Ukulele 101

When you think of an ukulele, what comes to mind? A smaller guitar? You’re not the first. It didn’t originally come from Hawaii where it is very popular and part of the culture, just like a lot of what Hawaii is, it came from another culture. The ukulele was originally called the machete was brought over by Portuguese immigrants in which it was a descendant from a instrument like a lute from the European countries years before. It became popular very quickly when Hawaii’s monarch, King David Kalakaua took a liking to the small instrument.  Today, you’ve heard the ukulele in popular music or Hawaiian music with artists like Israel Kamakawiwoʻole and his popular rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” Train’s “Soul Sister” or even Twenty One Pilots and a couple of their songs.

The structure is the same as a acoustic guitar, with its soundboard, soundhole, and five strings and frets to place your fingers on. Since the instrument is smaller and the ukulele neck is shorter, the sound will sound higher than a guitar. You can pick different sized ukulele as they range in size and will range in sound as well. The order goes soprano being the smallest, concert, tenor, and baritone being the biggest and lowest sounding ukulele. If you learned on guitar, it can be a easy switch between the two.

In my own personal journey to learn how to play ukulele, I am playing a Kala concert sized ukulele that i keep in a case until I practice next time. I have been learning on my own and using the “Ukulele Method Book 1” by Lil’ Rev who is known for his ukulele and harmonica playing. A good tip while playing is tune before you start your practice. The first string tunes to an A, the second string tunes to a E, the third is tuned to a C and the last string is tuned to a G. If you prefer to strum with a pick make sure to leave a couple of picks in your case.

Inspired? Seeing yourself playing on an island? Get Playing!

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