Can Ukulele be Self Taught?

“Can you learn ukulele by yourself?” or “Can Ukulele be self-taught?” – Don’t let these questions keep you wondering and away from getting yourself a ukulele.

Because, you can definitely learn ukulele by yourself, quickly and easily. I’m assuring you that the ukulele can be self-taught because that’s how I learned my ukulele as well as guitar.  All you need is to do is buy a ukulele, follow the very basic music theory and practice properly.

Among the stringed instruments, the ukulele is one of the easiest to learn and play. That’s why the ukulele can be self-taught, regardless of the different sizes of ukulele. There are some easy-to-follow steps for a ukulele beginner that you will see in this blog post, so keep on reading this 5-minutes read!!

Why the Ukulele is Easy to Learn

One of my friends who was a complete newbie to stringed instruments became a self-taught ukulele player within a couple of months. How is it possible? Well, it is really not that big a deal if you know the steps to learn. And we’ll get to that soon.

But first, let’s check out why a ukulele is far easy to learn than other stringed instruments such as guitars or violins. Because I’ve seen a lot of beginners give up learning guitar because it is too hard. And they won’t even bother to pick a ukulele thinking that, learning a ukulele is hard as well.

A simple comparison between a ukulele and a guitar will clearly show you that, how what makes this adorable instrument far easy to learn and play than a guitar.

Guitar Ukulele
Usually has six strings, so more effort is needed to create proper resonant sound Has four strings, comparatively far easy to create the resonant sound
Big, heavy, and longer fretboard Small, Lightweight, and short fretboards
Strings are usually of steel or copper, only classical guitars have nylon strings. Steel strings are difficult for beginners to play Mostly nylon strings are used for ukuleles. These types of strings are easier for beginners to play chords
Chord shapes are of numerous varieties, even some of the basic chords are very difficult to master Basic chord shapes are really simple, and the varieties are also limited as well as less complex
Strings break easily in the hands of a beginner Strings hardly break, even in the hands of a beginner
Portable, but not light Very easily portable
Higher maintenance is required Very little maintenance is required
Guitar songs can be simple as well as fairly complex that requires advanced techniques Most of the ukulele songs are easy, straightforward, and can be played with basic ukulele techniques

How to be a Self-Taught Ukulele Player

See? Ukulele is really an easy instrument to learn so it can be self-taught even if you have no musical background. For that just follow these steps and you’ll be good.

Buy a Good-Looking and Good-Sounding Ukulele

First thing’s first, you need a decent ukulele that is beginner-friendly and won’t break your bank account. There are numerous brands in the market that offers excellent ukes for ukulele beginners.

Point to note that, there are 4 different types of ukuleles; Soprano Ukulele, Concert Ukulele, Tenor Ukulele, and Baritone Ukulele. They differ in size as well as in sound. Chances are, you’d be having a Soprano ukulele because that is the most common one and the smallest in size.

A lot of ukuleles come with necessary accessories such as a clip-on tuner, ukulele bag, beginner’s guide, etc. I highly recommend you to get such a ukulele bundle.

Know the Parts of a Ukulele

You probably already know this. But just in case you don’t, it is just a search away. You can even know about different parts of this musical instrument before buying one. So that, it would help you make a decision on which one to buy.

Learn how to Maintain Your Ukulele

It is always a good idea to know how to maintain your fun little instrument beforehand. And maintaining a ukulele is, as I mentioned before, barely an inconvenience. Mainly, you’ll have to learn how to tune, change strings (when needed), and keeping them clean.

Tune the Ukulele by Yourself

The most common method to tune a ukulele is to use a clip-on tuner. Like I mentioned before, it often comes with a package deal when you buy one.

Standard ukulele tuning is G-C-E-A, from top string to bottom (except for baritone ukulele; its standard tuning is D-G-B-E, from top-down, you can tune a baritone ukulele to be G-C-E-A though).

I know can be confused right now, but that’s why you have YouTube! Any confusion regarding tuning will be solved when you type “what is standard ukulele tuning” on YouTube and watch the first video that pops up.

Also, can check out our easy guide “How to Tune a Ukulele”, and follow some quick and easy steps to tune your ukulele according to your preference.

Knowing to Change the Strings if Needed

Although this skill is barely required for a beginner ukulele player, there is no harm in learning it. Different ukuleles have different types of bridges (the part of the ukulele body where strings are tied), so I’d again suggest you take the help of YouTube.

The good thing is, you don’t have to learn it at the very beginning of your ukulele journey; you can easily wait till a string is broken. And lucky for you, the soft nylon strings are strong and durable enough so it doesn’t snap easily. You can go for months without replacing the strings.

Cleaning Your Ukulele

Cleaning with a soft cloth is fine, but cleaning with water is a big no. Special cleaning liquids like lemon-extract oils for guitar or ukulele can be found in the market which is safe to use. Otherwise, your ukulele body and fretboard could be damaged.

Learn from Online Ukulele Lessons

Trust me, there are more online ukulele teachers on YouTube than there are in practical life. There are paid online resources as well, such as Udemy, Skillshare, etc. and these online resources are excellent.

An online ukulele teacher would tell you how to play the ukulele as a beginner far better than I would. But make sure you don’t waste your time on any advanced technique that you don’t need as a beginner.

So here are the steps you should accomplish first while taking online ukulele lessons.

Holding a Ukulele

You may or may not have noticed that a ukulele is held in a tricky way. Unlike guitars, it doesn’t sit on your lap. It is held quite high against the chest using both hands in such a way that allows you to hold and play the uke at the same time.

Better learn to hold the uke ASAP, even if you use a strap. This is tricky, but not difficult.

Learn the Basic Music Theory

Most of the beginners are daunted by the thought of music theory, and I can’t blame them. But the basic music theory is literally like A, B, C, D. And that’s all you need to know.

Just learn what the notes are, how do the notes make major and minor chords, and basic major/minor scales. Trust me, these music theories are quite easy as well as interesting!

Learn the Strumming Technique

“Like, DUH!!!” – Probably you are wondering. Well, besides strumming, there are other basic ukulele techniques like finger-plucking and flat-picking with a pick. And I’d suggest you do that later once you get a hold of basic strum patterns.

In my personal opinion, I feel like the ukulele sounds the best and sweetest when played using strumming. There are advanced strumming techniques that you can look at once you’ve mastered basic strumming.

Learn the Basic Chords

You won’t even need YouTube for that if you know how to read the ukulele tabs or chord charts. Basic ukulele chords are so easy, that you can learn most of them in a day or two; seriously, I kid you not!

Learn from Beginner Ukulele Guides

Online ukulele lessons from YouTube or other platforms such as Udemy or SkillShare are not the only way to become a self-taught ukulele player. When you buy a ukulele bundle, it often comes with a beginner’s guidebook.

Having a physical book that has fun little drawings of the ukulele chords, holding positions and some popular song lists is a really interesting way to learn the uke. Sometimes, those guidebooks are good enough to help you learn all the basic ukulele skills you need.

Learn How to Read Ukulele Chord Charts and Tabs

This part is really easy, unlike the staff notations (if you don’t what staff notations are, don’t bother; it’s not important). These chord charts or tabs simply depict the strings and frets of your ukulele and point out where your fret fingers will be set.

Some tabs even come with the indication of strumming patterns (like “Down-Down-Up-Down” or “Down-Up-Down-Up” etc.) for convenience.

Play one Music at a Time

Now that you have learned all the basic ukulele techniques, it’s music time! But don’t get overwhelmed, remember, there is no rush. Learn to play one song at a time. This is important for a ukulele beginner because, learning multiple songs simultaneously might be stressing, and lengthening the overall learning process.

Here is a pro-ukulele tip: Start with one of the popular songs. Because a popular song’s lyrics would be well known to the people around you. When you play your ukulele in front of people, everyone would hype you up by singing along the lyrics.

Practice Often

The most crucial part of being a musician is constant practice. Whether you are a self-taught ukulele player or an experienced guitar player, there is no alternative to practice and keep your motion going.

I remember when I was on-rout of being a self-taught guitarist, my practice was so vigorous that within 3 months, I was able to play a full heavy metal song – which is one of the hardest genres.

And I assure you that, with moderately constant practice, you’d be able to charm others with your sweet ukulele tone in no time!

Pro-Tip

There is not much I pro-tip left to tell you as I’ve already given you the best pieces of advice. Some extra tips never hurt anyone though. Here they are:

Practice sessions should be at least for 2 hours a day. This is a rule of thumb for beginners. Once you get comfortable with your ukulele, then 1 hour should be the bare minimum.

Playing and singing is a really difficult task, you’ll know when you try. Here is the trick: Just hum along while you play a song on your soprano ukulele (or whichever model you have bought). Once your humming is in perfect sync with your playing, then go for the lyrics.

One of the cool ukulele tips is, tapping on the ukulele body mid-playing which gives a groovy vibe. But you have to time it right, so while practicing ukulele, try that as well.

FAQ

How long does it take to learn the ukulele?

It totally depends on how much time you can invest. Like I mentioned before, one of my friends self-taught himself the ukulele within a little over 2 months. And he is really good at it. So, if you practice properly, you could easily become a good-enough beginner ukulele player.

How Much Does a budget Ukulele Cost?

There are numerous brands such as Kala, Cordoba, Oscar Schmidt, Hola, etc. have high-quality budget ukuleles ranging from $40-$100. Also, most of these ukuleles come in a bundle, that is, they have all the accessories included. So, it is a really good deal for a ukulele beginner!

You can check out our top picks of beginner Ukulele in this article Top Ukulele’s for Beginners.

Final Words

Ukulele is one of the most fun musical instruments to play, and I’m excited that you’ve chosen it for your musical journey. If you already have a ukulele, you can start learning right now. I bet you already know very well how to be a self-taught ukulele player!

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