and you don’t like its sound then there’s no point.

And if you decide to go with the guitar just because you want to look more professional or because it’s mainstream at school or college, you will eventually give it up.

 

Whatever you pick, be patient, allow yourself to understand the positions of your fingers and how to move between the frets.  

 

Stay motivated and get creative with your music.

 

And most importantly, ENJOY!!

How to find a good budget ukulele

There’s no doubt that it’s a little irresistible to consider buying a cheap uke.

But how do you know if it will do a good job? I mean, how far can you expect the cheapest ukuleles out there to give?

Whether it’s your first instrument to buy or you already have past experience with buying a uke, in this article we are going to take you through everything you need to consider before chasing down your uke so that you know what to expect for your budget.

So let’s just get right into it!

First things first, the construction of the instrument

The way I see it, this is one of the things that should be on the very top of your list.

If you already play the uke, or even if you are a guitarist, strum the instrument and check if it’s buzzing.

On the other hand, if you are a beginner, I would always recommend you go shopping for a budget ukulele with someone who has more experience.

If that’s not an option, you can still look around for signs that guide you to make the right decision, and no doubt you can get the job done.

Check the built of the instruments.  If you find any spots whatsoever, don’t just rush and buy this instrument, it’s not worth the money.

The second thing you want to check when it comes to the construction of the uke is if all the parts are tightly glued together.

If you find anything hanging loose, then this ukulele is not going to sound anything but awful and you will most definitely hear an annoying rattling sound each time you play it.

Not to mention, sooner or later you will need to fix this part so, you might as well get a perfectly built instrument from the very beginning.

Secondly, check the neck and the fretboard

The one thing that you need to focus your eyes on first is whether the neck is straight or not.

I know you might be thinking “Of course it’s straight, who would sell a uke with a bent neck”.

But, what you don’t understand is that it might be too subtle at first.

Even for those who already have a uke and somehow the neck got bent, it can take a while until they realize that the instrument doesn’t sound as good as it used to and identify that the reason is a bent neck.

You don’t see what you don’t know right?!

Another thing to look for is how smooth the fret ends are.

You want them not to be too sharp or else it can be really annoying playing your uke, add to this, your strings will wear out more frequently.

It’s about time you start examining the headstock

This one is pretty simple.

All you need to do is make sure that the headstock of uke you’re buying is not in a straight line with the neck.

There should be some angulation which helps in keeping good pressure on the strings at the nut.

If that’s not true for your instrument, chances are, you will be hearing buzzing from your uke in no time.

Another thing to be mindful of is the tuners

When I got my first instrument, I had no idea how anything should sound and I spent quite some time just developing a technique.

Then one day I noticed that there’s this constant buzz in every single song I play.

I took it down to the shop because I had no experience with this at all and it turned out, one of my tuners was loosely attached to my uke.

So, I would recommend you make sure they are perfectly stuck to their place.

And lastly, try adjusting the tuners and then check if they stay still or return back.

If they’re too loose, they will go back to the original position which is an issue because you will need to tune your instrument way too frequently.

The saddle and the bridge

You don’t per se need a ruler to measure this, but the rule is:

The distance from the nut to the end of the fretboard should be more or less equal to the distance from the end of the fretboard to the saddle or the bridge.

And like mentioned above, make sure the saddle is not loosely attached to the body.

In my humble opinion, getting a uke with a removable saddle is a lot better, because in time you will be able to change it and modify its action.

And last but not least, the strings

Almost every new ukulele comes with a set of strings on it.

It’s okay if you are a beginner and you want to give it a try with these strings first, yet, it will make the world of difference if you change them.

The reason for this is that the strings that come with the instrument are usually very cheap and low quality.

A new set of strings will make your song sound louder and more bright, so if your budget allows it, I totally think you should go for it.

With all that being said, I hope you now have a better idea about what you should be looking out for when chasing down a new budget uke and you can easily avoid compromising the quality.

Enjoy the chase!

There’s no doubt that it’s a little irresistible to consider buying a cheap uke.

 

But how do you know if it will do a good job? I mean, how far can you expect the cheapest ukuleles out there to give?

 

Whether it’s your first instrument to buy or you already have past experience with buying a uke, in this article we are going to take you through everything you need to consider before chasing down your uke so that you know what to expect for your budget.

 

So let’s just get right into it!

 

First things first, the construction of the instrument

 

The way I see it, this is one of the things that should be on the very top of your list.

 

If you already play the uke, or even if you are a guitarist, strum the instrument and check if it’s buzzing.

 

On the other hand, if you are a beginner, I would always recommend you go shopping for a budget ukulele with someone who has more experience.

 

If that’s not an option, you can still look around for signs that guide you to make the right decision, and no doubt you can get the job done.

 

Check the built of the instruments.  If you find any spots whatsoever, don’t just rush and buy this instrument, it’s not worth the money.

 

The second thing you want to check when it comes to the construction of the uke is if all the parts are tightly glued together.

 

If you find anything hanging loose, then this ukulele is not going to sound anything but awful and you will most definitely hear an annoying rattling sound each time you play it.

 

Not to mention, sooner or later you will need to fix this part so, you might as well get a perfectly built instrument from the very beginning.

 

Secondly, check the neck and the fretboard

 

The one thing that you need to focus your eyes on first is whether the neck is straight or not.

 

I know you might be thinking “Of course it’s straight, who would sell a uke with a bent neck”.

 

But, what you don’t understand is that it might be too subtle at first.

 

Even for those who already have a uke and somehow the neck got bent, it can take a while until they realize that the instrument doesn’t sound as good as it used to and identify that the reason is a bent neck.

 

You don’t see what you don’t know right?!

 

Another thing to look for is how smooth the fret ends are.

 

You want them not to be too sharp or else it can be really annoying playing your uke, add to this, your strings will wear out more frequently.

 

It’s about time you start examining the headstock

 

This one is pretty simple.

 

All you need to do is make sure that the headstock of uke you’re buying is not in a straight line with the neck.

 

There should be some angulation which helps in keeping good pressure on the strings at the nut.

 

If that’s not true for your instrument, chances are, you will be hearing buzzing from your uke in no time.

 

Another thing to be mindful of is the tuners

 

When I got my first instrument, I had no idea how anything should sound and I spent quite some time just developing a technique.

 

Then one day I noticed that there’s this constant buzz in every single song I play.

 

I took it down to the shop because I had no experience with this at all and it turned out, one of my tuners was loosely attached to my uke.

 

So, I would recommend you make sure they are perfectly stuck to their place.

 

And lastly, try adjusting the tuners and then check if they stay still or return back.

If they’re too loose, they will go back to the original position which is an issue because you will need to tune your instrument way too frequently.

 

The saddle and the bridge

 

You don’t per se need a ruler to measure this, but the rule is:

 

The distance from the nut to the end of the fretboard should be more or less equal to the distance from the end of the fretboard to the saddle or the bridge.

 

And like mentioned above, make sure the saddle is not loosely attached to the body.

 

In my humble opinion, getting a uke with a removable saddle is a lot better, because in time you will be able to change it and modify its action.

 

And last but not least, the strings

 

Almost every new ukulele comes with a set of strings on it.

 

It’s okay if you are a beginner and you want to give it a try with these strings first, yet, it will make the world of difference if you change them.

The reason for this is that the strings that come with the instrument are usually very cheap and low quality.

 

A new set of strings will make your song sound louder and more bright, so if your budget allows it, I totally think you should go for it.

 

With all that being said, I hope you now have a better idea about what you should be looking out for when chasing down a new budget uke and you can easily avoid compromising the quality.

Enjoy the chase!

 

How to Fix Ukulele Buzzing

Having this annoying buzzing sound while playing your ukulele, is something that every uke player faced at one point or another.

There are a number of reasons why your ukulele is rattling, the most common being, having a faulty technique.

Lucky for you, if this is the case, it’s quite easy to get rid of it, however, sometimes the reason your ukulele is buzzing is something as serious as a flawed uke which might need modifying and there’s a big chance you will need to visit a musical instrument dealer.

Without assuming the worst, let’s first go through some of the more common - easy to fix – reasons why you uke is buzzing.

First thing​​​​s first; is it your technique?

No one can deny that this is one of, if not the most important factor affecting how your ukulele sounds.

If you are a beginner, make sure you are pressing the strings against the neck hard enough.

Yes, you don’t want to go really hard because this will only kill your fingers yet you don’t want your fingers to be too loose either.

Another thing that you could be doing is not putting your fingers in the middle of the fret, doesn’t have to be the exact middle but you need to make sure you are not fingering on the metal part of the fret because this might mute it and make a buzzing sound.

One more mistake that every beginner makes is, letting your fingers touch other strings when they shouldn’t, it is something that I struggled with when I was a beginner and truth be told, it took some practice for me to get my fingers to be right where I want them without thinking about it much.

Furthermore, playing clean will make you sound more professional even if you are a beginner. The only way to do this is to practice the basics. I am a big believer in “practice makes perfect” and if you are practicing any instrument, you should believe in this too.

Tip: it’s always smart to slow things down whenever you feel like you’re getting sloppy. There’s no need to speed things up especially if you are a beginner, take your time and master your chords at a slower tempo then speed it up a little by a little.

And last but not least, when it comes to your technique, keep the coordination between your right and left hands. It’s another tricky part of playing a stringed instrument, but your hands should be in sync and move together in harmony.  If you release your hand from the fretboard before you are done with the pick, your note is going to be muted and you won’t sound good.

If you got all this covered, and your ukulele is still buzzing, try muting the strings and start shaking your instrument.

Locate where your buzz is coming from!

it only makes sense that you identify the issue in order to be able to fix it.

Try picking the strings and listen carefully, is it the tuners? Maybe it is the saddle or the bridge that’s buzzing. Once you put your finger on what’s buzzing, it’s easy to fix it.

Do you hear a rattling sound coming from the headstock?

If the answer is yes, then you need to check the tuners, usually, you just need to tighten the screws.

It is best if you have your strings trimmed, this is something that a lot of players overlook but, string coils at the headstock can cause your ukulele to buzz.

Rarely, if you take a closer look, you can see that the gears are worn out and need to be replaced.

Worn-out strings!

More often than not, you can only hear a buzz when you play an open string but if you bar the first fret, there’s no buzzing whatsoever, if that’s the case, and you already checked that nothing wrong with the headstock, then the fix is pretty simple, replace your strings because they are worn out

It could be the saddle!

If your strings are buzzing all along the fretboard, check if the saddle is too low. Low action at the saddle causes your strings to vibrate against the frets, which consequently causes a buzz.

There are two ways that you can work around this; option number 1:  use a thin shim of wood at the base of the saddle that will make your strings higher, or, you can simply just get a new saddle and you are good to go.

The action of the nut!

Another reason why you hear that buzz is that your strings are vibrating in flat grooves.

You won’t hear a buzz if you bar the first fret, however, applying pressure to the strings in the small space between the nut and the tuners will allow you to hear the buzz.

To fix this, you need to have your grooves at an angle, in my humble opinion, it’s best to replace the nut if that’s the case.

On the other hand, sometimes the nut slots are too deep; you will find yourself getting buzzes at the lower frets.

You can still replace the nut if you want to, but if I were in your shoes, I’d try taking off the strings, carefully sanding the nuts and adding a few drops of super glue and leave it overnight then I’d restring my uke.

The frets!

If you hear buzzes only when you play certain notes, there’s a big chance you have a high fret.

If this is something that you have encountered lately, maybe one of your frets was never properly leveled.  You will need to take your uke to someone professional to file down the frets that are causing the buzzes.

Conclusion 

The list of reasons why your ukulele is buzzing isn’t yet over, from a bent neck to having a loose bridge and others, but if it’s not one of the issues mentioned above, then whatever the issue is, you will need to pay your luthier a visit and hopefully they will be able to help. Hopefully, there’s no need to go down this road and you already know how to fix your uke!

How to change your ukulele strings

It can be a little challenging to change your uke strings by yourself especially if it is your first time, however, at some point, you will need to do it anyways.

This is not actually a bad thing; you might be surprised how much more alive your song sounds with the new strings.

But, when should you consider restringing your ukulele?

It’s not just about changing broken or worn-out strings.  Even with the availability of durable strings nowadays, you will eventually find out that they sound dead at a certain point, and changing them will boost the sound of your instrument even if you replace them with the same set of strings from the same manufacturer.

There’s no definite specific time to change your strings, in fact, this depends on how much you play your instrument. Some players can go 3 months without changing their strings and others change it every other week.

One sign you need to restring your instrument is when you find yourself tuning it more than usual, worn-out strings can hardly hold in place.

A good tip would be not to change one string only and leave the others because if one string is dead, the others are probably dead and need to be replaced as well, and even if we assume they are not as worn-out as that one string, there’s no doubt they don’t sound as good as the new string so, you do the math!

In this article, I will take you through everything you need to do to successfully restring your uke and get that new zippy tune every musician wants.

So without further ado, let’s jump into it!

1. Ditch the old strings

First things first, you need to unwind the old strings until they are entirely loosened.

You can use a tuning key to get it done, then you will need to push each string back through the loop to get it off the bridge hole, after this, you can simply undo the strings and remove them. When it comes to pegs, you can remove the peg and simply just remove the string.

Another way to go is to just cut the strings and remove the remaining attached parts!  You get to choose how to treat your worn-out buddies I guess!

2. Time to clean!

In my humble opinion, this is the best time to clean my fretboard and get my frets to look shiny.​

A small rag will get the job done, believe me, you have no idea how much dust has built up on your fretboard without you noticing and with the strings being removed, it is a lot easier to get rid of all the gunk that has accumulated around.

3. Attaching the new strings

You are now ready for the actual restringing part.

This is the trickiest part and the one most players struggle with, at least on their first trials.

So, let’s try to break it down a bit by a bit so that it’s as simple and clear as can be.

Grab your new strings set, it doesn’t matter which string to attach first although, I usually start with the G string and work my way from there.

Pass the string through the bridge hole, it doesn’t make much of a difference which side to start from, the most important thing is to have the short end at this side and the longer part towards the headstock.

Now, you tie up your string;

  • Wrap the string around itself, i.e., the short side of the string is to be wrapped around the long side.
  • Now you wrap it again and tie your strings. pull the two ends apart so that the string is tightly anchored to the bridge and doesn’t slip.

Next, attaching the string to the peghead end:

Put the long end through the hole and then pull it back a couple of frets just to have enough string to that you can wind.

It’s best to wind the string around the peg two or three times.

Don’t just wind it once because this way, it is less secure and winding it more than this will make tuning harder.

A fast way to speed up the rest of the winding process is, to use a string winder. When you are starting to wrap your string, your first turn should be above the peg hole but just before you complete the turn, push it down below the hole and continue winding. Keep winding your string until you bring it to a pitch

Lastly, cut off the excess string using a wire cutter, and you are now ready to start attaching the next string.

4. Tune your strings

You should be aware that new strings are too slippery. For the first couple of times you use your ukulele after restringing it you will find yourself in need to tune it over and over again.

Sometimes if your ukulele is too old or if it is brand new, you might feel like it’s impossible to keep it in tune. Maybe you can try tightening your screws; another way to go is to try stretching the strings at the middle a little.

You probably already know that your ukulele is to be tuned G - C – E - A in standard tuning except if you are playing a baritone ukulele, which is tuned D - G – B – E.

The most accurate way to tune your ukulele is to use an electronic tuner. For me, I usually use the tuning application on my smartphone; however, it’s even more accurate to use a clip-on tuner.

Another and more professional way to go is to plug your ukulele into a pedal tuner.

If you are used to tuning your instrument to a piano or relative to each other, I recommend that you do this when your strings are more or less fixed in place.

This is only because after a while from changing your strings, they loosen up to a much lesser extent and are not far away from the exact, accurate tune.

On the other hand, you might be a little surprised how much out of tune your strings are even though you just tuned them yesterday after changing them!

One thing I know for sure, nothing is as satisfying for me as changing my strings, because whenever I do, I know my ukulele is going to sound much better and it’s just too exciting, hope you fall in love with your new strings too!

How To Play Ukulele?

How to Play Ukulele?

Like any instrument, learning how to play ukulele can be a little frustrating at first, especially if you haven’t tried playing the guitar before and have no experience whatsoever with  the strumming patterns or how a certain chord sounds.

While I do believe that “practice makes perfect”, there is a lot more than just practice that contributes to how the song you are playing turns out.

And if you figure out where to place your first steps, you will find out that it’s not really hard, it’s a lot simpler than it looks actually.

So, let’s go through everything you need to know to be able to master this lovely instrument

1. Knowledge is power

The first thing you need to do is read about ukuleles. I know this might strike you as a little odd, but you have no idea how much this will help you especially at the beginning of your practice.

Do you know what the different types of ukuleles are?  How different types of wood affect how your ukulele sounds? Which ukuleles are more suitable for recording in a studio and which would make your audience applause, clap and cheer?

These are not really hard to figure out. Maybe you can dedicate an hour or two to getting the bigger picture.

Now you have a background, so make up your mind

It’s about time you start taking an action and get the right ukulele that will serve what you want it for.

Keep in mind the size of your ukulele; there are different styles of ukuleles to choose from.

  •        SOPRANO
  •        ALTO
  •        TENOR
  •        BARITONE

These are arranged from the smallest to the largest. The most common ukulele in the market is the soprano, being the smallest and hence the most portable and the most affordable so it is too often a convenient option for beginners.

I would recommend you get an alto ukulele if you have large hands, because a soprano would be a little uncomfortable for you.

Generally speaking, alto ukuleles are known as “concert ukuleles” because they have a much fuller sound compared to sopranos.

Next comes the tenor ukulele, and being larger than the two types mentioned above, it has an extended fret board so it will allow you to get more notes.

Not to mention that it has a fuller sound than the concert ukulele.

And the last on our list is the baritone, being the largest, it actually doesn’t have the classic ukulele sound but of course it has the richest and fullest sound of all four.

There are also different shapes for ukuleles so before you invest your money in one, give it a try and see if it feels right when you are holding it.

You want your instrument to feel comfortable between your hands even if this might sound a little cheesy to some people but for me, whenever I’m playing my ukulele it feels like a part of me that I’m in total control of.

Even after you buy the ukulele that best fits you, take some time to try different positions while playing. Some like to play while standing others play while sitting.

For me, sitting is better, I can rest my ukulele on my leg and my strumming hand would be on the top of it. It’s what feels easier for me but for a lot of people out there, it’s more comfortable to play it while standing and hold the ukulele against their chests.

2. Become familiar with the anatomy

A ukulele is a little different than other stringed instruments; this is particularly an important tip because whenever you are playing, you shouldn’t be thinking much about where everything is.

Also, this step is what will get you prepared to the next one; tuning your ukulele. The ukulele has four strings and thus four tuners on its head.

The lowest string is the thickest and as you get higher, the strings become thinner and produce a higher tone.

Tuning your ukulele

This is a non-negotiable step if you want your song to make sense!

If you don’t tune your instrument it will never ever sound right no matter how much you practice a song because the strings are simply not producing the right sounds.

As mentioned before, you have four strings namely G, C, E, A, G being the top string and A the lowest. These of course are connected to the tuning knobs at the top of the head of the ukulele.

You use the tuner knob to lighten or loosen the strings so as it’s under the suitable tension to produce the sound you want it to.

Keep in mind that this is something that you will need to do regularly because with time, the strings spontaneously loosen.

If you are facing your ukulele, then the bottom left tuner is connected to the G string. The top left tuner is connected to the C string. The top right tuner is connected to the E string and the bottom right string is connected to the A string.

You can always buy an electric tuner but to be honest, more often than not, I use an online tuner or use a tuning application on my phone.

3. Time for the real challenging part; learning your chords, and having a strumming pattern

If you have never tried playing a stringed instrument, then don’t rush into trying to play such a fancy song. This will only be discouraging and will make you feel disappointed.

Your fingers need time to build calluses at the tips, which will make playing easier and easier by day.

Know some basic chords, from my own experience; consistency is your goal here.  The first chords I learned were C, then Am these need only one finger.

Try to switch from C to Am in a regular rhythm. Then I learned how to play the F chord, followed by G chord.

Let’s see where to place your finger to play each of these chords and the basic strumming pattern to try with them.

C major chord

Place your ring finger on the third fret of the 4th string (the bottom string).

First, try doing simple down strums, then try doing simple up strums.

Now try alternating down and up strums.

Don’t try to rush things and do it too fast. Think of this like trying to learn how to drive for example. You don’t just rush down the road once you start the car. You want to practice this for a while till it becomes a reflex, something that you can do without thinking too much just at ease.

4. Next Comes Am Chord

To play your Am chord, place your middle finger on the second fret, 1st string.

Now try playing the chord in a more complicated yet still such a simple strumming pattern. Something like D, DU, UD

Take your time with it, master it … Learn how to change from C major to Am without changing the strumming pattern.

If you get confused and mix things up, don’t give up; just go slower till you are playing at a speed that allows you to get it right.

Once you are comfortable doing this and feel like you have mastered it, try speeding it up a little bit and keep going in this manner.

One thing that works for me is, I don’t stick to things more than I should, meaning; once I learn how to play a chord at a certain speed, I don’t try to speed it up right away and the next time I practice I try to speed up together with learning a new chord.

This is only because at this point things can get a little boring for me. However, this might not be the case for you so come up with a plan that works for you and will help you persist.

The coming chord is F major

This is a bit different from the above mentioned chords because you need to use two fingers.

Put your index finger on the 2nd string, first fret and your ring finger on the first string, 2nd fret.

Try the same strumming patterns you know and then maybe you can try changing from C to F and vice versa.

Or should you try changing from C to F then from F to Am? You get to decide. HAVE FUN with it, try different arrangements and different strumming patterns.

I think by now you have a better understanding of how you should start and maintain your practice. You are the pilot of this journey actually, there’s no one single right way to do this.

5. Finger exercises

Surprisingly, mastering ukulele is not all chords and strumming and this one tip is handy if you want to become good faster.

You probably already know that stringed instruments hurt a little especially at the beginning and we talked about how it takes time for your fingers to build up calluses.

The way I see it, you know you have mastered a song when playing it stopped hurting.

Exercising your fingers will speed up this process. First, make sure to cut your finger nails really short on the fret hand, this will make it a lot easier to press the strings without getting muted sounds.

Try picking the first string with your index finger on the first fret, then do it with your middle finger on the second string, then pick it again with your ring finger on the third fret, now try doing it with your pinky finger on the fourth string.  Do it with the pinky finger on the fourth fret one more time and then work your way back.

Try going faster and once you get good at it. Try the same thing on the next string and so on.

I always start my practice with these finger exercises just to warm up for 10 or 15 minutes.

6. Timing is everything

Now that you are familiar with most of the basics, you need to give some attention to practicing your timing.

I know that for a lot of beginners this might not seem like a big deal, but trust me it is.

This is what is going to make you sound professional. If you got a good rhythm, your music will sound melodic and flowing in harmony and it’s the only way you will be admired.

This will be a little difficult at first but you already know the rule, the more challenging you find it, the slower you need to go at first. Once you are able to maintain a steady rhythm, you can go faster.

7. Practice daily

Even if you usually have a busy schedule, you don’t have to practice for hours, 20 or 30 minutes are enough, just make sure to do it on a regular basis. No one is born a star when it comes to playing an instrument.

Yes, some of us do learn faster than others and find it easier, yet with practice you eventually get there and the more time you spend the better you get and the easier it is to learn something new.

8. Listen and watch other ukulele players play

Perhaps you know someone who plays already and they encouraged you to do it as well. Let them play for you and listen carefully to how their music sounds. Watch how they move their fingers and know more about their techniques.

Even if you don’t personally know someone who plays Ukulele, you can always go to your computer and watch videos all over YouTube. You know what’s even more fun? Jam along!! You will get the hang of it.   

9. Listen to yourself playing

Be your own judge before anyone else. Record yourself playing and listen back. You will be amazed how much difference this will make.

It will help you recognize what you are doing wrong and which parts you need to work on. You will hate it at first, but it will surely pay off.

Final Thoughts

Ukuleles are fun to play, don’t stress yourself. Have all the fun you need, it only gets better and easier and if you are dedicated enough, you will get there sooner or later.    

Ukulele Wood Comparison – Different Ukulele Wood Types

Different Ukulele Wood Types

Looking to buy a new ukulele? - Whether you are new at this and want to catch a new hobby or you already have your own pretty version of ukulele but you need to upgrade it and get a new one.

 In this topic we will help you make up your mind on what suits you best so let’s give this a go and see what you will get out of it!

First things first, you need to get a bigger picture of what factors affect the sound of your ukulele.

YES, how good or bad you would score the sound of any instrument will vary from one person to another but, some sounds are so appealing, that they immediately get the majority of us falling for them especially if the judge is a musician as well.

If I make a list of things you need to pay attention to when buying a new ukulele, wood will without a doubt be on the very top of my list, what good is a building if the structure is a failure right?

Then comes picking the right strings. In my humble opinion, if you got a good bargain for these two, you’re pretty much good to go, at least for starters.

But for all the perfectionists out there, give good attention to the size of your ukulele, the layers covering it, the paintings on the wood as well as the manufacturer.

So, without further ado, let’s talk “wood” shall we?

Different Ukulele Wood Types

Mahogany

If you have any past experience with musical instruments, you probably know that mahogany is one of, if not the most commonly used type of wood in making ukuleles and guitars.

From the admirable shade of brown it gives your ukulele to being pocket-friendly and without much compromise for the tone, it’s a good choice if you are a beginner till you catch up on all the techniques to master this heart capturing instrument.

Mahogany offers a mid-range response on the spectrum of how hard the wood used to build your ukulele is, which is the tricky part because it may sound a little not so “open“ in comparison to other ukuleles, but if used correctly, I guarantee you a good playing experience.

Koa 

Here comes another star in the wood world, and a personal favorite of mine.

The sound of a koa ukulele is simply what people love.

It first made its way to popularity in Hawaii being the most commonly used ukulele there.

It might be a little rare and a bit too expensive but it’s safe to say that you will only watch your tone mature with it.

Like mahogany, koa offers a mid-range sound except that it is naturally more loud with less overtones providing a great attack when it comes to strumming or picking.

In other words, for many musicians, koa is considered flawless; it’s just how a ukulele should be.

Maple

For all of you looking to record their pieces, this is the type of wood you should be chasing down.

Maple ukuleles have a bright clear sound that happens to be enchanting and leaves a beautiful resonance in the ears of your fans.

It comes in many variants from spalted to flamed, curly quilted and even burl.

One of the advantages of getting a maple ukulele is that it has good durability so it will be a while before you feel like you need to replace it.

More often than not, maple is used together with spruce so, I guess that’s what we will be talking about next ….

Spruce

If I am to use one word to describe spruce, it will be “vibrant”.

It’s a softwood that is usually used along with maple or mahogany just to balance the crispy strong sound this wood has.

From where I stand, spruce ukuleles play on my emotional sides like no other ukuleles.

The way it is integrated into the instrument gives your piece such a calm warmth that is captivating to many.

Cedar

The way I see it, Cedar ukuleles is the option to go to if you perform live.

The sound it produces is remarkably “alive“. It has more of a brass based sound with complex overtones and is softer than spruce.

Cedar ukuleles are so often smooth to the touch having less grain finish ranging from a light shade to a more reddish one.

It’s usually used for making the soundboard and is surely one of the best ukuleles I’ve ever heard.

Rosewood

King of acoustic guitars, and adored by many including myself.

Although rosewood doesn’t exactly shine bright in the ukulele universe, but you will be impressed how adding this wood to your ukulele will impact your overall experience.

It’s usually paired with a softwood like cedar or spruce and used for the sides, backs, and fingerboards with these softwoods making the top.

For many ukulele players, this mix is considered the best.

Mango Ukulules 

This is an eco-friendly ukulele for all nature supporters.

Surprisingly, there are more than just numerous variants of mango wood ukuleles.

When the trees are no longer producing fruits, the wood is used to make the ukulele and the trees are replanted.

If they resemble any of the above-mentioned wood types, it would be maple ukuleles.

They produce bright tones and can easily complement your song.

Finally, laminated or solid wood ukuleles?

Laminated ukuleles are made of more than one layer all put together, on the other hand, solid wood ukuleles are single layered.

The battle here is on so many levels; laminated ukuleles are more affordable, durable and resist warping whereas solid ones will give you a much richer and catchy sound.

I always recommend that after you decide what type of wood and what size and design you want your instrument to have and all, one should read more about different brands so as not to compromise quality or durability for money.

You will need to do the math after all. Happy ukulele hunting!