Uke for Xmas? Read This!

When I got my first ukulele, I was completely clueless. This was in those dark, long forgotten days before the internet had been discovered. I didn’t even realise that the strings weren’t supposed to go thickest to thinnest and restrung it.

But you can save yourself from the social disgrace I experienced. I’ve put together a free mini-ebook covering the basics that every first time uke owner needs to know. Here’s what it contains:

Five Things to Know
Five Chords to Learn
Five Patterns to Strum
Five Songs to Play
Five Websites to Visit
Five Things to Get Free
Five Things to Buy
Five Videos to Watch
Five YouTube Channels to Subscribe to

You can download it free by clicking here:

So You Just Got Your First Ukulele (PDF)

And get playing by following the beginner ukulele lessons.

If you’re not new to ukulele but know someone who is feel free to pass it along. It has a Creative Commons license so distribute it as you wish.

Merry Christmas! See you in 2017

Merry Christmas, Chanukah Sameach, Io Saturnalia and Happy Holidays! (If you’re into that kind of thing.)

If you’re after some Christmas music and you’re as Spotify user here’s my Christmas Ukulele playlist. Or if you’re sick of Christmas music my playlist of ukulele selections from 2016.

That’s it from me for this year (other than the ebook for new ukers). I’ll be back at the end of January 2017 (year of the impossible Fmaj7 chord).

If you can’t bear to be without a steady stream of uke, I’ll be posting videos on UkeToob, seven second ukulele lessons on Instagram and bits and pieces on Twitter.

Christmas UkeTube 2016

Full Playlist

It’s here. With cheer. It’s the same every year. It’s the Christmas UkeTube.

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Uke Hunt’s Best of 2016

It’s been another golden year for the ukulele. Time to wrap it up with some of my favourites. Let me know yours in the comments. Particularly if it’s something I’ve missed.

Ukulele Record of 2016: Bud Sugar – VIBE

Bud Sugar’s “Cod Head Skank” mix of ska, beats, ukulele shenanigans and infectious pop melodies on their debut EP has managed to buck up my mood many times this year. Also essential is Stan’s (the band’s uker) own YouTube channel EatMyUke.

Runners Up
Liam Capper-Starr – Needs More Cello: Incredible playing on this record.
Raiatea Helm – He Leo Huali
Jake Shimabukuro – Nashville Sessions: A lot of Jake’s recent albums have seemed safe and dull to me. So it’s very heartening to hear him taking some risks and showing why he’s the biggest ukulelist in the world.
La Familia de Ukeleles – El Gran Rubi: I’m cheating a bit here since it came out in December 2015 but I didn’t get a chance to listen to it before 2015’s list.
Astraluna – The Pass of Storms: Brilliant debut album from the Leeds uker.

Ukulele Song of 2016: La Familia de Ukeleles – Cherry’s World

I don’t hear much from the Argentine ukulele scene. But what they lack in quantity they certainly make up with in quality with fiery swing of La Familia de Ukelele.

Runners Up
Hope & Social – Sunrise Laughing
Tana & the Pocket Philharmonic – Sulk
Tasch – Right Person Wrong Time; Wrong Person Right Time
The Bookshop Band – We Are The Foxes

Instrumental Performance of 2016: Ben Rouse – Smooth Criminal

Ben’s an incredible player. So much so he’s now regularly appearing with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Somehow this video only has 14 views as I’m writing this. I blame myself for not finding it earlier.

Runners Up

George Elmes – Tiger Rag
Herman Vandecauter – Four Italian pieces from Filippo Sauli
Mathias CéVé – Daphné
Jonathan Lewis – Devil in a Haystack
Jake Shimabukuro – Kilauea
Andrew Molina – Game of Thrones
Iris Wagner – Into Fire and Frost
Fidel and Sarah Anne – Greasy Coat

Ukulele Cover 2016: Jim Boggia – Thunder Road

I’m constantly in awe of Jim Boggia’s ukulele arrangements. They’re always inventive, interesting and compelling but never get in the way of the song.

Runners Up

Tiffany Topol – I Can’t Make You Love Me: This was the hardest category for me to judge this year because I absolutely love this one too. It’s my favourite version of one of my favourite songs. No mild claim on a song that’s been covered by Bon Iver and Adele.
The Memphis Ukulele Band – Blue Bayou
EatMyUke – Sgt Peppers Medley

Most Lusted After Ukulele of 2016: Kanile’a Platinum 2016 Tenor

This category is entirely judged on how much I want one of these ukes that I am never going to be rich enough to afford or talented enough to deserve.

Runners Up
Rebel Elysium tenor
aNueNue aNN-US3K Bird Series koa soprano
Lichty Indian rosewood and spruce tenor

Favourite Song Chorded: Prince – Purple Rain

It seems like I’ve spent half of the year doing tribute posts with the deaths of Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen. Three legendary songwriters.

Runners Up
David Bowie – Life on Mars
Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Hoagy Carmichael – I Get Along Without You Very Well
Etta James – I’d Rather Go Blind

Favourite Song Tabbed: Gene Wilder – Pure Imagination

Runners Up
Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why

Tallest Man on Earth – King of Spain
Sufjan Stevens – Death with Dignity
Damien Rice – 9 Crimes
The Last of Us: Part II – Through the Valley

Best Hawaiian Language Performance: Raiatea Helm – Ke Kani Hone O Na Manu

Raiatea Helm must have the world’s purest voice. It’s like washing your hair in a mountain stream (or like washing your beard in a mountain stream in my case). Her previous albums have been a bit over-produced for my taste but her latest, He Leo Huali, retains the crystal clarity without losing any warmth.

Runners Up
Tropic50 – He ‘Ono
Kalyn Aolani – He Aloha No ‘o Honolulu

Best Non-Ukulele Record of 2016: Savages – Adore Life

As a fan of loud, fast and nasty rock music pickings have been slim in recent years. But this Savages record kept me happy all year.

Runners Up
Kanye West – The Life of Pablo: Kanye is a full-on musical genius. I don’t care how much of a jackass he is.
Tanbou Toujou Lou: Meringue, Kompa Kreyol, Vodou Jazz, & Electric Folklore from Haiti 1960 – 1981: Incredible grooves on this record and I love the shimmering guitar runs.
Dawda Jobarteh / Stefan Pasborg – Duo: If a collaboration between a Gambian kora player and a Danish jazz drummer sounds too worthy and chin-scratching, that was also my initial reaction. Turns out it rocks like a motherfucker.
Vulfpeck – The Beautiful Game: Easily the funnest album of the year.

Best Game I Played in 2016: Hitman (2016)

This is the perfect game for me. I love puzzles. I love sneaking around undetected. I love hanging around in fancy locations. I love murdering people in bloody, convoluted ways.

Runners Up
Firewatch: The best soundtrack for a game this year. Looks amazing and the storyline has stuck with me more than any other game.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture: I can understand people who hate this game (I wasn’t a fan of Dear Esther at all). But I love wandering around this valley and there were moments in the game that were so beautiful they blew me away.

David Beckingham – Blue Danube (Tab)

The Blue Danube (Tab)

A new tab from David Beckingham and a change from his usual jazzy tunes. This time it’s Johann Strauss II’s Blue Danube. Famous for being performed at Vienna’s New Year’s Eve concert. Which gives you about a week to master the tune, get to Austria and join the Vienna Philharmonic.


More David Beckingham tabs
David Beckingham on YouTube
Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (Chords)

Everly Pregnant Brothers, Marina and Iñaki: UkeTube

Full Playlist

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Ukulele Guild of Hawaii 2016, Early UOGB: Friday Links

Pictures from the Ukulele Guild of Hawaii’s 2016 event. If you’re looking for something to get me for Christmas, is selling a few of the ukes that were on show including:
Beau Hannam cedar/rosewood
John Kinnard sycamore/spruce
Little River koa “Aloha”
Rebel Elysium

Wilfried Welti has a new ebook of classical ukulele tabs. It contains 15 pieces from Tielman Susato’s Danserye. Wilfried’s tabs are always great and at €5 you can’t go wrong.

David Glyn Jones has digitised and uploaded a bunch of clips of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain from the late 80s and early 90s including their first filmed performance, a 1987 rehearsal, Cecil Sharp House in 1990 and behind the scenes at Pebble Mill.

One of the victims of the Oakland warehouse fire was 21 year old ukulelist Jenny Morris.

New Zealand parliament closes for Christmas with a ukulele song.

New Hit Single from Howlin’ Hobbit.

Johnny Depp and Korn do… a thing.

The Last of Us: Part II – Through the Valley (Tab)

Through the Valley (Tab)

The trailer for The Last of Us: Part II has me very excited. Not least at the prospect of another outstanding score by the genius Gustavo Santaolalla. He plays the ronrocco which, like the ukulele, is petite and has a reentrant tuning making them very suitable for ukeing. I tabbed up the Last of Us theme here.

The trailer itself provides another musically treat in the form of Ellie covering Through the Valley by Shawn James. The song is so perfect I assumed it had been written for the trailer.

I cobbled my version together quickly. I started as soon as I saw the trailer and recorded the video the next day. So it is a bit all over the place. The plan was to put the melody firmly up front and put the picking in softly between melody notes. And it mostly works that way. The notes on the g- and C-strings are played with the thumb, the index finger handles the E-string and the middle finger the A. The only exception is when all the strings are plucked at once.

Backing Picking Pattern

Through the Valley (Backing Tab)

If you want to sing the song, here’s a simple version of the picking and strumming you can use as backing. To play along put a capo on the first fret. It sounds like this:



Buy the Shawn James version
The Last of Us
The Last of Us Theme (Tab)

Ukulele Quiz 2016

Time for the annual Uke Hunt Christmas time-waster.

– Grab a pen and paper
– Display knowledge.
– There might be spoilers in the comments.
– Check the answers here (no peeking).
– Return in triumph or despair and share you score in the comments.

If you’re reading by email or feed reader you may need to click through to the post to see everything.

Name the Chord

All the chords are either major, minor or 7. Nothing more complicated than that.






Name the Brand

Click for a bigger version.

By WFIU Public Radio

By WFIU Public Radio

By Tim Walker

By O OrimO

By Aaron Warren

Name the Cover

Who first released the songs these ukulele orchestras are covering?

11. Nottingham Ukulele Orchestra

12. Macclesfield Music Centre Ukulele Group

13. Otley Ukulele Orchestra

14. Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

15. Grand Old Uke of York

Name the Celeb

16. 1

a) Seth Myers
b) Conan O’Brian
c) Jimmy Kimmel
d) Jimmy Fallon


a) Green Day
b) Blink 182
c) Fall Out Boy
d) Sum 41


a) Pooh
b) Tigger
c) Roo
d) Eeyore


a) Georgia Engel
b) Virginia Madsen
c) Dakota Johnson
d) Flo Rida


a) Tom Felton
b) Tom Hiddleston
c) Tom Hardy
d) Tom Hanks

Name the Lyric

Which songs – oft covered on ukulele – are these lyrics from?

21. Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter

22. Wise men say / Only fools rush in

23. I came along / I wrote a song for you / And all the things you do

24. Well, sometimes I go out by myself / And I look across the water

25. Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

Check the answers here

Past Quizzes
Ukulele Quiz 2015
Ukulele Quiz 2014
Ukulele Quiz 2013
Ukulele Quiz 2012
Ukulele Quiz 2011
Ukulele Quiz 2010
Ukulele Quiz 2009

Elvis Costello – Good Year for the Roses (Chords)

Elvis Costello – Good Year for the Roses (Chords)

When I was thinking of a song to sum up 2016 the title of this one immediately popped into my head. It was first a hit for George Jones but I’ve written up is Elvis Costello’s cover.

The version above uses a capo at the second fret to make things easier. But if you have no fear of the E chord you can play it this way:

Good Year for the Roses (No Capo Chords)

If you want to play along with the George Jones version just capo two frets higher. There’s only one other difference at that comes in the strumming.

Suggested Strumming

For the main strum you can use this good old standby:

d – d u – u d u

Intro: Main strum four times.

Verses: In the first two lines do the main strum twice on G. Then d – d u on G again and d – d u on C before returning to the main strum on G twice. Here’s how that sounds:

Verse Strum

On the second two lines do the main strum twice for each chord.


For the first two lines use the main strum once for the first two chords and twice for the last.

The third line is the same but inserts a 2/4 bar of d-d- on the second C chord. And the last line ends with a series of d-d- strums on the G-C-G-D. The last two lines sound like this:

Chorus Strum

The George Jones version doesn’t have that bar of 2/4. The first half of the bar is d-d- on C and the second is d-d- on G.

Twiddly Bits

Here’s a little lick based on the lap steel riff:


Here’s how that sounds:

Intro riff

If you’re playing without a capo you can take advantage of the open strings and play it like this:



Buy the George Jones version.
Buy the Elvis Costello version
Shipbuilding Tab

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