Why Ukulele is Great for Beginners


Though it may look like a miniature guitar, this member of the lute family has its own original sound that you won’t mistake for any other. What is great about this musical instrument, a ukulele is easier to master compared to many other instruments. Boasting a portable size and a compatible price, it is great for solo playing as well as for vocal and instrumental ensembles, no wonder uke is popular among amateur and professional players alike. If you have made up your mind to buy this peculiar instrument, you can check out to find the one that suits you best. 


How to Choose a Starter Ukulele 


Similar to other instruments, ukes vary in playability, sound and feel. Choosing the instrument that really suits you will help you to stay motivated while practising. There are several types of ukuleles and each one has its own unique tone and other features that can make it your perfect musical instrument.


Being the smallest in the uke family, soprano ukuleles are ideal for adults with smaller hands or younger players not only due to their size but also because their frets are spaced closer together. Featuring fewer frets (usually 12 to 15) compared to other uke types, they have a high lilting tone. Thanks to its compact size (46-53cm), a soprano uke is easy to bring along wherever you go.


Concert ukuleles are somewhat bigger (53-60cm), have more frets (14 to 17) and feature a warmer deeper tone. The spacing between the frets is larger, therefore these starter ukuleles are a little easier to play for users with larger fingers. But what really makes a significant difference is that there is more tension in the strings compared to soprano ukes. Owing to this feature, concert ukes are not as easy to go out of tune while bending.


Tenor ukuleles are usually 70cm long and have a wider and heavier neck so they can be recommended for adults and teenage players with larger hands. Equipped with 15 to 19 frets, the instrument is known for its rich bass-laden tone and is quite popular among performers. 


Finally, featuring the largest size (around 80cm) and from 19 to 21 frets, a baritone ukulele has the biggest frets and the deepest sound. On the other hand, it lacks the bright sound qualities of its smaller counterparts. 


Tuning Tips


Once you have picked and received the instrument to your liking, it is time to tune it up. Most ukes are tuned the following way: G for the fourth string, C for the third, E for the second and A for the first string. In other words, while the first string is the highest on a ukulele, the lowest-toned string is the third one. This might seem a bit confusing for guitar players because guitars are usually tuned in descending order. Note that, unlike soprano and concert ukuleles tuned to GCEA, a baritone uke uses a DGBE tuning. As for a tenor ukulele, it can be tuned either to GCEA or to DGBE depending on your preference. 


Thanks to innovative gadgets, tuning your musical instrument is a breeze: you can use either a headstock tuner or a dedicated online app and get ready for practising in just a couple of minutes. 


Strumming Tips


Whether you are strumming with your fingers or with a pick, it is important to keep your wrist loose. Using your wrist rather than your whole arm will help to minimise fatigue and ensure an easier transition between chords. You can strum with your index finger, your thumb, or use a combination of both fingers as if you were holding a pick. By the way, if you prefer to strum with a pick, choose a felt one for it won’t damage the nylon strings of the instrument. 


Playing Chords


One more basic skill is playing cords (three or more notes played together). Ukulele chord charts that show the strings and frets to play are irreplaceable for beginners. Quite often, they have symbols indicating where to place each finger (1 for the index finger, 2 for the middle finger, 3 for the ring finger and 4 for the little finger). Though there is a wide variety of chords you can learn, knowing several basic chords (like C, G, F, G7 Am and D) you will be able to play many beautiful songs, which is very encouraging for novice ukulele players. 


Move on to Scales


The next step is learning scales (organised sequences of notes) that start and end with the same note. It will not only help you to develop a good ear for music but will also promote finger dexterity and strength. Learning melodies and even creating your own riffs will be easier after some time of practising chords. Ukulele chord charts will make learning more effective, however, regular practice is essential. 


Learning Songs


Playing your favourite songs is often the most inspiring part. Even if you have to master complicated cords and riffs, you will have a wonderful time rehearsing them if you love the melody. And what a pleasure it is to finally play it while singing along with the chords. If you like to compose your own music, it will be easier to do if you learn to play the uke and its sound inspires you as much as it does many of the songwriters. 

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