More Blues in A on Uke

My last entry demonstrated a simple little trick to play part of the blues in A on the ukulele. Today’s video shows you how to incorporate that into the entire 12 bar blues pattern.

Using these shortcuts doesn’t produce a pretty sound – rather it is best used to accompany another player or singer as it is simpler and raw.
It is also helpful to demonstrate how simple it can be to play these chords: A D, and E. Sometimes playing these chords the way the chord charts show us aren’t necessary, as either they pass by too fast, or are simply not needed.

Simplicity is often the answer to the question.

Why is it called the 12 bar blues? Because often the blues goes like this:
A – 4 bars
D – 2 bars
A – 2 bars
E – 1 bar
D – 1 bar
A – 1 bar
E – 1 bar

= 12 bars!
Who know what a bar is? (No jokes, please. Well, Okay, go ahead, but do answer the question.)

Yes, there are variations on the 12 bar blues – this is but one example.

14 Responses to “More Blues in A on Uke”

  1. billflot Says:

    What strumming pattern are you using with the 12 bar blues? And what are you doing with your pinky when playing the A chord?

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      It’s hard to answer the strumming question in words – it might be best to say to simply listen to what I am doing, and then try to replicate it.
      As for my pinky – I am using it to dampen the ringing of the strings. Funny, I didn’t realize I was even doing that until you asked.
      It’s a good technique to learn, as sometimes you want a short sound, instead of a long one.

      I hope this helped.
      If you need more help with the strumming, we might have to do a Skype session.

  2. roger. Says:

    thanks rhan, you have a great site here, much appreciated here in the u.k. ——-regarding this lesson, could you explain the right hand fingering for the end lick please?

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      HI there,
      Thanks for the question and sorry for the delay in responding.
      Let’s see if I can comment/explain the right hand fingering… well, first – you are playing a G7 shaped chord up two fret (making it an A7. Let’s number out strings for reference: GCEA = 4321 This A7 shape uses only the top three strings 1, 2, and 3. The lick can really be played in any order, though I suppose I might first play it like this: 3 1 2.

      Does this help at all?


      • roger. Says:

        thanks rhan, but what i really meant was the actual picking position of the fingers used, and did you use your little finger as support on the top of the uke?

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      I see…. well, my right hand placement varies with the style of music I am playing, and the speed at which I want to play.
      Usually, for fingerpicking (like this blues lick) I do indeed use my little finger to support my other fingers. I just tried it out to see exactly which fingers I used and it varied. I generally use my thumb, 1st and 2nd fingers in various orders.
      Sorry I can’t be more specific, but in this case it really doesn’t matter that much, so I tend to practice using different combinations of fingers to improve my dexterity.

      I hope this helps.


      • roger. Says:

        thanks rhan, that is all i wanted to know!——–perhaps you may like to do a feature on split and fan strokes in the future.
        regards, roger.

      • Rhan Wilson Says:

        Thanks Roger. I am glad I could help. I will certainly consider writing about strumming techniques but in the meantime, I want to make sure everyone knows where the “one” is, and has a good feel for rhythm. Once you have a good feel for rhythm, everything else falls quite nicely into place.

        Thanks again for your interest in these articles.

  3. Alex Says:

    I was looking around for some blues instructions and you clearly won this 🙂 superb tutorial!
    Only one thing: I am a bit of a newb – how do you dampen your string after the strums? It looks like your using your small finger on the left hand? Or is it done by damping with your right hand while strumming?

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Wow. Thanks for the wonderful compliment – I am glad to be of help.
      So… your question about dampening – Great question!
      In that video, I am muting the strings with my left hand’s little finger as you noticed, but often I used my right hand, too – or both in combination.
      Each technique offers a slightly different result.
      For that matter – there is a third way, and that is if you are playing a closed chord shape – one with no open strings, then you can simply “lift” your chord slightly to dampen the sound.
      So… using a combination of techniques – you can get some fancy muting going on.

      Again – thanks for the great question and please – ask more!

  4. BluesImprov Says:

    Thanks for posting this. I have used it as a tool with a few of my newer students, and it has been pretty successful. Do you have any ideas for some more advanced lessons that build on this one?

  5. Mary Wagstaff Says:

    You continue to open up so many new possibilites for me with your clear and direct way of teaching. I especially love that you keep it simple…One step at a time.. Giving it a chance to sink in with practice.. And it does! AND sounds good! Thanks and keep up the great work..

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. Is inspires me to continue and offer more bits of information. Please feel free to suggest topics or ask questions.

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