The Total Guitar
The Guitar Instruction Site
Brian Johns

The Ukulele

     The ukulele can be a fine instrument for both younger children and the beginning player.  Smaller and less bulky than a guitar, it can be easier to hold with a lot of music to be played with just a couple of fingers.   And if desired, advancing to a larger instrument like the guitar or any other string instrument can be a bit smoother.  Experience matters. 

     Well, certainly the perception of the ukulele is that it’s just plain fun ad obviously portable.  If you know a few chords then you, friends and everyone can have musical fun anywhere, at any time and maybe enjoy a few free beverages.  This is quite true and very cool. Yet, also true, and as a medium for conveying or interpreting music on larger scale, the diminutive ukulele shouldn’t be discounted.  Virtuosi like Jake Shimabukuro, James Hill and so many others found on the ‘net have clearly demonstrated the vast sonic possibilities - tapping into the potential - of this seemingly small instrument and in any genre or style.  And so, really, what we have is validity comparable to any other instrument. 

     In other words, multi-string instruments can produce a wide variety of music and the ukulele isn’t any different.   Current or classic pop, rock, folk, classical, strumming or fingers picking – so many possibilities – are all within the do-able realm.  

A Brief History 

     Developing during the latter part of the nineteenth century, the modern ukulele is based principally upon the Portuguese machete or cavaquinho and several variations therein.  These instruments were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants and subsequently produced there.  The ruling class of Hawaii quickly came to augment the use of the ukulele during official performances.  And so, we hear it still.

     Typically, all of these instruments have 4 nylon strings with similarities in shape, size and tuning – not unlike the banjo or slide guitar.  Some of the older variants did have metal strings.  

    The role of the cavaquinho or ukulele historically may have been one of pure accompaniment but clearly the skills of its modern proponents have made it quite the solo instrument.

     The modern ukulele has four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone, the largest.

Here are a few tunes with FREE downloads for either listening or playing.

As usual, the music posted here is for educational and entertainment purposes only.




Sheet Music

The Tango From Paraguay

The Tango From Paraguay – Backing Band

Here Comes The Sun

Five Foot Two,
Eyes Of Blue

Aloha ‘Oe

Videos For Some Of The Above

Ukulele Blues #3


Ukulele_Blues #3.pdf
76.8 KB

Four Classic Rock Introductions For Ukulele


 Four Classic Rock Introductions - Ukulele.pdf
46.9 KB

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