twenty one pilots – Nico and the Niners (Chords and Tab)

twenty one pilots – Nico and the Niners (Chords)

twenty one pilots have been hit-and-miss for me in the past. But I’ve been enjoying the three tracks they’ve released ahead of their new album. Particularly the uke-featuring track Nico and the Niners.

There are two main ukulele parts in the song. The first is a straight-forward move from Dm7 (all the strings played at the fifth fret) to Am7 (all the strings played open). The second is a spacey single-note figure in the bridge.

Suggested Strumming

Intro and Chorus: The main ukulele riff uses a ska-inspired all up-strums. Four each per chord:

– u – u – u – u

Make sure you keep these strums short by muting them with the side of your strumming hand right after playing them. You can do this quite forcefully. You can hear a percussive click on these as Tyler brings his hand down hard to cut the strums short.

Verse 1, Final Chorus and Outro: Once the uke part cuts out you can use whichever ska-flavoured strum you like (I cover a bunch of ska and reggae strums in How to Play Ukulele Strums). I like to do this once per chord:

– – d u – – d –

Bridge: For the first half of these I just do one down-strum per chord. Then for the second half I use the strum from verse 1. So together they sound like this:


Breakdown and Verse 2: I keep it simple and just one down-strum per chord.

Twiddly Bits

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Here’s my best attempt at the wibbley ukulele part in the bridge. It’s a little hard to pick up on exactly what’s being played.


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We Don’t Believe What’s on TV (Chords)

Summer Break

Time for my summer blog break. I’m going to make like an African lungfish and aestervate until the heat dies down.

In the meantime you can catch bits and pieces from me on Twitter and Instagram.

Have a good one.

UkeTube: Neil Young, Ukebox

Full Playlist

Vinícius Vivas – A taca do mundo e nossa
Ukebox – Distraction
Calvin Joe and Rod Salaysay – What a Beautiful Name
Neil Young – Tumbleweed (Thanks to Phredd)
A Boogie wit da Hoodie x Einer Bankz – Check
Paul Mansell – Adagio (Concierto de Aranjuez)
MARLOWE – Sorry Not Sorry
Polkadot + Moonbeam – Polkadots and Moonbeams
Randy Gapasin – The Girl From Ipanema
Steven Gilpin – You Totally Got This

Friday Links: North Pole Ukulele

Window Shopping
Martin have reproduced the Konter ukulele. The famous ukulele that travelled to the North Pole on Byrd’s 1926 expedition and was signed by Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, and Calvin Coolidge among many others.
– Summer NAMM 2018 (the music gear shindig) didn’t have much exciting uke action. Makala have eight-string ukes and guitarleles and Fender have a Grace Vanderwaal signature uke.
Kanile’a K3 long-neck soprano.

In case you missed yesterday’s post, João Tostes’s new instrumental album is available on his website for free and has tab for every track.

Gibson are hoping ukuleles can help pull them out of bankruptcy.

The hands of ukulele players.
Manu e tokerau: Tahitian ukulele ensemble (Thanks to @HermanVDC).
Carved duo.

João Tostes – Dança devenir (Tab)

João Tostes – Dança devenir (Tab)

The third and final guest tab from the trio of exceptional ukers comes from Brazilian ukulelist João Tostes’s album naturæ which you can download mp3s and tabs for free on his website. The album is a collection of richly textured and pristinely delivered ukulele instrumentals backed by bass and piano. Highly recommend giving it a listen.

The tab I’ve chosen to feature is a rapid-fire piece whose tension-filled opening alternates the open g-string with a descending line on the C-string.


Download naturæ free on João’s website
Follow Joao on YouTube

Choan Gálvez – Jiga de los buenos días (Tab)

Choan C. Gálvez – Jiga de los Buenos Días (Tab)

Excellent barcelonés ukulelist and friend of the blog, Choan Gálvez has a new album out 10 minutos para ukelele solo. As well as being packed with fantastic playing and catchy tunes, he also includes tab for every song. Well worth €4 of your money. Choan was kind enough to let me post the tab of my favourite track from the album Jiga de los buenos días.

The piece is played in a campanella style and is challenging to play in some sections. Very rewarding when you get it down. Which I haven’t yet. But Jonathan Lewis has and here’s his version:


Buy Choan’s album 10 minutos para ukelele solo on Bandcamp
Follow Choan on YouTube
Choan’s tab for If I Had You

Leonard Cohen – Winter Lady (Tab)

David Beckingham – Winter Lady (Tab)

Today I’m very pleased to be able to post a trio of guest tabs from three exceptional ukers. Starting with this arrangement by David Beckingham.

David’s selection this time comes from Leonard Cohen. I’ve been very obvious with my Cohen choices having done Suzanne and Hallelujah. But Dave’s been more adventurous with Winter Lady from Cohen’s 1967 debut album.

The arrangement uses fCEA tuning. So tune your g-string down to F before you tackle the tab.


Buy it on iTunes
David Beckingham on YouTube
More David Beckingham tabs

Classical Music on a Ukulele

Today’s post come courtesy of Paul Mansell. Paul’s a a professional ukulele player and author who specialises in classical music. He’s just released a new book Classical Uke and was kind enough to share his thoughts on the uke being used for classical music.

As we all know, the ukulele was for many years seen as a basic instrument only good for strumming, but it has, in recent years, started to be taken much more seriously. Thanks to players like Jake Simabukuro, and, let’s face it, a certain invention called the internet, the ukulele began to be taken seriously. But there is now a second wave coming, with the advent of many players starting to tackle classical music on the ukulele.

One of the earliest pioneers of classical music on the ukulele was John King. He was a ukulele expert who used a style called ‘Campenella’, where you play one note of the melody on each string and let them ring into each other. You try and never play two consecutive notes on the same string. He released what is widely regarded as the first accessible (and not to mention big selling) book on classical music for the ukulele. ‘The classical ukulele’ was published in 2004 through Hal Leonard and is still readily available. John sadly passed away in 2009, but he left us a wonderful body of work. Below is a piece from it called ‘Tarantella Italiana’ played by myself on a soprano ukulele.

After John Kings book the next book to really address classical music on the ukulele was ‘From Lute to Uke’ by Tony Mizen. Published in 2011 (again by Hal Leonard) this is an essential book for anyone interested in playing classical music on the ukulele. In my opinion, the classical pieces featured in it are slightly easier to play on the ukulele than the ones in ‘The Classical Ukulele’. The arrangements are not in the ‘Campenella’ style but more closely related to classical guitar playing. The book also came with a CD featuring Tony’s sublime playing, recorded beautifully and good enough to stand up as an album on its own. Here is a video of ‘Bransle de Champagne’ taken from Tony’s book and played by myself.

The recent surge in interest in playing classical music on the ukulele has in no small way been helped by the amazing work of Colin Tribe. Firstly, as an arranger, Colin is second to none. Watch the video below of me playing Colin’s superb arrangement of ‘Adagio from Conciertio for Guitar’ by Joaquin Rodrigo and you can only marvel at just how Colin managed such a feat. It is one of those pieces that I felt honoured to be able to play. This is a live version, but if you want to hear it recorded in the studio then check out my debut album ‘Me, My Ukulele & I’ on which it appears.

Colin has arranged hundreds of classical pieces, all of them done with sensitivity and understanding of the diminutive instrument on which they are played. The way he manages to get such a little instrument to tackle such a grand piece as the Conciertio for guitar’ is just so impressive. As well as being a great arranger and performer, Colin is also the man behind the ukulele syllabus for the VCM (Victoria College of Music). The VCM syllabus for ukulele now goes all the way up to Diploma level. I had the pleasure of taking the Diploma and I must say it was very well thought out and rewarding. To be able to say you have a diploma on the ukulele is something I am very proud of and very grateful to Colin and VCM for making it possible. In many ways legitimises the ukulele as a classical instrument.

Another person who is a fine exponent of classical music on the Ukulele is Sam Muir. She runs the I Love Classical Ukulele website and her arrangements of Sor and other classical composers are tremendous. Her playing is sublime and she truly shows us what the ukulele is capable of and I thoroughly recommend checking her playing out. She is currently studying for a PHD addressing classical music on the ukulele – what an achievement that will be.

With all of these great books and players, I was very excited to sign a publishing deal myself, with Kevin Mayhew Ltd, and release my book ‘Classical Uke’. ‘Classical Uke’ brings us very up to date as to where we are with Classical music on the ukulele. It features 20 pieces by classical composers such as Bach, Tarrega and Sor amongst others. I am grateful that it has been very well received and when I play up and down the country I receive a lot of positive feedback about it. The book has a wide range of pieces in it and it is suitable for beginners and advanced players alike. It begins with relatively easy pieces such as ‘Masquerade’, a 16th century Lute piece which should not cause too many problems for students just beginning their ukulele journey. After several relatively simple pieces it moves onto intermediate pieces such as ‘Gavotte’ by Bach. You can watch a video of me performing Bach’s ‘Gavotte’ on a Soprano Ukulele below:

Arranging Bach for ukulele is generally quite tricky. Most of Bach’s pieces were composed on Piano and span several octaves but on the ukulele you only really have two octaves to play with, so it is not without its challenges.
I wanted to put some more complicated pieces in the book, so that it also appealed to the more experienced players. I think that the hardest piece to play in the book is, for me, Canarios, by Gaspar Sanz. This piece was popularised by John Williams performing it on guitar. It works very well on the ukulele, as is hopefully demonstrated in the video below where I perform it on a ‘Leho’ Concert Ukulele.

The book ‘Classical Uke’ comes with a CD of all the pieces, played by myself, exactly as they are tabbed out in the book.

So, what next for classical music on the ukulele? Well, with the help of the people I have discussed here, it has come a long way; it still has a long way to go. That is what is so exciting. I feel very lucky to be part of this movement and once my next book is published (which is a book on how to teach ukulele, published by Kevin Mayhew) I hope to start working on Classical Uke 2. I am really looking forward to future publications on classical music on the ukulele by Tony Mizen, Colin Tribe, Sam Muir and others. I saw recently that someone had arranged Asturias by Albeniz for the ukulele and this is a great demonstration of where we are heading. Arrangements of more complicated pieces will come along, as well as pieces by less known composers. I am also hopeful that more composers will take to the ukulele now understanding what can be achieved on it. If you want to learn more about classical music on the ukulele I will be running a workshop on classical ukulele, followed by a 45 minute performance, at the wonderful Uke Rooms in the Forest of Dean on Sept 22nd 2018.

You can find out more about Paul on his website and pick up his book here.

Lou Reed – Perfect Day (Chords and Tab)

Lou Reed – Perfect Day (Chords)

Usually I’ll use a capo to avoid including an E chord in a song. But this one has a capo (on the first fret) which creates the need for a E chord. But Perfect Day takes a few unusual chord turns and this turned out to be the best way to handle it (check out the alternative ways of playing E if you’re struggling). My favourite part of the progression is the dissonant C(b5) relaxing into the clean C chord. It’s the perfect musical representation of relaxing from worldly stresses by loafing around the park or sinking into a heroin stupor depending on your interpretation of the song.

Suggested Strumming

For the main strum I use:

d – d u d –

Intro: Twice per chord.

Verse: Twice per chord except once each on C(b5) – C and four times on the last E.

Chorus: Twice per chord except:

– Once on the D’ then one down-strum each on the descending run. You can also play a simple D twice if you want to skip the descending line.
– Once each on the F#m – E.

Solo: Once each for F#m and E then twice on D.

Outro: Twice per chord except the D’ run which is the same as the chorus.

Twiddly Bits

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The piano intro (provided by David Bowie) works well on uke. I’m using thumb and two finger picking.

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The solo is trickier. For this version I’m playing campanella style with one finger per string picking. If that’s not your jam, you can play it in a more standard fashion by replacing the g-string, 4th fret with E-string, 7th fret and g-string, 2nd fret with E-string, 5th fret.


Buy it on iTunes
Satellite of Love (Chords)
I’ll Be Your Mirror (Chords)
More David Bowie

UkeTube: Mel Muniz, Mt Joy

Full Playlist

Mel Muñiz – Fight Back Sisters
Mt. Joy – Dirty Love (The song starts about 20 seconds in)
EatMyUke – Weezer Blue Album Medley
All Our Exes Live in Texas – The Devil's Part Thanks to Peter.
Gentle Brontosaurus – Wicker Park
Reneé Dominique – I'll Be Seeing You
DYAN & the BENZ – Shifted
Daniel Estrem – Branles du Bourgongne
DermitderUkulele – Ukulele Polka

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