Hawaiian Turnaround

I was watching another enlightening and inspiring tutorial by Mark Occhionero today, this time on Little Grass Shack (you can get the tab on the YouTube page). It set me off vamping around in a Hawaiian style (despite the freezing cold weather) and playing the most Hawaiian lick I know:the Hawaiian turnaround. In its simplest form (in the key of A), it goes like this:

Hawaiian Turnaround ukulele

Make sure you play it with plenty of lazy swing.

This phrase can be chopped and changed in many different ways. Here’s a popular one:

Hawaiian Turnaround ukulele tab
Example 2 (MIDI)

It can be extended and messed around with as much as you like:

Hawaiian Turnaround ukulele tab
Example 3 (MIDI)

View Comments


  1. craig robertson October 24th, 2007 11:33 pm

    EVERYONE who plays the ukulele should learn these turnarounds . No matter how you feel about island music, if you do them, people look up and smile.

  2. Woodshed October 24th, 2007 11:40 pm

    There’s a problem though, it’s dangerous. Once I start playing it, I can’t stop.

  3. Jeff October 25th, 2007 3:26 pm

    I don’t know if you’ve met Mark Occhionero but this man has a generous spirit and enthusiasm for playing and teaching the ukulele. I saw Mark play a one-man concert at Mike DaSilva’s shop, in Berkeley, CA, about a year ago. Met him again when he picked up his Santo Reproduction. [In fact, I experienced my 2-seconds of You-Tube glory playing way-way in the background while Mark was video-ing the Santo and Mike’s studio shop. Mark had given me a free lesson for my birthday.]

    Then I invited Mark to come to the Temple Bar in Berkeley which is Uncle Kem’s and Auntie Roz’s Royal Hawaiian Ukulele Band class on University Ave., Berkeley, CA. He said he doesn’t get much Hawaiian music exposure in Boston.
    But Marko didn’t have a moment’s hesitation and was playing from the moment he sat down.

    Mark has put together several great You-Tube videos. I recommend watching them all.


  4. Arch Larizza October 25th, 2007 5:56 pm

    Great stuff. So this is how it goes!

    I modify it a bit by using the re-entrant fourth string at the end of the phrase (so its 1-2 on the G string) ending up with the first position A chord so you can do the frilly bits before the repeats.

  5. Woodshed October 25th, 2007 8:28 pm

    Jeff: I haven’t met Mark, unfortunately, but he seems a top-rank chap from the messages we’ve exchanged. Glad to see he’s even nicer in the flesh.

    Arch: Thanks for the suggestion. I play that note on the E string because this is one of the rare occasions I prefer not to have the notes ring into each other. I find it easier to grab the fourth fret than to mute the string.

  6. Marko October 25th, 2007 9:32 pm

    this is really good stuff. i might want to demo it later. thanks for all the kind words. i will say, anyone who plays uke has been tops.

  7. Woodshed October 27th, 2007 4:41 pm

    Thanks, Mark. It’s just one big ukulele love-in round here.

  8. lecky October 28th, 2007 9:28 am

    Woodshed, keep up the good work, I always really appreciate your website.

  9. Woodshed October 28th, 2007 2:37 pm

    Thanks, Lecky.

  10. Uke Hunt » Petty Booka - Ukulele Lady October 31st, 2007 10:49 pm

    […] endlessly playing the Hawaiian turnaround this week, it was inevitable I’d end up playing Ukulele Lady at some point and drag out Petty […]

  11. Tom H July 26th, 2009 3:47 am

    I’ve always wanted to learn some Hawain style turnarounds but because i’m not very good at reading the Notes and rythem of the tabs I’m not sure how its ment to go.

    Is there anyway you could make a quick mp3 of the 3 turnarounds Woodshed?


  12. Woodshed July 26th, 2009 11:54 am

    Tom: The MIDI files give you a pretty good idea how it’s supposed to sound.

  13. Tom H July 29th, 2009 11:36 pm

    Woodshed: Sorry Cheers, didn’t see them there.

    Example 1 (MIDI) is boken, the file no longer exists it says.


  14. silas edwards May 7th, 2011 4:36 pm


  15. Woodshed May 8th, 2011 9:07 am

    Silas: Indeeeeeeeeeeeed.

  16. Athena May 20th, 2011 11:18 am

    I really love this website. Woodshed, it’s amazing, It’s taught me so much on uke and I love it :)
    Though i’m still a beginner-intermediate :(

  17. Woodshed May 21st, 2011 7:53 am

    Athena: Thanks so much. You’re very kind.

  18. begginer February 16th, 2013 7:45 am

    hi, im a beginner.. i dont get it.. what is a turnaround? what exactly are we trying to do here?

  19. Woodshed February 16th, 2013 8:42 am

    begginer: It’s the bit at the end of a chord progression that leads back to the beginning.

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