UKE NOMENCLATURE PAGE
Welcome to my Ukulele Nomenclature Page. On this page I'll
give you all the names of the individual parts of the ukulele as well as to explain,
in detail, how all the parts work and relate to each other.
The Ukulele is an acoustic instrument consisting of a Hollow body and
anywhere between four to eight strings.
Plucking or strumming the strings produce vibrations which are amplified by
the instruments hollow body. The strings are suspended between
the Nut of the instrument and the Bridge of the instrument. These vibrations
are what create the beautiful music you hear.
The Keys of the Ukulele are merely mechanical holding devices, or locking
assemblies, which are used to retain specific tensions on a desired string. Consisting
of a flat head connected to a bolt, the key is used to both tighten the
string, (raising the pitch), or loosen the string, (lowering
There are many types of keys, (sometimes called Machine Heads)
on the market today, and most of the time when the tuning continues to go out on
the instrument, the cause is a worn out, (or cheap) Key. The keys are
placed through drilled holes, on the Headstock of the instrument.
To the left you will see my humble diagram of any size Ukulele,
The number of frets located along the instruments Neck will vary between
uke sizes. Ukes usually count twelve frets from nut to body, (Soprano), and
about 14 frets from nut to body, (Tenor).
Position dots are placed on
the fingerboard for a matter of convenience. They allow the player to quickly and
accurately maneuver throughout the fretboard, especially in third or fourth position,
without having to worry about counting frets.
The nut is the thin raised ridge (fret zero) placed at a right angle between the
Headstock and the Fretboard (fingerboard) of the instrument. It can
be made of either plastic, wood, ivory or some other material. The nut has an
important job of keeping the strings at an equal distance across the fretboard, while at the
same time, as close to the fretboard as possible.
The bridge is a wooden wedge or bar, attached to the face of the instrument, just
opposite the sound hole. The bridge plays two roles. It holds the strings in
a position above and parallel to the hollow body of the instrument, as well as transfers the
vibrations into the hollow body of the instrument.
Sound is created on the Ukulele by first plucking the string. As the string vibrates, this
vibration is relayed back and forth between the nut and the bridge. As it reaches
the bridge, the vibration is transmitted through the bridge and into
the Face (soundboard) of the instrument. The hollow body
allows these vibrations to bounce around inside, or resonate.
The hollow chamber responds to these various
vibration frequencies and specific sounds are created, which then escape through the
instruments Sound hole.
The word Tone may be used in many different ways, here I will use it to denote the
way an instrument sounds. Many things give an instrument its sound. The types
of strings you have placed on the instrument, (nylon or wire wrapped), the
materials that make up the instrument, (different types of woods, metals or
plastics), and the thickness of any of those materials. An instruments tone is
also changed by what you use to pluck or strum the strings, as well as, of course,
amount of force used. An easy way to change the way you sound is to move to a different
brand of Ukulele strings.
Sidenote on Strings
It may take some time for a player to find "just the right strings" that will
give them the sound they want. That's okay, take the time to try many different
types, you won't be happy with your sound until you do.
On my Tenor ukuleles, I prefer to use a lowered "G" string. Some people do not.
Whatever it is, do what you want.
I get the "when do I replace my strings?" question alot. I see many people replace
their strings every six months, just like clock work. I know someone who, for
the last two years has never changed his strings. People have said that after some time
the strings just seem to die and the sound is not as good. Some say that the
sound gets better the longer you play on them. When should you change them? As
a music teacher, I have never heard the strings "just die". When they
break, change them.
Thanks for checken out my Nomenclature page. There is probably more
information here than you ever wanted to know, yeah?
Copyright© 2003 CF