Category Archives for "Ukulele"

Ukulele Tutorial

The Best Ukulele Tutorial Sites, Ukulele Lessons, and Finding Local Teachers!

Ukulele

If you are anything like us it seems like every time we turn around we find a new Ukulele Tutorial, teacher, or lesson. The increased popularity of the instrument has created a huge need for quality teachers, and a lot of bad tutorials and lessons floating around. 

So, how do you know which ones to trust? How do you avoid someone who just started playing a week ago trying to sell you a $50 "beginner" course? How do you know a local ukulele teacher is any good? ​

Glad you asked! We are going to start with some of our favorite platforms for learning the Ukulele online. Ukulele lessons and tutorials that really deliver quality teaching. ​

After that, we'll move to finding a good local teacher. One of our favorite places to find quality teachers and jam partners is rarely talked about! ​

The Best Ukulele Tutorial and Ukulele Lesson Sites

Learning the Ukulele from lessons online sounds really appealing, right? You don't have to leave the house, brush your teeth, or even get dressed. Unfortunately, not all Ukulele lessons are created equally.

To solve this problem we've taken the time to list out five places that you can really find good tutorials and lessons. This way, you don't have to wade through a bunch of junk to learn the Uke online!

Ukulele Underground

Ukulele Underground

Ukulele Underground is one of our favorite Ukulele sites, period. It is also one of the most rounded sites with a forum, blog, and both free and paid content. 

Even if you don't want to spend the money on a program, we highly recommend you check out the free content they offer. 

Just remember, you can't just read blog posts, browse the forum, or watch videos to get better. You have to actually pick up your Uke! ​

Artistworks

Artistworks

We first found ArtistWorks while looking for good beginner guitar lessons.

They did such a good job we had to see what else they offered. Turns out they have a great Ukulele course too! Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel team up offer several hundred lessons in a wide variety of styles of play. 

One of our favorite things about this program is even the basic offering gives you a chance to submit recordings to the teachers for feedback! With the premium plan you get UNLIMITED submissions! Realistically, that's as much if not more feedback than you'd get if you had a local teacher you were seeing once a week! 

Ukulele Buddy

Ukulele Buddy

JP. Allen has gotten rave reviews for his new course, UkuleleBuddy. This course utilizes 'deliberate practice' to skyrocket results. 

The program has you play along with three 7-minute videos each week. That is it! We've seen the technique of 'deliberate practice' applied and championed by people like Josh Waitzkin (Think "The Search for Bobby Fischer"), but to our knowledge this is the first time it's been applied to the Ukulele. We couldn't be more excited! 

If your biggest excuse to not learning to play is the time involved then this program is for you! ​

Play Ukulele by Ear​

We consider Jim D'Ville over at PlayUkuleleByEar a friend here at StringVibe. Not only did he do a great interview with us, he's been one of our favorite people to follow and interact with! 

His site is a little different than the first three we mentioned in that it doesn't have a huge paid course. Instead, Jim starts out with 26 basic lessons that get you playing (using your ears, not reading chords/tabs!). 

After that you can follow his weekly updates and continue to grow as a musician and Ukulele player in a way no one else is teaching! 

YouTube

YouTube is a bit of a double edged sword. Yes, it has an absolute ton of content and much of it is high quality. In fact, Ukulele Underground has a lot of their free content posted here! 

Then again, browsing around you can find some very poor tutorials as well. 

So, while YouTube is a great source to find information, proceed with caution! 

Check Out All of Our Favorite Ukulele Sites !!!

Next, a look at where to find a great teacher near you! 


Local Ukulele Teachers

While the convenience of learning Ukulele in the comfort of your own home is hard to beat, if you find a quality teacher near you it can make learning the instrument infinitely easier. 

Regardless of how you find them, though, we do recommend you try out a few teachers. Even if the first person you go to is wonderful and you get along great, they may not be a good teacher. If you can go

We know you want to learn 21 Basic Ukulele Chords to get you started.

Go to several local teachers before you choose you'll be able to compare how and what they are teaching, what is resonating with you.

So, where might you find a (or multiple) high quality teacher near you? Just a note, we didn't mention Google, because, well, that's probably how you found StringVibe!

Referrals

Know any people who are musicians? Guess what, they know other musicians, guaranteed. Ask them if they know anyone, or can get a recommendation from someone in their group. 

This is just like job hunting. An employer is much more likely to hire someone who comes recommended from a mutual contact. There is a reason it works in business, and it works just as well in music! ​

Meetups 

If you are in an urban area Meetup is our favorite (and often overlooked) place to find a great teacher. We've run across many groups that are led by a teacher who just wants to give something back. Or, even better, jam groups that welcome anyone. No other Ukulele players show up? See "Referrals".

Craiglist

You can find anything on Craigslist. This is a good and bad thing. You need to be more careful when answering and ad than you do with our first two options. That being said, there are plenty of musicians who know nothing about advertising, so guess where they go... yup, Craigslist. 

Wrap Up

Hope you found this helpful! Regardless if you go with a local teacher or a online tutorial, you need to pick up your Ukulele and strum to get better! Why are you still here!? Go strum! 

Basic Ukulele Chords

The Basic Ukulele Chords to Focus on First

Ukulele

One of the first things you should do as a beginner Ukulele player is to find a few chords you are comfortable with. If you pick easy ukulele chords out you should be able to progress at a reasonable rate, you'll even be able to pick up songs quickly! 

Most popular songs that you'll want to strum on your uke are made up of a combination of the basic ukulele chords. By that, we mean the major, minor, and 7th chords. Each of these groups has 7 chords (one for each note!), giving you a grand total of 21 basic chords.

Below you'll find a detailed chord diagram for each of these chords, the recommended order you learn them in, and tips to make each one easier! ​

Basics of Ukulele Chord Fingering

Ukulele Fingering Notation

When looking at chord diagrams you'll often see numbers placed on individual frets. These numbers correspond to the fingers on your hand. 

Luckily, universal numbering is used so regardless of what website or book you are looking at the index finger will always be labelled #1.

Similarly, the number two is for the middle finger, three for the index, and finally the pinky finger gets the number four. ​

Note that the thumb is not given a notation. This is because if you are trying to hold down a fret with your thumb chances are you're doing something wrong! 

Chord Chart Symbols to Know

Luckily, the notation for the basic Ukulele chords is very simple. 

If you see an open circle next to a string it means you want to play the open string, a note that you play fretted will have a filled in circle. Normally, you'll also have a number corresponding with the normal finger that plays that fret. 

Chord Chart Symbols

Play songs quickly with our list of two chord Ukulele songs!

Lastly, a symbol you won't have to worry about with any of the simple ukulele chords, the "X" signifies that a string should be muted, or not strummed, when the chord is played. 

The Major Chords on Ukulele

We will start out the the major chords for each note. These are easily the most common of the simple ukulele chords that you'll find. Luckily, most of them are also very easy to play. 

A few of these chords are a bit tougher to play and beginners can struggle with them, so we'll address them last! 

The first three to look at are the A, C, and D chords. 

A Major Chord
A Major Chord
C Major Chord
C Major Chord
D Major Chord
D Major Chord

The A major chord is fairly simple, using just your index and middle fingers at frets fairly close together, its a great starting chord. 

The C major chord is possibly the easiest of all, with just one finger on the 3rd fret of the A string! We recommend you start by playing this note with your ring finger, but as you are more comfortable you may find it easier to transition to other chords if you play this chord with different fingers! Start easy, then work up to that! 

Slightly more difficult is the D chord. With three fingers on a single fret some players can struggle to make each note ring true. Try to stagger your fingers to give them more room, or place one finger on each (a barre chord), this will be great practice for later too!

F Major Chord
F Major Chord
G Major Chord
G Major Chord

Next up, the F Chord. This is a very similar shape the A chord, just move your first finger down one fret. 

The G chord will look familiar to guitar players, it takes the same exact shape as a D chord on a standard six string! 

B Major Chord
B Major Chord
E Major Chord
E major chord

The last two major chords are much more difficult, so we saved the "best" for last. 

The B chord requires you to hold down both the A and E strings with your index finger, then stretch to get the 3rd fret of the C string with your middle finger and the 4th fret of the G string with your ring finger. Tough, but doable with practice! 

Unlike the B chord, which you don't play much, you'll need the E chord quite a bit. Many people when they start struggle to reach the 4th fret with their ring finger when the first and second fingers are resting near the nut. We like to play that note with our pinky, it can help alleviate the long reach! 

The Minor Chords on the Uke

While the major chords carry a full, strong sound the minor chords tend to be softer and have more bite. These are great to know to add a little attitude to your playing. Many songs you'll come across will use both major and minor chords to add variation and originality.

There is really only one difficult minor chord, which is the B minor, and we'll cover that one last. ​

A Minor Chord
A Minor chord
C Minor Chord
C Minor Chord
D Minor Chord
D Minor Chord

​The A minor chord is similar to the C major chord. One finger! Just like the C chord it isn't a bad idea to practice playing this chord with different fingers to make transitioning to the next chord easier! 

Slightly harder is the C minor chord, which has three fingers on the highest three strings on the 3rd fret. At least it's easy to remember (3, 3, 3!).

Next up is the D minor chord, which is another very easy chord. In fact, if you struggle to play the regular D chord this is a great alternative as it will spice up your songs too. ​

E Minor Chord
E Minor Chord
F Minor Chord
F Minor Chord
G Minor Chord
G minor Chord

Thankfully, the E minor chord is no where near as difficult to play as the major version of the chord. A comfortable chord for most, just three fingers on three different strings and frets!

Need a nice new Ukulele? Check out our Favorite Ukulele Brands

The F minor chord on the other hand is a bit more difficult. ​Just like we recommended with the E major chord, the best way to play the last note is with your pinky finger. 

Both the G and the G minor follow the same pattern as the D chords on guitar. Just move your first finger back one fret and you've got it. ​

The only truly difficult minor Ukulele chord is the B minor. The combination of a three string barre on the second fret and the stretch to the G string of the 4th fret is challenging for many. 

B Minor Chord
B Minor Chord

The 7th Chords on Ukulele

The last group of chords that we consider to be basic Ukulele chords are the 7th chords. These are staples of the blues and jazz genres and can add a nice touch to any song. 

Five of these chords are very simple to play, and we'll start with those. After that we'll look at another difficult B chord and the D7, which requires a barre.

A7 Chord
A7 Chord
C7 Chord
C7 Chord
E7 Chord
E7 Chord

​A7 and C7 are a cinch if you've already mastered some of the major and minor chord shapes. Just put your index finger on the correct fret and you're done! 

The E7 chord is slightly more difficult, but with no difficult stretches or hand positioning you'll have this one mastered quickly too. ​

F7 Chord
F7 Chord
G7 Chord
G7 Chord

If you can play the G minor chord than the F7 will be a piece of cake. It is the same shape just shifted up one fret on each note. 

​The G7 is just as easy, and is a simple flip of the G major chord. The most difficult part of this shape is making sure your middle and 3rd fingers don't touch the E string, muting that note. 

B7 Chord
B7 Chord
D7 Chord
D7 Chord

The last two chords we have to cover are both fairly difficult because of the barres that are required. Luckily, the B minor is harder, so if you've mastered that these should come easy. 

It's a good thing that B chords are not extremely popular, because none of them are easy to play! Like we just said though, the B7 requires less of a stretch than the B minor​ chord so it is slightly easier to play. 

The final chord, the D7, requires a bar very similar to the ​B7. The difference is your middle finger will be playing the A string, which can be a difficult shape for many beginners to form. 

Wrap Up

There you have it! By learning these easy ukulele chords (or even half of them) you can literally play hundreds of songs.

Combine a handful of these chords with some basic finger picking patterns and you will be impressing friends in no time! 

Lanikai Ukulele

A Lanikai Ukulele in Every Size, Shape and Sound You Could Want

Ukulele

One name that is fairly common in our world is that of Lanikai Ukulele. Backed by Hohner, a company known for its production of high quality harmonicas and accordions, Lanikai has developed a reputation for quality and affordability. 

Most know the Ukuleles from Lanikai for their very good selection of beginner​ and intermediate models. This only covers half of it. 

The Lanikai Hawaiian Made Solid Koa line of Ukuleles holds its own with any other instruments you'll find.​ In fact, many of the high-end Lanikai Ukes are made in Hawaii even today. 

Lanikai also has some very innovative technology that you won't find with any other brands. The Intonation Innovation technology allows you to move the nut up and down the neck, allowing you to play open chords anywhere!

The Kula equipped models come with a three band EQ, making switching between low, mid, and high range as simple as could be. The Kula preamp also comes equipped with a tuner which makes one less item you'll need to carry in your gig bag.

Lanikai LUSJ Concert Sailor Jerry

Image courtesy of Amazon

Finally, the UkeSB models make recording yourself playing as easy as plugging a USB chord from your instrument to your computer!

Lanikai Ukulele Sizes​

Lanikai is like many of the larger Ukulele brand manufacturers in that they cover all the popular ukulele sizes, plus some hybrid models like the banjolele. What are the popular sizes? Glad you asked! 

Lanikai Soprano Ukulele​

The smallest of the offerings from Lanikai is the Soprano. They make it in both the standard "8" shape and the popular pineapple shape as well. Just because they are small doesn't mean they lack in quality or features, though! You can find the TunaUke, the UkeSB, and the Kula EQ setup on these models. 

LU22CGC Natural Concert Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Lanikai Concert Ukuleles​

The concert ukulele size is the perfect starting point for many. It's not as small and fragile as the soprano, yet still holds true to many of the traditional Ukulele qualities. 

The "LU22CGC" Concert Ukulele, pictured right, is one of their basic models. The Sailor Jim, pictured above, is a special release model that shows the variety.

Lanikai Tenor Ukulele

The Tenor sized Ukuleles tend to be the most popular in today's market. They are the great compromise between size and sound. Lanikai is well aware of this and generally produce the most selection in this size. As of the writing of this article they have 19 different models to choose from. 

Lanikai Baritone Ukuleles

In many ways, the baritone ukulele is the "mini" guitar. It's very similar to the size of a travel guitar and because of this has a much deeper sound. If you are a guitar player this may be the perfect size to transition to. Start by tuning it to the highest 4 strings of your guitar and slowly work to comfort with the traditional Ukulele tuning. 

Not Sure About Lanikai Ukes? Check Out Our Other Recommended Ukulele Brands! 


Lanikai Ukulele Recommendations

This wasn't easy. Lanikai has so many quality instruments that it is hard to pick a bad instrument. We've picked out a winner and a runner up in each category and we've tried to spread out the price range so every budget has a great choice! 


Lanikai Soprano Ukulele

Lanikai Soprano Ukulele Reccomendation: Lanikai CMTU-S Curly Mango TunaUke

The Hawaiian Curly Mango used to produce this instrument gives it a very unique and authentic look and sound. Truly a joy to play and a Uke you simply won't want to put down. 

Equipped with the TunaUke technology this ukulele is also a single adjustment away from perfect intonation. This system is simply a game changer for Ukuleles. 

Runner Up:  Lanikai LU-21 Ukulele Bundle

The perfect Ukulele for a kid or as a first instrument. The LU-21 provides plenty of quality to last while not carrying a significant price-tag. 

Lanikai CMTU-S Curly Mango TunaUke

Image courtesy of Amazon


Lanikai Concert Ukulele

Lanikai Concert Ukulele Recommendation:  Lanikai TunaUke SMTU-C Ukulele

SMTU-C TunaUke Concert Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Possibly our favorite Lanikai as far as looks goes, the SMTU-C is beautiful. A Solid Spalted Hawaiian Mango top and body combine with a Abalone purfling and rosette for it's perfect tone and overall look. Not a cheap instrument, but it will surly turn heads twice. 

Runner Up: Lanikai LU22CGC Natural Concert Ukulele

We pictured this Ukulele above when talking about the size of the Concert Ukes, One of our favorite Lanikai's for the price sensitive musician (Aren't we all!). 


Lanikai Tenor Ukulele

Lanikai Concert Ukulele Recommendation:  Lanikai Legacy Collection LU2-6   

The Legacy Collection is designed to infuse classic Ukulele designs with fresh takes. In the case of the LU2-6, they've added an extra string to the C and A strings. If you haven't heard an instrument with doubled strings, you need to. 

A 8-string slotted headstock design and naturally finished mahogany body pair with a rosewood fretboard for a great instrument at a very reasonable price. 

Runner Up: Lanikai Legacy Collection 8-string Tenor

The closest thing you'll find to a 12-string guitar, the depth of tone and range of sound this instrument produces is amazing! 

Lanikai Legacy Collection LU2-6

Image courtesy of Amazon


Lanikai Baritone Ukulele

Lanikai Concert Ukulele Recommendation:  Lanikai CK-TEK Baritone Ukulele

Generally any Ukulele you find built from the native Hawaiian Exotic Curly Koa is a special instrument. The CK-TEK is no exception. As with most Baritone Ukes, this instrument can be tuned to either GCEA or DGBE!

Perfect for gearing up, this model is also equipped with Kula Electronics giving you the flexibility of a three band EQ. 

Runner Up:  Lanikai LUTU 21BEK Baritone Ukulele

If you want the combination of the TunaUke technology and the three band EQ, this is your Ukulele! 

Lanikai CK-TEK Baritone Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon


Wrap Up

Lanikai has a rich history and a well deserved reputation for quality. Add in their impressive line of innovations and goal to keep the ukulele fun and you've got a manufacturer you can trust! 

Magic Fluke Ukuleles

Why Magic Fluke Ukuleles are in a Class All Their Own

Ukulele

Generally speaking, if you told us a Ukulele was made with a plastic body, neck, and fretboard I wouldn't be excited. Add a laminated wood top and we'd probably assume you were talking about a cheap Chinese knock-off. Unless, of course, you told me it was one of the great little Magic Fluke Ukuleles. 

The Fluke Ukulele started shipping in 1999 with a unique and original take on traditional Ukulele design. ​A few years later the Flea began production with the same materials and style. 

Both the Flea and the Fluke are made with a plastic thermoformed body and a laminated wood top. ​This combination enables the instruments to produce a much more authentic, fuller sound than plastic Ukes can pull off. 

They also share the companies standard molded polycarbonate fingerboard and bridge. While many may feel this is a detractor, it actually ​guarantees perfect intonation!

On most of their models the uniquely shaped headstock and neck are made out of solid maple.​

Magic Fluke Sizes 

The flea and fluke are really only made in one size each, so we'll cover them and quickly touch on the "Firefly" which is their banjo uke. 

The Flea Ukulele

The Flea Ukulele comes in a 14'' soprano or a 15.5'' concert size. The shape of the Flea lends itself to generous string spacing. Thanks to the plastic back both models weigh in right around 1lbs. 

Magic Fluke Flea Ukulele
The Fluke Ukulele
Magic Fluke Ukulele

The ukulele that started the movement. The Fluke comes in the traditional concert size and recently the tenor size. The body size for both is the same, but the concert has a 15.5'' scale length, while the tenor is 17''. Both sizes are able to handle GCEA tuning as well as High D tuning, making it fun and versatile!

Want more options? Check out our other favorite Ukulele Brands!

Now, time for our recommendations! 


Magic Fluke Flea Ukulele

Our Recommendation: Magic Fluke Co Flea Designer Surf Concert Ukulele

The designer series comes with custom designs by Evelyn Drew. You have nearly 30 options to choose from so shop around! One of our favorites is the Surf. The red and wood tone mixture is the perfect balance of style and tradition for us. The Seacliff Beach and Honu Walnut also get two thumbs up! 

Magic Fluke Co Flea Designer Surf

Image courtesy of Amazon

Runner Up: Magic Fluke Co Flea M30 Ukulele Natural

This Ukulele could be mistaken for the early models of the Flea. It's natural finish combined with the signature headstock make this a great choice for new Uke players and experienced pros alike. 


Magic Fluke Ukulele

Our Recommendation: Magic Fluke Co Fluke Designer Floral Mango Tenor Ukulele

Magic Fluke Co Fluke Designer Floral Mango Tenor Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Just like the Flea Designer series, with the Fluke designer you have a wide range of options for colorful patterns, custom artwork, or natural wood looks. As an added bonus, you can now get custom printing or laser engraving if you'd rather go that direction. 

Both the tenor and concert sizes provide amazing sound and years of fun with this durable, great sounding instrument.  

Runner Up:  Magic Fluke M10 Natural Ukulele

It is hard to find a better Ukulele under $200. This instrument sounds great and is everything you'd expect from the Magic Fluke Co. 


Wrap Up

If you are looking for a fun instrument that is extremely durable then the Magic Fluke Company's offerings are right up your ally. 

Luna Ukuleles

Our Favorite Artistically Stunning Luna Ukuleles

Ukulele

In the current world of instrument manufacturing, where so many Ukes look very similar, no one will mistake the Luna Ukuleles. 

Luna was co-founded by an artist, Yvonne ​de Villiers, who not only wanted to make instruments that were pieces of art, but ones that had soul. She set out to create a tribe of people who played Luna, not just a bunch of customers. 

Luna's Ukuleles range from colorful and vibrant to simple. A model like the Luna Honu (to the right) has an elegant but understated design, while something like the Great Wave Concert (pictured with the Concert Ukes) is colorful and will be noticed by everyone who sees it. 

Luna Honu Concert Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

We will start by looking at the different sizes Ukulele that Luna offers, followed by specific recommendations! 

Luna Ukulele Sizes 

Luna has done an amazing job offering selections in each of the normal size ranges for Ukuleles, plus a few extras like their pineapple ukes.

Luna Soprano Ukulele​

The traditional size of the Ukulele, Luna offers multiple models in this size. Not only that, but you'll find it's selection of Pineapple Ukes at this size! 

Luna Great Wave Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Luna Concert Ukulele​

The Concert size is one of the more popular, being slightly bigger than the Soprano but more traditionally sized than the Tenor or Baritone. 

Luna offers a great selection of concert sized Ukuleles, currently offering over 20 different models. ​This includes the "Great Wave", pictured on the left. 

Luna Tenor Ukulele​

This might be the perfect middle ground if you are undecided. The slightly bigger build gives this size group a full sound, but no where near the bulk of a full size guitar. 

Luna Baritone Ukulele​

This is the largest of the standard Ukulele sizes, being close to the size of a travel guitar. If you're transitioning from guitar this might be a perfect option, especially since it can be tuned exactly like the bottom four stings of a guitar!

Want more options? Check out our other favorite Ukulele Brands

Now that you know what you're looking at, lets get to the specific recommendations! 


Luna Soprano Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Luna Aurora Soprano Ukulele

This fun little Ukulele is perfect for kids or those young at heart. You can also pick the "Faerie" art for the face! 

As a bonus many vendors on Amazon offer a gig bag, tuner, or beginner package with this Ukulele to get you equipped with whatever you need! 

Luna Aurora Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Runner Up:  Luna Vintage Mahogany Red Satin

If the graphics on the Aurora are a bit to bright, colorful, and attention grabbing for your tastes we understand. The clean, sharp, and elegant finish of the Vintage Red Satin might be exactly what you're looking for. 


Luna Concert Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Luna Exotic Series Spalt Maple Concert Ukulele

Luna Exotic Series Spalt Maple

Image courtesy of Amazon

The finish touch for this Ukulele is Splat Maple and it is simply stunning. The exotic series also has a Olive Ash Burl and a Maple Burl option that are both beautiful in their own right. The crescent moon sound hole adds the finishing touch of style to this Uke. 

The rare tonewoods used for these Ukes also give them a beautifully light, airy sound that fits perfect with the tropical traditions of the instrument. 

Runner Up: Luna Honu Mahogany Ukulele

Pictured in the introduction to our article, this simple, elegant design is a great first Ukulele. The price is also a bit more appealing than that of the Exotic Series. 


Luna Tenor Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Luna High Tide 8-String Tenor Ukulele

If you've ever heard the distinctive ring of a 12-string guitar you know what an amazingly full sound it produces. The 8-string Ukulele is no less special! A little harder to play than a normal 4-string, but well worth it once it's mastered. 

A full Mahogany body matched with an onboard preamp, rosewood fretboard, and satin finish make this an instrument that is truly enjoyable to play. 

Runner Up:  Luna Tribal Tenor Ukulele

This mahogany bodied Uke is adorned with traditional Pacific carving inspired designs. The Tribal series pays homage to the islands that gave us the Ukulele. 

Luna High Tide 8 String Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon


Luna Baritone Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Luna Bass Ukulele 

Luna Bass Ukulele - Black

Image courtesy of Amazon

Even a brand like Luna can't resist the temptation to make a stylish gloss black instrument. The spruce top, mahogany sides, and Flatwound strings combine for the deep sound this instrument produces. 

Thanks to the built-in Preamp this Ukulele can be played acoustically or plugged in and really amplified. 

Runner Up:  Luna Tattoo 6-string Baritone Ukulele

Is this a guitar or is this a Ukulele? 

We aren't sure. But we do know it's fun to play and has the 'tattoo' design that Luna is known for. Definitely not a traditional instrument which is part of it's charm. 


Wrap Up 

While Luna isn't the most well known Ukulele manufacturer, nor do they compete with some brands on the high-end models, they make truly beautiful, quality instruments. 

We have no doubt Luna will continue to make instruments that inspire, and we will upgrade our choices as they come out with new models! ​

Martin Ukulele

Experience the Sound of a Martin Ukulele

Ukulele

You've heard of Martin Guitars, right? Silly question, we know. 

Did you know Martin also makes some pretty amazing Ukuleles? That might be a surprise. Many people don't know about them, and many people are missing out.

Starting production in 1919, Martin puts 175 years of guitar manufacturing and ​almost a hundred years of Ukulele making experience into all of their instruments, and it shows.

Recommending a Martin Ukulele is actually kinda tough. They don't make a bad instrument, therefor it's almost an embarrassment of riches as we talk about them.  

To decide which Martins we'd recommend we had to look at a lot of factors. Not only did we look at all of the items we normally consider, things like: volume, tone, sound, material, construction, and appearance, with Martin we decided to ​consider the cost too. It would be easy to recommend a bunch of $1000-$2000 Ukes that many in our audience couldn't afford. but we wanted to select some that most of our audience would really enjoy and still be able to afford. 

Before we get into our recommendations, we want to cover the sizes available to you when shopping Martin Ukuleles. ​

Martin Ukulele Sizes

The only major size category that Martin does not currently offer is the Baritone, they have very strong offerings in the Soprano, Concert, and Tenor sizes, though. 

Leaning Ukulele
​Martin Soprano Ukes

Martin's Soprano Ukes carry a traditional size and shape. Most are 20'' long and have 17 frets. Despite their small size, Martin manages to get great, relaxing, light sound out these instruments that makes it easy to imagine you're enjoying the beaches of Hawaii.

Martin Concert Ukulele

Possibly the perfect starter Ukulele, the concert size is easier for many to play then the Soprano but carries more of a traditional sound than some Tenor or Baritone models. Weighing in at 23'' long and equipped with 17 frets, these are some of our favorite Martins. 

Martin Tenor Ukulele

If you're transitioning from a Martin Guitar to the Ukulele this may be the perfect size for you to start with. The Tenor Uke is the largest size that Martin makes and is just a little smaller than a travel guitar. 

Measuring 26'' long and equipped with a standard 20 frets, this instrument will be comfortable for most former guitar players. 

Want more choices? Check out our other favorite Ukulele Brands 


Now, on to the information you came for! Here are our recommendations for Martin Ukes in each of the three size categories they produce Ukuleles in. 

Martin Soprano Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Martin S1 Ukulele

The Martin S1 is everything you'd expect from a Martin without the heavy price tag you may be dreading. This Uke sports a one-piece mahogany top paired with a full solid wood mahogany body. The fretboard is made out of a super playable morado material. 

You can normally find this Uke for under $500, giving you all the quality you'd expect from Martin at a very reasonable price. 

Runner Up:  Martin OXK Soprano Ukulele

The least expensive Martin we could find. This is an amazing value. 

Martin S1 Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Martin Concert Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Martin 2 Concert Ukulele

A special Uke, the Martin 2 has everything you'd expect from a Ukulele at this price. Genuine one peice mahogany body and neck are coupled with a East Indian Rosewood fingerboard and bridge. 

Martin 2 Concert

Image courtesy of Amazon

The Black Tusq saddle and the grained Ivoroid Binding really shine on this model, adding the extra special touch you'd expect from an instrument in this price range. 

Runner Up:  Martin C1K Concert Uke

This instrument sports the beautiful traditional Uke wood Hawaiian Koa and a price tag that will fit in more budgets than the Martin 2. 

Martin Tenor Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Martin 1T IZ Tenor Ukulele

There may only be one artist who played the Ukulele who is a household name. That man, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (IZ) inspired millions. This instrument is Martins tribute to him. As a finishing touch to a brilliant Uke, this instrument is adorned with an "IZ" inlaid in a hibiscus flower that is pink awabi pearl. 

Simply put, this Ukulele is worth every penny. 

Runner Up: Martin Natural Koa Tenor

This beautiful Hawaiian Koa Ukulele doesn't have the bells and whistles that the "IZ" does, but its an amazing value and one you'll be happy with for years.

Martin 1T IZ Tenor

Image courtesy of Amazon

Wrap Up​

It is obvious if you look at any of the Martin Ukuleles that they've used the lessons they've learned from almost 100 years of manufacturing to guarantee they remain an elite instrument maker. 

Yes, these Ukuleles are expensive. That being said, it's safe to say that if you spend the money you won't need a new instrument for many, many years! ​

Kala Ukulele

Our Favorite Kala Ukulele – In Each Size!

Ukulele

Kala Ukulele is one of the really premier Uke makers that turns its talents to this fun little instrument. Why is this a bad thing, you ask? 

The problem arises from the rather large selection of Ukuleles they produce, leaving more than a few options as to which you should chose.

To make your decision easier, we looked at the Ukes available in each of the different sizes (soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone) and picked out one that we​ are confident you'll love. 

Kala Ukulele Sizes

There are four main sizes that Kala makes their Ukuleles in. The soprano, the concert, the tenor, and the baritone. We'll quickly cover the differences so you  can better choose the right one for you. Want more help? Check out our guide to the different types of Ukulele!

Kala Soprano Ukulele

This is generally regarded as the "standard" Ukulele size and is the most traditional. This fun little size is between 21 and 23 inches long and will have between 12 and 15 frets. 

Because of it's small size it can be difficult for larger individuals, or former guitar players, to jump right in on this instrument. 

Makala MK-C Concert 

Makala MK-C

image courtesy of Amazon

Kala Concert Ukulele

Just slightly larger than a Soprano, the Concert size can be easier for many individuals to play than the Soprano without sacrificing the genuine Ukulele sound we all love. 

Kala Tenor Ukulele

The tenor is the largest ukulele that is tuned in the traditional sense. Tenors are normally around 26'' long and have around 18 frets. 

At this size you'll start to get a little deeper, fuller sound than the soprano and concerts, but don't worry, people will still know instantly that it's a Ukulele! 

Kala Baritone Ukulele

The baritone Ukulele has become more popular in the recent years as it's a bit of a hybrid instrument. 

This model is similar to size to that of a travel guitar and is often tuned to the bottom (highest) four strings of a guitar - DGBE. 

Our Kala Ukulele Recommendations 

For each of the standard four sizes we've come up with our favorite Kala Ukulele. Many times we've added in a runner-up, thanks for too many good options! 

​Kala Soprano Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Kala KA-15S

This is simply one of our favorite Ukuleles and one we recommend to all beginners. For a very reasonable price you'll get a Uke that you'll be happy with for years. This instrument is made with a mahogany body and neck and comes strung with Aquila Nylgut Strings. 

As a bonus many vendors on Amazon offer a gig bag, tuner, or beginner package with this Ukulele to get you equipped with whatever you need! 

Runner Up:  Makala Dolphin

The perfect Ukulele for a kid, these Ukuleles are a little bit more durable than many. The fun paint jobs are also a hit with the free spirited or younger crowd! 

Kala KA-15S

Image courtesy of Amazon

Kala Concert Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Kala KA-KCG Koa Gloss Concert Ukulele

Kala KA-KCG Koa

Image courtesy of Amazon

The traditional material for the Ukulele is Hawaiian Koa, so anytime you can find a solid Koa instrument it's special. The KCG from Kala is no exception. This is a truly special Ukulele. 

Runner Up:  Kala KA-CEM Exotic Mahogany Concert

​The Hawaiian Koa might be out of your price range, but that doesn't mean you can get a great sounding Uke. The CEM has an amazing tone with a Figured Mahogany body.

Kala Tenor Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Kala KA-TG Gloss Ukulele

This is simply a beautiful Ukulele. ​Crafted with a Spruce top and Mahogany body and sides and a Rosewood fingerboard and bridge, the quality is exactly what you'd expect from Kala. 

With the tenor size you get a great, slightly deeper tone without loosing the warm, bright high notes. ​

The nickel frets, tuners and tie-ins really finish off this look, giving the TG Gloss a high-end feel at a mid range price!​

Runner Up: Kala KA-PWT Tenor Acoustic Ukulele

The Pacific Walnut really gives this Ukulele a unique, focused tone that you won't find often. 

Kala KA-TG

Image courtesy of Amazon

Kala Baritone Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Kala KA-BG Mahogany Baritone 

Kala KA-BG Baritone

Image courtesy of Amazon

The Spruce top with Mahogany body and neck really produces a bright, warm tone. The gloss finish really gives this Ukulele a stylish finish.

You'll also get a full bodied sound thanks to the Baritone size with this Uke. This instrument finishes with easy playability thanks to low action. 

Runner Up:  Kala MK-B Baritone Ukulele

​Baritone Ukes can be pretty expensive, but this Makala version of the KA-B is an affordable version of Kala's very popular Uke. Great sound at a great price! 

Wrap Up​

Kala is one of our favorite Ukulele manufacturers. They have a reputation for quality in their entire line, from top to bottom.

Do you have a Kala that we didn't list? Please comment below, we'd love to hear from you! 

Best Ukulele Brands

What are the Best Ukulele Brands? We’ve got the Answer!

Ukulele

We have good news and we have bad news. 

The good news is there are a TON of companies making Ukuleles right now.

The bad news is not all of them make a quality instrument.

We are here to separate the two. ​

We know that you don't want a cheap, poorly made instrument that will be impossible to tune. It's no fun to have an Ukulele that starts to fall apart in your hands after you play it for a month. Lastly, we know that most people don't need a high-end, authentic Koa, $1000 Ukulele that other musicians will be jealous of. 

What are the Best Ukulele Brands?

Like we said earlier, there are a ton of good brands. Kala, Mahalo, Magic Fluke, Pono, Luna, Lanikai, Martin and Kanilea were all considered for this list. Several make a quality product without a gigantic price tag, a few have a good mid-range selection, and for those of you who want to spend a little extra for a great instrument, we got you covered as well. ​

There are some amazing Uke makers we left off this list to be honest. Either they had to small a selection, were to hard to find, or simply don't ship out of Hawaii, we left them out because our average reader wouldn't have the chance to purchase one if they were interested. ​


Kala Ukulele

Kala is one of the best selling Ukulele brands available currently. Unlike many companies that started with a more popular stringed instrument and transitioned to the Ukulele, Kala has always focused on it. 

For beginners, Kala offers it's Waterman and Makala line. The Waterman is a traveling mans Uke, designed to be durable and water-resistant. The Makala line is a great sounding beginner instrument. 

Kala also makes a rather unique instrument in the Solid body U-bass. The qualities of a bass combined with the size of a Ukulele make for a unique and fun instrument. 

Finally, the Elite line is made with the highest quality standards and is shipped in a slick black alligator hard case. These Ukuleles are made with traditional Hawaiian Koa and are both beautiful and amazing sounding. 

Combine Kala's huge selection with the reputation for quality and you're sure to love the instrument you end up with! 


Luna Ukulele

Simply put, Luna makes some of the most interesting, and artistic instruments you'll ever see. Almost all of their offerings have some sort of design on the top to make them look as good as they sound. 

Much like Kala, the Luna Ukulele line really nails the entry level and intermediate players needs and wants. You can easily get a great sounding, special looking Luna for under $100. 

Luna Tattoo Concert Ukulele

Pictures Courtesy of Amazon

Luna offers a full line of Ukuleles, from Baritone down to Soprano. As a bonus, they offer some of the coolest Pineapple Ukuleles you'll find, including our favorite, the Tattoo


Magic Fluke Ukulele

The Fluke Ukulele was created in 1999 with the goal of creating a great sounding, affordable, USA-made instrument. It is safe to say they succeeded. 

Fluke Ukulele
Fluke Natural Ukulele

Pictures Courtesy of Amazon

The Fluke Ukulele (far left) was first produced in 1999 

The Flea, on the right, was created in 2003.

Both models have been popular from the very start!​

The Fluke and the Flea both had very original, and non-traditional, take on the standard Ukulele shape and construction. The shape is fairly obvious, but the construction is another matter. 

Both Ukuleles use a combination of a solid wood soundboard with a thermoplastic body. This creates a unique, bright, full sounding Ukulele that is more durable than a standard wood model yet produces a much better sound than a cheap plastic model. 

Many Ukulele players now swear by this companies instruments and we understand why. No conversation about great Ukulele makers would be complete without mentioning the Magic Fluke Company. 


Lanikai Ukulele

Lanikai is a brand that does a bit of everything, as long as it has to do with the Ukulele. 

Not only does Lanikai make a full selection of sizes but they have every level of player covered as well. If you're a beginner you'll want to check out the LU series, while the experts in the crowd will be pleased with the Legacy or Makau series. 

Another thing that Lanikai does extremely well is innovate.

The innovation starts somewhat basic. The Kula equipped models come with a three band EQ.

Want something a bit more cutting edge? The UkeSB series actually has a USB output at the tail of the instrument, allowing you to easily record yourself playing!

Finally, the TunaUke allows players an unlimited amount of customization with movable wedge saddles and specific nuts. 

Regardless of what you're looking for with your first (or next) Ukulele, we bet Lanikai will have you covered! 


Martin​ Ukulele

​Martin is known as one of the truly elite guitar manufacturers. Many probably don't know that they also make Ukuleles. They do, and they are pretty good at it. While they have ONLY been at making Ukes since 1916 (They started making guitars in 1833), these are some amazing instruments. 

​Just like the guitars, Martin Ukuleles are all handcrafted using the finest of manufacturing standards. These are possibly the best Ukuleles made today. 

These are probably not going to be in the price range of many beginners, nor will they be able to appreciate the quality. For the intermediate and expert players ​you simply can't beat these Uke, though. 


Wrap Up

There you have it! 

There are hundreds of Ukulele manufacturers out there, but if you stick to these five then you'll be assured a high quality instrument. 

Kala and Luna are great options for your first instrument with some options for the higher end models, Lanikai and Fluke are great intermediate instruments, and Martin simply can't be beat. 

Got a brand you love? We'd love to hear about it! Comment below!

Two Chord Ukulele Songs

Awesome Two Chord Ukulele Songs that are Fun to Play

Ukulele

Learning to play a Ukulele is tough. You have to worry about changing between chords, you have to worry about strumming, all while staying in time. We can help.

This article has eight easy two chord ukulele songs for you to gain confidence with. Several of these songs are extremely famous, or have been covered by legendary artists. 

Why Start with Two Chords

It is a huge advantage to start with simple songs while you learn to play Ukulele. Learning Uke can be frustrating, so it's great to actually play right off the bat. 

Now, some of these chords are a bit more difficult than your normal basic chords many teachers will start with. 

Many of these songs include 7th chords, which are variations of your major chords. 

For instance, Clementine, and several other songs, include a D7 chord, which is the 7th for the D major chord. The 7th chord of D actually requires you to hold down one less fret than the major, so in this case it's slightly easier to play. 

D Major Chord

D Major Ukulele Chord

D7 Chord

D7 Ukulele Chord

Most of the 7th chords won't be taught right away by many Ukulele teachers or in online lessons, but they are easy enough that they can be played from the start. 

If you don't want to learn the 7th chords at first that is fine, it will slightly change the sound but many people won't hear the difference. Or, to spice up the tune a little try playing the major chord during the chorus and the 7th the rest of the time! ​

Two Chord Ukulele Songs

We tried to make this list as easy as possible to play. In fact, five of the eight songs are played using only a G major and the D7 chord​s. 

Want more easy song options? Check out our list of 15 Easy Ukulele Songs

1. Clementine      G,  D7

In this video the teacher uses the C major and G7 chords to play this tune. ​We've seen it played either way but slightly prefer the G and D7 mix. Another interesting piece to this song is that it's in 3/4 time, making it a fun variation from the 4/4 time that so many songs are written in. 


2. Down in the Valley      C, G7

Down in the Valley is another C major and G7 song, and it also just happens to be another in waltz (3/4) time. ​This teacher does a great job with a slow, detailed explanation.


3. Skip to my Lou      C, G 

​Very simple and short explanation of how to play "Skip to my Lou", this can be a fun song to start with because everyone knows it! 


4. Lord of The Dance          C, G

We struggled to find a simple version of this song on instruction, but this video is fairly close. He plays the introduction in a C major, G major arrangement that is perfect to carry through the song. 


5. Streets Of Laredo                         C, F

One of our personal favorites (especially Johnny Cash's cover) The Streets of Laredo is a great beginner song. To keep it simple when the video switches to a B flat chord stay with the F for a bar. Also, keep the strumming simple to start and work up to the finger=picking arrangement you see here!


6. A Horse with No Name by America       D, Em

​This is a song that you can simplify for beginners and make it much tougher as you advance. The video shows a very odd D 6/9 chord (which you'll never use again), sub that out for a standard D chord to start. Another tip is to start with a basic down strum and work into the rhythm he plays. Lastly, add the mute for a great sound with only two chords!


7. Achy Breaky Heart        F, C7

This goofy song by Billy Ray Cyrus translates to Ukulele quite nicely. A fun one for around the campfire, 


8. Banana Boat Song        F, C7

Who doesn't know this song? "Day-Oooooo. Daylight come and me wanna go home". This is a great way to wrap up our list... a simple, fun, and popular song that really shines on the Ukulele. 


Wrap Up

Hope you enjoyed the list and you're already playing a few of the songs! 

If you want to see a great list of beginner tabs for the Ukulele check out the list at UkuleleTabs, and we love the program they've got at ArtistWorks for learning the Ukulele! 

From Ukulele to Guitar

The Challenges Transitioning From Ukulele to Guitar

Guitars , Ukulele

So, you want to transition from Ukulele to guitar. We love both instruments, so we get it. In fact, there is a long list of notable guitarist that also play the Uke. Guitarist the caliber of Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend, Brian May, and Jimi Hendrix all played the lighter, brighter sound of the Ukulele.

So, what can you expect when trying to learn the guitar? The good news is that the instruments have a lot in common. The bad news is the two extra strings and larger size of the instrument adds challenges a Ukulele player won't be accustomed to. We'll go over what to expect here!


The Size Difference between Ukulele and Guitar

This is probably the most obvious difference. In fact, when many people think of the Ukulele they think of a miniature guitar. With the average guitar being anywhere between 38 and 41 inches long and a Soprano Ukulele normally only being 21 inches long, this isn't wrong.

Not only will this change how you hold the instrument but it will challenge your posture. Many who switch will tend to lean over the guitar to reach the end of the neck while strumming. This can really crowd your strumming hand, not to mention hurt your back! Sit up straight and move the guitar to the leg of your strumming hand. The size difference will definitely take time to get used to but might be the easiest transition in the end.


Larger Tonal Range

This question depends a lot on the way you tune your Ukulele, especially since that varies much more than guitar tuning normally does. To know the exact tonal range you need three things.

1. Lowest Open Note 
2. Highest Open Note
3. Number of Frets (Scale Length)

So the Tonal Range is the number of steps between the highest and lowest open notes plus the scale length.

Lowest Open Note - Highest Open Note + Scale Range = Tonal Range

What does this mean for the Ukulele and the Guitar? The guitar can often have about four octaves of range, while its normal for the Ukulele to only have two.


Differences in Tuning

Assuming your Ukulele is tuned in the re-entrant style it's normal for the switch to guitar to throw you off. When using re-entrant tuning you'll be used to the second highest, then lowest, second lowest, then highest notes. With a guitar, the notes move from lowest to highest as you move down the neck.

If you don't use re-entrant tuning you can simply capo the guitar at the fifth fret and the open notes of highest four strings will match with your Ukulele.

Single Ukulele

Larger Neck Size

The fact that the neck is more narrow on a Ukulele is no big surprise. For those with small hands, the fingering of the open C chord can be difficult at first, as well as many bar chords.

What may surprise you is that the strings are closer together on the guitar than a standard Uke. This can cause difficulties playing clear, individual notes. The strings are also set at a much higher tension for a guitarist, this leads to discomfort for many Uke players while they learn.


Wrap Up

There you have it! While switching instruments is never easy these two are close enough that you won't be starting from scratch. If you want to know more about the topic we'd recommend this thread on UkuleleUnderground or a guest post from Al Wood of Ukulele Hunt that was published on Guitarkadia.