Summer Holiday

It’s that time of year again where I burrow dead into the ground an aestivate to avoid sunlight. I’ll be back in a month or so. If you can’t wait that long I’ll still be posting on UkeToob and Tumblr.

If you’re looking for a summer project here are some lessons for you:

Beginner Lessons
Improver Lessons
Intermediate Lessons
Advanced Lessons

Del Rey, Penguin Cafe: UkeTube

Full Playlist

Just let me sneak this in here: Agathe (who you may remember as half of Agathe and Fine) is kickstarting an EP with her band Inglenook (pro-tip: click on the ‘Fr’ in the top right to Englishify it).

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Friday Links


Anatomy Custom Painted Ukulele
Mysterious Banjo-Uke Mister (c.1930)


Bosko & Honey’s New Album

New Releases

Ninebarrow – While the Blackthorn Burns.
– Do you remember that session Emily Scott did for the Uke Hunt podcast? She has a new album out Stray Light. It doesn’t have any uke on but despite that obvious deficiency it’s incredible.


– Trailer for the documentary Under the Boardwalk: A Ukulele Love Story.


The Tale of Alan and His Rather Short Arms.
Chocolate Ukulele Ice Cream Treat.
– How many times have you wished you had a ukulele-playing wookiee on your crotch? Wish no longer.

The best thing about using creative commons licenses is seeing other people build on work I’ve done. The new web/iOS goal tracking app JUTSU has used my So You Just Got Your First Ukulele mini ebook (PDF link) to create this list of actions to start playing ukulele.

From the Comments

Things Ken learnt from 50 years of playing ukulele.

Acoustic Intros (Tab)

Since the last Acoustic Intros post I’ve been itching to do another one. And I realised that I’ve notched up five requests that (just about – I’m looking at you Bonnie Bear) fit that description.

They vary in difficulty but they all make use of fingerpicking. Usual rules apply: I try to do them in same key as the original but it’s not guaranteed; if you request the rest of the song I will scream the point isn’t to play the whole song but have a bit of fun, inject a bit of familiarity like this or to incorporate into a medley like this.

Nick Drake – Day Is Done



One of Nick Drake’s best songs (although I would probably say that about 60% of his music). This tab is in the same key as the original but I have had to simplify things a fair amount to get it to work.

The picking is all thumb and two finger style. That does mean playing two notes in a row with the thumb on different strings. I usually try to avoid that but I think it’s the best way to handle it here.

Buy it on iTunes

Elvis – In the Ghetto



Buy it on iTunes

Thumb and two finger picking here as well.

Trickiest bit here is the middle of bar 2 (and the repeats of that move). When you slide from the 5th fret to the 6th have your index finger barred across the E and A strings ready for the rest of the bar.

Bon Iver – Holocene



This is the only one in this post that isn’t in the original key. To play along with the record slap a capo on the 6th fret.

Buy it on iTunes

Corinne Bailey Rae – Put Your Records On



All chords for this intro. You could use strums for this but it’s more effective with one finger per string picking like the original.

The trickiest bit is bars 2-3 and 5-6. Here’s an easier way of playing it that loses very little in the sound.

For the x’s in the tab I’m bringing my hand down on the strings so they click against the fretboard. Here’s a video of that technique. The first half shows creating the click with just the thumb. Then using the whole hand (trickier but produces a more forceful click).

Buy it on iTunes

Royal Teeth – Hold Me



Hey look, A ukulele riff! Royal Teeth make really effective use of a uke in the riff. Straight forward thumb and two finger picking here too.

Buy it on iTunes


More Acoustic Riffs

Blues Ukulele and Ukulele 2014: Spotify Playlists

For the last few years I’ve been making Spotify playlists of the year’s ukulele releases. You can find previous year’s lists here along with a few other ukulele playlists. 2014’s list is starting to fill up nicely with long standing uke acts (like Tony Penultimate of the UOGB and Aaron Keim’s The Quiet American), big stars (Damon Albarn and Imelda May) and exciting new acts (Gracie Terzian and Breaks Co-op).

I’ve also been inspired to start a blues ukulele list after discovering these three artists:

Lemon Nash: Arhoolie recently released a stunning collection of tracks by Lemon Nash recorded between 1956 and ’61. Would have loved to hear how he sound in the ’20s. Looks like we’ll have to wait for the invention of the flux capacitor for that though.

Laura Dukes: I learned about Laura Dukes pretty multi simultaneous from Valerie June (who name checked Laura Dukes as her inspiration for picking up the ukulele) and the BBC series The Devil’s Music which had a performance from her: YouTube link/iPlayer link.

Joe Linthecome: Who I can’t find much about and seems to have only recorded the two songs on the playlist.

If you’re similarly inspired you might be interested in How to Play Blues Ukulele (super-secret $5 discount code for people reading this: papalemon).

If there’s someone else who should be included in either list let me know in the comments.

Blues Ukulele

Spotify Link


Joe Linthecome – Pretty Mama Blues
Joe Linthecome – Humming Blues
Laura Dukes – Crawdad
Laura Dukes – Stack O’Lee Blues
Laura Dukes – Jimmy, You Are My Heart and Soul
Lemon Nash – Gravedigger’s Blues
Lemon Nash – Papa Lemon’s Blues
Lemon Nash – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
Lemon Nash – Those Drafting Blues
Sam Ku West Harmony – The Wang Wang Blues
Del Rey – Rockin’ Chair Blues
Jim Beloff – Blues On A Ukulele
Mark Kailana Nelson – Wild Cow Blues
Lil Rev – Ukulele Blues
Lil Rev – Rockpile Blues
Gerald Ross – Ukulele Stomp

Ukulele 2014

Spotify Link


Holland Greco – Stuck
Gracie Terzian – Love Rest – Acoustic Version
Hafdis Huld – Little Light
Ninebarrow – Mother
Shelley O’Brien – Spring Drum
Zoë Bestel – Listen
The Anything Goes Orchestra – Jonny Got a Boom Boom
Imelda May – Dreaming – Ukulele Track
We Were Evergreen – Overnight
David Megarrity – Shoelaces and Yo-Yo
Tyrone and Lesley – All Dressed Up
Tony Penultimate – Blackpool
Kara Square – The Most Generic Thing
Svavar Knútur – Tokan Acoustic
Caravan Gogh – Waltz of the Sunflowers
Breaks Co-Op – Sounds Familiar
The Quiet American – Worth a Million
The Burning Glass – Leather Jacket
Bella Hemming – Play Guitar
Zee Avi – Rainbow Connection
Damon Albarn – Mr Tembo
One Happy Island – Hard Drive

WIUO – I Love You, Raylene (Chords)

Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra – I Love You, Raylene (Chords)

This is different from the stuff we’ve come to expect from The Wellies. It’s not a cover of a big, famous pop song. But this one was written by a friend of the bad, John McDougall. It’s also one of their funniest and most entertaining songs. And it’s fun to play.

Suggested Strumming

Here’s a simple strum you can use this strum pretty much all the way through:

d u – u – u – u

Keep the strums short by releasing the pressure on the fretting hand just after strumming. It sounds like this:


A couple of places that doesn’t work. There’s the, “Raylene, marry me,” bits. Do four down strums each for C and D. And at the end of Verse 1 just do one down-strum on the C and D.


Buy it on iTunes
WIUO’s site
More WIUO chords

Irene Diaz, Kawehi: UkeTube

Full Playlist

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Manitoba Hal: Friday Links

Manitoba Hal has just released a new double album: Down in the Kitchen. He’s also touring the UK in the next few weeks with shows and workshops. Mostly hitting the north but his London workshop has just opened up to the public too.

krabbers has a new album out Secondhand Backpack with all proceeds going to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. You can buy a copy directly from him.


– Baton Rouge’s smiley ukuleles: :), :P, :x and ;)
Sweet Martin collection up for sale.


Like father, like son.
Hats and overalls.

Jackson C Frank – Blues Run the Game (Tab)

Blues Run the Game (Tab)

Blues Run the Game is the up there with World Turned Upside Down as the best modern folk song. Both those songs are widely covered and not best known for the original versions (a defining characteristic of a great folk song).

Blues Run the Game was written by Jackson C Frank but has been more heard in its many cover versions by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake, John Renbourn, Sandy Denny, Eddi Reader John Mayer and Laura Marling.

But my favourite is Bert Jansch’s version. And that was the strongest influence on my ukulele version of the picking.

The first thing to say about my take is that it uses the capo on the fifth fret. Usually I wouldn’t capo that high up but it was the only way I could get it onto the ukulele and keep it in the same key as Jansch’s version.

The second thing is the alternate picking. The thumb alternates between the g and C strings thumb and two finger style.


Buy the Jackson C Frank version
Buy the Bert Jansch version

Uke Hunt is Seven: Round up of the Year

Hang out the cunting, Uke Hunt is seven years old. Here’s a round up of the last year of the blog.

May 2013

Free ukulele mixtape.
Ukulele crossword

In tabs: Mega Man 2: Flashman Theme
In chords: Jonathan Coulton – RE: Your Brains

June 2013

In tabs: Eddie Vedder – Tuolumne
In chords: Daft Punk – Get Lucky

July 2013

Weird-ass scales
Great books by ukulele playing authors

In tabs: The xx – Intro
In chords: Skinny Lister – Colours


Hooray! Holidays.

September 2013

Fingerpicking patterns

In tabs: Acoustic intros
In chords: Lorde – Royals

October 2013

– Ukulele selling legend MusicGuyMic passed away.

In tabs: Marty Robbins – El Paso (Instrumental version)
In chords: WIUO – Afternoon Delight

November 2013

Ukulele picking patterns in 3/4 time

In tabs: I Am The Doctor
In chords: Velvet Underground – I’ll Be Your Mirror

December 2013

Uke Hunt iPad app launch
2013 Ukulele Quiz

In tabs: 80s Medley (inspired by Action Bronson)
In chords: Pokey LaFarge – La La Blues

January 2014

– I did a version of the Klovn theme that even Danish people weren’t interesting in me tabbing.

In tabs: Cincinnati Flow Rag
In chords: Karen O – The Moon Song (from Her)

February 2014

Ukulele Video of the Year announced

In tabs: Gustavo Santaolla – The Last of Us Theme
In chords: A bunch of Pete Seeger songs

March 2014

Songs with chords you know

In tabs: Spinal Tab – Stonehenge
In chords: La Vie en Rose

April 2014

– The five best ukulele chords.
– I started accepting Bitcoin.
– My Bob’s Burgers tab was briefly in a Bob’s Burgers ad

In tabs: Mr Moustafa from Grand Budapest Hotel
In chords: Amanda Palmer – Bigger on the Inside

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