Category Archives: Tutorials

And So It Goes – Billy Joel

A lovely lovely song, if you like this sort of thing (which I do). It works best on piano, can be done well on the guitar, but the uke is tough for this one – you can’t just bash the chords out here… So – there’s no chord chart this time – you’ll have to use the tab – but it’s not too difficult – just a little adventurous! There are really only two sections to learn… and we’re in C so the shapes are familiar.

The Cave – Mumford and Sons

You’ll need Am, C, F and G – that’s it.

Four chords is all you need to play this – and if you’ve been playing for more than a week – you’ve probably already learned them! However, don’t dismiss it as too easy – it’s got palm mutes, fingerpicking, fast lead lines, and *that* superfast strum pattern that Mumford and Sons are known for… hold on to your banjos – here we go…

The original is in E – played on an open-D tuned guitar with a capo on fret 2. If you want to play along with the original using this chord chart, put your capo on fret 4 of the uke. I’ve kept it in C to make it easy to jam along with but it nearly ended up too low for me!

Merry Xmas Everybody

This song has been listened to by 42% of the world’s population. Possibly. Wow.

(PRS for Music – https://www.theregister.com/Print/2009/12/14/merry_xmas_everybody/)

There are a few twists and turns in this – I’ve moved it to the key of C from the original G which is quite a change, but it makes it a bit more straightforward on the uke. You will need some Eb chords and a Gm, but otherwise it’s plain sailing for ukesters familiar with the key of C major. Got to work on your swing strum though.

It’s very nearly Christmas – and although I do love a sad song, this song might make you smile instead (or scream, possibly) – have a great Christmas everyone.

Performance
Tutorial

I Believe in Father Christmas – Greg Lake

It’s my favourite Christmas song – but Greg Lake says it’s not a Christmas song. Go figure. However, the line “I wish you a hopeful Christmas, and I wish you a brave New Year” resonates with me like no other Christmas song. I recorded this one last year, but who knew we’d need so much hope and bravery for 2020 – not me…

The bit pinched from Prokofiev is simply magnificent and works really well on the uke – it’s my go-to thing to play when trying a uke out for the first time. The chords work well too – they’re very similar to Feelin’ Groovy (although the feel is somewhat different). All the modfied chords LOOK scary, but they’re really quite straightforward. The Bb might stretch a few fingers but that’s as hard as it gets. Who knew a Gadd11 and an Fadd9 could be so easy?

Enjoy!

Performance video (from last Christmas!)
Livestreamed Tutorial

Starlight – Muse

At the very least you can clap along with this one. It’s Muse at perhaps their most radio-friendly, and another song that works surprisingly well on the uke (so long as someone has a bass) – a really strong riff, and great melody and not too many chords make this one a great uke choice.

You will need some sort of bass and rhythm section to make this sound convincing though, as several of the verses are really just drums, bass and melody. However, there are lots of parts to get involved with, including a catchy clapping rhythm, a cool riff, some simple chords (and some more adventurous options), and even a wailing backing vocal – so it can be fun for the whole family!

Top Gun Theme

In the middle of a hauntingly sad song about life and love, a distant voice is heard from the back of the festival tent – “PLAY TOP GUN!”. I used to get heckled by this during my fleeting festival gig career – well, here it is. On ukulele.

This is an instrumental piece, but there are 4 or five parts to choose from if you fancy getting a family ukulele orchestra going…

Here’s the performance
Here’s the livestream tutorial

Desperado – The Eagles

Desperado Performance

The wistful notes of this melancholic cry for a wanderer to come home work well on the uke, and we can even play it in the original key (harder to sing than play). Most of the chords should be familiar, and even the unfamiliar ones aren’t too hard – the Cm6 sounds scary, but is just two fingers, and the rhythms are fairly straightforward. The chords are mostly G, G7, C, Em, and D – and although they change a lot, it’s really not as hard as it might seem… You can skip out the B7 and the quick Ds if preferred.

I’ve even tabbed out the intro and outro as played on piano – they can really sound good on the uke. Keep it steady and not too fast, and even the quick chord changes at the end should prove doable. It’s often voted one of the finest songs of all time (494th in the All Time List according to Rolling Stone – I think it should be higher).

A gem of a song to play around a campfire when the mood is right.

I’ve added tab for the verse and chorus in case you fancy having a go at the fingerpicked twiddles I put in on the performance…

If you don’t want to sing – then Ukulele Hunt have an excellent instrumental arrangement (I borrowed the intro from here!) – it’ll stretch your fingers more than your vocal chords https://ukulelehunt.com/2020/09/29/eagles-desperado-tab/

Tutorial

The Bare Necessities – The Jungle Book

Everyone knows this song – even if you haven’t seen the film. It works well on the uke too. I’m struggling to think of another song that has 5 different major chords (7 if you count the 7ths!) in the chorus and no minor chords at all… it must be a happy song!

We do get a sneaky F->Fm in the verse, and some classic jazz ii V I progressions too, but it’s not too difficult to play. Make sure you get a good solid swing on the quavers/eighth notes to properly get the feel.

My old friend Chris got me to play this with him at his wedding – and he’s reprised the favour for the performance video – thanks Chris!