My name is Dave. started Ukulele Go back in November 2014 after my wife bought me a ukulele. I struggled with it so I started this site to log everything that I was learning and provide a bit of an outlet for me to scribble down my thoughts. Over time Ukulele Go has grown, as has my ukulele collection.
My podcast has been running for a few weeks now and I’ve finally bitten the bullet and brought a guest onto the show. This week Alex B from Southern Ukulele Store joins me to talk all about strings.
Alex has written about strings many times and there really isn’t much he doesn’t know about them. I am a little bit of a nightmare when it comes to strings, I rarely change them. Find out if Alex can convince me to change the strings on my ukulele using his expert knowledge.
To listen to the show, hit the play button above or subscribe to the show using your favourite podcast app. Apologies for the audio quality on this one, it’s something I’m looking to improve.
It’s a few weeks from Christmas and I know it’s early but if you want to learn those yuletide songs you need to start practicing sooner rather than later. Now is a great time to work on your Christmas repertoire. Below are the best free ukulele christmas tabs I’ve found…
The list below contains tabs from a number of website. Al Wood’s Ukulele Hunt and PDF Minstrel both feature pretty prominently though.
That list should keep you busy throughout December (you might want to lay off after that though).
If you do know of any others drop me a link in the comments and I’ll get the list updated.
Finally, if you just can’t get enough of Christmas songs on ukulele then take a look at Al Wood’s Christmas Ukulele Trilogy ebook. For $14 you get 3 ebooks with a total of 32 ukulele tabs, all with supporting YouTube videos and audio files.
I don’t arrange an awful lot of songs myself but that’s something I’m looking to fix. I decided to get the ball rolling with my attempt at Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 classic, Don’t Worry Be Happy.
I remember hearing this song way back as a young whippersnapper (I would have been 9 when this was released) and it really stuck with me – it’s a catchy tune with a nice positive message. Anyway, enough rambling, let’s get on with the song.
It’s All About The Low G
For this arrangement, firstly it’s a low G arrangement which I’m playing on my Outdoor Tenor. If you do want to play it on a high G ukulele, there are only a handful of notes that won’t quite sound right, I wouldn’t let it put you off.
Second thing to say is that I’ve transposed it to the key of C which I think works really well on this song, it means you won’t be able to play it over the record but that’s not really the aim of a chord melody arrangement.
Here I am playing through the arrangement. I should point out that I don’t stick to it exactly, I played with the timings and went by feel.
Don't Worry Be Happy Solo Ukulele Arrangement - YouTube
Here’s the tab, no crazy chords, no difficult fingerings. In fact we don’t even venture past the third fret at any point.
If you want to grab the printable PDF of this tab, click the button at the bottom of the page.
In terms of playing this one, I don’t use any specific way to pick the notes. I’m mostly picking with a combination of my thumb, index finger and second finger. I let my thumb pick up the G and C strings with my index and second picking up the E and A strings.
The strums that I’m occasionally throwing in are all done with my thumb. I tend to lean on my thumb quite a lot on arrangements with sporadic strums in them.
If you do have a blast at this arrangement, let me know – I’d love to see your videos and hear your audio files.
Today I’m giving my thoughts on the ukulele membership site Rock Class 101. Before I continue let me point out that I am in no way affiliated with Rock Class 101 but I am a user. On with the review…
What Is It?
Rock Class 101 is a paid membership site which offers a range of video lessons for $9/month. Lessons range from individual songs and technique to courses that incorporate other things like music theory, writing songs and recording.
The man behind the site is Andrew Hardel. Andrew is an accomplished musician who graduated from music school back in 2011.
There are a wealth of lessons on Rock Class 101 (over 250 lessons at the time of writing) which largely tend to be broken into 2 parts, the first half being available to non members and the second half for those that sign up. Members also get access to tab downloads and the rather useful Tab Play Along tool which lets you play alongside the performance with tab. This is a great practice tool and you can even slow the speed down whilst you’re getting to grips with the piece of music in question.
One of the reasons that I like Rock Class 101 is the level of the lessons. There’s a lot of intermediate to advanced level content which is a bracket that’s hard to find on other sites (or YouTube). It goes way beyond the standard, here are 4 chords and a strumming pattern style approach that you see in a lot of places. If I could develop even to be a tenth of the player that Andrew is I’d be a happy man.
What About Free Lessons?
There’s an argument that there’s already plenty of free ukulele lessons out there so paying for lessons isn’t necessary. While I agree with the fact that there’s a lot of material available, it isn’t always of a high enough standard and more importantly it rarely comes in a structured way to develop your playing. It’s one thing to make one off lessons, it’s another to develop a course. This is why I believe in and think that sites like Rock Class 101 are incredibly useful.
The big draw for me is the level of detail in the lessons, there’s always something to learn
Most people that are learning a musical instrument jump straight into songs and this can be a great way to learn but I’m a big believer in getting to grips with understanding how music works. This can help you out with jamming, soloing, improvisation and a lot more beyond.
A post shared by Ukulele Go (@ukulelego) on Oct 14, 2018 at 7:29am PDT
Rock Class 101 also features it’s own forum. On the forum you’ll get to ask questions and chat with other members. One thing that I really like on the forum is the monthly member challenge. Every month the challenge features a different piece of music. Members tackle the music and post videos of their performance. The great thing about the challenge is that you’ll get feedback on your performance directly from Andrew and other teachers. I recently posted a video of myself performing one of Andrew’s arrangements and Andrew spotted that I was really tensing up at a particular point. I wouldn’t have noticed this myself, it’s now something that I’m working to fix. The lessons are also great for giving yourself something to focus on.
If you do take up a membership with Rock Class 101 I’d recommend that you join the forums. Online learning has notoriously high drop-out rates across all subjects and the forums are a great way to maintain your focus.
On the whole I think Rock Class 101 is a great ukulele membership site, especially for those that maybe already consider themselves proficient with chords and strumming through songs. The focus on solo ukulele pieces will really develop you as a player.
If you’re an absolute beginner I’d recommend taking the time to get to grips with the basics before signing up. On the whole though I think Rock Class 101 is one of the best ukulele membership sites out there.
Nana para Eva (translated as lullaby for Eva) is a beautiful solo ukulele arrangement from Choan Gálvez. Choan has very kindly allowed me to publish the tab here for you to learn.
Taken from Choan’s album Lullabies for Astronauts this beautiful arrangement was the first Choan ever wrote for solo ukulele. It was an improvised piece to help his wife get to sleep.
You can listen to Nana para Eva by pressing the play button below…
I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a beautiful piece of music that would make a great addition to your repertoire. The good news is, it’s not too difficult to play and should be good for anyone that’s tinkered around with a little bit of fingerpicking before or is considering it. Essentially, if you’re fairly comfortable playing chords and changing between them, this should be a great piece for you to tackle.
Choan very kindly put together a few playing tips to help you get the best out of this one. Who better to tell you than the composer himself.
Try and let every note ring out for a long as possible. This means keeping notes fretted after you’ve plucked the string. You can also aid this by not smothering your ukulele when you hold it.
You can play the double stops on adjacent strings (bar 3 is a good example) using a short thumb strum.
Try and play it softly with a relaxed, calm feel. Remember, you’re playing a lullaby. It needs to be treated like a lullaby (you’re not trying to wake anyone up with it).
Breathe with the rhythm. This will aid the feel of the piece.
Feel free to adapt and change. Once you’ve learned the song, break the rules and add a little bit of your own magic to it.
Here’s the first part of the tab (you can grab the 2 page PDF by hitting the button at the bottom of this article).
And finally, if you like Nana para Eva and would be interested in listening (and learning) more of Choan Gálvez’s beautiful ukulele arrangements you can check out the album Lullabies for Astronauts. It features 10 arrangements all with supporting tab and is released on 15 October. You can pre-order it for just €5.
Let me start by saying that Alissa is a very talented player and this isn’t one for the feint-hearted. Alissa has said that she actually found this one quite tough to get down. That said, if you’re up for a challenge and really want to push yourself, this is a great lesson for you to sink your teeth into.
Fingerstyle Ukulele Lesson - Let her go - Passenger - YouTube
Alissa has included the tabs in her video to help you out. She very kindly plays each section at full speed and then slowed down alongside the tab. If you need to, don’t forget that you can slow down YouTube videos by hitting the icon at the bottom right (this is such a useful tip when you’re leaning from any video).
Here’s what Alissa has tab looks like. Hit the button below to get the full PDF version (it’s closing in on 2mb so if you’re using mobile data, just be aware of that).
I asked Alissa for some playing tips to help you out and she pointed out that it can be really useful to leave out the down strums while you’re getting to grips with the picking and add them back in later when you’re feeling more confident.
If you watch the video closely you’ll see that Alissa focuses most of her picking on her index and middle finger – these 2 fingers covering the C, E and A strings for the most part. She does occasionally throw in her ring finger but only really when she needs to pick three strings at the same time.
You may find that you naturally find an approach that you like, if you do and it’t not hindering you I’d encourage you to go with what’s working for you.
Huge thanks to Alissa for letting me post this one on the site. Extra kudos points if you spotted that she’s used my blank tab sheets to tab this one out. Don’t forget to subscribe to her channel, she’s got some great videos on there.
Vance Joy’s 2013 hit Riptide has been one of the most popular songs to play on ukulele since it’s debut 5 years ago. Thanks to its positive feel and pop culture references throughout, Riptide has become a modern classic. Let’s take a look at how to play it…
The good news is that there are just four chords in Riptide and you’ll probably already be familiar with them (especially if you’ve ever read my post about four chords). The chords are Am, G, C and F.
Nothing too tricky there. If you do know the chords well I’d throw a few chord inversions in the mix to keep your chord knowledge developing.
The original key to this song is actually C# which is half a step up from regular tuning. If you want to play along with the record you’ll need to drop a capo on at fret 1.
The intro, verses and chorus all use the same 3 chords in the same order throughout. Those chords are…
Am | G | C
If you’ve played ukulele for a while, those chords will be pretty familiar to you. You can give your pinkie finger a rest on this one, you won’t need it.
You’ll be playing a bar of Am, a bar of G and 2 bars of C.
Riptide has an incredibly recognisable rhythm that really drives the song. If you get the rhythm right, you’re pretty much there.
For almost the whole song, the strumming pattern is down, down, up, down, up repeated. As with any rhythm, the say it play it rule is true. If you can say the rhythm out loud, you can play it. Here’s what that rhythm looks and sounds like.
It’s actually pretty simple and shouldn’t be too difficult to get to grips with. Because it’s so simple it’s really crucial to get the timing bang on. I’d recommend using a metronome to get this down.
I like to play the first 2 down strums with a little more emphasis to really accent them. It should end up sounding something like this…
(Note in the audio file I’m playing without a capo)
The song tears along at a pretty rapid rate – 155bpm to be precise so take it slowly initially. Speed will come with time. You can actually get faster at playing ukulele by taking things very slowly. Tortoise and the hare!
For the most part the song remains pretty much the same throughout simply repeating Am, G and C. This only changes later on in the song where our F chord makes it first appearance.
Take a look at the PDF songsheet below for the full breakdown.