So you've been strumming away on your trusty ukulele, but now you're ready to take the next step and start playing guitar. Congratulations! Moving from ukulele to guitar can seem like a daunting task, but with some practice and a few adjustments, you'll be playing your favorite songs on the six-string in no time.
1. Get the Right Equipment
First things first, you'll need a guitar! If you don't already have one, make sure you buy one that is comfortable an affordable. comfort and affordability should precede all other qualities. sense you're moving from a really small instrument to a larger one finding what comfort means to you may take time. So buying an affordable guitar is more important so that in the long run you can easily replace if necessary.
You may also want to consider getting a guitar with a smaller body size if you're used to the smaller size of a ukulele.
2. Adjust Your Technique
While the tuning of the ukulele and guitar are similar, the guitar has six strings instead of four, and the fretboard is much wider. This means you'll need to adjust your technique to accommodate the new instrument. Start by positioning the guitar properly: sit with the guitar on your right leg (if you're right-handed) and hold it at an angle. This will give you good access to the fretboard.
Next, practice placing your fingers on the fretboard, using the tips of your fingers rather than the pads. The strings on the guitar require more pressure to get a clean sound than the ukulele, so you may need to build up strength in your fingers over time.
3. Learn Some Basic Chords
Both the ukulele and guitar have similarities in the intervals (distance) between the strings, despite having different tuning systems.
The interval between the strings of a ukulele is a perfect fourth (2.5 tones), except for the interval between the second and third strings, which is a major third (2 tones). This means that the distance between the first and second string is a fourth, between the second and third strings is a major third, and between the third and fourth strings is a fourth.
The interval between the strings of a guitar is also a perfect fourth, except for the interval between the second and third strings, which is a major third.
Despite the difference in the intervals between the second and third strings of the ukulele and guitar, the intervals between the other strings are the same. This means that musicians who play both instruments can use the same chord shapes and scale patterns on both instruments, as long as they adjust for the different tuning and string interval between the second and third strings.
How the two instruments are tuned
While the standard tuning between guitar and ukulele is different, there are some similarities in the way the instruments are tuned that can make it easier for musicians to transition between the two.
One of the similarities between the tuning of guitar and ukulele is that both instruments use open strings to create chords. In the standard tuning for guitar, the strings are tuned to E-A-D-G-B-E, which allows players to create open chords using some combination of the open strings. Similarly, in the standard tuning for ukulele, the strings are tuned to G-C-E-A, which also allows players to create open chords using some combination of the open strings.
Because the two instruments are tuned in using the same method (with the same intervals / distances), they share a lot of the same chord shapes. The difference would the root note (learn more about notes and chords in my other posts). Meaning the same chord shape will result with a different chord name.
How do you calculate quickly which chord is which?
If we look at the bottom 4 strings of the guitar ( D-G-B-E )and the ukulele's four strings you might notice that they are all exactly 5 semi tones or 2.5 tones apart (a perfect fourth).
The guitar being 5 semi tones lower than the ukulele.
This means that if I play a C chord on the guitar, that same chord shape on the ukulele will now be an F chord - I've moved 5 semi tones up from C to reach that conclusion.
C => C# => D => D# => E => F
In the other direction, if you are playing a G chord on the Ukulele, that same chord shape will become a D chord - moving 5 semi tones down this time.
G => Gb => F => E => Eb => D
This means, that if you know all the chord shapes on the Ukulele it should be relatively easy to move those to the guitar (disregarding the top 2 strings).
Now you'll just have to find how to incorporate the other 2 strings.
Adding the top two strings when moving from Ukulele to Guitar:
The easiest way would be to look for the shapes online of course. But, the way to really understand how to do it is to learn how chords are constructed on the guitar. Read my blog post on the matter.
In Short, you have to know which notes the chord that you're looking for is comprised of. For example; if your looking for the chord shape of C on the guitar (Which resembles the chord F shape) I will need to identify the notes that could be added on the two top strings of the guitar (Those strings being tunes to E & A).
The notes for the C chord are C, E & G. So on the A string I can easily get the note C (3rd fret). on the 6 string you can play an E but that will no longer be a C chord (rather an inversion). So actually on the guitar (something that almost never happens on the Ukulele) we avoid playing the 6th string when playing the chord C.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
As with any new instrument, the key to success is practice. Make time every day to practice your chords, strumming, and fingerpicking. Set goals for yourself, like learning a new song or mastering a difficult chord progression, and track your progress over time. Remember that progress may be slower at first as you adjust to the new instrument, but with persistence, you'll get there.
And you can always book a lessons with me to help speed the process and get your technique just right :)
Guitar Lessons @ The Pijp Amsterdam