The Basics 
 

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 same language. 

String pitch:  
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 G" tuning. 
 
  

String number:  
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. 

Chord position:  
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
 
 

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