Beginner Questions 4-7

Here is the next installment of our beginner questions series, please comment and leave me suggestions for future questions you want answered!  Click here to see all of the 10 questions that we are answering in this first series.

4. HOW DO I TUNE THE UKULELE?
ukulele-tuningStandard ukulele tuning is from the top string down:
G C E A
By far the easiest way to tune is to use a digital tuner. This is device that clips onto the headstock of your uke and reads the vibrations of the string and tells you if you are lower or higher than the desired note. Simply turn the tuning peg until the display reads the appropriate note for that string. I strongly encourage everyone starting out to make the small investment ($15 to $25) in an electronic tuner.

5. WHAT ARE THE FIRST CHORDS I SHOULD LEARN?
The best chords to learn first are the ones that are the easiest to play. There are two chords that require you to use only one finger, those are C Major and a minor. Learning these two chords should be fairly quick.  When reading the charts the left string represents the top G string and goes down to the bottom A string from left to right.  Push down the appropriate string on the fret where the dot is shown.

CMajorchord                    aminorchord

The next chord you should learn should be F Major which is made with an a minor chord shape with your first finger added on the first fret of the E string.

FMajorChord

The next chord is a G Major which is a bit more of a challenge but will help us to make a complete song. Sometimes it helps to visualize this chord as a triangle with your ring finger on the point closest to you.

GMajorChord

If we put these chords in this order: C G am F, then we get the basic chord progression for a number of songs. No Woman No Cry, I’m Yours, With or Without You, Country Roads and so many others.

CMajorchord               GMajorChord               aminorchord               FMajorChord

6. HOW DO I STRUM?
strumimageWe use the fretting hand to create chords and we use our other hand to strum and create rhythm. Most music is in what is called 4/4 time, which means that a natural pulse within that music can be counted out in 4 separate divisions, or beats, before repeating another 4. Learning to develop an internal clock that can keep you playing in time is paramount for any one learning music. The first strum that you should learn is to play is all down strums while counting out 1,2,3,4 in an even and slow pace. Getting this down will provide a solid foundation for learning more intricate strums later.

D     D     D     D
1      2      3     4

Next will be to further divide the beats by adding one between each of the four that we have. You can count this out as 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4 AND. Keep playing down strums on numbers 1,2,3,4 and saying AND between each.

D          D           D            D
1     +     2     +     3     +     4     +

Now add up-strums on every and, and practice counting while strumming. This down and up pattern will serve as the basis for learning a variety of strums.

D    U    D    U    D    U    D    U
1     +     2     +     3     +     4     +

Most strums you will learn in the beginning are created from taking away certain parts of this basic structure.  Try this simple pattern and practice it slowly gradually building speed.  Keep in mind that your hand should still be moving in the same up and down pattern, just don’t touch the strings on the up-strums that are removed.

D           D           D    U    D
1     +     2     +     3     +     4     +

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3 Responses to “Beginner Questions 4-7”

  1. Susan Gee Rumsey July 23, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

    This is such a good idea – answering the questions that beginners typically have. I would like to read a bit about bar chords, especially as an option for getting from one chord to another without getting your fingers in a tangle.

    • john nash July 23, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Susan! Bar chords are always tricky, I’ll keep it in mind when writing our next article.

      • Susan Gee Rumsey July 24, 2013 at 3:48 am #

        Thanks just for saying that bar chords are always tricky — I thought it was just me who got flummoxed by them.

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