The ukulele is a thing of joy. It’s fun to play, yet it looks stunning to the eyes. The tone it possesses is unique, too.
I started learning the ukulele with a guitar background, but what I knew was limited. Now, with some experience at hand, I look back and think if only somebody would’ve told me these things earlier.
1. Things like setup matter
Despite being a guitarist before, I fell for this trap. When I started as a beginner, I spent little for my first ukulele. It turned out to be unplayable and a total waste of money. If you’re new, you should aim for models with the price of at least $50, but never exceed $100.
I get it. When you see something like a $20 ukulele on the internet, you would probably think that you can save a little more money. However, you’ll end up spending another bunch of cash soon. For musical instruments, they need to sound good.
Some models come with colorful stickers. They are okay for children to use, but anyway, they should only exist as wall decorations. If you want a unique look, consider customizing a well-made piece of instrument yourself.
Spending more depends on you solely, but you need to spare some for other accessories as well. Things like your string set and a clip-on tuner are vital for a start. While few people would place high expectations for these items, they make your learning process less frustrating.
2. You must force yourself to go slowly
Dedication to time and effort is necessary for any musical instruments. However, the media and some other people you know will say that it’s a piece of cake for ukes. I get it because starting playing with a guitar background makes you underestimate the potentials of the ukulele.
The uke is not a simplified guitar. While it may have some similarities in design or playing techniques, it’s another story. I joked around with some friends of mine and turned out the way I held the instruments had been wrong all the time. It was embarrassing, but at least I had my lessons.
There are lots of things to consider when learning the ukulele. Going fast if possible is good, but don’t skip anything. You’ll eventually make mistakes, which can be irritating.
3. There are shops dedicated to ukuleles
The city I live in has music shops and ukulele shops, and you would want to prefer the latter. Music shops, in general, sell a lot of musical instrument and have no primary focus on one specific thing.
Their employees may not be ready to assist you with every problem you have with your uke. Their range of products can be limited.
In ukulele shops, they expertize in creating the best instruments. You can have your unique ukulele as well. Just ask the owner for a custom-made uke. It comes with a price, though!
4. Buy a ukulele tutorial book
Wait a minute. Books? Aren’t we living in the 21st century?
Don’t give me wrong on this. Books play an essential role in your learning process. While it’s possible to learn via the internet, there are loads of information up there.
For a beginner, that can be confusing, and you’ll end up between many clicks and scrolls. There’s a good chance you’ll turn up on social websites!
In a typical book, lessons range from the easiest to the hardest. Strumming and fingerpicking techniques are all illustrated. Some books come with CD/DVD as well.
A book is what you should have if you want to be serious. There are hundreds of titles to consider, but I would recommend “Ukulele for Dummies” by Alistair Wood. My best friend gave this to me, and I wonder why he never did it in the first place.
5. Change your strings
When I was new, I got frustrated when my strings were out of tune quite quickly. It turned out they needed replacing.
Most ukes have nylon strings. Under the effect of weather conditions, they get stretched severely. The ideal time to replace then should be at most six months. That’s subjective, though, as some players change their strings monthly. It depends on how much you play your uke.
6. Practice regularly
I highly recommend a 30-minute practice every day for your skills to sharpen. Don’t practice any longer than that time – that makes learning boring.
Turn it into your habit. Spending two hours each week is not as effective as a regular 30 minutes of uke playing each day. Even when you start to nail the basics, you need that to be muscle memory.
7. Don’t compare your progress to others
This can be motivating yet discouraging. For example, you may think that the uke is so easy that children can play them smoothly. As a result, you may find yourself to be the rock star someday.
When I started, I watched some 5-year-old kids playing the ukulele and was stunned. Then I thought: “These children play better than me like day and night.” Don’t let yourself down with comparisons. Everyone has their strengths and patterns. It’s meant to be fun rather than a competition.
Learning to play the ukulele has been an excellent experience for me. With everything I mentioned,
I hope that you can find the best way for you to learn the Hawaiian masterpiece. Good luck, and have fun!