Ukulele Talk: Which Type of Ukulele Should I Buy?

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Common Type of Ukuleles:

The Ukulele family, as we know it today, contains of four different type of instruments. The smallest one is the Soprano and the biggest one is the Baritone. In between these two are the Concert, which in size looks similar to the Tenor.

The Soprano is the most common one for beginners: It is relatively cheap and small to carry.

When it comes to buying your first Ukulele please do not buy the cheapest one you can find.Usually the budgetmodels will not stay in tune very well, their tuners tend to slip which makes tuning something of a nightmare.

As with any instrument, the better the instrument, the better it will play and the easier it will be to get a tune out of it. This is especially true for the less experienced player. There is not need to buy a really expensive Ukulele [only if you are inclined that way] Something in the pricerange from £30.- to £40.- will buy you a fine instrument which will last you for a long time.

 

Tuning:

The most common tuning is the C-tuning which reads like:  G, C, E and A   (low to high). Soprano’s, Concert’s and Tenors are tuned in this tuning, Baritiones are tuned similar as the top four strings of the guitar: D,G,B and E (low to high). Because of this tuning, the Baritone can be seen as a small guitar: The chordshapes are similar as the chordshapes played on the top four strings of the guitar.

 Creating an Ochestra of Ukuleles:

In the previous blog I talked about the Twin Guitar Sound. It is possible to get a smiliar sound from the Ukulele: Put together various types of Ukes and play any chordsequence or song and it will create a beautiful, full sound of matching Ukuleles. If there are any people out there who are interested in putting a Ukulele Orchestra together, please get in touch as I would love to arrange music for this type of band/orchestra.!

More Ukuleles:

Apart from the Ukes mentioned above there are two more different types of Ukes, they are less common but both of them have their own sound: One is the Resonator Ukulele, this Uke looks similar as the resonator guitar with its metal body and metalic sound. This Uke is a lot louder than the more common,  wooden-type body Uke.

Another type of Uke is the Ukulele-Banjo which was popularized by George Formby. This Type of Uke does sound somewhat similar as the Banjo.

Why Play Ukulele?

The sound of the Uke is quite distintive and the size of the instrument is compact which makes it an ideal travelpartner.

A lot of people tend to think the sound of the Uke is somewhat commical. It is true, with it’s C (or D) tuning, that a Uke sounds quite bright, cheerful and less mournful that it’s fuller brother: The Guitar with it’s standard Emsus4 7 tuning.

 

Want to develop your Ukulele playing? Stay tuned for more special Ukulele blogs about different playing styles/techinques and using guitarcapos for your Uke.

 

See you soon,

Eddie

Learning to Play Boogie Woogie Piano Style Basslines a la Jools Holland on Guitar in Leeds

20140222153811IMG_5187For this article a short brief how you can create Boogie Woogie style bass lines on the guitar. Boogie Woogie is a style of music which is associated with Blues, Jazz, Rock and Roll and Swing. The style is very diverse and sounds like fun. The best, well-known name today maybe Jools Holland but there are many, many other pianists such as Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Champion Dupree who played in a similar style.
Many beginners get at some point introduced to that typical Blues idea where you move bass notes about. That idea originates from Piano players who played in Barrelhouses in the 1920s and 1930s in the United States. Acoustic guitar players picked up on the idea and that is how it developed. By the time Chicago Blues was happening aournd the 1950s, the idea got more exciting and electrified.
The basic idea of a Boogie line is you play a particular idea over one chord and repeat this idea over the next two chords.

Here an example of a simple Boogie Bass Line based on a G6 chord

E ———————————————-
B ———————————————-
G ———————————————-
D ——————————2————–
A ———–2–2—-5—5———5—2—–
E —3–3————————————–

You can use this bass line over a G6 chord, the Root is on 3rd fret on low E string and the sixth of the chord is on the 2nd fret on the D string.

The next bass line for the C6 chord is exactly the same but it will start on the A string. Just move the whole thing down a set of strings and just play it is a similar way.

For your third chord, which is a D6 you move your whole C6 bass line up starting on 5th fret on the A string and then play the whole thing again.

As you can see, there is only one Bass line, and it is repeated over the next two chords, even the fingering remains the same as for the first chord.

The sequence is a 12 bar in G, and yes you can just play chords if you like, try using 6th chords which will give you a different sound compared to just a straight major chord.

Just experiment and play and have fun.
Hope to catch soon again for more.

If you are interested in learning more about Blues or any oher guitar style just give me call on 07796 808633 to find out how I can help you.
Thanks
Eddie

Guitar Lesson: Barre Chord Shapes For Beginners

20140116184607IMG_5327Barre chords are chords which use your first finger of your fretting hand placed all across the fretboard, holding down all six strings.
Barre chords are often moveable which simply means you can play the same  chord shape to create different chords. It is possible to play a whole song by using the same barre shape, all depending on the chord sequence of the song.
Most beginners will start off by learning to play open chords, since they tend to be easier. Once they will start using barre chords they may experience some trouble getting all those six strings to sound clear. Most beginners do not realise that you do not need to play all those six, guitar players will use often only four strings out of a six string barre chord, it all depends on the sound you want.

For this article I will give you one useful barre shape: It is the shape which forms the open E-chord. This shape can be used for moving chords up and down the fretboard. Here is the E barre shape starting at the fifth fret creating a A chord:

E ——————–
B ——————–
G ——–6———-
D ——–7———-
A ——–7———-
E ——–5———-

Look at how you leave out the top E and B string, you do not play them at all! The chord gets its name from the Root note which is found on the low E string at the fifth fret. Move the whole chord shape where the low E becomes an open string. The A and D string will both be fingered at fret two and the G string is fretted at the first fret. Recognize the E shape now? This is where the barre chord gets its name from!

Okay, now move the chord shape back to fret five and use four fingers to play the chord, no need to barre with your first finger. Your first finger in used to play fifth fret on the E, use your other three fingers to play the rest of the remaining three fretted strings. Once you have the chord underneath your fingers ( you may have to move your wrist a little to get the chord to sound clean) start moving the shape up and down the fretboard to create different sounds. Remember the low E string is where the chord gets its name from. This exercise is also great for learning your E string all across the fretboard.
Be patient at first, your main goal is to get the chord to sound clear and clean while you move up and down the fretboard. No need to rush things as you will master this shape in time, just relax and enjoy the different sounds you can now create with this new chord shape.

Happy playing and hope to catch you soon again for more.
Eddie

Modify Your Amp for Great Jazz Tone: Plug Straight Into Power Amp!

20140329132756IMG_4372When you listen to a lot of Jazz Players you realise that a lot of them play with a fairly dark tone, this is related to most Jazz Cats using a Semi Hollowed Body guitar ( they tend to sound darker ) but they also seem to roll their treble all the way down.
Plugging straight into the power amp of your guitar amplifier will give you a similar tone without rolling off all the treble. This trick can make solid bodied guitars sounds like a hollow body guitar, cool!

You could get a separate power amp, and a speaker set and use that a your main set-up (again, a lot of Jazz Players do it that way!) but you could also modify your amp by getting another input which will allow you to plug straight into your power amp. The power amp section does not deal with any tone controls of your amp, they will no longer work when your guitar is plugged straight into the power amp. It is a great extra feat. to have this on your amp. Why do amp not come standard with this mod eh?

Using a power amp may also be a good idea for those of you who like to hear their effects without any colouration of the pre amp: You will be able to tweak you sound any way you like without hearing any extras from the pre-amp.  The pre-amp is the part of the amp which creates the soul ( colour ) of the amp, the power amp is there to amplify this sound –and therefore does not add any more colour to the signal—-

Hope to catch you soon again for more guitar fire.
Eddie

Guitar Lesson: Arpeggio Shapes For Beginner- and Intermediate Guitar Players

20140116182109IMG_5338Arpeggios are simply a broken chord, you play all the notes of the chord, one at a time, to create the sound of the overall chord. Arpeggios are not the same a picking a chord. When you pick a chord you usually will keep your fingers on the fretboard to hold down the chord, arpeggios, on the other hand,  are played note for note on their own. Arpeggios can be played in one position only covering one Octave, or you could play them across the whole fretboard covering as much as three Octaves.
A lot of guitar players do use arpeggios for their solos without even being aware of it. The technique of using Arpggios is not new. During the Shred Period of the 1980s and early 90s some guitar players started to use Arpeggios exclusively for their solos. One of the most well-known Arpeggio player is Ingwie Malmsteen. He will play Arpeggios at super speed all across the fretboard. He is just an extreme example of how to use Arpeggios but you can apply them in many other ways.

Why is it a good idea to learn to use Arpeggio shapes for your Solos you may wonder? Arpeggio notes will make you play harmonically, which is one of the hardest things to do for any beginning, improvising guitar player. Most people will hear riffs and licks and other melodic ideas in their head when it comes to playing solos, harmony notes seem to come less natural and you have to work at it. All of this becomes apparent when you start to improvise over more complex chord sequences, as you riffs may no longer make sense.

The whole thing with learning to play the guitar (and learning the fretboard!) is this puzzle idea: At some point all chords and scales fall into place, they will all lead to this similar place where you can draw from to play over any chord sequence.  Working on different parts of your playing will help you and as any good guitar player will admit: None of this will happen over night, you need to work at it!.

Okay time to introduce two different Arpeggio shapes: The first shape is simply a C shape in the key of D. The chord is a D7, which is a basic triad—-Root, Maj. Third, Perfect Fifth and Dom. 7th. The Root is on the 5th fret of the  A string and the next Ocatave if sound on the 3rd fret of the  B string.
E  ——————————

B  ————————-3—-
G ————–3—5———–
D ——–4———————
A —-5————————-
E ——————————-

Here is the same chord (D7) but now played over three strings to make it more flexible for your fingers:
Root is still on 5th Fret A string , next Ocatave note is now found on the G string 7th fret.

E —————————–
B —————————-
G ——————–5–7—
D ————-4—7———
A ——–5——————-
E —————————-

Use for your own playing some other well-known open chord shapes, play them first as conventional chord shape, then experiment with putting some of the notes on other strings to create a different chord shape.
When you start experimenting with various shapes you will soon discover that each shape does have it own advantages and disadvantages: Some of the shapes may include a lot of string skipping, large finger stretches or other issues. Rework them to find out which shapes work for your own playing.

Playing with a lot of different Arpeggio shapes you may discover that most shapes on the guitar can be brought back to those basic, five open chord shapes that you learned in the very beginning. Realising this can be so much of a benefit for learning to visualise the fretboard: Try to recognize the basic open chord shape wherever you are on the fretboard and it will help you to play the notes you want to play.

Have fun with your playing and hope to see you soon back for more.
Eddie

Blues Tips For Beginners and Intermediate Guitar Players

20131111140925eddieStudents ask me from time to time how you play a Blues. The answer is simple you may think: Show them a 12 bar blues and there you go. Is it as simple as that? The key is in listening and what people associate with how a Blues sounds like. There are so many types of Blues songs, and that typical 12 bar, Chicago-style Electric  Blues, may not be everyone’s idea of what a Blues is about.
Not only beginners related the idea of a Blues song to a 12 Bar Blues, more experienced players may have a similar association: I can remember when it came to doing sound checks with a local Rock n Roll band and I started with a shuffle groove, all the other band members jumped on that typical 12 bar Blues idea and the vocalist often started to sing the beginning of “Sweet Home Chicago” My idea of the shuffle was to set up a particular groove without really thinking about “Sweet Home Chicago” Funny how some of those things go, but they can also be confusing.
For this article a few short tips on what you can do to improve your Blues playing, but as you have guessed by now, it all starts with listening and having reference points to how a Blues can be played and sung.

Right back to guitar now: Most of you who have an interest in Blues, will start out with the minor pentatonic scale and playing solos over a 12-bar Blues. Before we go there let me introduce you to a few basic Blues techniques which are an absolute must to get under your belt: Single String Bending and Vibrato.

Single String Bending:
Bend your strings using Three Fingers: One finger does the actual bend while the other two are there to support your String Bending Finger. Check for the image at top of the page, and look at B.B King’s fingers whenever you see him bending a string (Yes he uses this technique a lot!!) While you bend your string check for tuning accuracy: Bend up the string for half a note, or a whole tone or even one and a half tone. You can check your tuning against the note your are bending into. There are double string bends and single bends, but the point is to get your accuracy spot on. Be very precise with how you bend your string, do not rush the string bend and take your time. It does take time ( and an interest in how your string bend sounds like!) so do not rush!

  Vibrato:
One you have bend that string you do not leave it there hanging in the air, no you Vibrate that string to make it sustain forever!. Like String Bending, the Vibrato needs to executed in a particular way: Use your first, second or third finger of Left Hand (depending on position you play in) as a pivot point, now take your thumb of the neck (when do you get told to do so? I have to tell beginners often the opposite—Keep your Thumb on the neck of the guitar All Times—okay now it is time to leave your Thumb of that neck!) Once you will do so you will notice that the string only has contact with that one finger, rest you hand against the neck and now shake your wrist while you hold that note. Check out B.B King and how he holds his hand and watch his wrist as he shakes it to get that note to vibrate and sustain. B.B is the Master at this technique. Get it smooth and you are on your way to play with an authentic Blues sound.

Okay once you have those two techniques under your belt you can start playing phrases which will give you a Bluesy idea. The easiest is to think from chords instead of the minor Pentatonic Scale: The chords will make you play the right harmony notes and will tune in your ears as to which notes to play. The minor (and major) Pentatonic scale will fit into all of this, but start out with arpeggio notes of the chord. Once you become more experienced you will see that whatever you play can be related to either a chord or a scale, for now just get some phrasing ideas. Again listen to B.B King, he is a good reference point, he can play fast but often only plays a handful of notes, and those notes can be used to create a whole solo over the whole chord sequence of the song.  Get the String Bending and Vibrato smooth and that is a start.

So many players you will come across do play their Blues ideas with a Rock approach. This is not wrong, it is just a matter of what people have listened to and what they think it should sound like. Slow yourself down and work on your String Bending and Vibrato, those two elements are really key to getting a great Blues sound.
Once you have them under your belt start experimenting with playing major scale ideas over minor chords. This sound is often used by T-Bone Walker. Listen to him and try some of the ideas and you realise that is what goes on.

Have fun playing the Blues and hope to catch you soon again for Arpeggio Fire.
Eddie

Guitar Tutorial: How To Approach Jazz Harmony (Chords)?: Triads and Intervals!!

20131127164900eddie 2Anyone who is interested in Jazz guitar will go through that phase of: Heck so many chords I do not know, how will I get to grips with any of these?
For this article I will give a few tips on what you may find useful as most guitarist will go through some of the similar issues.

First of all: Do not get overwhelmed with all the possibilities. When you open up any book about Jazz you will be greeted by an encyclopedia of chords. Treat it as any encyclopedia and use the chords as reference for some fingerings you may not know, or may find useful.

If you have no, or limited knowledge of harmony than the story is a little different: Educate yourself about basic harmony such as triads, intervals and how chords are formulated. Most books will guide you through some fo these basics. Once you have some knowledge how harmony works you will be able to relate it to any of your Jazz studies.

Most guitar players seem to learn about their chords quickly. Usually people start off playing the guitar by using chords therefore playing chords becomes second nature. What may not be second nature is the knowledge of what each inteval is in each chord. This knowledge is crucial for advanced chords, unless you want to keep playing chordshapes you have memorised without knowing what each interval stands for.

A good starting point to learn triads, and play them as three notes as opposed to the big barrechords you may already use. Barrechords are fine but they often repeat notes, you will often end up with five or six strings containing only three notes. Those same three notes can be played on just three strings: A note per string, and a set of three  strings will make up one triad. Simple!!

  System for Learning Triads:

A very simple system is to start with the low E, play your Rootnote here, then on the A you play the third, and on the D string you play the fifth. Job done, you have now one set of a complete triad. Follow this system through all your strings and you will end up with four options where you play your basic three note triad chord: First one will start with its rootnote on the low E, second option is rootnote on the A, third option will give you root on the D string and the last option will be on the G string. Some of the fingerings you will end up with may be familiar, some not. This is the point eh? You want to start seeing triads over the whole fretboard. It will help you with your chordknowledge and also with your understanding of the fretboard.

Once you can play your triads all over the fretboard you can start adding other notes such as 7ths, 9ths, 11ths. and 13ths. These are the kind of intervals you may need to create other kind of chords you will find in most Jazz Standards.

Work with any chord samples you find, but relate them to your own knowledge of triads. How do these chordshapes differ? Yes you will end up with four notes most of the time, but you still should be able to see that basic triad.  Try to work with as much as what you already know. You are learning a new musical language (Jazz) and not relearning how to play the guitar.

Okay so what  about those intervals eh?
A 7ths what is that? Well there is a major 7th, which is one fret (A half step) below your octave note. Use this as an easy guide and you can never go wrong! The other 7th is the dominant 7th, which is basically two frets (one whole step) below your octave note. Most guitarists will know their octave from having played powerchords before, so again, use what you already know to fill in the existing gaps in  your theory knowledge.

A 9th is simple: Just one note up from your octave. See how I refer back to the Octave? It is the interval most guitar players seem to know!

Now onto the 11th, what is that? A fourth in the next octave!! Most guitar players will know their suschords, well the sus 4 can be placed in the next octave and you will end up with the 11th. Play some of the samples you may have. Do they remind you or sus chords you may know or……….?

Last one is the 13th, this is basically the 6th in the next octave. Once you know the note you are looking for you will be able to place it in the new chord.
As with any learning, it helps if you can connect whatever is new to what you already know.
The beauty of music theory is also: This is the stuff you will be using all the time, as long as you play songs which will use some of the chords mentioned above.

Try to get the chords in your head instead of reading them of charts all the time, also try to understand what creates the sound of the chord, find out where the crucial intervals are within the chord:  The 7th, the 6th, the 9th, the 11th and the 13th. Apply this to your system of the triads and you are on  your way.
Is this all there is? No no, this is only the start, but try to have an easy ride with learning those new chords and you are on your way.
For next few articles more about arpeggios, how to approach them and the wonderful world of Two Handed Tapping.

Stay tuned and hope to see you soon again for more,
Eddie

Guitar Lesson: In Depth with Joe Satriani’s Guitar Style

20130301105219eddieFor this article a short brief about Joe Satriani: His style of guitar playing, his tone and the kind of songs he writes.
Joe Satiani became well-known  to the world of guitar and music in the mid 80s. He was (and still is) one of the main players of the instrumental Rock style which was dominated by over the top guitar solos played at very high speed. The style was also responsible to give instrumental guitar music a boost and demonstrate all what is possible within that style of music.
Instrumental guitar style of albums have been known since the 1970s, think of Jeff Beck and the Jazz Rock kind of albums he produced in the early to mid 1970s. Then Van Halen came along later on in the decade to showcase a whole new style of guitar playing with a lot more swagger then what was usually seen in the style of heavy Rock guitar. Eddie van Halen made people aware that you could compose whole songs using the Two Handed Tapping Style. In the 1980s a lot more Rock guitar players started to use this approach for their song writing. Some of those players mainly used the style to demonstrate their guitar technique and showmanship, but some of those guitar players made fantastic and credible compositions. One of those players was Joe Satriani. His style of playing is not only loved by guitar players as such, his music speaks to a large audience of music lovers.
Let me now break down some of the elements of Joe’s unique guitar style.

Production:

Listen to any of Joe’s albums and you realise straight away that this music sounds different: His songs are full of bright guitar sounds which sound fresh and unique. Think of any typical guitar band of the 70s and most songs will sound the same tone wise. It is almost like the term production was overlooked in those days, bands seemed to concentrate on the songs and the riffs but how the recording sounded was not high on the list of priorities.
Better production makes for timeless music. Some of the 80s recordings may sound dated to today’s standards but the listeners can still hear that the artist cared for the sounds which were recorded at that moment.

Tone:

Joe goes go  for a clear and bright lead tone for most of his melodies and solos. Chords are usually played with a clean or slight, distorted sound. For variation in lead sounds he will use a Wah  or a Pitch Shifter at times.

Melodies:

Most of the melodies sound like simple, vocal like melodies which can easily be hummed back. Those melodies are often treated with guitar embellishments such as slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs and a touche of the Whammy Bar.

Solos:

They can be seen as variations on lead melody of the song. The solos are there to demonstrate Joe’s technique but they also add extra depth and emotion to the songs. Most of these solos are very diverse in nature. Some of the key ingredients of Joe’s style are: A mix of major, minor and diminished scales which add extra colour and emotion to the songs, Playing over one string, Use of Whammy Bar to enhance melodies or to create special effects, Two Handed Tapping to extend the playing range of melodies and riffs, Playing Harmonics above the fretboard (Jeff Beck does this as well!) to create special effects and new sounds.

Composition/Songs:

Most of the chord structures are set up to bring out the best of the melodies and solos. Songs vary from straight Rockers such as “Surfing with the Alien” using mainly powerchords, blues-kind-of-songs, ballads and experimental songs which demonstrate Joe’s composition and guitar style. The depth of the emotion of his songs lie in the combination of Joe’s composing and guitar skills and his overall musician ship.

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Guitar Tutorial for Intermediate Guitar Players: Simple Techniques To Improve Your Guitar Playing

20131129175810fenderAnyone’s guitar playing can simply be improved with a touch of some simple techniques. For this short article I will take you through some of those simple techniques which will enhance your playing style quickly.

Okay so you may have been playing for a little while now and you are able to play all your chords confidently. Next time you are about to play some chord sequences of your favourite songs why not try any of these:

  Hammer-Ons:
Play some of the chords you play and enhance them with some hammer-ons.  The simplest idea is to play a hammer-on on the same note. Repeat the hammer-on for all the chords involved. This technique can give your playing a pro edge. It will make any sequence sound better since there is a little embellishment in the chord. Once you get the idea of it you may want to explore the technique more in detail. You may want to try various Hammer-ons  for the different chords involved of your song.

Pull-Offs:
Basically a Hammer-On in reverse. Once you get good you may want to try them both into your chord sequences to add more spice to those songs.
When you are into guitar solos, a lot of guitar solos are build up from Hammer-Ons and PUll-Offs. Check out Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption, the song is full of Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs.

  String Bends:
Strings bends are always a lot of fun to play, you can play them on both the acoustic or the electric guitar. A lot of Blues guitar players do use String bending, but the technique can be used in any guitar playing style. As with so many guitar techniques, the art is to use whatever technique you come across and use it to enhance your own unique and individual style of playing.
String bends can be used to create simple riffs in between your chords. As what I mentioned before about the Hammer-On, you can simply use the same bend to create a simple idea, repeat this idea all throughout your chords. If you are new to String Bending your pitch may be slightly off. It does take practise, time and patience to be able to bend any string at will. Hang in there and make the technique work for you!!

   Finger Slides:
Finger slides are simply a slide over one string: Slide from one note to the next one. The technique gives you the idea as if you are using a proper Glass, or Brass Slide (Bottle Neck). It is a great technique to give simple melodies a lift.

Using a Glass or Brass Slide:
Using a Slide on one of your fingers is one of greatest things you can do to explore another territory of guitar playing. You do not have to be an expert at the guitar to try this technique: Simply get yourself  a Glass or Brass Slide and put it on one of your fretting fingers and start playing. Once you get the hang of it you may want to explore the style more into depth. You may want to try alternative, or open tunings whilst you are using your Slide. Start exploring and just have fun!!

Hope to see you soon again for more!
Eddie