Even Ukulele players get the Blues

I have been asked to teach some blues licks on the ukulele – it seems that we uke players want to sing about our woes and troubles while we play. Sounds good to me – the blues is one of my favorites.

On a guitar, a great key to play the blues is the key of E, and since the uke is tuned up a 4th (not necessary to understand that right now), we will learn some blues on the uke in the key of A.

To begin, I want to start with a very simple rhythm part and just stay there for awhile. Learn this and let me know when you want to proceed.

Watch this video for my demonstration and explanation. If you have any troubles, you can sing about them while you practice.


14 Responses to “Even Ukulele players get the Blues”

  1. bob zerby Says:

    Rhan, I came across your web page and yes, you have been a huge help to me so far. Tapping my foot and moving my body helps me keep time better and I learned the A cord lick,thank you. Looking forward to learning more and moving on to the next lesson. Have a good one and I will let you no how thing are going with learning the uke.

  2. Diane Says:

    This is an easy way to get some blues chops, thanks!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Gran poste! Gracias por tardar la época de escribir algo que está realmente digno de la lectura. Encuentro demasiado a menudo el Info inútil y no algo que es realmente relevante. Gracias por su trabajo duro….

  4. Vaughan Says:

    My concert Uke has new strings with a low G fitted and now I can finally feel the blues. lol

    Seriously though, it’s opened up a whole new avenue, some songs sound so much better, but some need the soprano with a high G.
    The experimenting is fun.
    Onward to the next stages. Thank you.


  5. Vaughan Says:

    I’m going to experiment with a low G and see how it goes.

    I’m looking forward to your next video ” Even Salt shaker players get the blues” lol


  6. Vaughan Says:

    I’ve never had the opportunity to play a uke with a low G.
    I presume you use the same chords & chord shapes as a high G.
    I thought the low G was a guitar type thing.

    Would you say that the Low G was more suited to finger picking.

    I have a concert size uke that I don’t play a lot and have considered fitting a low G string.
    To be honest at the moment I would play a tin can full of pebbles if it could play a recognisable tune. lol

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      As a high G and a low G are the same note, the chords and shapes are the same. It’s just a different sound.
      I tend to like a low G for all the music I play, but either way, you can play beautiful music.
      And by the way – I have been known to play a tin can full of pebbles, or a half full oatmeal box, or rice, or a salt shaker, or………

  7. Vaughan Says:

    Having watched your fingerpickin video, I now realise that when I’m playing this blues riff it isn’t sounding quite the same because you have a low G and I’m playing Soprano with a high G.
    I’ve noticed that here in the UK it seems that the majority of ukers play high G and in the States it is a Low G. Any thoughts on why the difference?

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      I can’t comment on why there are seemingly more high G strings over there, but I can say this: I think of the the high G string as being used for traditional Hawaiian music and goes along with the concept that traditionally, one doesn’t use a strap either. It sounds fine in certain strumming situations, but for me – I like the “low to high” sound of the low G string, and I am certainly NOT a traditionalist. I use a strap and a pick on occasion, too.

      It seems that so many of us are trying music was never considered traditional in the first place, so I say, “Do what you want and be creative!”

  8. Vaughan Says:

    Thanks for the reply, My first mistake was trying to put an up strum in there. !!!!
    Ah right, so it’s practice more like a percussion thing than a strum to get the rhythm in my head.
    I have watched many You Tube videos and always have difficulty with strum patterns. It’s a difficult thing to teach, as you say “it’s down to the feel”.
    I’ll keep at it.
    Thank you for your time & advice.

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      First of all – thank you for posting your questions and comments. That’s the sort of interaction I want more of on this site.

      Secondly – I often forget how much I take for granted, namely, that some things aren’t as obvious as I think they are.

      Once, while teaching a workshop on performing, one student remarked that they never had the opportunity to be behind and practice with a microphone. That never occurred to me, as I thought there were microphones everywhere, in everyone’s house, anytime they wanted one! (that’s almost serious)

      Finally, strumming is an interesting thing for me to teach. On one hand, I understand the need to explain and possibly even diagram some strums, but I want to make sure that you and others don’t simply “memorize” a pattern. I want you to learn what rhythm is so that you can invent your own strum patterns as needed and not rely on memorization.

      That being said, I think some strumming tips just may be the next post I create.

      Thanks so much for your interest.


  9. Vaughan Says:

    As a beginner I’m having problems with the strum pattern. I can hear the pattern, but it’s not sounding right when I play it. Any tips? Perhaps a slowed down demo.

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      I will see about recording this slowed down, but first let me see if I can help explain a little first – all my strokes are downstrokes, and you can hear the sound of the rhythm I am playing. Keep trying to emulate that sound – forget about the chords for the time being, just mute the strings with the left hand (so that it doesn’t ring) and concentrate on just the right hand making that rhythm. But don’t concentrate too hard – relax and “feel” the blues. Try it and please get back to me about this.

  10. David Says:

    Rhan, I came across your blog a month or two ago and have really enjoyed it. I am a beginning player, and so many of your recent posts echo instruction that I have received while taking some lessons. I love this little “Blues-chord progression” and just played around with it. Anytime you have enough interest expressed, please post the next lesson. Thank you! // David, Portland, or.

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