Make a c-guitar

Or you can call it a cigatar, if you like, because we’re starting from a cigar box guitar, pictured at left. The point of this article is how to change its tuning so it can be played exactly like a ukulele, without having to buy new strings. This also works for a G6 baritone to C6 standard tuning conversion, if you have a baritone ukulele. Read More

Convert a ukulele to play in G

One year after I started learning the ukulele, I have learned to accompany many songs by strumming. But I still divide them into “easy” (key of C), and “all others” (any other key). This is because the basic chords involved in a song written in the key of C (C, F, G7, Am, Dm) are especially easy on the standard-tuned (gCEA) ukulele. But it turns out that the “easy” songs are only about half the songs in most books. One solution is to use a capo, but then the sound goes from tinny to tinnier, especially if the difference is large (say, a song in the key of G, which would mean a capo on the 7th fret; try that on a soprano!).

But I’ve found a better solution, and this is to get a second uke and turn it into a “cuatrolele” by simply swapping the order of the strings. As a demo, I have sound samples for a soprano uke originally tuned in C6 (gCEA), which has become a G6 (DGBe) g-ukulele, or “gukulele” for short. Read More

Make a ukutar

Here we go again with a “new” hybrid instrument. A ukutar is a guitar that wants to be a ukulele. It has four strings and it plays exactly like a ukulele, but it sounds rather like a guitar, with all that deep resonance that we love in the instrument. Read on to see how you can make one with a $30 budget. There’s also some sound samples. Read More

Make an octave ukulele

An octave ukulele is a 4-string instrument tuned like a regular ukulele (gCEA, with the g being one octave higher than one would expect), but a whole octave lower. It is still played exactly like a ukulele but it sounds more like a guitar, with pretty deep bass. For those of you who actually want to accompany your singing and don’t want the instrument competing with your voice, yet are too lazy to learn a new instrument and set of chords. In this post, I tell you a simple way to make one starting from a baritone ukulele. Read More

Make a cuatrolele

A what?

Well, there is the ukulele, and then there is the cuatro. So the cuatrolele is their love child. Essentially a ukulele that sounds like a Venezuelan cuatro, but can still play along with other ukuleles. The good news is that building one requires less than one hour of your time, plus a two-dollar budget ($38, starting from scratch). The result is a sweet-sounding instrument that your friends will want to borrow constantly. Read More

Guitar vs. ukulele

I am the kind of guy who has a musical interest but not a whole lot of musical talent, or at least not a whole lot of musical training. I have begun to learn guitar many times, always to give up with some frustration or another. Sometimes it was the pain in my fingers, other times the inability to make any chords that sounded half decent, still other times said fingers getting tied up in knots as I attempted to move from one chord to another. But I think I’ve found a way to end this. If you have a similar history, you may want to read on. Read More

How to (almost) learn to play guitar

Perhaps your story is similar to mine. Having missed that crucial period in my teens when all my friends were learning to play guitar (because I was studying, or so I tell myself), I’ve tried many times to catch up and accompany my (arguably) good voice with a stringed instrument, and always failed, for different reasons. In this article I try to explain why, and how I got some traction eventually so that I finally (almost) succeeded. Read More