I’ve also moved the picking into the key of F as it makes it much easier. You can play along with the original by tuning down to Gb B Eb Ab. Or here’s a tab of the picking in E I did before giving up on it.
The tab goes from the intro through the first verse and you can use the same patterns throughout the song.
You pick the E-string with your index finger, A-string with the middle finger and your thumb for both other strings.
Spooky New Releases
– The Bookshop Band are a great folk trio who write songs based on literature. Their latest is a collection of tunes inspired by spooky tales That Ghost Belongs to Me (Thanks to Ron Hale for turning me onto them.)
– New Ramonesish EP from Bloody Death Skull: The Haunting of….
Carrying on from The Joker, more of my favourite slide moments.
I wrote an ebook about playing slide ukulele. But the number one tip is: mute everything. Slide playing is noisey (which is part of its charm) so you need to mute the strings behind the string with your index and middle fingers. And use your picking hand to mute any strings you aren’t playing at that point.
None of the tunes here are played in standard tuning. When you have to play all the strings at the same fret it’s useful to tune the strings so they make an open chord.
The tunings used:
Open C: gCEG Tune the A-string down to G. Open F: fCFA Tune the g-string down to F and the E-string up to F. Open G: gBDG Tune the C-string down to B, the E-string down to D and the A-string down to G.
A definite Bad to the Bone influence in this White Stripes riff. The tab starts with the riff that ends the verses and leads back into the main riff. The notes with simultaneous sixth and seventh frets are played with the fingers.
There’s a neat little trick at the end of the solo in Steve Miller’s The Joker. While the backing guitar plays a C chord, the lead guitar slides into an F chord. The two chords blend together to make a much more interesting sound than they do individually.
Stacked chords like these are known as polychords and there’s a lot of potential for them on ukuleles where chords are limited to four notes per uke.
Here’s the averagest chord progression possible: C – G – C – G
The two ukes blend together to create the progression: Cmaj7 – Gmaj7 – Cmaj7 – Gmaj7.
You can pull this trick with any major chord. When you combine a major chord with a minor chord a third higher (i.e. the root note is four frets higher) you get a major 7 chord. For example:
F + Am = Fmaj7
D + F#m = Dmaj7
Bb + Dm = Bbmaj7
The theory behind it is pretty simple. Each major and minor chord is made up of three notes. In the example of C and Em they’re:
C chord: C – E – G
Em chord: E – G – B
And Cmaj7 contains four notes:
Cmaj7 chord: C – E – G – B
Blending the C, E and G with the B from the Em gives you all the notes you need for a Cmaj7 chord.
You might already be familiar with maj7 chords and already playing them. But what about 9 chords (Prince’s favourite chord) that contain five notes? Playing them on one uke you have to ditch one of the notes. But by stacking chords you can create them by playing a major chord along with a minor chord a fifth above it.
In this example the left panned ukulele is playing:
Some other chord combinations that produce this sound:
A + Em = A9
D + Am = D9
G + Dm = G9
Up the Neck
So far all the chords I’ve used have been the bog-standard, from-the-book shapes. But you can use this technique to the fullest by using chord inversions up the neck. That’ll give you a much wider range of notes in the chord.
Some of the stuff in this post is definitely on the technical side. And I’d recommend using it a lot more sparingly than I have in these examples. But I hope it’s given you a few ideas to spice up playing with more than one uke and encouraged you to experiment. There are so many possibilities it’s a shame to have every uke playing the same thing all the time.
I’ve felt in a bit of a rut recently. And I’ve found the best way to bust it is to changing things up a bit. So I slipped a slide on my finger and tried out some of my favourite slide guitar bits on uke. Including The Joker‘s pompatus packed solo.
You can use the main strum for almost all the choruses. But there’s a slight change in one chorus and the second solo with a C-Csus4 move. There I strum down twice on the C then “du” six times on the Csus4. Then two more downs and six “du”s on the Csus4. It sounds like this:
First thing to do for the slide solo is to tune your A-string down to G. That creates an open-C tuning. Second thing to do is to make sure you mute the strings behind the slide and mute all the strings you’re not playing.
I threw the little wolf whistle that crops up a couple of times at the end of the solo. You don’t need much accuracy in playing it. I just slide up as far as I can go. Then slide up to about the tenth fret and down.
The Walking Dead theme uses a technique I should have included in my spooky ukulele sounds post: unusual timings. Each bar has a pattern that rises and falls twice but then cuts off half way through the third time. The bars themselves are played an odd number of times. The first pattern is played three times at the beginning in my version (seven in the original) and five times at the end. Usually you see bars in powers of 2 (1, 2, 4, 8 etc.) or at least an even amount. Having an even number gives it a unsettling feeling.
I went with low-G tuning here. It makes it so much easier to play. But I like the way it sounds even on high-g. Even spookier if you ask me.
The tune is very simple. It’s just one pattern on three different locations on the neck. It’s great for practicing your thumb and two finger picking. I’ve been using it as a little warm up exercise. The great part is you can move the pattern up and down the neck and it always works.