Can you play any song on the ukulele? This is a pretty typical question from folks who are thinking about learning an instrument. The answer is not simple. First, you must consider how close to the original the sound needs to be.
Because the ukulele only has 4 strings, it can be more challenging to replicate the song. Especially to sound exactly the same as one that may have been created on the guitar, for example.
In this article, we’ll explore this question in more depth and show you how to play any song on the ukulele. All with some tips along the way.
Can Ukulele Play Any Song?
A remarkably adaptable instrument! The ukulele can theoretically perform any song. As was already mentioned, the song’s range of notes will determine how similar it will sound to the original.
The ukulele differs from the guitar. It has fewer frets and strings, and a shorter scale length.
This places a limit on the number of notes that can be played on the uke. Which in turn makes it more difficult to cover certain songs. We must first consider the range of notes available. Then evaluate whether a song can be performed on the ukulele. The ukulele’s normal note range is from the bottom G, to the top C string.
Some instruments go as low as E. This means that songs which need anything outside this range might be unplayable!
Find out if the ukulele is easier than guitar?
Can You Play All Music Styles on Ukulele?
The ukulele has become more popular. We’ve seen all sorts of music styles being played on this versatile instrument. Everything from jazz and blues, to pop and rock songs, is being performed on the ukulele. Heck, even metal is possible if you are ok with it being close enough.
The great thing about the ukulele is that it can be played in a variety of ways. You can play it fingerstyle, with a pick, or even strum it like a guitar. This gives you a lot of flexibility when choosing songs to play.
The only limitation is that some music styles might be more difficult to replicate. At least on the ukulele, precisely than others.
Choosing Songs to Play
When it comes to choosing songs to play on the ukulele, there are a few things you can do to make sure it will sound good. First, try to find some that are in the same key as your uke. This way, you won’t have to transpose the song, which can be difficult.
You can also try finding a song with a similar chord progression to the ones you already know. This will make playing the song much easier. For example, if you know chords like A minor, C, G, and F, then you can play many songs like:
- The Man by Taylor Swift.
- Girls Like You by Maroon 5.
- Never Really Over by Katy Perry.
- Lose You To Love Me by Selena Gomez.
But there are many more and can be played very quickly thanks to the ease of use with the ukulele.
How to Play Any Song on Ukulele
Now that we’ve answered whether you can play any song on the ukulele, it’s time to give you some tips. Insight on how to go about learning your favorite songs.
The first thing to do is get the chords for the song. You can use a ukulele chord chart or find something on the internet. Sometimes this is easier than you think!
Once you have the chords, it’s time to get practicing! Playing to the original song is the most effective way to accomplish this. This will help you in learning the timing and give you a sense of the song’s intended sound.
Try looking for the sheet music. Especially if you don’t already have a recording of the song. Since not all songs have sheet music available, this can be challenging. But it’s worth a shot!
Once you’ve obtained the sheet music, you can utilize it to assist you. Both in determining the melody and the timing.
The most popular arrangement for the ukulele is G-C-E-A, generally known as C6 tuning.
This is excellent for playing C-key chords and melodies.
But some songs might be easier if you try using an alternate tuning. By doing this, you can access new chords and make some much easier to play. For example, you could try:
- D tuning: A-D-F#-B.
- Baritone tuning: D-G-B-E.
- Alternate Baritone: C-G-B-E.
Once you’ve chosen another tuning, you’ll need to re-learn the chords. This can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s worth it if this means you can actually play the song.
Songs That Shouldn’t Be Played on a Ukulele
As we mentioned before, not all songs should be played on the ukulele. If a song requires a lot of notes outside the uke’s range, then it might not be possible to even get it to sound right. Some songs might have chords that are too difficult to play together on this instrument.
A few songs that we feel are not suited to the ukulele are:
- Back In Black by AC/DC.
- I Dreamed a Dream by Susan Boyle.
- Numb by Linkin Park.
These are just a few songs that the ukulele, in my opinion, doesn’t go real well with.
You can play them, but the result won’t be close enough. Particularly if you had hoped to see an exact reproduction of the original.
If you are like me, then until you try, it’s impossible to know. Some songs will work, and others might not. But don’t give up!
Try some different tuning arrangements if they are not close enough or are tricky to play. You can even try ukulele’s of different sizes. One of them might add the richness you’re looking for.