Flea Bitten Dawgs, The O’Pears: UkeTube

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Friday Links: New Ukes, Humidity and Pasties

The Ukulele Site has an extensive post on ukuleles and humidity.

Ukulele rapper has a pasty named after him.


– Lichty document making a steel-string baritone for Richie Williams of the UOGB.
Newfangled uke by Murray Kuun.
G-string Custom Sun Inlay.
Hive ukulele and amp.

Playing ukulele for the first time.
The Joker fondles a priceless ukulele while Batman practices.

Beach Boys – Sloop John B (Tab)

Sloop John B (Tab)

Edit: Dangit! I published this a day early

Following on from Good Vibrations, another Pet Sound with bass from Lyle Ritz. Sloop John B is a traditional Bahamian song. The earliest version was recorded in Nassau in 1935 under the title Histe Up the John B Sails. There are many lyrical variations. My favourite being the the verse in Blind Blake’s version (the Bahamian one rather than the American blues guy) about having to go home because his pants burst.

This arrangement starts off with that shimmering guitar riff from the Beach Boy’s version. And I keep interlacing this riff with the melody throughout. Be sure to play this softer than the melody so the two don’t get confused.

The verse is all fingerpicked with the melody mostly on the E- and A-strings with some lower notes on the C-string to keep the rhythm going. To give the chorus a bump I play the melody with strums. That means you have to switch between strumming and picking. Which can be tricky. If you need a bit more time to switch you can miss out a note or two of the backing without losing anything important.


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Irish Ukulele Tabs and Chords

It’s St. Patrick’s Day on Friday. Plenty of time to work up a Irish tune or two.

If you want to go all out there’s also Jonathan Lewis’s ebook Irish Tunes for Campanella Ukulele that has 35 fantastic, challenging arrangements of Irish tunes.


The Dubliners and The Pogues – The Irish Rover
Imelda May/Blondie – Dreaming
The Pogues – Fairytale of New York
The Pogues – Fiesta
The Pogues – If I Should Fall from Grace with God
The Pogues – Irish Rover
The Pogues – Sally MacLennane
The Pogues – Streams of Whiskey
The Undertones – Teenage Kicks
Van Morrison – Keep It Simple


Damien Rice – 9 Crimes
Father Ted Theme
Lisa Hannigan – Knots
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – Falling Slowly
The Irish Washerwoman
John King – Larry O’Gaff
John King – Swallowtail (Tab)
Thin Lizzy – Boys are Back in Town (Riff)
Turlough O’Carolan/Jonathan Lewis – Loftus Jones
U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Riff) (Tab)
Whiskey in the Jar/Kilgary Mountain

The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations (Chords)

Beach Boys – Good Vibrations (Chords)

Very sad news last week that Lyle Ritz died at the age of 87. Ritz was a pioneer of jazz ukulele in the 50s, a member of the Ukulele Hall of Fame and, perhaps most famously, played the ukulele part for Tonight You Belong to Me in The Jerk.

Just as impressive is the other half of his career as a session bassist as part of the Wrecking Crew. He played on a string of massive hits most providing bass and ukulele on one of the greatest albums of all time: The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. (At least he’s credited with ukulele on the album if you can hear it you’ve got better ears than me.)

If you’re interested in finding out more about them I recommend watching The Wrecking Crew documentary (it’s on Netflix and all good streaming services). Here’s a clip of Ritz talking about working with Brian Wilson.

I’ve written up two versions of Good Vibrations. Below is an easy version using just straightforward chords. And up top is a more difficult version with a bunch of trimmings.

Beach Boys – Good Vibrations (Easy Chords)

Suggested Strumming

I like to do soft down strums for the verses and other quiet bits (e.g. the “Gotta keep those…” section). Then use this pattern for everything else:

d – d – d u d u

In the tricky version of the chorus the strum is divided up. So on the F it’s:

G and A have an extra chord and go like this:

Here’s all that put together:

Twiddly Bits

Good Vibrations (Bass Tab)

Here’s a low-G tuned uke version of the bass part in the verse.


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UkeTube: Zoe Bestel, Krasnogorsk

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Friday Links: Looping Ukulele, Dogs and Rihanna


– Manitoba Hal has some tips for using a looping pedal with your ukulele.
– Rachel Manke tests out Ohana’s Martin Style 3 copies.
– Lorraine Bow of Learn to Uke chats with James Hill and Anne Janelle. And her group recently Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
– Ukulelia spots some ukuleles at the South Pole.
Which ukulele offcuts do dogs prefer?

Pessimists Archive is a great podcast about past moral panics over new technology. They recently did an episode about the recorded music scare and fears it would put musicians out of a job. The Musician’s Union reacted by banning it’s members from performing on radio recordings. As luck would have it, they didn’t regard the ukulele as a real instrument so it was all over radio hits such as Jo Stafford & Gordon MacRae’s Say Something Sweet To Your Sweetheart.

Woman awarded €18,500 after injury hurts ukulele hobby.

Teacher mods a ukulele for a student with a partially formed left arm.

LP discusses writing Rihanna’s Cheers (Drink to That) on ukulele.

KoAloha’s Black Label Customs.

Bon Iver – 00000 Million (Tab)

Bon Iver – 00000 Million (Tab)

A new Bon Iver album means a new Bon Iver post. It’s another great record. This time with very strange song titles. 00000 Million immediately struck me as being great for ukeing with its strong melody and simple chords. And it does transfer well. It even works out nicely in the original key.

It wouldn’t be Bon Iver without a bit of weirdness. And this song’s weirdness is changes in the time signature. Bar two switches to 5/4 time (i.e. there’s an extra note in that bar). And there’s a bar of 2/4 leading into the Fionn Regan sample. But these fit so naturally into the song that if you know the melody well you won’t have any problems with timing.

The brackets around some of the notes indicate they are played softly (they’re backing notes rather than part of the melody).


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Luthiers for a Cause

Luthiers for a Cause is a new project bringing together six incredible luthiers (Steve Grimes, Beau Hannam, John S Kinnard, Jay Lichty, Jake Maclay and Joji Yoshida) and two trees nicknamed The Tree and Lucky Strike.

These luthiers will each build a ukulele and sell it to benefit The Ukulele Kids Club. If you can’t afford to buy one of ukes when they’re done, you can always hit up their donation page.

Eddie Monnier, the organiser of Luthiers for a Cause, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the project.

Luthiers for a Cause sounds like a fantastic project. How did it come about?

While attending the Ukulele Guild of Hawaii Show in November 2016, I was sitting with two industry friends (luthier Jay Lichty and Kinnard Ukes distributor Kevin Beddoe) and we were discussing the roles of the luthier versus the tonewood in the final sound of an instrument. We started brainstorming a project that might be educational/informative on the topic while also raising money for a worthwhile cause. We were all three really excited about the idea of creating a project that could let a handful of top-tier luthiers demonstrate different voicings and aesthetics with virtually identical wood.

Then that evening at dinner, the three of us were sitting with Steve Grimes, a very highly respected luthier in the guitar and uke world. We shared the idea for his thoughts. He was immediately supportive and said he’d love to do it. I was pleasantly stunned. Steve had been involved with a famous project called The Blue Guitar project. Back in the 90’s, renown guitar collector Scott Chinery asked 22 top luthiers to build their ultimate version of an archtop guitar with the only constraint being they had to be blue in homage to his blue sunburst D’Aquisito Centura Deluxe, which he considered one of the most perfect guitars he ever played.

So with Steve genuinely excited about our project, I was pretty certain we had something special in the works.The next day on my flight home, I put the idea to paper and started fleshing it out. I reached out to a few other highly regarded luthiers and continued to get very favorable responses. The project’s momentum just kept building on itself. Patchen Uchiyama, another ukulele enthusiast I met at UGH, asked how he could help when I shared the project with him and shortly thereafter Jay Lichty’s wife also offered her assistance. I was very thankful to have the help given how the project was really taking off.

Can you tell us a little about Ukulele Kids Club? Why did you choose to support them?

The Ukulele Kids Club is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to harness the healing power of music by supporting music therapy programs and gifting ukuleles to hospital-based music therapy programs so that children in need can be sent home with the gift of music for life. Founder Corey Bergman and his wife Edda formed the charity when they reacted to their own personal tragedy by committing more of themselves to community service. While using his music skills to perform community service in a children’s hospital, Corey learned about and became an ambassador for the healing power of music. The ukulele is a great instrument for hospital music therapy because its compact size allows it to be comfortably held in bed, kids can learn a few basic chords and start making music very quickly, and its joyous voice.

Why did we choose UKC? Well, it’s certainly an obvious fit but we did go through a process to discover that. First, we wanted a charity of the right size. Small enough that our target of raising at least $25K would make a material difference to their mission but large enough that it could put the funds to use effectively. Second, we wanted to know that a very high percentage of our founds would directly benefit the charity’s target audience. Third, we wanted a charity focused on children. And lastly, we felt a music connection would be an added bonus.

Patchen, Corrie and I researched charities and developed a short list of candidates which we compared against those criteria. UKC was such a strong fit on paper. We then spoke with Corey several times about our project and got very comfortable with his vision and ability to effectively use the funds we raise. The instruments are given by a music therapist, so every child gets some of the basics in a lesson. This is so important so that the children can start making music and realizing the benefits of music therapy.

All the instruments are going to be made with wood from two trees. What’s so special about these trees?

It wasn’t enough to choose the same species of tree, we wanted wood from the same exact tree. I initially started out trying to source figured maple from the same tree but was encountering logistical and timing issues. We then decided to pursue The Tree, a famous one-of-a-kind Honduran mahogany tree that is truly unique visually and tonally from normal mahogany. While sourcing that wood, I learned about Lucky Strike redwood and then sourced that separately.

To have six highly distinguished luthiers each building an instrument from woods from the same specific trees at the same time is unprecedented. And to do so with such storied woods and for such a worthy cause make Luthiers for a Cause a very special project.

What’s the best way for people to follow and support Luthiers for a Cause?

There are several ways to keep tabs on the project. People can visit our website and sign up for a newsletter. Or they can “Like” our Facebook page.

The best way to support our project is by helping spread the word about it and by donating to The Ukulele Kids Club via our Donation links on our web site and Facebook page (all proceeds go directly to them). Every $50 results in a child in need being able to take home an instrument. And for those who have the interest in high end custom instruments, buying an instrument when they are ready later this year!

Ryan Adams – To Be Without You (Chords)

Ryan Adams – To Be Without You (Chords)

This is my song of the year so far. Absolutely heartbreaking. Who knew it was possible to be this sad about Mandy Moore?

There’s an interesting little songwriter trick in this song. Each verse ends with the refrain, “Nothing really matters any more.” On every verse but the third this is sung over the F – Eb9 – Bb progression. But the third verse is a line shorter so the, “Nothing really matters anymore,” is sung over Gm7. It’s a subtle change that introduces variety into the song.

Suggested Strumming

Here’s a simple strum that will get you all the way through the song:

d – d – d u d u

In the intro: Play that 8 times on F.

In the verse: Twice on each chord up until the F – Eb9 – Bb progression at the end of the verse. Just once each there.

Break and solo: Once per chord. Here’s how that sounds:


Twiddly Bits

Here’s the little noodle right at the beginning:

And here’s the solo at the end:

A post shared by @ukulelehunt on

The solo starts and ends with a classic country rock move. You hold down the top two strings (at the eighth fret here) then while those notes are still ringing you bend the third string at the seventh fret. On guitar you’d usually bend up a tone (which would create a major chord triad). That’s a bit of a problem on ukulele since bending it that much would push it off the fretboard. So I’m only bending it up a semitone. Which creates a minor chord. Making it a bit more bluesy than countryish.


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