Don’t forget you can get 50% off all of my How to Play Ukulele ebooks.
– Lots of new ukes on display at NAMM 2015. Lots of great photos and videos in Hawaii Music Supply’s coverage: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.
– Three new ukes amazing looking ukes from KoAloha.
– Amy Crehore’s Tickler # 3: “Twitch” Concert Ukulele. She talks about it with the Huffington Post.
– Kala’s Elite Ukulele. Their first ukes made in the US.
Here’s one if you’re looking for a challenge. There are lots of jumps around the neck, syncopated rhythms, twists and turns, and tricky strum blocking to get to grips with.
On part that isn’t too difficult is the strumming hand. Most of the song my right hand is just strumming sixteenth notes. The rhythm is created by muting and playing strings with the left hand.
For example, in the intro you play a constant strum, hold down the chord stabs and mute the g-string (I use the thumb of my fretting hand), otherwise mute all the strings.
Here’s a video of it done slowly then up to speed:
The verse is done in a similar way. Strum constant sixteenth notes and mute the strings when nothing is played. The difference is you also have to mute all but one string. That can get tricky and it takes a lot of practice. I call this strum blocking and I did a tutorial on it here. It’s a great way to give a piece lots of attack and a strong rhythm.
In this song I mostly mute the g-string with my thumb, C-string with my middle finger, E-string with my ring finger and the A-string with the underside of my index finger. But you’ll need to play around with it and see what works best for you.
Here’s the first line of the first verse played slowly then up to speed:
Note: in the tab I’ve noted the muted strums with just one x to keep the tab clean. But you do strum all the strings.
Other note: In the video I mess up the ‘Saturday night…’ bit in the middle section. It should sound the same as it does in the bridge sections.
2015 started off with a fair amount of upheaval over here. A new batch of EU VAT rules (over here VAT means sales tax, troosers means pants, collywobbles is a three legged dog and peaky blinders are the things horses wear on their eyes) came into effect for digital products. And governments didn’t bother telling anyone smaller than a giant megacorp (I, like most single person businesses, found out via social media near the end of December).
Long story short: before VAT was charged at the selling country rate. I’m in the UK and comfortably below the threshold so never had to charge any. The new law means I have to charge VAT at different rates in every EU country I sell in, collect location information on every one and keep it for 10 years. Which is way more of an admin burden than I can manage.
So my How to Play Ukulele ebooks were off sale in January while I found a new seller and had the site rejiggered. And, unfortunately, the ebooks are still unavailable in EU countries other than the UK until I can find a good alternative.
But it’s not all bad news. I’ve moved sales onto Gumroad. They’re a great service and there are some big advantages of using them. No more PayPal and more mobile friendly downloads.
50% Discount & Price Drops
I’ve sold a few ebooks via Gumroad already and it’s gone very smoothly. But since the system is still bedding in if you buy before Sunday 8th February you can get 50% off any of the ebooks using this code:
UPDATE: Sorry, this offer has expired.
If you do have any problems ordering just shoot me an email at email@example.com
Also, there’s a new ebook multipack: the Soloing Multipack which contains How to Play Blues Ukulele and How to Play Slide Ukulele. Usually it’ll be $19 for the pair but I’m starting it at $17 (the price of the blues ebook alone). So with the discount code you can get both for $8.50.
I’ve also dropped the price of How to Play Classical Ukulele from $9 to $7.
The Good Stuff
No More PayPal
PayPal is very useful. But sometimes it can be a right pain in the arse (most notably a long-running inability for PayPal UK to get along with Amex). I’ve heard from a few people who have trouble with it or just don’t want to use it. And I completely sympathise with that opinion.
Gumroad just uses credit/debit cards. It’s all handled by Gumroad who are super safe payments and fully compliant. I never get to see any of your credit card info. So you don’t have to worry about me using your card to fund my plans to launch a line of ukulele-themed perfumes.
More Mobile-Friendly Downloads
I launched my first ebooks back in November 2007. Back then there was no iPad, no Android and the internet was in black and white. Nowadays many people are using the ebooks on their mobile devices. And Gumroad makes it much easier to do that than the old seller did.
Now you’ll be able to download all the PDFs and tabs straight to a mobile device and open it in your favourite ebook reader (e.g. iBooks, Kindle).
The only files you won’t be able to download to your mobile device (without an app that can handle zip files) are any audio examples accompanying the ebooks. Those you’ll still need to download to a computer and transfer if needs be.
The Bad Stuff
No Sales to EU outside the UK
Because of the VAT rules I’ve had to exclude buyers from EU countries other than the UK. But I am looking into ways of making them available in the near future.
It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie by Billy Mayhew is a big ukulele favourite so there are a ton of versions around. I the Asylum Street Spankers’ version because it’s a real education in chord inversions. You’re going to have to be on the ball to keep up.
Christina Marrs is using D-tuning for this but I’ve stuck with C-tuning (using similar chord shapes). That means it’s played high up the neck so pay attention to the fret numbers in the chord charts.
Here’s a much simpler version of the chords. It’s in the same key so mix and match between them as you see fit.
I recommend starting by learning the simple version then gradually adding in elements you like from the difficult version.
Also, take a look at the Ukulele Boudoir version which is in the same key and take elements of that you enjoy.
Other than the one-strum-per-chord into this should get you most of the way through:
d – d – d u d u
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:
And get playing by following the beginner ukulele lessons.
Merry Christmas, Chanukah Sameach, Happy Holidays, Io Saturnalia and Happy Holidays!
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 2014 including lots of Uke Hunt favourites and a few surprises (Neil Young being the most surprising).
That’s it from me for this year (other than the ebook for new ukers). I’ll be back at the end of January 2015 (year of the F6 chord).