Hey there ukesters! How’s your practice been going? Learnt anything new and interesting of late? I’ve been trying to progress with my instrumental and fingerpicking skills over the past week or two.
Since picking up the uke, I’ve learnt and memorised lots of chords and practiced different progressions over and over to get them smooth. Now I thought it’d be a good time to add some melodies to my bag of tricks. The pieces I’ve been working on have been:
No Woman No Cry, Bob Marley (click for tabs)
Stir It Up, Bob Marley (tabs somewhere, can’t find the link!)
Imagine, John Lennon (click for tabs)
If I’m feeling good enough, I’ll throw up some videos of these later.
…and it’s probably closer than you think! I can’t believe it’s only about a month until festive seasons rolls around once again. The decorative trees are already in shops and the merry tunes are flooding the radio. It’s time to start brushing up on those ukulele christmas songs! To help you, here’s a booklet of Christmas songs complete with lyrics and chords:
The Giant Ukulele Christmas Song Book
(right click, save as)
I didn’t compile this myself, I found it floating around on the web and not sure who to credit it to. But thanks to whoever did create this, it sure is handy!
The string height at the first fret has always been way too high on my cheap starter ukulele. It made playing chords such as Bb pretty difficult, needing quite a lot of pressure to produce a clean sound. This can be solved by either lowering the nut or filing the string slots deeper.
I’ve had my Bowley for a while now and the yellow Vintage hasn’t had a lot of love, so I decided to have a go at lowering the action myself by sanding down the nut. You can see here the measurement before any modification:
First up, if you’re planning on trying at home this I take to responsibility for any damage you may do to yourself or your instrument! Haha! But anyway, here’s some tools you may need for the job (you may need glue also):
First you need to loosen the strings back (or remove) so you can get at the nut to knock it off. Knocking it off is fairly straightforward. Just give it a gentle love tap with a length of wood and a hammer. Strength of your tap will depend on how hard it’s glued down:
I measured previously and knew how much plastic I had to grind away so then it was just a matter of sanding it down, putting it back to check, sanding it down again, etc. Oh yeah some uke’s use bone, ivory or wooden nuts, which may be more difficult to sand.
Once you’ve got it down to the height you’re after, sand all the edges smooth, fix it back in place and then re-string your instrument. Now sit back, strum a fancy tune and marvel at your clever handywork:
So there you have it, simple steps for lowered string height and improved playability on your cheap uke!
While browsing the UU forums I stumbled across this tutorial video for Stand By Me. It’s a pretty easy chord progression with a little bit of instrumental flair thrown in.
Tutorial by roykronenfeld: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN3AhoItfnM
I thought it sounded pretty snazzy so I gave it a quick whirl. Everybody knows this song so it’s one you should definitely add to your repertoire. It didn’t take all that long to learn and you can listen to my quick effort below:
Give it a go!
I just pulled the trigger on something very, very cool. I don’t want to give away much more until after it arrives, but I will say it’s been impossible for me to find one of these in England. Hopefully it will be starting it’s 4000-mile trans atlantic journey from America to my front door this week! Ooooh yeah!
* UAS = Ukulele Aquisition Syndrome
Now here’s a new concept: Ukevember! For the entire month of November ukulelekuhi will be recording and posting a ukulele song. What makes this even more special is that she will be playing her grandfather’s ukulele, since passed down to her. You can check out the videos over on her new blog:
It’s kind of like Movember, but minus the porn star mustaches…