Getting into a new instrument can be quite daunting, especially if you have no knowledge of it beforehand. Thankfully, ukuleles are pretty easy to understand! There are just a few things you really need to know before you start strumming away.
First – all the parts of an ukulele. Okay, not ALL the parts, but enough to understand what you’re talking about. The ukulele is made up of three parts – the head, the neck, and the body. The head has the tuning pegs, the neck has all the frets, and the body has the soundhole. The strings cover all three parts: they start at the end, stretch along the neck, pass the soundhole, anchor at the bridge (that little piece towards the bottom of the body).
Secondly – the strings. They go G, C, E, and A. The lowest is G and A is the highest. However, sort of contrary to common sense, the G string is referred to as the “top” string. Conversely, the A string is referred to as the “bottom”. This is simply because when you hold an ukulele to play, the G string is “on top”.
G, C, E, A is the Soprano tuning for ukulele. There are other types of tuning – such as baritone, tenor, or alto – but soprano is the most common, especially for beginners or amateurs.
Thirdly – chords. You have to know your ukulele chords. Now, you don’t have to go and memorize 50 different chords right away (though no one’s stopping you). You just have to learn a few basic ones. Some popular chords are C, D, G, A, E, and F. Those are all Major chords. Minor chords look a little more like: Cm, Dm, Am, etc. Learn these ones, too, There are some great – and very popular – songs out there that only use 3 or 4 chords. The more chords you know, the more song you’ll be able to play.
Fourth – strumming and fingerpicking. Strumming is the basic way of playing. You just strum a few chords to a beat and some lyrics and you’re playing a song! Fingerpicking is a bit more advanced. Generally you pluck one or two strings at once to create individual notes, rather than chords. The same song, played two different ways, can sound totally different!
Lastly – PRACTICE! Practice, practice practice. You’ll never really learn how to play if you don’t practice and get some lessons if needs be! First start off practicing finger placement for chords. Move on to some strumming patterns. Then fingerpicking. You can strum without playing chords or play chords without strumming, just so long as you go through the motions. Muscle memory works, y’all!
Don’t be afraid to mess up or ask for help. Learning something new is an amazing feat, and you are no lesser for needing some assistance or not being perfect right away. Take your time and enjoy your learning process. Play for yourself. Play for your friends. Play for your pets! Just go out and play! Always remember, music should be fun. So enjoy yourself!