Other Instruments Friendly to Guitar Players – Bass and Ukulele

Have you ever tried to play another instrument other than your guitar? The bass guitar is easy to transition to from guitar because it is basically the lowest 4 strings of the guitar – EADG. However, the strings are much larger and sound an octave lower than the guitar. The frets are farther apart as well. However, because you know the location of the notes from the guitar, it is fun to try playing along with songs you know the chords to. In this way you can see how a bass player constructs a bass line from the chord tones.

The ukulele is another easy transition from guitar. It is basically the highest 4 strings of the guitar but tuned one fourth higher. In other words, instead of DGBE, they are tuned to GCEA. Also, the 4th string G is tuned one octave higher than you expect (which can be very interesting when you arpeggiate chords). This means that you can retain the chord fingerings that you’ve learned on the guitar (or at least the top 4 strings of them), although the chords will have different names. The chord shape you played as G on the guitar will actually come out as a C chord (4 notes higher) on the ukulele. Or, expressed another way, if the music calls for G, add five notes to that – you will play a guitar’s D shape on the ukulele.

Because of this, ukulele is a great starter instrument for small children – the small frets fit their hands and the nylon strings are easy on their fingers. Also, if they wish to switch to guitar when older, all of the chord shapes they learned on the ukulele will be put to use on the guitar, although their names will change.

Trying a new instrument can spur a burst of creativity. The new sounds can inspire you to play and experiment and you may discover something new. When I first picked up a ukulele, having a high string on the low and high end of the strings gave a really different sound to the right hand finger patterns I was use to playing, and within a few minutes I had a song, which I called “Brenda, Brenda, Brenda”. I have attached a video of me playing it.