Category Archives: Tips & Handy stuff

Top Five Ukulele Song Sites

The most fun way to learn ukulele is to play songs that you like! Here are a few of my favorite  resources.

Sites with ukulele chords to songs:

Lots more songs with chords:

  • ULTIMATE GUITAR  has a zillion songs with lyrics and chords (They’re user-submitted so sometimes they’re not quite right, so pick the ones with top reviews. Usually they’re pretty good!) If ukulele charts aren’t available for a song, you can always look them up, and you can also transpose to a different key, for ease of singing or playing.

Uke chords: http://www.ukulele.nl/chordfinder.php

Transposing tools: http://www.simusic.com/transpose.html

Of course there are lots of other resources available on the web. These just happen to be a few that I’ve found especially enjoyable.

Bozeman Ukulele Cabaret Songbooks: I haven’t been very organized about how I post songs from our own events — they’re kind of sprinkled here and there throughout the blog. But here are links to some of our most popular songbooks from past events:

  1. Hawaiian Songs with Mark  (PDF)
  2. Power Ballads (PDF)
  3. Beginner Blues (PDF)
  4. Valentine Songs 2014 (PDF)
  5. Love & Tragedy Songbook 2013 (PDF)
  6. Holiday Songs (PDF)
  7. Halloween Songs
  8. “Cowboys and Aliens” songbook (PDF)
  9. Songs to Chill By (various) (horizontal PDF)
  10. Beginner Ukulele Class #1 (PDF)

 

 

 

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So you want to chuck, chunk, and chicka…

At our recent Hawaiian lesson, several people asked, “How exactly do you do that “chucka” thing? Can you slow it down?”

That percussive chucky strumming sound that you hear in a lot of ukulele songs can be done either with your chording hand or your strumming hand. To “chuck” with your left hand, you just lift the chord partially, so the strings don’t ring and instead produce a deadened or muted sound. (You may be familiar with this effect, because it’s easy to do it unintentionally!) However, this only works if there are no open strings in the chord.

That’s why most players do the “chuck” thing by deadening the strings with the palm of their strumming hand. That may sound difficult, but it’s fun and not too hard to learn!

Stuart Fuchs does a great job of showing how to do it in this clear, step-by-step video. If you get out your uke and play along with him, you’ll be chucking within 10 minutes.

After you get the hang of it, you can chuck along with any song and mix up strums and chucks to create rhythms.

In this Hawaiian song, Mark Sinclair modifies a simple down-up down-up shuffle to something more like upup-chuckrest,” but you could do down-up-chuck-up” and get a similar sound.

In this cover of “I’m on Fire,” Mark is doing something along the lines of “down, chuck-up, down-up, chuck-up.”

If you can’t keep up at first, pause the video and do the strumming slowly until you feel confident. (Here’s a sheet with chord diagrams for I’m On Fire)

 

Transposing for dummies — and zombies!

how-to-chartDo you ever run across a song you’d like to play on the ukulele, but it’s in a hard key for singing, or the chords are too hard?

It’s easy to transpose to a different key. A lot of people can do it in their heads (depending on how many heads they have, of course), but I’m not that smart. I get tired of thinking through all those whole steps and half steps, so I made myself this handy transposition chart. (Of course there are online tools and there’s probably even an app for this —  I just felt like making it old school, okay?)

Transposing Chart Printable PDF

Using the chart is simple:

1. In the top line, select the “too hard to sing or play” chord that the songs starts on (or any chord in the song, actually).

2. Trace straight down that column until you find a chord that’s easier for you to sing or play. (It helps to place a piece of paper below the selected row to mark it.)

3. Then, go along the top line again, and find each chord in the song. Trace straight down the column to your selected row, and replace each chord in the top row with the corresponding chord from the selected row.

You’ll soon see patterns, so you won’t have to look them all up. For example, once you know a G changes to a D, it’s going to be that way through the whole song.)

If the chord is a minor or 7th, etc., you still make it minor, 7th, etc — just with the new note name.

In the sample above, I changed a song that starts on Am to start on Em. (The gold stars are just an exciting visual aid!) transposing chartJust experiment until you find a key that fits your voice and playing ability.

(FYI: the green shading indicates the increments in the major scale…. err… I think…)