7 second ukulele lessons: Salt-N-Pepa, Billie Eilish and More

After a bit of a break to concentrate on full tabs, I’m back posting riffs and whatnot on Instagram. Here’s a roundup of recent tabs.

Salt-N-Pepa – Push It

Billie Eilish – Your Power

Undertale – Megalovania

Polo G – Rapstar

Here’s a tab for how it’s originally played with the uke tuned to g-Bb-Db-F:

And here’s a version adapted for standard tuning:

Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me By Your Name)

MF DOOM – Datura Stramonium

Cat Stevens – Morning Has Broken (Tabs)

Cat Stevens – Morning Has Broken (Tabs)

For this arrangement I worked from the Cat Stevens version. But a few bits of the version I sang in primary school might have slipped in.

The two main sections of this song are wildly different in terms of difficulty. The verses are very straightforward. It’s a gentle melody with easy chords and a few supporting notes.

The section where he’s hammering away on the piano is much trickier. As well as the fast picking, the chord changes are more challenging. In the original, he speeds up considerably in these parts. I haven’t sped up anywhere near as much. And you could slow the tempo even further without spoiling the sound.

Links

Buy the original
More folk tabs and chords
Uke Hunt Patreon

U2 – With or Without You (Tabs)

U2 – With or Without You (Tab)

The chords here are dead simple. It’s just G-D-Em-C all the way through (i.e. the I-V-vi-IV progression or the I’m Yours progression as ukers know it). So you have plenty of space to make that beautiful melody sing.

There’s a lot of scope for playing the supporting notes to suit your taste. So long as you hold the chord down and keep them quieter than the melody notes. I’m using one finger per string picking throughout.

And one more thing. Thanks to Tim Apple, this tab is going to be forced onto every device with the next iOS update.

Links

Buy the original
U2 – One tab
Uke Hunt Patreon

UkeTube: Polo G, Ari Chi, Jenifer Cabrera

Watch on YouTube

Tracklist
Jenifer Cabrera – Negro Gato
Polo G and Einer Bankz – RAPSTAR
Ari Chi – Next Fall
Vivian Kim – Mozart Symphony No.40
Kenta Ebara – Gurenge (Kimetsu no Yaiba)
Laura Currie – Marry Me
adab25 – J S Bach Gavotte n°1 Gavotte n°2 de la suite n°6 BWV 1012 (Thanks to @ukeist)
Vinícius Vivas – Mr Sandman

Friday Links: Uke Song at No.1, Jake Plays the First Ukulele

Polo G’s RAPSTAR has made it to #1. The first ukulele song to do so since Train’s Hey, Soul Sister (I think).

The legendary webshow Midnight Ukulele Disco is being uploaded to YouTube. Including probably the most iconic ukulele video there is.

New tab book from Choan Galvez: Waltz in Progress.

On Video
Jake Shimabukuro plays “the first ukulele made in Hawaii and other historic instruments.
Phoebe Bridgers finally manages to smash an instrument.
Circuits and Strings builds an electric harp ukulele
Ukeing while paragliding.

Window Shopping
Lichty Custom Ukulele U160
An artist on death row maked ukuleles from popsicle sticks.

Patreon

A massive thanks to all Uke Hunt’s Patreon backers for keeping the site up and running. And double thanks go to these unmatched patrons of the arts:

– Arthur Foley
– Colleen Petticrew
– Dan
– David Burt
– Elizabeth Beardsley
– Fiona Keane
– Jeff K.
– Katherine Penney
– Kie77
– Leia-lee Doran
– Lisa Johnson
– Mr Daniel Barclay
– Nick Parsons
– Olga deSanctis
– Pat Weikle
– Pauline LeBlanc
– Sandi Clement
– Thorsten Neff
– Trevor Mccravy

Last month’s Patreon only tab is one I’m particularly proud of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Without support from Patreons I wouldn’t have been able to take on a project this ambitious.

Weezer – Undone – The Sweater Song (Tabs)

Weezer – Undone – The Sweater Song (Tab)

As befits its slacker nature, many elements of this song are very straightforward. The melody of the verse is just groups of two notes a semitone apart and are taken directly from the riff. And when they key changes for the solo, there’s no smooth transition it’s just straight from one key to the other and back again. But there’s no denying the riff and the solo are immediately catchy.

As it’s a slacker anthem, I’m taking a loose approach to this one. In the intro, I’m fingerpicking the riff (one finger per string style). Then switching to strums with a few picked notes for the rest of the song. The solo is by far the most challenging part. I’ve adapted it a great deal from the original, so feel free to adapt it further to suit your own playing.

Links

Buy the original
More 90s tabs and chords
Uke Hunt Patreon

Queen – Bicycle Race (Tabs)

Queen – Bicycle Race (Tab)

As daft as Queen lyrics often are, they can always be relied on for some interesting music.

Putting it together made me realise it’s structured similar to Rhapsody in Blue (and that other rhapsody). It’s made of a few very catchy but unrelated sections that rub together and sometimes outright interrupt each other.

The song starts in that fashion with the lyrical, “I want to…” line being interrupted by them yelling bicycle. You can bring out that contrast by playing the lyrical section smoothly and the shouty section brashly and more staccato.

It then switches from major to minor for the hard-edged verse. I like to give the strings a bit of a snap for this section.

The middle section, which returns to a major key and a more gentle style cuts, the second chorus shor and shifts to12/8 time. Make sure you’re warmed up before attempting the big stretch up to the 11th and 12th frets.

The next chorus starts off two frets higher (making it a bit more difficult to play) before dropping back down to the original key in bar 31. Strumming the strings above the nut does a good job of imitating the bells at the end of this section.

The solo is the trickiest part to play. The original has two guitars playing answer and response phrases. Moving both to one ukulele means some big, quick moves up and down the neck. It’s tricky. I certainly make a hash of it.

Links

Buy the original
More rock tabs and chords
Uke Hunt Patreon

Simon and Garfunkel – April Come She Will (Tabs)

Simon and Garfunkel – April Come She Will (Tab)

A seasonally appropriate song from Simon and Garfunkel (the supergroup formed from Garfunkel and Oates and Trevor and Simon) and a good fingerpicking workout.

I’ve kept the Travis picking technique from the original for this. The index finger picks the E-string, the middle finger the A, and the thumb alternates between the g- and C-strings all the way through. This brings up a couple of problems.

Firstly, it’s very easy for the melody to get lost in the pattern. Which would make it sound like an accompaniment. So try to emphasise the melody as much as you can.

Secondly, the first note of the melody (bar 7) is on the C-string. There you have to break the pattern by picking the C-string with your index finger. I found it awkward and the trickiest part of the arrangement.

There are a few bars of 2/4 scattered around the tab. But everything flows very nicely, so don’t let that put you off.

Links

Buy the original
More 60s tabs and chords
Uke Hunt Patreon

UkeTube: RIO, BananaCactus

Watch on YouTube

Tracklist
RIO – When You Wish Upon A Star ~ Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
BananaCactus – What A Day
Bakey and Betty – Pig Meat Strut Thanks to @ukeist
Max & Veronica – Blue Wing
Madhura – Stay
Howlin’ Hobbit – Night Train Waltz
Elizabeth Safley Brinker – It Had To Be You
EmiSunshine – Off the Rails

How I’m Improving My Sound

I’ve been working on slowly improving my sound the last couple of years. It’s still very much an ongoing process and I’m certainly not an expert. But a few people have asked about it on YouTube, so I thought I’d rundown the gear I use when I make videos.

Ukuleles:

This part has been unchanged for a long time. Almost all my videos are done with a tenor Ohana TK-35G or a tenor KoAloha Sceptre. And I use clear Worth strings for the most part.

Mic

I’m using an Audio Technica AT2020 USB. Mostly because it’s super-easy to use.

DAW

AKA the thing you record in. Until recently, I’ve been using Garageband (the free software that comes with Macs). But I upgraded to Apple’s Logic Pro X (thanks Patreons!).

Basic Effects

These are effects I use on every video. Unless it says otherwise, they’re the stock effect in Logic.

Noise Reduction

I just use Logic’s built in noise reduction. I keep this at a fairly low level so it doesn’t cut out any ukulele sound.

EQ

EQ allows you to adjust the volume of different frequencies (i.e. the pitch of the note). The pros do all sorts of fancy things with EQ, but I just do two things with it. I scoop out anything below the range of the ukulele which cuts down on low end noise. And I boost the high end of the ukulele so it’s more balanced with the lower notes (which tend to be louder).

Here’s an example with no EQ then EQed:


EQ

Compression

At their simplest, compressors reduce the volume of loud sounds and increase the volume of quiet sounds. That’s particularly useful for ukuleles as it can increase the length of the uke’s sustain. Just don’t overdo it because compression will reduce the dynamics of your performance and can increase the amount of noise.

Here’s an example of two notes without compression then with:


Compression

Reverb

Reverb adds echo to your sound to create the illusion you’re in a pristine acoustic space rather than a Unabomber-style shack. Reverb sounds great. Which makes it very easy and tempting to overdo. And I have overdone it many times in past.

I’ve used the built in Garageband/Logic reverb but I’m currently using Raum.

Here’s an example with no reverb, the amount of reverb I like to use, too much reverb and way, way, way too much reverb:


Reverb

Other Effects

These are effects that I either use occasionally or just use for fun.

Stereo Panning Tremolo

Tremolo rhythmically increases and decreases the volume of what you’re playing. Like in the intro of How Soon is Now?. But some tremolos can offset the volume changes between the left and right speaker to make it sound like the track is moving from left to right.

It’s useful to turn a mono sound into a stereo one. But you have to be subtle with it if you’re just recording one instrument. I find it works best when you have a steady picking pattern.


Tremolo

Brainworx Stereomaker

The Brainworx Stereomaker is another effect that turns a mono track into a stereo one. But this one does it by means that are beyond my ken.

I’ve only recently picked this one up but you can hear it on the I Know the End video. I haven’t decided whether it’s going get a permanent place in my DAW. I like the sound but I’ll have to learn how to tweak it to my taste.


Stereomaker

Don’t pay full price for this. It goes on sale regularly. I picked it up for $10.

Delay

I don’t think I’ve ever used delay in a video but it’s a fun thing to play around with. You can use delay to create a complex sound from a very simple pattern. In the example below I’m using a dotted-eighth note delay to create an U2-ish sound.

If you want something wild, check out the free Valhalla Super Massive plugin.


Delay

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