"Everybody should have and play a uke, it’s so simple to carry with you and it is one instrument you can’t play and not laugh" ~ George Harrison

Boot Camp

 Step One: Know Your Uke

Someone took a shrink ray to a guitar, lost 2 strings, and changed the notes the strings were tuned to and voilá, a uke was born. The parts remain the same as a guitar, as does the vocab used to name those parts so take a sec and get to know your uke.

Step Two: Your Dog Does Have Fleas

Unlike the guitar which goes from a low E to a high E (E-A-D-G-B-E) in order from lowest to highest note, the uke skips around starting with a high g; then drops down to its lowest note, a C; skips up to an E; and ends one note above the g with an A (g-C-E-A). This is considered "Standard Tuning" and gives the uke its distinct sound... the My (g) Dog (C) Has (E) Fleas (A) song people use to tune their ukes in a hurry.

Once you know the notes the strings should be tuned to, you can use either the online tuners to the upper right (Essential section) or a clip on tuner to keep your uke sounding great. Nothing ruins your ears, a song, or a friendship more than an out of tune uke. 

Step Three: Don't Worry, Fret

In order to play music, chords, and use you uke for more than decoration, you need to shorten the strings by placing 1 or more fingers along the bars (frets) on the neck of the uke. Each finger is assigned a number that shows up in a lot of chord descriptions telling you which finger goes on which fret to make the chord shape. Different combinations create different chords (groups of notes that get along) that combine to make a song a song. Chord Families are groups of chords that get along really well and form the heart of all songs. Common Chord Families can be found at the bottom of the page.

Make sure to press with your fingertips behind the fret (horizontal bar) not on it or over it as that will create a buzz. Press hard enough to get the note to sound brightly but not too hard you hurt your fingertip.

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