What do I do with this thing?
August 16, 2006 11:59 PM   Subscribe

So, um, I bought a ukulele today. What should I do with it?

I've been playing guitar for a while now, so I understand the mechanisms of it and the fingering isn't difficult, but I'm new to the tuning. So far I've figured out the pentatonic scale and how to play most of the songs I know on guitar, but what sorts of awesome things can only be done on an uke (or just sound better on one)?
posted by borkingchikapa to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know, but listening to The Duke of Uke (Myspace) might give you some inspiration.
posted by Jimbob at 12:23 AM on August 17, 2006

Pineapple Pete's Uke School offers free online lessons.
posted by pracowity at 1:11 AM on August 17, 2006

Dunno, but perhaps you could dress up funny and do George Formby impressions?
posted by Chunder at 1:26 AM on August 17, 2006

You should listen to Brudda Iz. And the Big Muffin Serious Band and their sister Serious Ukulele Ensemble. And ukelelia.

SDB and Chunder, you suck.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:01 AM on August 17, 2006

(I particularly recommend Le cocaine.)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:04 AM on August 17, 2006

I think reggae always sounds good on a uke.

On the other hand, I can't help playing uke versions of Classic rock. I'm working my way through Dark Side Of The Moon at the moment.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:16 AM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Play Nirvana songs (YouTube link).
posted by chorltonmeateater at 5:34 AM on August 17, 2006

Find someone to pair with and create something like the Ukes of Hazzard.
posted by plinth at 5:43 AM on August 17, 2006

you should play this
posted by comatose at 6:34 AM on August 17, 2006

I've always liked Brook Adams site. Nice collection of links, songs, and audio.

And Roy Smeck is pretty wonderful on the uke. (Check out the YouTube links at the bottom of that wiki article).
posted by dog food sugar at 7:31 AM on August 17, 2006

Huh--I just bought one, myself, and was kinda wondering the same thing. I'm still quite a beginner on guitar, but I've found it pretty easy to transition what I know to the new instrument. The biggest problem has been squeezing my fingers into those tiny little frets. On the other hand, the ukulele seems to be more "forgiving" of bad notes, since one expects a certain "plinky plinky" sound, and, hey, fewer strings means fewer misplayed ones, right?

I've been playing around with some of the easy beginner songs on guitarnoise.com. Margaritaville sounds pretty good, for instance (just change the lyric to "strummin' my 4-string").
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:38 AM on August 17, 2006

I started on a uke when I was a kid before starting guitar in high school - the best thing about a uke is its portability. Put it in a pillowcase and take it to the beach, the park, the mall - and just start strumming a few chords, sing a song everybody knows (John Denver's 'Country Roads' is always a winner). I think an old-timey song sounds best on a uke - old pop stuff from the '20s through the '50s.
posted by DandyRandy at 9:26 AM on August 17, 2006

I've been messing around with the ukulele for a while and because my finger-picking really sucks, I enjoy playing songs with more interesting chords (diminished, 6ths, maj7, etc, etc) Right now I'm working on "While my Guitar Gently Weeps", and "Hello", by Lionel Ritchie with a double time ska-ish rhythm. I love my uke.
posted by Ohdemah at 9:53 AM on August 17, 2006

Check out Jake Shimabukuro and James Hill - two young 'ukulele wizards. It's much easier to play "bingo" chords on the uke compared to the guitar, so try playing some swing tunes. You've got the choice of having a high G string (the traditional my-dog-has-fleas) or using a low G string which makes it kind of a little guitar. Have fun - always easy with a uke.
posted by richg at 10:12 PM on August 17, 2006

Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing plays uke and doesn't hesitate to post interesting stuff there. Do a search on BoingBoing for ukulele and you'll get a bunch of hits.
posted by lhauser at 10:26 PM on August 17, 2006

Ukeleles are open tuned, like banjos, meaning that you get a nice chord when you strum it without fretting anything. So its real nice and fun to play melodies on one string or double stops on a couple that sound good with the default key. Modal stuff, drone stuff, real nice. Open tunings are awesome.

The first time i ever played a ukelele i rocked out on it and freaked the owner out and it was just cause i play around with a lot of open tunings on the guitar. Not that i had or have any idea how to play anyones songs on one ... i just play on it. The way i think of it different tunings want different sounds, and the sounds a thing wants to play are always the best.

Good luck yo those things are fun. I wish i had one.
posted by 31d1 at 10:35 PM on August 17, 2006

Transcribe songs you really like. Ones with higher singers work best, like Death Cab or Aberfeldy, but just look up the guitar tab and the ukulele chords (4stringchords.com).
posted by tmcw at 10:57 PM on December 11, 2006

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