Lykke Li – Little Bit

If it hadn’t been introduced by the incredibly irritating Grimshaw I might have given this song a long enough listen to realise there’s a cute little ukulele riff in it. As it is, it’s not until now – months later – I realized it was there and got round to tabbing it up.

It sounds like it’s being played with a pick – ugh.

Little Bit

Monday Exposure: Toy Horses

I first ran across Welsh indie rockers Toy Horses on YouTube. Suitably impressed, I badgered band ukulelist Tom into answering a few questions.

Your ukulele playing in Toy Horses is very different from the usual uke fair. How did you develop your style?

I started playing the uke a couple of years ago after hearing George Harrison’s Brainwashed album. I’ve always played the guitar previously so I kind of thought of it as a mini guitar and played it like that. In fact I’ve never really played much lead before but when you’ve only got four strings it’s easier to get your head round! I think it’s such a great songwriting instrument too. I have written many songs on the ukulele that I would never have written on the old six string.

What’s in your ukulele collection?

Not a lot!! My electric Risa which I love to bits. I had such feedback problems with my acoustic uke, also it’s a bit of a talking point at gigs. Not many people know what it is. My only other uke is a Vineyard, it’s pretty good instrument but does start to go out further up the frets. Actually I lied ‘cus I do have a third, the trusty £10 mahalo, that’s the one that got me started on this uke trip!

What can we expect from Toy Horses in the future?

Toy Horses have only been going since last December but we’ve had a great run of luck. As well as quite a bit of radio play we are in the final of the Intel unsigned bands competition in Camden in November. We are also off to Clonmel in Ireland for the final of a songwriting competition which features my uke heavy tune ‘But What About The Future’

In January we head off to Nashville to record a few tracks with Ken Coomer(Wilco) and in breaking news we’ve just found out that we are playing SXSW in Austin Texas next March!

Where can people get their hands on Toy Horses stuff?

MySpace. We currently put our songs up as and when we record them and let people download them for nothing! ( there does seem to be a problem with the myspace player at time of writing this) This is subject to change of course if we become global superstars!!!! :o)

Theres also a few different little videos floating around youtube.

Anyone who likes our stuff is welcome to leave heaps of praise on the myspace page. We love that!!!

On a semi-related matter, does anyone know what happened to MySpace downloads? Ever since they changed to the new player, I haven’t been able to get anything.

James Bond Theme


James Bond Theme (Tab)(PDF)

Quantum of Solace? What of what?

I’m flabbergasted that Bond is still going. The whole idea is outdated and they ran out of ideas decades ago. The theme tune, on the other hand, still sounds fantastic.

I’ve been working on this arrangement for an age (I think Sean Connery was Bond when I started) and it’s tough to play – I cock it up a couple of times in the mp3. I’ve tried to cram as many parts of the original onto the uke and there’s a great deal of changing between picking and strumming.

Bar 2: Not a triplet, but I use a triplet strum in this bar: down, up with index, up with middle.

Bars 3 – 6: The bass line crops up on the G string played with the thumb along with strums (up, down, up) on the other three strings.

Bars 7 – 14: This is where it starts to get really tricky. You’ve still got the bass line on the G string and the strums on the E and A strings, but now you’ve got the guitar part on the C string as well. A good rule of thumb (and fingers) is to pluck the G string with your thumb when there are no other notes and strum when there are other notes. There are also quite a few rolls in this section.

Bars 19 – 26: Another step up in difficulty with the brass section. The bass line is still going, but this time it’s moving over the strings.

James Bond ukulele tab

Bars 28 – 33: Finally a bit of a rest. You can just strum out this section.

Outro: My favourite part of the tune. I love the last chord: Cm6add9.

There’s a simplified version of this tab here.

UkeTube: Seeso, Woolgatherers, Paula Fuga

It’s an old joke, but I’ve never seen it done as well as this (thanks to krabbers for the tip-off). Other videos this week include Seeso taking an early lead in the Bushman Contest, Carl Ray Villaverde ripping up Keep Your Eyes on the Hands and plenty more. Read the rest of this entry »

Slotted Headstock Ukuleles

No doubt due to the influence of Jake, there seem to be more and more, classical guitar style, slotted headstock ukuleles cropping up. As well as the high end stuff like this custom Mana’e tenor, more mid-range brands like Kala are turning out ukuleles like this and this.

Natural finish Polka-Lay-Lee.

If you’re asking five grand for a ukulele, you could give us more than one small photo and a two line description.

The perfect gift for a KoAloha fan: a KoAloha fan.

Uke kitsch of the week: ukulele teapot.

Ultimate Uke, Bendy Uker: Friday Ukulelinks

Ultimate Ukulele is a new ukulele tab and chord site from Uke Hunt friend Joe. Tunes already up include Coldplay’s Life In Technicolour, The Killers’ Mr. Brightside and Pacman.

It looks like I might have overestimated people’s ingenuity when it comes to finding things. If you see a message on any posts telling you something that seems blindingly obvious, it should disappear after you’ve looked at a few pages. It’s what Seth Godin would do (if he played the ukulele).

Humble Uker alerts us to Tomas Kubinek who can do strangely erotic things whilst playing the ukulele.

Lineup for the 2008 New Zealand Ukulele Festival announced.

Come back here with my name, Uke Hunts! (Thanks to Lonna for spotting that).

Steven Sproat will be workshopping at the Irish Ukulele get together.

J-Hob snaps the KazooKeyLele guy busking in Edinburgh.

On the MP3 blogs: Old Blue Bus has a track from Mad Tea Party and Culture Bully has Suzanne Vallie.

If music were sport.

Obama Ukulele Songs

I’ve been officially disengaged from politics since February 2003, so I wasn’t going to mention the election. But the trend of ukulele Obama songs is impossible to ignore.

As far as I’m aware, the first uke Obama song was Barak Obama Caucas Carol back in December but really took off with the formation of Ukes for Obama. You can find the chords for the Ukes for Obama songs on this page. Ukes for Obama are part of CNN’s competition to find the best short film of the campaign. You can vote for it here.

And here are a couple more Obama songs:


Ukelilli – Vote for Obama (Chords)(PDF)

You can buy Ukelilli stuff on her website.


Sylvie Simmons – Million Ukulele March

The Million Ukulele March is, British writer, Sylvie Simmons’ attempt to get a million ukuleles to pledge their support for Obama. You can sign up for the march (it’s virtual – you don’t have to get off your arse) on MySpace.

Listen to the song on MillionUkuleleMarch.com and

In the interests of balance: the only pro-Republican uke featuring video.

Ukulele Strumming for Dummies

I get quite a few emails asking me about strumming, so I thought I’d put together a ‘How to Strum a Ukulele’ post. This is how I strum – any resemblance to good technique is pure coincidental.

UPDATE: For a more comprehensive coverage of the subject check out my ebook on ukulele strumming. And there’s also a healthy section on strumming in my real-world book Ukulele for Dummies.

Strumming Hand Position

1. Make your strumming hand into a loose fist.
2. Hold it infront of the centre of your chest.
3. Point towards your left boob (or right boob if you’re left handed).
4. I like to have my thumb steadying my strumming finger. It gives it extra strumming support.

Where to Strum

If you strum your ukulele too close to the bridge it sounds very tinny (which might be an effect you want sometimes) and the strings have very little give there. The ‘sweet spot’ on the soprano and concert ukes are around the point where the neck hits the body. The sweet spot for tenors is a little closer to the bridge than this.

Strumming Technique

As any teenage boy will tell you, moving your arm rapidly up and down gets tiring very quickly. When you strum, use your wrist rather than your whole arm.

When you strum down, you should be hitting the strings with your nail. When you’re strumming up, with the fleshy tip of your finger.

Swing/Shuffle Strums

Lots of forums of music popular on the uke use swing time – such as Hawaiian, jazz and blues. In swing time the down strum lasts twice as long (ish) as the up strum like this:

This makes a simple up, down strum sound much more interesting.

Simple Strumming Patterns

You can create some more interesting strumming patterns by keeping the same up, down motion but not hitting the strings on certain strums. In this clip the actual strums are down, down, up, up, down. But I’m doing a constant up, down motion (I strum down, miss the strings on the up strum, strum down and up, miss the down strum, strum up and down, miss the up strum).

You can learn more strumming patterns here.

Chnking

You can funk up the strumming a little with a few ‘chnks’. With a chnk you strum down and hit the strings with the underside of your hand, so you get a percussive sound from the strum. In this clip I strum down, up, then a chnk followed by an up:

Dead/Muted Strums

Dead or muted strums are another way of creating a percussive click from strumming, but this time you’re creating it with your fretting hand. To create them, you stop the strings ringing by laying your fingers across all the strings like this:

Advanced Ukulele Strums

Once you’ve got the basics down, you can start checking out the advanced stuff.

Matthew J Richards’ tutorial on George Formby’s Split Stroke
Cool Hand Uke strumming PDF
COVEYWOOD’s favourite ukuleles strums
Ukulelezaza’s Ukulele Strums Revealed

Hafdis Huld – Who Loves the Sun?


Hafdis Huld – Who Loves the Sun? (Chords)(PDF)

Former GusGus singer, Eurovision hopeful and elf hunter, Hafdis Huld did a lovely ukulele version of Velvet Underground‘s Who Loves the Sun? which you can listen to on her website.

I thought this song was going to be easy to work out and play, it wasn’t. There are very few open chords in the song – most of the time you have your index finger clamped across the fretboard. By the time I’d finished working it out, my hand was sooore. To stop that happening, you might want to throw in a few variations for chords like G.

For the strumming, down, up, chnk, up will get you through most of the song.

At various points in the song, there’s a repeated D-Dsus4-D move. I’ve written it up as just D – Dsus4, but it’s more complicated than that. Here’s how it goes.

The strumming is just down, up all the way through that.

Monday Exposure: Ben Lerman

Ben Lerman – The Big Gay Paradise (MP3)
Ben Lerman – Not A Cub (MP3) via BenLerman.net

Ben Lerman is another hilarious uke-comedian from the ukulele comedy capital of the world New York. It’s only fair to those of you with a delicate disposition to stay well clear. But the rest of us who like to chuckle at song parodies involving genitalia and hot, sweaty man-on-man action can sit back and giggle our rocks off at his Ace of Base parody.

Donate and download the rest of his album Ukelear Winter on his website.
Watch Ben Lerman on Ukulele Disco.

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