The Ukulele ToolboxHere is my review and notes from The Ukulele Toolbox DVD 1 released by Homespun Video.

General observations: Over 2hrs of instruction from the late Bob Brozman. The video has a stream of consciousness, conversational tone. The presentation jumps quickly from concept to concept. Be prepared to pause and run back. If I was just starting out, and new little about music, this video would probably overwhelm me. As an intermediate player, I found much that was interesting for me to work on. One of the nice bonuses you should be aware of is that the DVD has a PDF with all the exercises and concepts Bob introduces for you to print off.


Tuning the Ukulele (GCEA) and issues

  • Guitar tuning issues are magnified because of the smaller scale of the uke.
  • Use an electronic tuner, but double check the instrument against itself.
  • Practical information on adjusting the nut.
  • Fine tune “1 to 1 ratio” peg head tuners with a “Pinto Bean Fine Tuner.”

Right Hand Rhythm

  • Brain runs many different ‘software programs’ at the same time, so divide and conquer.
  • Whole arm stroke . . . down with thumb and up with first finger.
  • Swung rhythm vs Straight rhythm.
  • Cutting off notes (muting): professional controls where the notes end. Mute with the fleshy side of the palm.
  • Strums with thumb and index, index alone and middle finger alone.
  • Triplet: down middle, up index, up middle.
  • Practice slow and deliberately at first, but as you speed up be lighter with less effort.
  • Use the fingerboard as a landing pad for strumming.
  • Trying triplets on various beats of the measure.
  • All about cutting, pasting and reassembling these little ideas.
  • Four finger roll and four finger roll followed by the thumb (calls it a scroll).
  • Arranging the landscape of your songs: aggressive, soft, etc.
  • Triplet 2 (whole arm triplet): DOWN up down UP down up DOWN up down UP down up.
  • 4 2 3 1 (string numbers) fingerpicking with the thumb and index.
  • Fingerpicking partial chords with triplet accents.
  • Left hand finger placement for partial chords (6ths).
  • Blues turnaround.
  • Importance of getting variety, cutting and pasting.
  • Pinching strings 4 & 2 and 3 & 1.
  • Strumming across different parts of the strings changes tone and accent.
  • Use the first part of your practice to focus on right hand rhythm and challenge yourself to come up with interesting variations.

The Key of C

  • String science, the Greeks, harmonics and home base.
  • Scales all made up of combinations of whole steps and half steps.
  • The C scale.
  • C and G7 chords.
  • Think ahead on chord changes.
  • Incorporating melodies into chord positions.
  • Cadential G7 (0535).
  • Alternate F (2013).
  • Fingerpicking 4 2 1 3 2 1 3 2
  • Fingerpicking 4 2 1 3 2 1
  • Many songs use just C, G7 and F.
  • Chapter 15: Putting together a blues progression. C, C7, F (and F7), and G7 plus closing turnaround.
  • Embellished turnarounds and alternate chord voicings.
  • Playing C, G7 and F with the 2-4th fingers to prepare for barre chords.
  • Getting more leverage for barre chords.
  • Relationships of chords (1, 4, 5) vs. Names of chords (C, F, G7).
  • Partial chords can suggest the chord you intend.
  • Some chord theory on 9ths, etc.
  • Basic ‘Slants’ (partial chords) on middle strings: 00 21 43 55 77 98, etc.

The Key of G

  • 1, 4 & 5 = G, C & D7.
  • Alternate C voicing.
  • Short and long slants in the key of G on strings 1 & 2.
  • Key of F = F, Bb & C7.
  • Cycle of Fifths (Circle of Fifths) and dominant chords as questions: D7, G7, C7, F.
  • Practicing more difficult chord shapes.
  • Chord progression Bb, Bbm, F, D7, G7, C7, F. Ending Bb, Bbm, F.

Adding Minors

  • Taking that chord progression back to C: F, Fm, C, A7, D7, G7, C.
  • Major keys and their relative minors.
  • A minor: Am, Dm, E7.
  • Adding slaps to your strum patterns.
  • 4 inversions for most chords.
  • D minor: Dm, Gm, A7 (A dim).
  • Chapter 31: 16 bar Calypso in Am: Am, Am, E7, Am, repeat, A7, Dm, G7, C, A7, Dm, E7, Am.
  • Relative major Calypso progression.
  • Sliding fully closed chords from underneath by one fret for swingtime numbers.
  • 32 Bar Form: AABA. Examples with two kinds of bridges.

I Love a Ukulele

  • Song tutorial.

Post filed under All UkulelePlay! Blog Posts, Ukulele Learning Material Reviews.