Uke Can Do It! How to Get Started With the Ukulele

As one of many best-stringed devices to play, the ukulele is a good level of entry for anybody who needs to discover taking part in music. However, as with shopping for a sewing machine or a telescope, or a pressure cooker, the following step after unboxing the merchandise isn’t essentially clear. A couple of key equipment might help you get began with the ukulele, and thankfully they’re all cheap. We’ve listed them beneath, with an important one first.

Should you don’t but have a uke, our guide to the best ukulele for beginners presents a number of good, inexpensive choices.

Earlier than you possibly can play something on that new uke, you’ll get it in tune and discover some music to play on it. After you get a couple of chords down, it’s best to determine how you can transport your uke round city to broaden your expertise, and perhaps even how you can carry out comfortably with it.


You possibly can’t play a chord till you tune your uke’s open strings to the notes G, C, E, and A, wanting on the uke from left to proper. Though it’s potential to make use of an online tuner or a smartphone app equivalent to Pocket Ukulele Tuner, nothing we’ve discovered of that kind is as handy as a clip-on tuner. The identical sort of mannequin that works for the guitar additionally works for the ukulele. Simply clip it to your uke’s headstock (close to the tuners) after which pluck a string, and also you’ll see whether or not the observe is sharp (too excessive in pitch) or flat (too low).

Uke Can Do It! How to Get Started With the Ukulele

A clip-on tuner allows you to tune your uke precisely in just some seconds. Photograph: Rozette Rago

Some ukes are packaged with tuners. If yours isn’t, we suggest the essential model of the Snark tuner, provided below numerous mannequin numbers such because the SN6X. (Keep away from the Snark HZ1, which I’ve discovered disappointingly fragile.) Fancier fashions add options you’ll most likely by no means use. The Kliq UberTuner responds quicker and has an illuminated circle that makes it simpler to see if you’re in tune, however that mannequin is relatively cumbersome and about twice the value of most Snark tuners.

Tutorial ebook

Uke Can Do It! How to Get Started With the Ukulele

Photograph: Kyle Fitzgerald

Though you’d possibly make faster progress with a knowledgeable teacher, and you could find loads of online ukulele tutorials, tutorial e-book gives a simple, inexpensive option to get began. We requested two skilled instructors to judge a number of books, they usually picked Essential Elements for Ukulele Book 1: Comprehensive Ukulele Method as one of the best. We like that it focuses on chords fairly than single-note taking part in, as a result of chords are what you’ll study with the intention to play most songs and accompany your vocals.

Music app

Uke Can Do It! How to Get Started With the Ukulele

Photograph: Rozette Rago

Yow will discover a bunch of fine, free music apps on the market (together with Chordify and Ultimate Guitar), however iReal Pro ($14) for Mac, iOS, and Android is my favorite app—and the one I see most different musicians utilizing. It supplies chord adjustments for hundreds of songs, all with play-along tracks in any tempo, key, or model you select. A giant plus for uke college students is that iReal Professional can present chord fingering diagrams. I like that it’s not specific to anybody’s instrument or any household of devices, so you possibly can play with different folks and everybody can have the identical chord chart. To make use of iReal Professional, obtain and set up the app, after which obtain free chord charts from the apps’ depth boards. In two minutes you possibly can have the chord adjustments for 1,350 jazz requirements, 400 pop songs, 300 bluegrass tunes, 100 vacation tunes, and extra. Within the uncommon case the place a tune isn’t on the boards, you possibly can simply copy the chart for one more supply into iReal Professional.

Music stand

Training is extra comfy when you’ve gotten a good stand to carry your music. As an aspect profit, I discover that I apply extra when I have a chunk of music sitting on the stand, begging to be performed.

Whereas Manhasset music stands have been usual for many years, most musicians I play with swear by the Peak SMS-20, which is sort of as sturdy however folds for portability. Each is dear, although.

Uke Can Do It! How to Get Started With the Ukulele

The Gleam GMS-001D (proper) is sturdy sufficient for sheet music and tutorial books, whereas the sturdier Peak SMS-20 (left) reliably holds thick faux books and enormous charts. Photograph: Rozette Rago

I haven’t discovered an inexpensive stand that’s as sturdy because the SMS-20, however rectangular stands such because the Gleam GMS-001D or the practically an identical ChromaCast CC-MSTAND often really feel sturdier than fan-style stands. The GMS-001D has confirmed strong sufficient to help my 462-page Real Book by means of a number of jam classes, nevertheless, it’s greatest fitted to sheet music and tutorial books.


Uke Can Do It! How to Get Started With the Ukulele

Photograph: Rozette Rago

It’s much more enjoyable to play the ukulele with different folks, whether or not at a pal’s home or a local ukulele club. To guard your uke throughout your travels, you want a case. A soft-sided gig bag will work except you propose to toss your instrument right into an automobile trunk or an airliner’s overhead bin. Many ukes include a gig bag or case, but when yours doesn’t, you should purchase a good one for around $20. Cloud music, for instance, makes them in types each conservative and colorful. Make sure to purchase a case that’s sized to your uke, whether or not it’s a soprano, live performance, tenor, or baritone.


Soprano-sized ukuleles are gentle sufficient that you just don’t want a strap, however, when you carry out with a live performance, tenor, or baritone uke, you’ll most likely need a strap. Most bigger ukes include one strap knob put in on the massive finish of the physique however no strap knob on the neck finish. Uke straps often include a string you possibly can tie across the headstock, the place the tuners are, however, an extra swish possibility is a “strap knob strap,” which clips across the headstock. (You may as well get clip-style straps, however, I believe they make the uke grasp unnaturally.)

Uke Can Do It! How to Get Started With the Ukulele

The “strap knob strap” connects a shoulder strap to ukuleles that don’t have a strap button on the neck finish of the physique. Photograph: Rozette Rago

I take advantage of a Kala Uke Crazy strap, however, virtually any uke strap ought to do tremendously. Hot Seal’s uke strap is a low-cost, discreet possibility. If you need one thing flashier, equivalent to a floral, space, cat, dog, pineapple, flag, rainbow, skull, or comic strip sample, by all means, indulge.


Most ukulele gamers strum and pluck with their fingers, however, when you’re transitioning from guitar, chances are you’ll want to take part in a decision. Uke gamers use felt picks, which produce a mellower, extra uke-y tone than plastic picks. My fave is the Golden Gate FP-1, a thick, delicate decide with a sound extra like that of fingers plucking the strings, however, guitar gamers might want the brighter sound and fleeter response of the thinner BoloPick, which has a cutout that makes it simpler to carry.

Uke Can Do It! How to Get Started With the Ukulele

The BoloPick (left) and Golden Gate FP-1 (proper) are created from felt, in order that they work properly with nylon uke strings. Photograph: Rozette Rago

So what do you do after you’re correctly geared up with all of the equipment you want? Simply open a uke ebook or an app and begin taking part in one thing. Something! The fingering might really feel awkward at first, however, after a few days, it’s best to be capable to muster an inexpensive rendition of an easy tune. From there, whether or not you turn out to be a loyal yard strummer, a devoted uke membership member, or the following Jake Shimabukuro (video), it’s all as much as you.

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