Welcome to my Ukulele Fretboard Layout page. Here,
of course, you will learn the names of the individual notes as they fall
along the frets of the Ukulele fretboard. Some players find this information valuable
to know when figuring out exactly how chords are spelled, or in other words, what
specific single notes are fingered in unison to make up the chords.
Once a player has become more advanced and desires the move into instrumental pieces, a careful study of the Ukulele fingerboard will begin an exciting learning experience of Knowing the instrument you are playing. Learning the notes on the Ukulele fingerboard is best done by both memorization of the notes and between which frets they fall. This process takes time, patience and the practice of many songs. Don't rush, the fun is the journey.
Located above is the basic fretboard of any Ukulele tuned G C E A.
The top, (Left), of the fretboard is the Nut (Fret 0) of the instrument. The fret itself is actually the strip of metal or plastic that is placed across the fingerboard of the instrument. The hard ridge of this fret, against which the string is pressed, affects the original tuning of the string and resets the string to a new pitch or sound.
As you move up to finger the fretboard on the next fret, the pitches are
raised by ½ step and are now named G#, C#, F and A#. As you can
see, the notes G#, C#, and A# share their fret space with another
named note, A~flat, D~flat, and B~flat, respectively.
These are their ENHARMONIC TONES.
The word ENHARMONIC is a term which is used to
indicate different ways of spelling the same note. Example: in musical
notation, E# = F and would sound the same. Likewise,
F~flat = E and would also sound the same. In the case of the
fretboard shown: G# = A~flat and therefore sounds the same even though
they are spelled or called something different. Overall this aids in the writing of music
when committed to writing in a specific Key.
Chords are formed on the Ukulele in the following manner. As you finger
the third fret of the A string you have changed the sound of the pitch of that one string
from an A to a C.
When you finger the note on that fret, you have created a chord known as a C Chord.
The C chord is made by combining the notes C, E, and G. When you finger the third fret C note, the remaining three strings you did not change, G, C, and E complete the building of the final C chord by renaming the four Ukulele strings G, C, E,and C; the notes needed to correctly spell the C Chord ; instead of the initial G, C, E, and A.
The Ukulele fretboard is set up so that fingering chords becomes, with practice, quite a simple process. The beginning chords are created by fingering, or changing, the fewest strings possible. In playing the C chord, one string is changed. In playing the F chord, two strings are changed, etc. The beginning player should focus on the sound that they are creating as they finger these new chords. Is the sound clean, does the chord that has been created "ring" like a harp? Are all the strings vibrating freely and clearly? This is what the beginning player should be listening for. Problems can arise in future practice when some of the strings are not vibrating freely as they should. This is known as dampening or muffling the string. At this point in the beginners practice, this is not good. Time should be taken to properly correct the fingering in order to achieve the desired sound. It is of most importance that the beginning player not look at their fingers when trying to play chords, this method of playing although possibly allowing one the ability to finger chords more quickly at the beginning stages of learning, merely stands in the way of one's ability to train their fingers in the feeling of the chords, otherwise known as muscle memory.
Muscle Memory may be thought of as the process of training one's muscles to the
point where a player's actual thought process no longer is required in order for their fingers
to find the correct position for the desired chord. When a pianist sits at their instrument
and begins to play an extremely difficult and vigorous Beethoven scherzo, they are not
mentally recalling each and every note as they play, this would of course be impossible.
They are, instead, thinking about the music itself, the melody, inner voices
of the piece, and the feeling and emotion they want to convey to the listener. As the
listener watches the pianist play, it looks as if the fingers of the musician "just knew
where to go". That is muscle memory. Muscle memory is automatically
acquired through good practice technique and much singing and playing of a specific piece.