Document 128053

UKULELE FUN WORKSHOP
Workshop Index
Workbook Page
Cover
Alaska Jumping Flea Society Poster
i
Workshop Index
ii
Chord Chart - Basic
iii
Chord Chart - Advanced
iv
Alaska Jumping Flea Society invitation
iv
Index of Available Materials
Appendix
How to Buy Your First Ukulele
Daily Ukulele
Page
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
140
40
51
107
178
234
101
227
142
319
83
111
64
69
279
140
Rev: 12-28-12
Song - Key
Jambalaya - C
Buffalo Gals - C
Clementine - C
He's Got The Whole World In His Hands- C
Oh, Susanna - C
This Land Is Your Land - C
Hard Times Come Again No More - C
Taps - F TAB
Kumbaya - C TAB
Good Morning To All (Happy Birthday) -G
Folsom Prison Blues - G
Hound Dog - G
Deep In The Heart of Texas -D
Down in the Valley - D
You Are My Sunshine -C
Jambalaya - no chords
Page i
Chords Used
C, G7
C, G7
C, G7
C, G7
C,F,G7
C,F,G7
C, F, G7
F,C7 TAB
C,F,G7 TAB
G,C,D
G,C,D7
G,C7,D7
D,A7
D, A7
C,C7,F,G7
D, A or G,D7
b
b7
bm
b m7
b dim
b aug
b6
b maj7
b9
Ab
Ab7
Abm
A b m7
A b dim
A b aug
Ab6
A b maj7
Ab9
Bb
Bb7
Bbm
B b m7
B b dim
B b aug
Bb6
B b maj7
Bb9
ROOT
A
7
m
m7
dim
aug
6
maj7
9
A7
Am
Am7
Adim
Aaug
A6
Amaj7
A9
B
B7
Bm
Bm7
Bdim
Baug
B6
Bmaj7
B9
C
C7
Cm
Cm7
Cdim
Caug
C6
Cmaj7
C9
Chord positions are for standard GCEA tuning. This Ukulele Chord Chart is designed to be a convenient reference to the most
frequently used open chord fingerings. The root major chord is in the center of the chart and highlighted in red. Variations of the
root chord are left and right of center. The reverse of this chart displays 11 of the basic ukulele chords in every major key. On the
right side of the reverse is a note chart for the first 12 frets of the neck, and a quick reference to suggested first chords to learn.
Db
Db7
Dbm
D b m7
D b dim
D b aug
Db6
D b maj7
Db9
D
D7
Dm
Dm7
Ddim
Daug
D6
Dmaj7
D9
Eb
Eb7
Ebm
E b m7
E b dim
E b aug
Eb6
E b maj7
Eb9
E
E7
Em
Em7
Edim
Eaug
E6
Emaj7
E9
F
F7
Fm
Fm7
Fdim
Faug
F6
Fmaj7
F9
G
G7
Gm
Gm7
Gdim
Gaug
G6
Gmaj7
G9
© 2011 www.ukechordchart.com
All rights reserved. Reproduction or use without written permission is prohibited.
Gb
Gb7
Gbm
G b m7
G b dim
G b aug
Gb6
UKULELE
C
D
Dm
Em
E
F#m
F
Gm
G
A
B
Am
Bm
C#m
Em
F#m
G#m
Am
Bm
C#m
D#m
F
G
A
Bb
C
D
E
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G7
A7
B7
C7
D7
E7
F#7
G b maj7
Gb9
K E YS
Am
Bm
C#m
Dm
Em
F#m
G#m
B
C#
D#
E
F#
G#
A#
Bdim
C#dim
D#dim
Edim
F#dim
G#dim
A#dim
D
E
F#
G
A
B
C#
Individual Notes
Bb
C
D
Eb
F
G
A
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
G
C
E
A
Ab
Db
F
Bb
A
D
Bb
Eb
B
Gb
B
G
C
E
Ab
Db
C
F
A
D
Db
Gb
Bb
Eb
D
G
B
E
Eb
Ab
E
A
F
Bb
Gb
G
C
F
Db
Gb
D
G
B
Eb
Ab
C
E
A
Chords to Learn First
C
C7
Cm
D
D7
Dm
E
E7
Em
F
F7
Fm
G
G7
Gm
A
A7
Am
B
B7
Bm
ALASKA JUMPING FLEA SOCIETY
YOUR INVITATION FOR FUN
Ukulele in Hawaii means JUMPING FLEA which aptly describes the fun loving group of folks that 'JUMP FOR JOY' every Friday at 7:00 PM at
Guido's Pizza on International Airport Road in Anchorage. All playing levels are welcome. In fact just come and sing, tap your feet, or clap.
Extra ukuleles are available. There is always someone there to help you get started on your rewarding journey with the ukulele.
The Fleas use the songbook "The Daily Ukulele" which has 365 songs arranged for the ukulele complete with little chord charts for the
chords in that song. We go around the circle and everyone calls out a song from the book they want the group to play and sing. A bass
player with 30 years experience teaching high school music keeps everyone in time, amused with his wit, and learning new tricks. Our
lone guitar/ukulele player teaches us how to play without written music. And for five minutes every evening folks are introduced to a
new mini ukulele lesson. Many folks come early and enjoy some good food and camaraderie with new friends.
Can't sing in key. Never played a musical instrument. Not a problem. Come and learn how from folks who enthusiastically share their love
of the ukulele with newcomers.
Listed below are mini lessons we call Tidbits. These are available by e-mail from the Fleas coordinator Wendy at
[email protected]
TIDBITS
REFERENCE MATERIALS
(Available Material)
1. Ukulele Basics
2. Leading a Song
3. Strum Patterns "a" and "b"
4. Keys--an Introdcution
5. Ear Training 101
6. Playing Melody
7. Economy of Motion
8. How to Buy Your First Ukulele
9. Jam Session Tidbits
10. Putting the Left Hand on Autopilot
11. Alternatives to Strumming-101
12. Fingerpicking Exercises for the Uke
13. Playing up the Neck
1. KIMO'S Chords: Simplified chords used by Hawaiian
Players.
2. Most used Chords by Key Signature
3. Scales and the Fretboard
4. Roy's Chords: The Chord Bible,
Chord Inversions Up The Neck
5. Big Chord Chart
6. Notes on the Ukulele Tuned to HIGH G
7. Notes of the Ukulele Tuned to LOW G
8. Blank Score to Tab Any Song
9. Music Theory Chart
SONGS
1. Amazing Grace (C-Tab)
2. Happpy Birthday (G-Tab)
3. Boil Them Cabbage Down (TAB)
Alaska Jumping Flea Society Rev: 1228-12
Page iv
Jambalaya-C
1
C
G7
C
G7
Good-bye Joe, me got-ta go, me oh my oh._____
C
Me got-ta go pole the pi-rouge down the bay-ou.____
G7
My Y-vonne, the sweet-est one, me oh my oh.______
C
Son-of-a-gun, we'll have big fun on the bay-ou_____
G7
Jam-ba-la-ya and craw-fish pie and fil-et gum-bo._____
C
'Cause to-night I'm gon-na see my ma cher-a-mi-o._____
G7
Pick gui-tar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o._________
C
Son-of-a-gun, we'll have big fun on the bay-ou.____
G7
Thi-bo-daux, Fon-tain-eaux, the place is buzz-in._____
C
Kin folk come to see Y-vonne by the doz-en. ______
G7
Dress in style and go hog wild, me oh my oh. _____
C
Son-of-a gun, we'll have big fun on the bay-ou._____
Chorus
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU 140
Rev: 12-28-12
Buffalo Gals (Won't You Come Out Tonight) - C
2
C
G7
C
G7
C
As I was walk-ing down the street, down the street, down the street, a
G7
C
pret-ty lit-tle girl I chanced to meet, and we danced by the light of the moon.
G7
C
Buf-fa-lo Gals won't you come out to-night, come out to-night, come out to-night.
G7
C
Buf-fa-lo Gals won't you come out tonight, and dance by the light of the moon.
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU 40
Rev: 12/28/12
Clementine - C
3/4 Waltz Time
3
C
G7
C
G7
In a cav-ern, in a can-yon, ex-cav-ating for a mine, lived a
C
G7
C
min-er for-ty-nin-er and his daugh-ter Clem-en-tine
G7
Oh my dar-ling, oh my dar-ling, oh my dar-ling Clem-en-tine. You are
C
G7
C
lost and gone for-ev-er dread-ful sor-ry Clem-en-tine!
G7
Light she was and, like a fairy, and her shoes were number nine;
C
G7
C
herring boxes, without topses, sandals were for Clementine.
Chorus
G7
Drove she ducklings to the water, every morning just at nine;
C
G7
C
hit her foot against a splinter, fell into the foaming brine.
Chorus
G7
Ruby lips above the water, blowing bubbles soft and fine;
C
G7
C
but alas I was no swimmer, so I lost my Clementine.
Chorus
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU 51
Rev: 12-28-12
He's Got The Whole World In His Hands - C
4
HINT - The chords only change on the word WHOLE in first verse
C
G7
C
He's got the whole world in His hands, He's got the
G7
C
whole world in His hands, He's got the whole world
G7
C
in his hands, He's got the whole world in His hands.
(2.)
He's got
(3.)
He's got
(4.)
He's got
(5.)
He's got
(6.)
He's got
/
the little bitty baby in His hands.....
/
you and me, sister, in His hands......
/
you and me, brother, in His hands.....
/
a little ukulele in His hands.....
/
the whole world in His hands....
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU 107
Rev: 12-22-12
Oh, Susanna - C
5
C
G7
C
G7
I come from Al-a-bam-a with a ban-jo on my knee.
C
G7
C
I'm goin' to Lou'-si-an-a, my Su-san-na for to see.
C
G7
It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry.
C
G7
C
The sun so hot I froze to death, Su-san-na don't you cry.
F
C
G7
C
Oh, Su-san-na, oh don't you cry for me, for I come from Al-a-bam-a
G7
C
with a banjo on my knee.
G7
I had a dream the other night, when everything was still;
C
G7
C
I thought I saw Susanna a-coming down the hill.
Chorus
G7
The buckwheat cake was in her mouth, the tear was in her eye.
C
G7
C
Says I, I'm coming from the South; Susanna don't you cry.
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU178
Rev: 12-28-12
This Land Is Your Land - C
6
c
G7
F
C
F
C
G7
C
This land is your land, this land is my land from California
F
C
to the New York Island.
C
G7
From the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters; this land is made for you and me
F
C
As I was walking
C
G7
that ribbon of highway I saw above me that endless skyway.
F
C
C
G7
I saw below me that golden valley, this land was made for you and me.
Chorus
F
C
In the squares of the cities,
G7
by the shadow of the steeples,
in the relief office, I saw
C
my people.
F
C
And some were stumbling
C
G7
and some were wondering
if this land was made for you and me
Chorus
F
C
C
G7
As I went rambling that dusty highway, I saw a sign that said, "Private
F
C
Property."
C
G7
But on the other side it didn't say nothing_ that side was made for you and me.
Chorus
F
C
G7
Nobody living can ever stop me, as I go walking
F
C
Nobody living can make me turn back_
C
my freedom highway.
C
G7
this land was made for you and me.
-,
Chorus
Alaska .lumping Flea Society
DU 234
Rev: 12-28-12
Hard Times Come Again No More - C
7
C
G7
C
Let us pause in life"s pleas-ures and count the man-y tears,
F
C
G7
C
while we all sup sor-row with the poor.__
G7
C
g
g
C
There"s a song that will lin-ger for-ev-er in our ears:
F
C
G7
C
Oh! Hard times, come a-gain no more.
F
C
"Tis the song, the sigh of the wear-y •••
G7
F
hard times, hard times come a-gain no more.
C
G7
C
Man-y days you have lin-gered a-round my cab-in door;
F C
G7
C
oh! hard times, come a-gain no more.
C
G7
C
While we seek mirth and beau-ty, and count the mu-sic light and gay,
F
C
G7
C
there are frail forms faint-ing at the door.'_
G7
C
Though their voic-es are si-Ient, their plead-ing looks will say:
F
C
G7
C
Oh! Hard times, come a-gain no more.
Chorus
C
G7
C
There"s a pale droop-ing maiden who toils her life a-way,
F
C
G7
C
with a worn heart whose bet-ter days are o"er__
G7
g
C
Though her voice would be mer-ry, "tis sigh-ing all the day:
F
C
G7
C
Oh! Hard times, come a-gain no more.
Chorus
C
G7
C
"Tis a sigh that is waf-ted a-cross the trou-bled wave;
F
C
G7
C
"tis a wail that is heard up up-on the shore._
G7
C
"Tis a dirge that is mur-mured a-round the low-Iy grave:
F
C
G7
C
Oh! Hard times, come a-gain no more.
Chorus
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU 101
G7
Rev 12·29·12
Taps - F
8
F
C7
Chord
F
A[------------|---------------------------|---0--------------------|
E[------------|---1-----------------1---|---------------------1--|
C[---0---0--|--------------0-----------|----------0-------------|
G[------------|---------------------------|-------------------------|
Day is done, gone the sun, from the
A[----0---------------------0--------------------|---0---------0--|
E[--------------------1----------------------1---|----------1------|
C[------------0----------------------0-----------|------------------|
G[-------------------------------------------------|------------------|
lake, from the hills, from the sky, all is
C7
F
A[-----------0--------|----------------------|-----------||
E[----------------1---|----------------------|----1-----||
C[---0----------------|--0-------0-----0--|-----------||
G[---------------------|----------------------|-----------||
well, safe-ly rest, God is
nigh
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU 227
Rev: 12-28-12
KUMBAYA-C
c
UKULELE
G7
F
Chord
C
F
C
Note
C
EGG
G
A A
G
C
EGG
G
A 1---------------1-------------------1--------0----0--1--------1-------------------1-------------------1
E 1-----------0---1--3----3----3----1-----------------1---3---1-------------0-----1---3---3----3----1
C 1---0-----------1-------------------1-----------------1--------1------0------------1-------------------1
G 1---------------1-------------------1-----------------1--------1--------------------1-------------------1
Kum--ba - ya my Lord,_
Some one's
cry-ing Lord,_
Some one's laugh-ing Lord,_
Some one's sing-ing Lord,_
Some one's pray-ing Lord,_
Chord
Note
F
FED
kum - ba kum - ba kum - ba kum - ba kum - ba -
G7
ya.__
ya__
ya__
ya__
ya__
Kum - ba -------ya, my tord, __
Some one's
cry-ing Lord,__
Some one's laugh-ing Lord,__
Some one's sing-ing Lord,__
Some one's pray-ing Lord,__
G
F
A
C
C
EGG
A
C
G
A 1----------------1--------1----------------1------------------1-----0-----0---1-------------------1
E 1----1------0---1--------1----------0----1--3----3----3---1------------------1--3---------------1
C 1----------------1-- 2-----1----0----------1------------------1-----------------1-------------------1
G 1----------------1--------1----------------1------------------1-----------------1-------------------1
_
kum-ba --- ya.__
_
_
_
_
kum-ba
kum-ba
kum-ba
kum-ba
Chord
Note
F
F
---------
Kum-ba ---- ya my Lord__
ya._Some
ya._Some
ya._Some
ya._Some
C
G7
E COD
one's
one's
one's
one's
cry-ing Lord__
laughing Lord__
sing-ing Lord_
pray-ing Lord_
kum-ba-------ya,
_
kum-ba-------ya
kum-ba-------ya
kum-ba-------ya
kum-ba-------ya
_
_
_
_
C
C
A 1---------1-----------------------1------------11
E 1----1----1-0---------------------1------------11
C 1---------1-----0------2 ----- 2--1----0-------1
G 1---------1------------------------1------------11
_
Oh, Lord, _ kum-ba-------ya.
_
Oh, Lord,_ kum-ba-------ya.
_
Oh, Lord, _ kum-ba-------ya.
_
Oh, Lord, _ kum-ba-------ya.
Alaska Jumping
Flea Society
1
DU 142
12-28-12
HAPPY BIRTHDAY - G
For Ukulele
G
3/4WaltzTlme
10
D7
1------1--------1---1
1-- --1--0---3-1-2--1
1-2-2-1----2--1--1
1-----1----1----1
Hap--py Birth-day to
G
you
c
G
1--------1--------0--1----1
1----1-0--- -------1-3-1
1--2-2-1--2--1--1
1------1-------1----1
Hap-py Birth-day to
you
D7 C
D7
1-----1--5-2-----1-------1
1----- 1--- ---3-1-2--0--1
1--2---2-1--------1------1
1---------1-------------1--··--1
Hap-py Birth-daydear
G
D7 G
1--3--3--1-2-------0-1----1
1-------1-----3----1-3-1
1-------1--- ----1--1
1----1-------1---1
Hap-py Birth-day to
Alaska Jumping Flea SocietylJRG
you
DU319
12·28-12
Folsom Prison Blues - G
11
G
I hear the train a com-in'; it's roll-in' 'round the bend and
G
00
I ain't seen the sun-shine since I don't know when.
C
G
I'm stuck at Fol-som Pris-on and time keeps drag-gin' on.
07
G
c
But that train keeps roll-in' on down to San An-tone.
t.
When I was just a ba-by my ma-ma told me,
"Son ai-ways be a good boy; don't ever play with guns."
C
G
g
07
But I shot a man in Re-nojust to watch him die.
07
G
When I hear that whis-tle blow-in', I hang my head and cry.
I bet there's rich folks eatin' in a fancy dining car.
They're prob'ly drinkin' coffee and smokin' big cigars.
C
G
But I know I had it comin' , I know I can't be free.
07
G
But those people keep a-movin', and that's what tortures me.
Well, if they freed me from this prison, if that railroad train was mine,
I bet I'd move on over a little farther down the line.
C
G
Far from Folsom Prison, that's where I want to stay,
07
G
and I'd let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away.
Alaska
.Jumping Flea Society
DU83
Rev: 12-22-12
Hound Dog - G
12
G
C7
D7
N.C.
G
You ain't not-in but a hound dog, cry-in' all the time.
C7
G
You ain't noth-in' but a hound dog, cry-in' all the time.
D7
C7
G
Well, you ain't nev-er caught a rab-bit and you ain't no friend of mine.
N.C.
G
When they said you was high-classed, well, that was just a lie.
C7
G
When they said you was high-classed, well, that was just a lie.
D7
C7
G
Well, you ain't nev-er caught a rab-bit and you ain't no friend of mine.
second ending
Alaska .Jumping Flea Society
DU 111
G C7 G
mine.---
Rev: 12·28·12
:11
Deep In The Heart of Texas - D
13
D
A7
D
A7
The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Tex-as.______
D
The prair-ie sky is wide and high, deep in the heart of Tex-as._______
A7
The sage in bloom is like per-fume, deep in the heart of Tex-as.____
D
A7
Re-minds me of the one I love, deep in the heart of Tex-as._____
D
A7
The coy-otes wail a-long the trail, deep in the heart of Tex-as.______
D
The rab-bits rush a-round the bush, deep in the heart of Tex-as.______
A7
The cow-boys cry "Ki-yip-pee-yi," deep in the heart of Tex-as.______
D
The do-gies bawl, and bawl and bawl, deep in the heart of Tex-as.____
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU 64
Rev: 12-28-12
Down In The Valley - D
3/4 Waltz Time
D
A7
Down in the val-ley, val-ley so low, ____
14
D
hang your head o-ver, ___hear the wind blow.
A7
Hear the wind blow, dear. ______Hear the wind blow, ___
D
Late in the evening, hear the wind blow.
D
A7
Roses love sunshine, violets love dew;
D
angels in heaven, know I love you.
A7
Know I love you dear, know I love you.
D
angels in heaven know I love you.
A7
A7
Build me a castle forty feet high,
D
so I can see him as he rides by.
A7
As he rides by love, as he rides by.
D
So I can see him as he rides by.
A7
If you don't love me, love whom you please,
D
throw your arms 'round me, give my heart ease.
A7
Give my heart ease, love, give my heart ease.
D
Throw your arms 'round me, give my heart ease.
A7
Write me a letter, send it by mail.
D
Send it in care of Birmingham jail.
A7
Birmingham jail, love, Birmingham jail.
D
Send it in care of Birmingham jail.
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU 69
Rev: 12-28-12
You Are My Sunshine - C
C
C7
The oth-er night dear_
15
as I lay sleep-ing, __
F
C
I dreamed I held you in my arms. __
F
C
C
When I a-woke dear, _
I was mis-tak-en __
G7
C
and I hung my head and cried,
C7
_
C7
You are my sun-shine, _
my on-Iy sun-shine, __
F
C
you make me hap-py __
F
You·1I nev-er know dear_
g
g
when skies are gray. __
C
how much I love you._
C
G7
Please don·t take my sun-shine a-way. __
C7
1·11
ai-ways love you_
and make you hap-py, __
G7
F
C
if you will on-Iy say the same. __
F
But if you leave me__
G7
R
C
to love an-oth-er __
C
you·1I re-gret it all some day.
Chorus
C7
You told me once dear_
you real-Iy loved me,__
F
C
and no one else could come be-tween •.__
F
C
But now you·ve left me__
G7
you have shat-tered
AlaskaJumpingFleaSociety
and love an-oth-er __
C
all my dreams.
DU279
Chorus
Rev:12-28-12
Jambalaya
G, D7
16
Good-bye Joe, me got-ta go, me oh my oh._____
Me got-ta go pole the pi-rouge down the bay-ou.____
My Y-vonne, the sweet-est one, me oh my oh.______
Son-of-a-gun, we'll have big fun on the bay-ou_____
Jam-ba-la-ya and craw-fish pie and fil-et gum-bo._____
'Cause to-night I'm gon-na see my ma cher-a-mi-o._____
Pick gui-tar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o._________
Son-of-a-gun, we'll have big fun on the bay-ou.____
Thi-bo-daux, Fon-tain-eaux, the place is buzz-in._____
Kin folk come to see Y-vonne by the doz-en. ______
Dress in style and go hog wild, me oh my oh. _____
Son-of-a gun, we'll have big fun on the bay-ou._____
Chorus
Alaska Jumping Flea Society
DU 140
Rev: 12-28-12
How To Buy Your First Ukulele
(with application to all string instruments)
If you are serious about playing your instrument you will likely spend more actual hours hugging it than
you do hugging your spouse or children. If you spend a half hour, four days a week at home learning and 2
hours a week at a local jam, music festival or around the campfire playing with friends, that is four hours
of hugging a week. If you are going to dedicate that amount of time to your new joy, then buy a good
instrument.
If your purchase is just a romantic spur of the moment fantasy, you are most likely not going to spend
much money and will never end up playing it because the cheap instrument really is just suitable as a wall
hanging. Try to play the cheap toy and it will frustrate you as it will not sound good, the tuners will likely
cause you to be out of tune more than you are in tune and if you don't smash it out of frustration it might
make it as a wall decoration over the Tiki Bar on the patio. And you will miss out on the joy of playing the
ukulele.
You do not have to spend a lot of money to buy a good ukulele. Here are some suggestions on how to
mount a successful shopping expedition.
Enlist the help of a friend who already plays the ukulele to help you.
SIZE AND TYPE OF INSTRUMENT - Decide which size ukulele you want to buy. Suggest that you consider
your personal vocal range and first try ukuleles that match your voice. You may end up with a different
size but this is a good place to start. If you have a tenor voice, then first test out a tenor ukulele. If you are
a true soprano, then try a tiny soprano ukulele. If you really don 't have a good feel for the size, then the
concert ukulele is the size played by most people. The baritone ukulele is a specialty instrument and
should not be your first choice unless you have some very special reason for choosing that size. While it is
a ukulele, it is really a guitar missing two strings. The ukulele chords do not work and the instrument can
be awkward to play in certain keys. If you just want a small guitar, then buy a small guitar but the baritone
uke is rarely the answer.
Another consideration in selecting the size ukulele is what other instruments you play or might play. For
example, the scale length (distance from nut to bridge) and thus the fret spacing on a concert ukulele is
nearly the same as that of a mandolin or fiddle. So your left hand will find the familiar spacing an asset
when switching back and forth.
It is suggested that your first ukulele be a standard (looks like a small guitar) four string instrument tuned
in low G C E A. The fancier 6 & 8 string instruments, resonators, banjo ukes or the character ukes like the
pineapple or fancy paint jobs are more suited to your next instrument. Call the local music stores to find
out which ones carry quality ukuleles. Ask if they have a stringed instrument luthier on premises. Start
your shopping at a store with an in house luthier. More on this later.
TUNERS - Geared tuners are a must. Friction tuners do not stay in tune no matter what the sales clerk says
(with the exception of a couple of very high end expensive pegs that are only available as aftermarket or
custom builds). These excellent friction peg tuners are not found on modest budget ukuleles.
INTONATION - Borrow your friends electronic tuner or one from the store. Have the clerk put the
instrument into standard GCEA tuning. Play each string on each fret and see if the instrument is in tune on
each string all the way to the 12th fret. Do not trust your ears, use the tuner. If it is not in tune to the 12
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fret, then don't even consider the instrument. Ukulele bridges are fixed (except for banjo ukes) so moving
the bridge of refretting the instrument is an expensive fix. Realistically even an expensive ukulele may be
off a few cents (a little sharp or flat) after the 7th fret. But many are off by as much as a half or even a
whole note by the 12th fret. Do not consider such an instrument.
ACTION - Check the action - the height of the strings above the frets. The gap should rise SLIGHTLY from
the bridge to the end of the neck. If it is the thickness of a dime at the second fret and the thickness of
four quarters at the 15th fret then move on. The action should be high enough so the strings do not buzz
when played but not so high that you have to press hard to fret the strings. Your ukulele friend is a good
guide to help you check the action. This can often be a simple adjustment of adding a shim under the nut,
or removing a shim. However, this is best done before you purchase the instrument to make sure the fix is
successful. Look down the length of the neck. Is the neck warped or twisted? If so move on. Do the first or
fourth strings tend to fall off the end of the fret when you hold a chord? If so then this may not be the
instrument for your style of playing or how your hand fits the neck.
When a ukulele leaves a factory across the country or on another continent and sits for awhile in your
local store it will dry out or gain moisture and change shape as the wood ages. This is normal and a good
luthier can adjust the action to compensate for the changes the instrument has undergone between the
factory and the store. Run your hand up the edge of the fretboard. If the frets are sticking out they will
need to be filed down by a competent luthier or they will tear up your hands. This is a sign the instrument
has dried out since being manufactured. This is not a fatal flaw. A good music store with an in-house
luthier normally will do a free " setup" (action adjustment and fret trim) for any instrument they sell. This
is an excellent reason to start shopping at a store with an in-house luthier. If you buy an instrument and
then have to take it to a luthier for a setup, be prepared to pay $75 or more depending on how much work
is required and then wait weeks to get your instrument back from the shop.
SOUND - Select several instruments that have passed the tests above. Now try playing the instruments.
Have your friend show you how to hold a simple one finger C chord and strum. Do you like what you hear.
You are the one who is going to hug this more than you hug your spouse or children so it best sound good
to your ear. Have your friend play all the instruments on your short list while you turn your back. This is
important as you have by now prejudiced your choice based on looks, feel, or some other factor other
than sound. Make this a true sound test by doing a blind sound check. Have your friend mix the
instruments up and play each one as you grade the sound.
You may have a personal preference for a mellow softer tone or like a crisp bright sound. You may prefer
more sustain or quick fades. These are matters of personal taste. These preferences should play a major
role in your selection of an instrument. They are controlled by many factors such as size and shape of the
instrument, the internal bracing pattern used by that manufacturer, and most significantly by the species
of wood.
Many first time buyers are overly influenced by the beauty of the different exotic woods, cool brand
name, and the advertising hype. Do not assume exotic wood means exotic sound. You can get both great
tone and great beauty but you may have to spend time trying several different woods until you find the
combination of sound and beauty you desire and can afford.
Harder woods give off a different tone than softer woods. Even in trees of the same species, the tone from
two different maple trees can be significantly different. One tree may have had more sunlight or a better
source of water and grew faster resulting in wider growth rings. The only way to know is to do a blind
sound test and pick the one that "speaks to you".
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PLAYABILITY - Now you play the instrument. How does it feel? Try playing a Bb chord. Does your hand get
caught up in the tuners or the transition knuckle from the neck to headstock? If it does, try other brands
until you find one where you can comfortably play a Bb chord without mashing your knuckle on a tuner.
How does the neck feel? Is it too wide, too narrow, too fat too thin? Neck shape and size can be a major
factor in your ukulele selection.
LOOKS - Looks should be your last selection criteria NOT YOUR FIRST. Looks are important but if it looks
good and plays poorly or sounds bad you have just wasted your money and time. You are most likely not
going to continue playing as the instrument will not be bringing you the joy that a well chosen instrument
is capable of giving you. Looks do not make the instrument play better or sound better. There are some
plain looking ukuleles with beautiful voices and some fancy mother of pearl inlays and exotic woods that
sound like a bullfrog. Don't get caught up in the beauty contest or marketing hype about exotic woods and
trims.
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
STRAP BUTTONS - Consider adding strap buttons. Even if you do not use a strap all the time, there may be
times when you will find it handy to have one such as playing while standing. The buttons only cost a few
dollars and the luthier will usually install them as part of the setup.
STRINGS - The factory normally strings a ukulele in high G. The trend among many players today is to
switch to low G tuning. This involves changing one string. The factory may have used the cheapest strings
they could find so this is a good time to consider spoiling your new friend with some high end strings (less
than $10) and changing over to low G tuning for no additional cost.
HUMIDIFICATION - Now that you are buying a quality instrument you will want to take good care of your
investment. There are many commercial humidifiers that fit inside your ukulele or inside the case that will
keep the instrument from drying out, cracking and or warping. Or you can make your own out of a small
kitchen sponge inside a sealed plastic bag with a few pinholes poked in it. No matter which type of
humidifier you have, use distilled water or the minerals in the tap water will clog the humidifier in short
order. This is also a good reason to have a quality hard case to store and carry your ukulele as it will retain
the moisture inside the case.
CASE - A good case is preferable as it keeps the moisture inside and provides the best all round protection
for your instrument. A soft gig bag is lighter weight but does not help with humidification or protect as
well as a hard case. When not being played the instrument should live in its hard case to keep it moist and
safe.
TUNER - An inexpensive electronic tuner is a must. The clip-on ones today are very accurate and have the
benefit of allowing you to tune your instrument in a noisy environment such as when everyone else is
tuning. They are simple to use and a worthwhile investment
SONGBOOK - So far there has been no mention of brand names but when it comes to songbooks there is
one that every ukulele player should have in their library and that is "The Daily Ukulele" by Jim Beloff. It
has all the chord charts a new player needs to get started above each song plus 365 great songs from the
Beatles to old favorite "campfire" tunes.
But you saw this great deal on the internet and you can buy it for $100 less than the store price. Add
shipping and what have you saved? When it arrives and the frets are sticking out far enough to cause your
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fingers to bleed, how much will it cost to have a local luthier file them down? And the strings buzz. What
will that cost to fix? Bbbbbut it is a deal! No it isn't a deal. There are very good music stores locally and in
the end you are better off buying from a local dealer with an in house luthier. If your store does not have a
luthier, will they pick up the cost of a setup or of trimming frets that are too long? Would you buy a new
car with a cracked windshield? No - then why buy a new musical instrument that is in need of some work.
Maybe the eBay deal works out but maybe it doesn't and then where are you. You can't do a blind sound
check or feel the neck to see how it fits your hand over the Internet. Now there are a few excellent
Internet based dealers who sell quality instruments at fair prices and who will do in-house setups by very
competent luthiers before shipping and who will guarantee their products. Ask about their return policy
including return shipping costs. Buy locally when you can as these stores also support musical activities in
your town. Some have small rooms for instructors, or they support summer youth camps, festivals or
other musical events in your community. So support them with your business when you can.
Copy this checklist and take it with you when you shop:
PRICE - Is it in your price range? Include cost of case and tuner in budget.
SIZE - soprano, concert, tenor, baritone
TYPE - standard, travel, resonator, banjo uke, four string, six or eight string
TUNERS - geared or friction peg
INTONATION - in tune all the way up the neck
PLAYABILITY
Action height
Frets not sticking out
Feel of neck especially at neck to headstock joint - play Bb does your hand clear pegs and nut?
Neck width, thickness, shape
Does the first or fourth string slip off the end of the fret when played?
BLIND SOUND CHECK - mellow or bright, sustain or fade, does it please you?
WILL STORE DO FREE SETUP - in house or pay cost of an outside luthier to do setup?
LOOKS
ADD ONS
Strap buttons
Low G tuning, spare strings
Hard case
Humidifier
Clip on tuner
THE DAILY UKULELE songbook
Have your friend take a picture of the smile on your face when you find that magic instrument that speaks
to you. But fear not. By now you are hooked and there will be more ukes in your life before you die. You
will just "have to have" a banjo uke like the one Jim had at the jam. Or that 8 string that Fran has - " I have
to have one - it sounds so great". But then there is the resonator with the hula girl. Or an inexpensive
travel uke. And one to leave at the cabin or on the boat. And then one with an electronic pickup so you
can plug into an amp and play with your kids garage band and be the coolest mama on the block. And then
there is the family heirloom uke that shows up in grandmas attic and ends up at your house to be fixed up
and played at family reunions so someone can tell stories about how your grandfather wooed your
grandmother with the uke and his funny songs. You are hooked. Enjoy the ride.
Alaska Jumping Flea Society/JRG
12-22-12
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