One of the problems in writing an instruction manual aimed at intermediate
players is that you can't be sure what your readers know and don't know.
With a beginner's text, it's easy: they don't know anything!
You're past that, but the author doesn't know how far past that you are.
Just to make sure that the later sections don't confuse anybody, let's
make sure of some terminology. Some of this may seem pretty basic.
We're not trying to insult you, just making sure we're all talking the
A ukulele has four strings, and here we're going to use a uke with
the strings tuned to G, C, E, and A. It doesn't matter whether you
use a high G or a low G, the principles we're presenting work for both.
If you don't know what "high G" and "low G" means, don't worry about
it – like I said, it doesn't matter. But since you asked: with
"high G" tuning, the G string is tuned a fifth above the C string.
With "low G" tuning, the G string is an octave lower than in the "high
The strings are numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4, with string 1 being the highest
pitch string (the string closest to the floor as you hold the uke).
Note that on a diagram in a book, this means that string 1 is on the right
– this is not necessarily what you'd expect, but it's the convention that
everyone uses, so we'll use it here too.
Up and down the neck:
Here's some more counter-intuitive notation:
When we speak of playing "up the neck" or "higher up on the fretboard",
it'll be shown as farther down on the diagram of the fretboard. The
note will be a higher pitch, which is why it's called "up", but the fact
that it is diagrammed farther down the page can be confusing at first.
Sharps and flats:
The same note can have two different names: C# and Db are the
same note, for example. When we're writing out a scale or specifying
a chord, we'll use one name or the other – to write out both just clutters
up the page.
Chords can be played in different "positions". When we speak
of a chord played in "first position", this means that the chord is played
as low as possible on the neck (don't forget that "low" on the neck means
"near the tuning pegs" – see the section "Up and down the neck", just a
few paragraphs back.) This "first position" chord is the fingering
typically shown in chord charts. "Second position" means an alternate
fingering for the same chord, but higher up the neck. "Third position"
is even higher up the neck.
Finding the notes on the fretboard:
You'll need to know where the notes of the scale are on the fretboard.
You already know four notes: G, C, E, and A (the open tones of the
four strings). From the open strings, each fret moves you one-half
step up the scale. For a more complete explanation of where the rest
of the notes are, refer to All Of
The Notes On All Of The Strings.