Ukulele Window Shopping

‘Window shopping’ isn’t accurate this week. I promised myself a new uke once the ukulele strumming ebook was finished. So I bought myself a Kala Lacewood soprano from the Southern Ukulele Store guys. No doubt I’ll be letting you know my opinion before too long.

If money had been no object, I might have gone for this Custom Kamaka instead.

With all the unusual shapes and looks of the ukes around at the moment, I’m amazed no one has resurrected the skinny waist look of the Kumalae like this one. I just love that shape.

My favourite photo this week: Hawaiian Pin-up Girl. Usually when there’s a photo of a Hawaiian girl and a ukulele it also includes all the cliches: grass skirts, lei, a palm tree. But this girl is way too hip for that. Check her out doing her Whitesnake pose.

All cliches present and correct in his cartoon (which doesn’t entirely make sense).

World War II era ukulele badge.

Friday Links

Marc Jacobs ukulele bags???

A bunch of new stuff on Uker Tabs: Home by Joey Cape, Harry Potter Theme , (Just Like) Starting Over by John Lennon, Rihanna’s Umbrella, Ace of Spades and Grandaddy’s A.M. 180 riff.

Here’s a cute little short. It does play into something I’ve noticed following mentions of ukulele on Twitter. I’m amazed how many girls (and it’s always girls) react to the wish for a ukulele with by tweeting, “Who’s going to buy me a ukulele?”

A little history of the ukulele from Australia (Thanks to Gary).

Jeff does some eagle-eyed uke spotting on the trailer for The Princess and the Frog. You might want to pause the video at the 1:50 mark.

Buster Keaton plays ukulele for a bust.

Blind Pilot do a ukulele version of 3 Rounds and Down for Daytrotter.

Time Out proposes a ukulele quarter for London.

The Mustache: a ukulele rock opera.

Fancy ukulele straps on Etsy.

Ukulele graffiti.

Sometimes changing ukulele strings is frustrating (some decidedly salty language in that one).

Radiohead – Everything In It’s Right Place (Tab)

everythingrightplace uke tab


Oooh, we’re Radiohead. We’re not going to abide by bourgeois constructs like time signatures.

Bastards. Makes this one quite tricky to play.

In case your eye-sight is a bit blurry, the first full chord is a dotted crotchet rather than a quaver. That chord is played with a down strum, the others are played with up strums.

Ukulele Strumming: How to Play Ukulele Strums

ukulele strummingBy far the most frequently asked question on the blog is, “What’s the strumming for this?” It’s taken me about six months, but I think I’ve finally got an answer to that question.

I don’t mind putting up strumming patterns, but the question really demands a permanent solution for people’s strumming woes. So I’ve written a new ebook: How to Play Ukulele Strums. I’ve been promising this one to a lot of people for a long time but I’ve been holding it back until until I was satisfied that it would be able to give everyone a strong understanding of rhythm and more confidence in their strumming.

The problem is that there isn’t anything out there for the ukulele that gives you the ideas behind strumming patterns so you can work out strums for songs and come up with your own. They just give you a few patterns and leave you to get on with it. My aim with this ebook is to give you the knowledge to understand what’s going on behind the strums so you can play along with any song you choose.

How to Play Ukulele Strums

Price: $12

Buy it here

Get Your Timing Right

Knowing that a strumming pattern is down, up, up… is a good start, but you need to know how long each of those strums is supposed to last. So I’ve come up with a ukulele-brand based method that will help you get you strumming at the right time. It’s a case of matching up words to the length of the strums. It’s a simple way of doing it but it works great.

Never Be Stuck for a Strumming Pattern

Of course, I’m not going to neglect the strumming patterns themselves. The ebook contains a whole bunch of basic strumming patterns and some advanced ones in the style of ACDC, Nirvana, James Brown, Bo Diddley, The Specials and Bob Marley. There are mp3s of all the patterns (including slow and fast versions of most of them).

Get Your Technique Down

If you ever have problems with your arm getting tired after strumming, or your playing doesn’t sound bright enough, or your strumming sounds a little raggedy, or you can’t get your chnking down; the ebook will help you sort out your technical gremlins. There are videos of the various techniques including basic strums, chnks, muting and triplets.

Who Is It For?

This one is aimed at beginners and improvers who have learnt the basics but feel like there’s something about strumming that they’re just not getting. If you have trouble taking chord charts and matching them up to the song, or you feel like you’re muddling through and winging it a bit; it’ll increase your knowledge and confidence and improve your playing.

Everything is explained really simply, so you don’t need to have any knowledge of musical theory going into the ebook.

What Are People Saying About It?

Thorough and thoroughly fantastic book! Thanks as always.

I’m sure my flatmates will be very grateful for it as well. With time, my practicing will (hopefully) sound like actual music rather than the sort of abstract noise that it was before and my flatties can stop voluntarily banning themselves from home until it’s clear that I’ve moved on to another task for the day.

In all seriousness: the book is wonderful, Thorough, easy to understand, and funny (as always). I am completely indebted to you for saving me from the depths of ukulele despair.

Carrie Griffin

I shall be recommending the ebook to our Monday Ukearist ukers as I know many of them are interested in improving their strumming. I’ll also be unashamedly stealing your mnemonic way of teaching!

John Hobson

Al’s topped himself this time which I wouldn’t have thought possible after the blues book.

This is a great read for beginners, but there are some strumming patterns at the end that are brilliant and will take some work to get the hang of.

When I started playing four years ago, I had no idea there would be such a great wealth of information available. Al’s books, in my opinion, are better than anything I’ve found elsewhere, as far as written instruction goes. And, he is rather hilarious when he wants to be.

Lonna Brockway

I’ve already read this ebook more than 6 times and found something new with each read. A very important aspect for me was that the book covered basic things essential for strumming that are left out in other ukulele methods, such as rhythm and time signatures.
The examples and the videos are really helpful and you can even test out your newly acquired sense of rhythm through the exercises.
If there one book to buy on ukulele strumming, then it is definitely this one.


…it’s definitely set up for everyone at any level to learn something new. I get frustrated when teachers take the small bits of knowledge that make a BIG difference to a new student for granted. Al does the opposite by making sure that everything is explained in an accessible way that takes the mystery out.

Al’s teaching is very clear and well illustrated, and I would rec any of his work. I have Chord Progressions too; I will be working through that for awhile as well, there is just so much great information and there’s enough in each lesson to keep me interested and moving forward rather than get me discouraged like other books or authors.

“Teek” on Ukulele Underground

What Do I Get?

You’ll get a pdf file of the ebook and a pdf of a printable version of the file. You’ll also get mp3s files and WMV video files. They’ll all be in zip files (check out the FAQ page for more info).

This one is slightly different to the way I’ve done it in the past. There are so many mp3s and videos that it made it too big for a single download. So you’ll get the pdf files as a single download (the same as my other ebooks) and the mp3s and videos will be a separate download. The links to all of them will be emailed to you automatically as soon as you buy.


If you check out the ebook and you decide it isn’t for you, let me know within 7 days of purchasing and I’ll give you a full refund. Just email me and let me know the email address you bought it with – you don’t need to give me a reason or anything. If the ebook doesn’t make you a better player, I don’t want your money (because swimming around in it, Scrooge McDuck style, is only fun if you’ve earned it).

How Can I Buy It? And How Much Is It?

To order it click ‘Add to Basket’.

How to Play Ukulele Strums

Price: $12

Buy it here

If you’re reading this via email, head on over to the blog to get it.

Once you’ve paid, click ‘Complete Purchase’ to be taken to the download page. You’ll also be sent a link to the download page by email. So don’t worry if you miss it.

If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me a message.


The full contents of the ebook:


1 Strumming Basics

1.1 Strumming Hand
1.2 Holding the Ukulele While Strumming
1.3 Where to Strum
1.4 How to Strum

2 Musical Basics

2.1 Tempo
2.2 Bars
2.3 Notation
2.4 Working Out Time Signatures
2.5 Exercises
2.6 Time Signatures and Metronomes

3 First Strumming Patterns

3.1 Down, Down, Down, Down
3.2 Down, Up, Down, Up, Down, Up, Down, Up
3.3 Notating Strums

4 Rhythm Basics

4.1 Foot Tapping and Counting Out
4.2 Mnemonics

5 Strumming Patterns

5.1 Ups and Downs
5.2 First Choice Strumming Pattern
5.3 Strumming Patterns in 4/4
5.4 Chord Changes Within Bars
5.5 Strumming Patterns in 3/4
5.6 Swing Strums
5.7 Strong Strums

6 Chnks and Mutes

6.1 Chnks
6.2 Mutes
6.3 Complex Strumming Patterns

7 Working Out Strumming Patterns

8 Advanced Strumming Techniques

8.1 Semi Quavers
8.2 Touch Strums
8.3 Triplet Strums
8.4 Changing Bar Lengths

9 Strumming and Genres

9.1 Blues Strumming
9.2 Bo Diddley Strumming
9.3 Reggae and Ska Strumming
9.4 James Brown Strumming

10 Strumming in Tabs

11 Conclusion

12 Exercise Answers

How to Play Ukulele Strums

Price: $12

Buy it here

Cover photo: New ukulele day! by Monsieur Gordon

Biz Markie – Just A Friend (Tab)

just a friend ukulele tab


As a companion to the Guitar Riffs for Ukulele series, I thought I’d do a set of ‘Not Guitar Riffs for Ukulele’ – mostly piano/keyboard stuff. And I don’t think I could start anywhere other than this. Sampled from Freddie Scott and made a million times better by Biz Markie.

When you’re playing this one on uke it’s worth adding in a few supporting strums between the notes. Which is what I did when I quoted it at the end of my version of Gossip

Come on, kids, pffff ha, pffff ha.

Casey James and the Staypuft Kid: Monday Exposure

Casey James and the Staypuft Kid – Song Birds and Ghetto Blasters (MP3)
Casey James and the Staypuft Kid – Up In The Air (MP3) via

I’ve had Casey James’s Song Birds and Ghetto Blasters on pretty much constant repeat the last few days. And have spent much of that time dancing like a defective robot with a huge grin on my face. It sounds like Flight of the Conchords parodying a collaboration between Beck and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Except even better than that.

He has the entire EP up for free download on his website (it’s the one on the right hand side). There are also two other non-uke albums up there.

Jungle Book – I Wanna Be Like You (Chords and Tab)

I Wanna Be Like You (Chords)

This one is a big favourite with ukulele groups (as ably demonstrated by the Hull Ukulele Group). But it could have been written for Hobbit to sing. It’s a perfect fit. Which is a whole lot more than you can say about the Jonas Brothers. I somehow find it hard to believe they spend anguished nights desperately wishing they could rid themselves of their wild instincts and join respectable society.

Although they do have a glint in their eyes which seems to say, “Teach me to destroy so I may be truly respected.”

Suggested Strumming Pattern

d – d u – u d u

Twice for each chord until you get to G7. Just one strum for that. Then the pattern twice for C and A7, once for D7, once for G7.

Next bit is a little tricky timing wise. Strum the pattern once for C. Then down once on C and down three times on G7.

Twiddly Bits

The intro goes like this:

wanna be like you ukulele tab

Also on the C and A7 in the chorus Hobbit is switching between the chords and strumming all the strings open.

Buy the original.
Buy Snake Suspenderz stuff.

Cat Green Bike, Lulu & the Lampshades: Saturday UkeTube

Coastal towns beginning with ‘Bri’ seem to be uke hotspots at the moment. This week Brighton representative is Sophie Madeleine (she’s finally got her own YouTube channel). And Bristol is represented by Cat Green Bike (whose Breakbeat/Thrash/Concrete EP is rather fantastic) and Lulu and the Lampshades (this video, despite being uke-less, is a must-watch). And watching this video, it looks like Rocky and Balls might have been formed in Bristol.

I expect a Bridlington ukulele explosion any day now.

Also this week is a video of Humble Pie era Steve Marriott playing uke (and thanks to Grant for drawing my attention to it). “If I’m a foot, then you’re my sock.” How romantic. Read the rest of this entry »

Southern Ukulele Store: Window Shopping

I, and many UK ukers, have been at a bit of a loss since the demise of The Ukulele Shop. But it looks like the Southern Ukulele Store is stocking up nicely with ukuleles from Kala, Ohana, Eleuke and Lanikai. Although the high end, Hawaiian makers obviously still don’t our funny foreign money. They don’t have much of an eBay feedback rating yet so I may have to test purchase a new ukulele. Damn! The Spruce top Kala looks quite tempting.

1920’s Martin 5K? Yes please.

Looks like eBay might be cracking down on annoying sellers who use ‘Martin 5K’ to attract eyeballs. This O.M. Tibbs ukulele, despite being a long way removed from a Martin 5K and having ‘L@@@@K’ in the title, is still worth a glance.

An Aaron Keim made Beansprout ukulele made from a salvaged train trestle and cast-off bits of porch.

This is how I should be spending my summer.

The photographer called her the ‘Hawaiian Butterfly’. The eBay seller was less kind.

Friday Links

Square Pegs, Round Holes is a ukulele compilation album put together by Barnkicker Steve in aid of the American Aspergers Association. It includes tracks from Tripping Lily, James Hill, John King and plenty more. You can buy the digital version on Dig Station and the CD version on CD Baby.

Best friend of the blog, Jenny Flame has designed a ukulele t-shirt.

Channel 4 cover the ukulele phenomenon. And with the name ‘Rags Martel’ that guy should really play the uke.

This video is incredibly frustrating. For those of you who don’t know, Cory McAbee is the director and star of American Astronaut (one of my favourite films of all time) and the uke-featuring follow-up Stingray Sam (which I am dying to see).

MP3s: SoTB has Francois Peglau. L’Amour Electronique has a track from Mareva Galanter.

GlabUke is a free piece of ukulele software. It claims to transpose uke tab, but as far as I can tell it can only handle chords.

I’m not too keen on this idea for a ukulele stand.

This photo is tagged ‘ukulele’. I couldn’t make one out, but it’s a great picuter either way.

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