How to Tune a Ukulele – Your Ears Will Thank You

By Colleen Kinsey, editor-in-chief of Coustii.

ukulelesEven if you are a professional ukulele player, having an out-of-tune instrument is going to make you sound horrible. We’ll teach you how to tune your ukulele and keep it in tune. Different ukes will hold a tune better than others, so it’s best to check every time before you play.

How is my ukulele tuned?

The most common tuning for a ukulele is G-C-E-A. This tuning is pretty typical for soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles. If you are used to playing a guitar, the four-stringed concept with a uke is much less

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A Different Approach to Learning Bluegrass Banjo + Tab for ‘Katie Kline’

Kindle the dogThere are certainly as many ways to learn to play bluegrass style banjo as my dog has fleas, bless his heart. After playing and teaching banjo for many years, I came up with an approach that is different from any banjo books that I’ve seen. Let me explain.

The most common way to teach a beginner the fundamentals of playing bluegrass banjo is to sit them down and show them the basic rolls. Then the teacher often show the student a tune like “Cripple Creek” or “Bile Em Cabbage Down,” using those rolls. We’ll call this approach the “Roll Method.”

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Playing the B-Flat Chord on the Ukulele

By Ted Parrish, ukulele extraordinaire and co-author of Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus! and Ukulele Tunes, Tips & Jamming.

Beginning ukulele students often have this common experience: You are rolling right along, strumming and singing, you got your C chord down, Am, F, even G. Then you have to play a Bb and you decide to take a break. Forever.

The Bb is the most dreaded beginning chord for the aspiring ukester. Let’s break it down and see why it is so difficult (because it is, you’re right), and the proper way to play this chord so that it

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‘I Wish I Was A Mole in the Ground’ – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

“I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground” was the very first tune recorded on the banjo in the style that would eventually be known as old-time music. Playing banjo and singing on this song was Bascom Lamar Lunsford.

Lunsford, who famously called himself “The Squire of South Turkey Creek,” was the first to record “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground” on March 15, 1924. This recording marked the first time that anyone had recorded on the 5-string banjo in what would later be called country music. For that, we tip our hat to Mr. Lunsford.

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Ukulele Advice: Do I Need a Strap? How Do I Hold This Thing?

By Ted Parrish, co-author of our newest release, Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus!

A lot of ukulele beginners struggle with holding the instrument. It is important to have the instrument supported so that you don’t have to worry about holding it up and can instead concentrate on playing. The good news is there are many options for supporting your uke.

P2080145Traditionally a strap is not used with the ukulele. The classic way to hold the uke is to keep the neck more or less parallel with the floor, then push the end of the uke into your right bicep. Then

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Should I Use a Pick with the Ukulele?

(This is a guest post by Ted Parrish, co-author of ‘Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus‘)

To pick or not to pick, that is the question.

Folks ask me all the time what pick do they need to play the ukulele. And while the easy answer is “none”, there really is no easy answer.

nopick2Historically speaking there is no call for a pick or plectrum. The Hawaiians who invented the ukulele (by modifying Portuguese instruments that came to the islands with sailors) did not use a pick. In Hawaii you generally strum with the first finger or the thumb,

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Build Your Own Chords on Fiddle or Mandolin

MandoFrogBy Wayne Erbsen

One of my students recently asked me to give him a sheet with all the fiddles chords he would need to play most any bluegrass song. I certainly wanted to help him out, but I decided that I wouldn’t be doing him any big favors by handing him the chords on a sheet of paper. Instead, I needed to help him understand how to make up his own chords. That way, if a big gust of wind blew his sheet away, he wouldn’t be up the creek without a paddle, so to speak.

As you already know,

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Fat Finger Blues: Are My Fingers Too Fat to Play Music?

By Wayne Erbsen

One of my struggling banjo students recently wrote me and asked if his fat fingers are to blame for muting the adjacent strings when he played. He even went so far as to send me a photo of his fingers to prove his point. A lot of people have given me the finger, but he was the first one to email it! First, I assured him that the size of his fingers seemed pretty normal, and I wouldn’t point the finger of blame on them. Instead, I suggested the way he uses his fingers many be the

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Bluegrass or Clawhammer Banjo – Which One is Easier to Learn?

You’ve got your heart set on learning to play the banjo. Come to find out, there are currently two popular styles of banjo playing: bluegrass or clawhammer banjo. Which one should you choose? And most important, which style is easier?

First, let me explain each style and then we’ll talk about which one is easier to learn.

Earl Scruggs 2Bluegrass banjo was more or less “invented” by Earl Scruggs who first showcased it on the Grand Ole Opry in December, 1945 when he joined Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. Earl’s way of playing was partly influenced by his brother Junie Scruggs, along with

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‘In the Pines’ + Music, Lyrics & Tips for Playing

By Wayne Erbsen

Talk about a dark and spooky song! In the Pines has it all: a young girl who shivers when the cold winds blow, and then sells herself to the men in the mines. As if that’s not quite bad enough, she then gets her head cut off when she fell under the driving wheel of a train. After all that, she didn’t even get a proper burial because “her body has never been found.”

Originating around the time of the Civil War, the history of In the Pines is entangled with such songs as The Longest Train

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