I had an ukulele lesson today, and was able to learn some things I thought were very important. Since I had mostly been playing and learning the ukulele by myself (and struggling), the things that I learned were pretty helpful.
So here they are:
1. Play slow.
When you are first learning a new song you don’t necessarily have to play at the same tempo as the song. Trying to do so, while also learning the chords and singing the song, was really difficult. It was much easier to sing and play together when you slow it down. However, it is actually harder to play slow and keep a constant beat.
2. Take baby steps.
If you are like me and are having trouble singing and playing at the same time, then work on mastering sections rather than trying to do the entire song. If I can focus on just a small section then I can do it over and over again in rapid succession. This makes it easier to get good and also makes the following sections much easier.
This also goes for playing and singing together. If you learn to play confidently first, then singing along will be easier.
3. Learn the beat.
Learning just the chords isn’t enough if you don’t know where they go and the beat of the song. Play them as if you are playing the song in your head. Just playing through the chords is helpful, but it is much better to match them to the specific number of beats they need to be played.
4. Have fun.
This is something that should seem obvious, but make sure not to get too serious. Take breaks and realize that learning the ukulele doesn’t just happen over night. Learning the ukulele takes time. But if you stay with it, it does get easier. The more fun you have the longer you will want to play.
If you go on Yahoo answers, you will find this question has been asked hundreds, more likely thousands, of times. “I want to learn the ukulele, but I don’t know what ukulele I should buy. What’s the best ukulele for beginners?”
Having now spent more time learning the ukulele, and having now bought 4 ukuleles myself as well as playing on several others. I think one of the best ukuleles for the money (especially with proper setup) is the Makala Dolphin and the Makala MK-S. This is further backed up by the survey I made on the Ukulele Underground Forum. They are dirt cheap ($35-$60), so you don’t have to worry about beating them up too much, and they sound pretty good.
Of the three ukuleles I bought this christmas, the one I was the most impressed with was the Makala MK-S with Aquila strings. It sounded about the same as the nicer Ohana that I purchased. Having played the MK-S or the MK-C, I feel that it would have been more than enough to get me well through the learning these stages and beyond. In fact, there were a lot of people who left remarks on the survey saying that they still often put their much more expensive ukulele aside to play their Makala Dolphin.
So if you are trying to find the best ukulele for beginners, then I say this is a good choice. If you aren’t happy with it, you aren’t out much money. Or if you use it a lot and then want something better, you can always use this as a backup to take to the beach or on trips. I even considered buying a second one just for that purpose, but decided I would see how often I was playing before I invested the extra money.
Chords. With out them you really can’t play the ukulele. Learning them however, can be a bit frustrating and even painful. So here are some tips to help you learn ukulele chords a little easier.
First, start with just a few chords. A good way to do this is to choose a song that only has a few chords and practice them over and over. If you are also learning a song, it will be more fun than just playing the chords. Some very common chords are C, F, Am, and G. With those four chords you can play quite a few songs.
The next thing is how long you practice. In the beginning, your hands will get sore pretty fast. Try to keep your practice sessions short. Give both your hands and your mind a little time to rest. Short frequent sessions are much better than long ones. You will actually be able to spend more time practicing this way and will learn quicker.
Don’t rush it. It takes time to learn the ukulele. While it may be easier or more difficult for different people, it takes practice for everyone. Don’t give up. What seems like an impossible way to hold your hand will eventually seem natural with enough practice. If you keep practicing and don’t give up, then you will continue to get better.
For chord practice you might also want to check out “Uncle Rod’s Ukulele Boot Camp”. It is a free ukulele practice book in pdf format that will help you learn some of the more difficult chords and learn them a long with other chords.
If you want to buy your first ukulele, but aren’t sure which ukulele to buy, then this is the post for you. If you are wanting to spend under $60 or even under $40, then the most recommended ukulele was the Makala Dolphin. You can see how it fared here: Ukuleles For Beginners under $60.
But what if you want to spend a little more and get something nicer? What should you get then? What if you want to buy an ukulele around the $100 range? Well according to the poll that I submitted on the Ukulele Underground Forum, the answer is a draw.
The Makala Dolphin and the Kala KA-S both recieved 24.5% of the votes. Some people felt that the Kala KA-S was the best ukulele for the money. Others believed that there wasn’t a big enough difference to warrant spending the additional money and that it should be saved up to get a more expensive ukulele. You can see the full results here:
Kala K-15S- 5.26%
Kala KA-S- 24.56%
Makala MK-S- 5.26%
Makala MK-C- 8.77%
Makala Dolphin- 24.56%
Lanikai LU-21- 5.26%
Bruko/Brueko Soprano- 3.51%
Other (specify in comments)- 22.81%
So which one should you buy? It really depends on how much money you want to spend and what your goals are. However, with the Dolphin being as good as it is, it is a hard bargain to pass up. Rarely do you hear people give it bad reviews. I think at this price level it would have to be my choice for the best value.
In yesterday’s article I posted a video on how to build a ukulele holder or ukulele rack. After a little more searching. I also found a video on how to build a simple, yet effective ukulele stand. This tutorial shows you how to make an ukulele stand out of basic pvc connections. It’s a simple and effective design.
If you are learning ukulele then you want to have your ukulele available to play anytime. It is hard to do that if it is stored in the bag or in the closet. A stand allows you to keep the ukulele out where you can play it anytime you want.
The one thing I will say about this tutorial is that the price will depend on your location. You may be able to find all of these parts for under $10 or they may costs you much more, in case it might be cheaper to use different materials or just go and buy an ukulele stand.
You can also find the other video on how to make an Ukulele rack here: Ukulele For Beginners: DIY Ukulele Rack
I have had my new ukulele for about a month now, and to be honest, I haven’t really played it that much. It’s not that I don’t want to play, it’s just that I keep it in the bag. When it’s in the bag, I am not really thinking about playing it as often as I would like.
The new ukulele I got my wife however, is always sitting around and I play it all the time. So here is a tip from ukulele for beginners. If you want to play your ukulele as much as possible, keep it in a location that is easy to get to and a place where you can see it all the time. The more it’s in front of your eyes, the more you will pick it up.
The problem, is that my ukulele came with a bag and not a stand. It’s a nice bag, but it is still a bag. Great for travelling (I carried my ukulele from the US to Japan), but not so great for keeping it where I can play it.
So here is a better option. How about making a rack that will hang your ukulele(s) and will barely cost any money at all. It’s really simple and only takes a few supplies. You might even be able to come up with something very similar and more creative.
Here is a video on how to make your very own DIY ukulele rack:
I have talked a lot about the things you want to avoid in buying your first ukulele. There are a lot of questions on the web from beginner ukulele players about what is the best ukulele for beginners. Well, it really depends on what kind of instrument you are looking for. Is this your first instrument? Are you really serious about playing or are you just looking to play every once and a while? Do you want to spend as little as possible or get something really nice.
The answers to all of these questions will decide which is the best ukulele for you to buy. You don’t want to get a cheap ukulele because it will sound like crap, but decent ukuleles can be had for around $40.
While the criteria to find the perfect ukulele changes for each person. There are certain things that everyone should do when finding their ukulele. This includes getting it from a store that knows what they are doing, playing it before you buy it (when possible), and really thinking about how much you are going to use it.
The below video discusses some of the important things you want to consider when making your first ukulele purchase. You’ll notice that he talks about a twingy A string. I also had this problem with my first ukulele. It is quite annoying. This can be avoided by choosing a good ukulele and having it setup properly.
Some stores may charge a little more, but if they include a proper setup with the ukulele, then an extra $20-$40 is worth it. This is especially true when purchasing ukuleles in the sub $100 range, which are more likely to have slight imperfections. However, with a proper setup, I can say that the Makala MKS I purchased for my brother was darn near as good as the Hamano I purchased for myself. I was actually more impressed with it because it sounded so good for so little.
So here is the video. It’s a little erratic, but has some good points.
For all of you who are looking to learn a new song on the ukulele, here is a video tutorial on how to play “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars on the Ukulele.
This isn’t the easiest of songs, I would say maybe intermediate, but the tutorial is pretty good and if you practice enough, even beginner ukulele players should be able to get it. If this is the first song that you are trying to learn on the ukulele, then I would recommend going with something a little easier. Try this beginner ukulele song.
For all of the ukulele beginners out there, just remember that everything is practice. I can still remember when I first started learning the ukulele, I felt like it was gonna be impossible. I kept going however, and got better and better. What seemed like impossible chords to hit, got easier and easier. Don’t give up.
You just got your first ukulele (if you haven’t, then check here: ukulele for beginners). Now you want to learn some basic chords to get you playing. Here is a great video that shows you basic ukulele chords.
Once you have mastered these chords you will be able to play most modern songs. You will be surprised at how many songs use the same popular chords.