Beginners Guide How to Hold the Ukulele

20111117111343eddieThe Ukulele is  a compact and small and relatively light instrument. You can play the Ukulele whilst sitting down or standing upright.  The main thing to look out for is to keep the Ukulele balanced and that you keep your hands free! Your Left hand is used for fingering the chords, not for holding or supporting the Ukulele. The Ukulele is supported by being tucked underneath your Right arm. Do not hold the Ukulele with your Right arm as it will prevent you from strumming effectively. Tuck the Ukulele underneath your arm, just let it rest there.
For strumming using your thumb (or first finger, or a Plectrum) of your Right hand. Strum the strings just above the fretboard not above the whole, (as what you would do while playing a guitar) playing in this manner will give you a stronger sound. Strum with a loose wrist, you can rotate your wrist slightly as you strum. All of this will become easier with time, avoid playing with a stiff wrist ( a common problem for beginners!) as it will  make your playing sound stiff as well!
Chords and single notes are being played with the tip of your Left hand fingers. All Four fingers are being used to finger chords, even your Pink. Try to stick to the “correct” posture and fingering right from the moment when you start as it will make playing easier in the future.

Have fun and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Easy Chord Sequences for Beginners Ukukele

20111117111343eddieThe Ukulele is a great, chirpy little instrument. It is a great idea for young children to start on a Ukulele and progress to guitar once they get a little older (from about 9 years or so).
The Ukulele in itself is an independent musical instrument. There are four different types of Ukuleles (Soprano, Tenor, Concert and Baritone) Each of them goes up in size, the Baritone is tuned similar as the guitar while the other three have a slightly different tuning compared to the guitar.
There are some great resources around for you to learn how to play the Ukulele, for this article I want to provide you with some simple chord sequences made up from basic chords. It is fine to look for individual chords but you need to put those chords into context for them to make sense musically. I have created four different sequences, and each of them can be played on their own to sound right.
I have put the chords into tap form, the fingerings are exactly the same fingering as any of the chord shapes you will find for these chords.

The chords are C, F, G and C at the end

A —-3—–0—-2—-3–

E —–0—–1—-3—-0—-

C —–0—–0—2—-0—–

G —–0—-2—-0—-0—–

Play all chords using four strums per chord. All chords are played for one bar, there is a C at the end of the sequence, then play C again for the start of next bar as the sequence starts again from  the beginning.

Next sequence is again four chords, and again, all four chords are played for one bar. You can play them using four strums per bar or just one strum per bar. If you choose to play one strum let the chord ring for the rest of the bar.
The chords are C, C7, F and G7

A —-3—-1—-0—-2—

E —-0—-0—1—–1—

C —-0—-0—0—–2—

G —-0—-0—2—–0—

The next sequence uses minor chords which have a darker sound compared to the chords used in the above sequences. The bars contain this time two Chords per bar, which means you strum each chord twice before you move on to the next chord.

The chords are Em, Dm, C and G

A —2—-0—–3—-2—

E  —3—-1——0—-3–

C  —4—2——-0—-2–

G —0—2——-0—-0-

The next sequence is again 2 chords per bar, play two strums per chord before you move on to the next chord.

The chords are C, C7, C6 and G

A —3—1—0—2—

E —0—0—0—3—

C —0—0—0—2—

G ———————

All chord sequences can be played over and over again, to give the sequence a “finished” feel you can play a C at the very end once you want to finish the sequence. The C will give the sequences a finished feel because all sequences are in the key of C. The Ukulele sounds great in the key of C: All strings played open will give you a C6 chord.

For next article a few tips on how to hold a Ukulele.
Keep on playing and hope to see you soon again.
Eddie

Creating Guitar Parts for a Guitar Ensemble

20131129174824eddie 3Playing guitar in a guitar ensemble can be a lot of fun, all the guitars together form part of the bigger ensemble. You may only play a handful of notes at a time but the overall ensemble creates a big sound.
For this article a few ideas you may be able to use for your own guitar ensemble arrangements.

The ideal situation for your arrangements is to get sheet music for whatever song you want to play and from this you may be able to create other parts for any of the other guitar players. Some songs come completely arranged for guitar including several parts which makes it ideal to preform in an ensemble set-up.

Dividing up Various Parts:

Let us look at songs where you have no sheet music and you just need to work with the original, recorded material. Your goal is the turn a song, originally written for vocals, into an instrumental version for guitar. All the various guitar parts will make up the sound of the overall song. Depending on how many guitars there are in your ensemble, you can divide the various guitars up into preforming different roles: Some guitars will mainly play vocal melody lines. Some other guitars may only be dealing with low notes as they will preform the bass parts of the song.  The main chords of the song can be divided up among various guitars. Avoid playing chords of more than four or five strings as this will make the sound too dense and cluttered. Be careful with where to play the chords, divide the chords up in several places among the fretboard to create an even and balanced sound.

Once you have all your parts in place you may still feel unhappy with the overall sound once you have played it a few times, this is normal as you may still want to adapt some of the parts to make them fit better into the overall sound.

Enjoy and hope to catch you soon again.
Eddie

Survival Guide For Gigging Guitar Players

20131215184822eddie 2For this article a few tips about what you can do to get you through gigs played under less favourable conditions. The typical scenario I have in mind here is gigs played with bands which are under rehearsed, songs you need to play you do not really know, gigs you need to play where you can hardly hear yourself or any of the other band members.
The ideas I give you here are applicable to any musician such as keyboard players and bass players.

Okay let us start with asking why you would find yourself in any of the above situation mentioned above? You may play with a covers band which does gig often but does not rehearse often. You may know the original songs but the not the band’s version. The fact you cannot hear yourself or anyone else in the band may be due to the overall volume of the band being to loud. All of this leads to playing gigs under less favourable circumstances. Here are a few simple things you can do to make life a little easier:

Make Sure You Know The Songs:

Simple suggestion really, but it does help. Once you know a song inside out you will find you will be able to play it blind folded and with your  ears plugged. Whatever happens during the gig, once you know the songs it will help and you will be able to get through them.

Playing Solos:

Let us say you cannot really hear yourself or any of the other band members but you do know the song. Once it comes to solos try to follow the vocal melody line as much as you can, play around with that, it will help you and the audience since you are referring back to the original vocal melody.
Avoid playing solos or fills throughout the song, it makes for a sloppy sound. Playing single note style solos is an easier approach to playing once you do not know a song, but avoid playing throughout the whole song since the effect of the solo is lost in this manner.

  Watching the Fingers of Other Guitar-and Bass Players:

This approach will work if you are an experienced player, it is not much fun, but we are talking about survival so much of the fun element is lost anyway and the main aim is to get through the gig. With this approach you  may be slightly out with your timing since you play of the fingerings of other players. If you are not sure about the chord shapes being used by the other players, just stick to a handful of notes just to get a sound. Again, not ideal but it will work.
It may be possible for someone to call out chords while you watch their mouth as they call out the chords. Again, not ideal but it will work to get your through the song.

  Stops and Accents:

Watch the drummer, ideally someone will guide you with any stops in the song. Just be on your tows to watch anything which is going on to make sure you will be there in time.

Volume and Volume:

In case the overall volume level is high do not put up your own volume even higher as it will make matters even worse. Turn yourself down and concentrate on the sound and what you are hearing. You may get a change to talk about the overall volume with the hope that all the other band members will turn their volume down as well. Volume is often an issue: What one band member thinks is too loud another member will not see as a problem. Ideally all members are of the same ilk when it comes to matters like this, but often this is not the case and one has to see what is possible.

Good luck and hope to catch you soon again.
Eddie

Three Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Your Guitar Tone Quickly

20140104162927IMG_4362For this article a handful of simple hints to improve your guitar tone.

Tone is in your fingers, you all may have heard this comment before but it is so true: how you use your fingers translates directly to the sound you make with your guitar. The gear you use will only enhance the initial trigger of your fingers. In other words, if your technique is poor you will never achieve the results you could get.

Your tone will improve over time as when your guitar technique will improve. There are three simple things you can do to speed up the process:

Gauge of Your Strings:
Using a thicker gauge of strings will help you to achieve a thicker tone, it will also give you more power and volume. Once you start playing with thicker strings you may feel you may need to adapt your technique a little to get the best out of your sound. All of this will happen over time as long as you are aware of  this. Playing your strings with a heavier attack will help to improve your tone as well. When using thinner strings, a heavier attack will make your strings go out of tune. This is very noticeable on your low E. Once you have gone up a few gauges you will no longer experience this problem!

Use Heavier Picks:
Plectrums, like strings, come in all kind of gauges. Most guitar players will start out with thin, light picks. Once your technique gets better you may want to go up in gauge with your picks. Using heavier picks will give you naturally more attack on your strings, more attack means more sound and more volume. Try various picks to see what you like. You may even want to use different picks for different playing situations.

  Raising the Actions of Your Strings:
Playing with a higher action will also improve your guitar tone: The further the strings have to travel to the fret board the more sound they will produce. Once you have raised your action you may feel that you can hit those strings harder compared to when your action was lower ( and you were using thinner gauge strings)

When you check the tree points I mentioned above you will see that they are all related to each other: Thicker strings beg for heavier attack, thicker picks will help you achiever heavier attack and higher string action will allow you to play harder without the strings fretting out and causing too much fret buzz.

If you are not happy with your tone, try any of the above and adapt your playing to the new situation. You will love it after a while.

Happy playing time and hope to catch you all soon again for more guitar, and tone inspiration.
Eddie

The Sillie Billies: A band which knows how to Roll with Silliness

20110504122530eddieLeeds based band the Sillie Billies are a band which plays a mix of vintage 50s style Rock ‘n’ Roll, Irish Songs and some Fun-type songs which get the audience going. The band are keen on playing classic songs while treating these songs with their own backing vocal arrangements.
An experience with the Sillie Billies as audience means a night of laughter and fun. The band are guaranteed to make  you move your feet while you sing along with some of your favourite classic songs . Basically a good night out!
The instrumentation of the band contains: Drums, Guitar, Keyboards, Bass, Vocals and Backing Vocals.
Rock ‘n’ Roll is served up with a vintage 50s style Guitar sound, while it is augmented with the authentic feel of  Keyboards,Bass and Drums. The band is not just happy with playing you their music, no they like to entertain you as well. There may even be those moments when you are asked to join them on stage to sing one of the songs.
True, there may be many bands in the Yorkshire region which play in a Rock ‘n’ Roll style but how many of those bands really play with  a sense of sheer fun and entertainment? Next time the Sillie Billies visit your local pub why not come and check out for yourself to see if they move your jaw muscles with laughter?

Rhythm Guitar Lesson: Fit Your Strums into the Groove of the Song

For this article a handful of ideas of how you can fit in your chords to sound smooth with the overall rhythm of the song.  Check out the video for more details, the song Mustang Sally is only given as a suggestion and should be taken loosely as a point of reference.
Playing rhythm is a skill and a art form but at the same token, it is something which can be learned. You need to listen to a lot of songs which apply the rhythm in a similar way. A handful of more recent songs apply the rhythm in a similar way as some of the great songs of the 60s. A song like “Valerie” is a great example. The Zutons version does have a more Rock/Soul kind of feel whereas Amy Whinehouse’s version is more based on Soul and Funk. The drum and how the bass fits into the rhythmic pattern are a giveaway. As a guitar player you need to know how to fit into the rhythmic pattern. Once you start experimenting with it you will find out what works.
Bands with a great rhythmic feel all have great, individual rhythm players, together they all form part of the groove.
Of all the various aspects of guitar playing, developing a strong sense of rhythm is one of the hardest things to teach. Some people have a natural gift for rhythm while others need to work hard on this. It is my strong believe that anyone, with the right direction and hard work, can develop a strong sense of good rhythm playing. Work on yours and keep at it.
Hope to see you soon again for more Guitar, Bass and Ukulele inspiration.
Eddie

 

Ukulele Lesson: Learn to Play Christmas Carol “Silent Night”

20111117111343eddie

For this article the melody and chords for “Silent Night”
A —–0—    ————-   ——-0—-    ————-
E  –3—-3-   —0——–   -3——-3–   –0———
C   ———-   ———–    ————-   ————-
G  ———-  ————   ————–   ————-
A —5—5—  –2——-     –3—3—    ————–
E  ———–  ———–    ————   –3———–
C ————  ———–    ———–    —————
G ———— ————   ————  —————-
A –0—0–   —3–2–0-  ——-0—-  —————
E ———–  ————  —3——3-  —-0———-
C ———-  ————-  ————-   —————
G ———-   ————  ————–   —————

The chords are as follows:

C    C   C   C
G   G7  C   C
F    F    C   C

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Bass Lesson: Learn To Play Three Classic Great Bass Intros

20110504122530eddieFor this article  a few bass intros you may enjoy playing.
Listen to the song before you play the intro, familiarise yourself with the feel.
Once you have the idea underneath your finger tips, experiment with any ideas to enhance the intro. Another idea is to take the intro and use it as a spring board for any of your own intros.

The first intro is from KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See”
G   ——————-    —————————
D  —-0————–    —-0———————
A  ————3——-   ————3–3–3——
E  ——————–    ————————3–

The next intro is from Roger Clover’s Classic 70s Hit  “Love is All”   The idea is based on a descending
bass line. It is a typical 70s approach to introduce a song. Listen to Slade’s Christmas Song to hear a similar idea being used to introduce this all time X-mas classic.

G  ————–       ———————     ———————     ——————-
D  ————–       ——0————-      ———————-   —-0————–
A  —2–0——      ————4—-2—    —-0—————–   ——————-
E  ———-4–2-    –0——————    ———-3—2–0—   ——————-

 

Next example is from Tony Chisties’s   “This is the Way to Amarillo”  The bass line follows the vocal line, again, a typical 70s approach to introduce a song.

G ———-6—   —7—7–7–7–    ——————-   ——————–
D –7-7-7——   ——————   –7–7–7–6-4—   ——————–
A  ————-    —————–   ———————   –7—7–7——–
E ————–    —————-    ———————  ——————–

G ————–   —————–   ———————-   ——————
D ———–4–  -7-7-7–6-4—    ———————      —————–
A -5-5-5–7—-   —————    –7–7–7———–        —7————
E ————— —————-   ———————-       —————–

Experiment with where you play the notes. If you use a 5-string bass you can play the notes in a lower register, experiment with where you want to play those notes.

Enjoy playing and hope to catch you soon again.
Eddie

Copy the Sound of Upright Bass on an Electric Bass Guitar

20101117133619BassplayerBass guitar is all about tone. Of course is it not just about tone, it is also about what notes you play and what rhythm you play those notes with. Having a good tone is important for any instrument but for bass guitar in particular.
You may think that tone comes from your pick-ups and your amp. Well that is only partly true, your fingers and how you use them play a big part in your tone as well.

Like on a guitar, you can experiment where you play your strings: Play near the bridge and you get a very bright tone. The tone will not be a strong compared to when you play in between neck and bridge, just above the pick-ups. Play in between the pick-ups and you get a neutral and full sound.
Play anywhere above the fretboard with the fingers of your right hand and you get a more, woody tone. It is that tone which sounds a bit like the sound out of an acoustic, upright bass.

The woody tone may not be for every bass player. It may be a very suitable sound for anyone of you who like playing Blues, Jazz, folk or Rock ‘n’ Roll. If you feel the tone is not strong enough to cut through  the mix of drums and guitar simply put your volume of your amp up. True, once you start playing louder some of the finer nuances of your tone do get lost. Just keep working on your technique to overcome this problem.

In the near few weeks I will create more blogs for bass.
Stay tuned and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie