Monday, 15 August 2011

The Guitar Ukulele Connection – What Is It?

Although the modern guitar and the mighty ukulele have totally different origins, there is a relationship between the two instruments which means that if you are fairly familiar with the former, you are well on the way to playing the latter.

While the tuning of the ukulele is strangeness itself, being out of sequence pitch wise, there is a correlation with standard guitar tuning which facilitates crossover. 

Ignoring the fact that the tuning of the ukulele’s 4th string is pitched between the 2nd and 1st string, the instrument’s open tuning is:

1st string    A
2nd sting    E
3rd string   C
4th string   G

Interval wise, (take it up a 5th), this correlates with the tuning of the same four strings on the guitar:

1st string    E
2nd string   B
3rd string   G
4th string   D   
So, if you play a G chord on the guitar, ignoring the 5th and 6th strings as the ukulele only has 4, you’ll be fretting the 1st string at the 3rd fret.  Transferring this chord shape to the ukulele, you will have a C chord.

Extending the correlation, an E minor guitar shape, (3rd finger, 4th string, 2nd fret), will be an A minor chord when transferred to the ukulele.  As you will have realized, the ukulele chord is always simpler as you only have to transfer the part of the chord which corresponds to the 1st four strings. 

In short, the chord shapes for the ukulele are the same as the guitar, save for the facts that:

1). The parts of the chord corresponding to the 5th and 6th strings can be omitted.

2). The name of the chord will be a perfect 4th higher.  That is, a D chord on the guitar will be a G chord on the ukulele.  A C chord on the guitar will be an F chord on the ukulele and so on.

So, you’ve got two less strings to contend with on the ukulele, it’ll cost you far less to buy and repair and you can carry it in a plastic bag.  I’ll bet you just can’t wait to annoy your friends.      

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