How to play the E chord on the Ukulele

Why reinvent the wheel? That’s what I say. There is a perfectly good post showing you how to play the E chord on the ukulele on the Ukulele Hunt Site, here. See the photos and descriptions that Al wrote back in 2009. All I wanted to add to that, were, should you wish to practice the E chord on the Ukulele, here are a list of songs in the Ukulele Wednesdays Songbook that have the E chord in so that you can practice it on a song or two that you like:

A Little Respect
Be My Baby
Crocodile Rock
Don’t Look Back In Anger
Don’t You Want Me
I Will Survive
Kids In America
Killing Me Softly
Nine To Five
Pretty Woman
Take Me Home, Country Roads
The Rainbow Connection
These Boots Are Made For Walkin
Wild World
You’re The One That I Want

More blogs to help you:

How to play the G chord, here.

See how to play Bb chord on the ukulele, here.

Get a free ukulele chord chart (and help with how to read it) from here.

Do you want 6 basic strum patterns to get you going? See more here.

If you’re in London, UK, you’ll learn this in our courses. Book your course to join us in London.

If you’re not, please support us on Patreon so you can get access to all our upcoming online tutorials and challenges.

How to play the A# (A sharp) or Bb (B flat) chord on the ukulele.

Let’s make this easy. A# (A sharp) and Bb (said B flat, not ‘bee bee’) are exactly the same thing. You do the same thing with your fingers for both chords. They are “enharmonic”. In modern musical notation and tuning, an enharmonic equivalent is a note, interval, chord or key signature that is equivalent to some other note, interval, chord or key signature but “spelled”, or named differently. In some keys, you might call it A# but in others, you might call it Bb but as far as your fingers (and now your brain) are concerned, they are exactly the same thing. Now we’ve got that out of the way, I want to share how I play this when it is half barre chord. (That means that one finger covers 2 strings. If it were a full barre, you’d cover all 4 strings with 1 finger.) Back to the tips:

I find it easiest to play Bb by twisting my index finger towards the headstock. You need the index finger to press down on both the E and the A strings in the first fret, whilst your middle finger is on its tip on the C string in the second fret and the ring finger is on the G string in the third fret. I find this tricky to do if all your fingers go straight on, as when you put the second and third fingers down, the index lifts up. See the video at the bottom to help.

There are a lot of songs with Bb in them in the Ukulele Wednesdays Songbook. Give some of these songs a try to help you practice:

A Little Respect
All My Loving
Is This The Way To Amarillo (in the key change)
Brimful of Asha
Build Me Up Buttercup
California Dreaming
City of New Orleans
Do You Love Me
Don’t Stop Me Now
Ever Fallen In Love
Free Bird
Happy Together
I Predict a Riot
I Think We’re Alone Now
I’m into Something Good
Karma Chameleon
Keep The Faith
King of the Road
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Little Lion Man
Maybe Tomorrow
(Lookin’ Back) Over My Shoulder
Price Tag
Somebody That I Used To Know
Summer of ’69
Sweet Child o’ Mine
Take Your Mama
Teenage Dirtbag
The Rainbow Connection
True Faith
We Are Young

Here’s a video to show you how I play Bb:

More blogs to help you:

How to play the G chord, here.

How to play the E chord, on the ukulele here.

Get a free ukulele chord chart (and help with how to read it) from here.

Do you want 6 basic strum patterns to get you going? See more here.

If you’re in London, UK, you’ll learn this in our courses. Book your course to join us in London.

If you’re not, please support us on Patreon so you can get access to all our upcoming online tutorials and challenges.

Is the ukulele just a fad?

Someone asked me lately: “Is the ukulele just a fad? Are people getting bored with it now?”

I replied: “Is the cup of tea a fad? Are people getting bored with it now?”

OK, that may have been a tad on the facetious side but it got my view across very quickly, without me having to explain my reasoning or feelings about the issue. Since you’re here now, and I’m feeling a bit more reflective and maybe even a bit serious, I’ll tell you instead.

In short, no. I don’t believe that the ukulele is a fad. Yes, it’s experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, but I believe that the ukulele is an inclusive instrument, which allows impatient people like me to play a song they know within an hour, rather than having to spend years becoming accomplished enough to make a song sound familiar to others. I believe that the ukulele is a wonderful first instrument. It opens music up to those who believe that they are ‘unmusical’ (I don’t believe that anybody is unmusical, only that some people are more encouraged and then become more committed in their childhood) since millions of adults didn’t benefit from a good musical education in childhood, many of them yearn to be able to play something, but lack the time to spend years catching up with people who began piano or guitar as children. Many adults want to play an instrument and participate in a song with others quickly. The ukulele gives them that. It should stay firmly on the musical map.

The ukulele was my first instrument. For a few years it was my only instrument. Without it I’d be a mere consumer of music, instead of a participant. Nowadays, my very being and sense of self is based upon playing music. My existence before I was able to play anything was unfulfilled and sad. OK. That’s not technically true, but there is a nugget of truth in it. I feel that I’ve grown as a person through learning and committing to music, and that love would never have flourished without the ukulele. The seed was planted and now my life is very different. Whilst not everyone has the same experience that I did, most people find playing and singing with others therapeutic.

Ukulele Wednesdays, and then Learn To Uke’s very success is based on group ukulele playing and singing. I think that meeting up and playing ukulele in a group is a great thing. It’s a way to spend time with others, make music, forget about everything else and relieve stress. I believe that somewhere, very deep within the human psyche we have a need to play and sing with others. It’s ethereal and can take you off to another place, even if it does sound somewhere between a football chant and a cockney knees up at times. The point, is not to be the next One Direction, but to connect with others in a fundamental way. Years ago, people used to sing together frequently, whether they were; at Irish gatherings, the folk drop ins where lots of people bring an instrument and join in, or at Church, or around the piano with the family at home.  It was a way of life that isn’t seen often today, and I think our collective consciousness needs it. I don’t see any other instruments bringing as many people together so inclusively, so I feel that there should always be a place in our society for ukulele playing and singing. It’s a pity that it has been overused by advertisers, and the media. I hope that it has been, or does become realised as a seriously inclusive instrument, fun to play in a group with others and is not dismissed as easily as Jedward hair.

Jedward Hair

What is that Ukulele in the Canary Islands?

Canarian Ukulele? Yes! The Timple from the Canary Islands

International ukuleles, (well, not actually ukuleles in many cases, if we’re being really honest) come in all different shapes and sizes. The Timple, from the Canary Islands (sometimes known as the Tiple, as the instrument of this name is known as in Argentina, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Menorca, Peru and Uruguay) is one of them. It has 5 strings rather than 4, and they are tuned to the notes G-C-E-A-D. If you were to ignore the top string that is tuned to a D, you’d have a ukulele. That’s the way that many of the young Timple Players in the Canary Islands do it these days, apparently, though the traditional 5 string players frown upon this type of behaviour, as it is ‘considered less traditional’. As wikipedia puts it:

The timple is a traditional Spanish 5-string plucked string instrument of the Canary Islands.

In La Palma island and in the north of the island of Tenerife, many timple players omit the fifth (D) string, in order to play the timple as a four-string ukulele, though this is considered less traditional by players and advocates of the five-string version. The players of the four-string style, in return, say that they are simply playing the timple in the old-fashioned way from before the time when a fifth string was introduced in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The common tuning is GCEAD.

Timple players (timplistas) of note are Benito Cabrera from Lanzarote, José Antonio Ramos and Totoyo Millares from Gran Canaria, and Pedro Izquierdo from Tenerife.

If you listen to the timplistas above, you’ll hear that some people play them like a classical guitar, or like a classical guitar mixed with a Spanish guitar, or simply like a Spanish guitar, and others play their Timples like ukuleles. It seems the Canarian cousin of the ukulele, the Timple has very distinct similarities, as we all know, the uke sounds very different depending upon who’s hands it ends up in.

I first came across the timple in 2010 because of Bossarocker, Lou Armer, who came over to Tenerife to see me, and had done her homework on their local instruments. This peaked my interest and I’ve been back a few times bugging the local music shops by tinkering around with their instruments. We toyed with the idea of buying one back in 2010, but we didn’t dive in. I’m now wondering whether I made a mistake, as I’d be a lot further along with my Timple playing than I am now. Ah well.

Here’s some skilled Timple players that I found on YouTube for you to feast your eyes on. (If you wait for video number 2, try not to compare them to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

Here’s how it should be done:

Want to learn how to play Timple yourself? (In Spanish) Go here.

Or, if you fancy learning how to play the Ukulele in pubs in London. Come to us!