About the ukelele
Getting to know the parts of the ukelele
|The parts of the ukelele
The neck of the ukelele separates the body from the head.
The four strings, 1(called top!) to 4 (called bottom!) are stretched
between the bridge and the nut by the tuning keys.
The note which a
string produces can be changed by holding down the string just behind a fret to shorten it.
Getting started - holding the ukelele and tuning it with a
Holding the ukelele
the neck of the ukelele in your left hand;
- bring the ukelele up to
position with its back against your right ribs;
- bring your right forearm in
to press the ukelele body against your
- the left hand knuckle joint at the first finger holds up
the ukelele head;
- relax the fingers of the
left hand so that they are free to finger the
- the right hand is free to strum with thumb or fingers by flexing the wrist.
Playing - right hand
- The wrist is the most important part of the body involved in playing the ukelele;
With the neck of the ukelele supported by
your left hand and your right forearm pressing the ukelele to your ribcage, you are free to twist/roll the wrist of your playing hand, rotating it through nearly 180 degrees;
- the index finger is the commonest means of playing
the ukelele - on the down stroke and/or on the up stroke with the beats
of the music;
can use the fingers held together to strike the strings as you twist
and untwist the wrist, and for even more volume, you can also open and
close the fingers in the hand as as you twist and untwist the wrist;
- you don't need a plectrum - it's difficult to play
with a plectrum whilst holding the ukelele with your right forearm
which you need to do if you're standing up.
Tuning - GCEA
The commonest tuning for the ukelele is G,C,E,A for strings 4,3,2,1
Don't be confused! When
ukelele normally, string 4 (G) is known as the bottom string, even though it's at
the top when you look
at it. Similarly, the top string
is the one at the bottom
when you look down at it.
this ukelele tuning as identical to the top 4 strings of a guitar with
a capo behind the 5th fret, so a G chord shape will be pitched at C, a
C shape pitches at F etc., all 5 frets up the keyboard.
chromatic tuner, or a purpose-made ukelele tuner based on the same
technology is the ideal device for tuning the ukelele.
If you pluck an open string, the tuner displays the name of the nearest
note (A in the picture) and shows whether the string is on the note
(green), high/sharp (white or yellow) or low/flat (red). The note will
be in the range A,B,C,D,E,F,G.
Watch out! Look to the right of the note letter on the
tuner display to make sure it isn't displaying a sharp sign (#) when it
shows green eg. A#.
that case, the note is a semitone higher in pitch than the note letter,
A which is the note needed.
If you don't have a digital tuner, you can use these notes to check
your tuning. Just play the sound file
If you have a tuner, you can check it against these notes