Top 10 Ukulele Tips for Beginners
Let’s get you prepared to start your ukulele journey and to find the way for you to progress faster with this amazing instrument.
Keep in mind, your ukulele will also play a big role when you play it. So, the first thing you should do it’s to find a decent ukulele. If you are not so sure which ukulele you should buy, check out the “Before buying an ukulele guide” and the “Ukulele buying guide”.
Now, follow these tips and I can assure you, you would be in the right path to master your ukulele completeldy.
1. Check the basic chords and memorize them
Why this is the first tip? And why it’s so important?
In order for you to start progressing with your ukulele, you need the basics, that in this case are the major, minor and seventh chords. Some quick examples of very important chords are: C, G, F, Am, Dm, C7 and G7. You will find out soon enough that these basic chords are also kind of easy to position with your fingers at your ukulele.
But that’s not it, you will use these chords in thousands of songs and they will make things a lot easier for you later. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn more chords, if you want to keep improving and learning fast, it’s always good to know a bunch of chords or with time, how to make them so you don’t find gaps while you are learning.
But in case, if you feel you don’t find the way for a chord, at “Ukuchords chords chart” you can find a pretty good list that will help you in a difficult moment. It’s also very important to know that sometimes you will find these chords but with a capo, meaning that you need to follow the same position of fingers, but in a different fret and of course using a capo.
2. Find a comfortable position to play
An ukulele is an instrument that you will normally play while you are sitting. So, a big part of learning how to play it, it’s to feel comfortable with it in your legs.
The reason is very simple, because if you don’t find a comfortable position, you will get tired a lot faster. Things that you should keep in mind when you look for your perfect spot with your instrument are:
a) Try to find a very natural position for your body, meaning that your body needs to be as relaxed as you can
b) Keep a posture where your back it’s almost straight, like this you will avoid unwanted back pain when you play long sessions,
c) Give enough space for your left hand to move around all frets without pressuring so much your body, because it will enable you to play better the frets that are close to the body of the ukulele.
3. Strum and roll!
As many other string instruments, you need the coordination between both of your hands. Always remember that your right hand is the one that will give you the rhythm, and your left, the melody.
An ukulele it’s really versatile, but as with the chords, it’s good to learn the basic strums and play with them! There’s no better way to expand your knowledge with rhythms as trying to make as many as you can.
Like that you will see that are many different strum patterns that you can use for the same song to make it sound completely different. It’s actually one of the coolest things of an ukulele, you can transform a song entirely.
So, don’t be afraid of experimenting with the strumming. You could start with some slaps or palm mutes. Also you can go with something funkier and start the strum for below. In case you need a quick look for strums, you can always check them at “The Ultimate Strumming Guide”.
4. Practice fingerpicking
If you are looking to use your ukulele to play with your friends around a fire while you are camping.
Knowing how to strum may be enough, but what if you want to really learn to sound like a pro? Then you will need fingerpicking exercise. If you are an acoustic type of musician with your ukulele, this will give the extra “wow!” to the people.
When you are playing solo, you need to make your instrument shine so in sounds more as a group playing not just one person.
With that said, find some tabs, learn them in your ukulele and you will see how a song can come to live just because you started to use fingerpicking! it’s kind of frustrating when you just start using this technique, but when you start to get it, you will be in another level of playing.
5. Have a deep breath… and enjoy!
All music instruments are made to enjoy yourself and to make others enjoy too. So, don’t close yourself only with rules or tips. It’s always good to give some space to your mind and try to find its own way.
Every person is different and everybody will play different. Take some time to understand that if you are determined, you will master this instrument with your own rhythm, but most important be happy with the way you play!
Also, find an ukulele group or some people to play the ukulele with. This step is the one that will expand your horizon to something greater. The moment you play with other people, you hear different opinions and you grow up as a music performer.
If you like to play your ukulele without any other people, it is also ok. But keep yourself open to new comments and motivated to keep learning.
6. Use the internet as your teacher
Nowadays you can learn many things via internet. How to play the ukulele it’s no exception. You can find guides like this one, or learn entire songs that are post in many websites.
Personally, I would recommend “Ukuplanet.com”, just with the name you can know what you are getting into. Also you can find some other websites, such as “ultimate-guitar”, where you can easily read the chords and play with them.
Learn your favourite songs with these pages and open your mind to learn some other songs that you know, but that are different from what you are used to play. Believe it or not, learning as many songs as you can, will make your learning faster and faster each time.
But don’t stop there, look tutorials, videos, images, etc. Everything that you can. But as all teachers, learn to find the good ones, not all that you will find in the internet is good. So also check what other people has to say about the websites or tabs you are trying to learn.
7. Learn to walk before you run
Learning is a process, so don’t hurry yourself.
Always start slow, even if the song you are learning is fast, make it slow. To learn slowly will give you the ability of making less mistakes and to learn with more details. Even if you think you are already good enough to learn fast, part of being a good ukulele player is to take your time to polish until the last note.
8. Jam with your ukulele
Use your skills and make a jam session with friends!
You can even do it with your computer finding a jam audio. The point of this is to explore your creativity and to learn to control the things you have learn to create something new. Don’t be nervous to fail with rhythm or making some funny chords or notes combinations.
To have a jam it’s more about the feeling of create and reinvent with your instrument. It will make you loosen up to new and empowering experiences as a musician.
9. Record, play, repeat.
That sounds like a movie, but it’s not! It’s one of the last tips I can give you.
When you hear yourself through a pair of speakers or headphones you will hear in detail your mistakes. It’s important not to get picky, if you want to use a good expensive mic for this exercise, perfect, but if you want it to record with your phone, it will also do the trick.
The point of this is to be critical and see where you fail or what doesn’t sound so “nice”. Make this several times and in no time, you will hear yourself playing some songs as perfect as possible.
Keep in mind, this is a hearing exercise, so when you do, pay real attention to every detail and be open about the mistakes you make. At the end we all make mistakes and we need to learn from them to get better.
10. Keep your hands and ukulele in perfect conditions
Treat your ukulele as it will be a part of you.
Clean it with products that will not damage the wood, strings, etc. Store it in places where it will not fall easily and keep the tuning pegs in good condition. Now about your hands, keep your nails clean and short.
If you have long nails it will bother a little bit when you play the ukulele and you have the risk to scratch it. Also, don’t forget to clean your hands really well before playing, like that you will not have sticky strings or stains in your ukulele.
Keep all these tips in mind, but always remember the most important thing. Have fun! and don’t forget to give some good hours to practice and be happy about your progress. Hope you have a great time becoming an awesome ukulele player! 🙂