Category Archives: Playing Help – PLUC Tips

PLUC Weekend Workout

PLUC - Circle of Fifths - Whole Wheel

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – Whole Wheel

Christopher Davis-Shannon, aka the Tinman, has a website with playalongs of old-time tunes as well as various tutorials and Uke Minutes with different tips and techniques, including singing whilst playing, practice exercises, strumming methods, picking patterns, chord melody, using a metronome and showboating tricks:.

His latest YouTube series 12 Keys In 12 Weeks (#12Keys12weeks) gets you playing a different scale each week. He provides a number of exercises, including a little melody up the scale for each one using broken – arpeggiated – chords that ‘fit’ within that key by containing just notes from that specific scale (known as a chord family).

In the first video, below, he is demonstrating C major – check the original YouTube page for links in the description for his free worksheets (and more detailed lessons on scales and chords within them). As he progresses, he’s starting to add in different chord voicings to get you to follow the melody notes and play further up the neck. By the end of the series you should be more confident at playing in any key.

Should you want to understand a little more how he arrives at the chords for each scale, have a quick look at a Circle of Fifths.

If you’re playing in the key of C major, take all the chords nearest C on the wheel in a little ‘L’ shape. These chords are made up from the same notes that you’ll find in that specific scale. Go through the letters alphabetically from C right round to C again to get the whole scale.

PLUC - Circle of Fifths - C Major Chord Family

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – C Major Chord Family


When playing chords in this key, the letters on the outside are major chords, the ones on the inside are minor ones and the one out on the leg of the ‘L’ is a diminished chord (dim7 or sometimes written as °):

C major – D minor – E minor – F major – G major – A minor – B dim – C major


PLUC - Circle of Fifths - G Major Chord Family

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – G Major Chord Family




For G major, you’ll get: G major – A minor – B minor – C major – D major – E minor – F# dim – G major


PLUC - Circle of Fifths - D Major Chord Family

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – D Major Chord Family





For D major, you’ll get: D major – E minor – F# minor – G major – A major – B minor – C# dim – D major


And so on, round the wheel in the same way for each different key.



See more of our posts covering improving your chord playing; musical keys, the PLUC Transposing Tool and other PLUC Weekend Workouts. Original Circle of Fifths diagram from Wikipedia’s public domain images.

Here’s Christopher, with the first video in the series – C major:


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PLUCking Ukes – Rhythm Without Blues 2

It’s always more difficult to play the slowest numbers, such as Abilene – which we play in a much more leisurely fashion than the original – because you have to be very accurate with your tempo and there is always a temptation to start speeding up!

Spending just a few minutes a day for a few weeks working on your strumming (eg with a metronome, to a steady backing track or using other rhythm tools) will soon improve your sense of timing.

We’ve discussed this previously in an earlier PLUCking Ukes – Rhythm Without Blues entry. This introduced some useful rhythm exercises from Rhan Wilson’s All In Good Time site, which are always worth recapping.

Several of the music theory sites we’ve covered contain fun rhythm games – a good one to try out is Theta Music Trainer.

If you’re confident with those, moving on you could try some of the rhythm tutorials from Stuart Fuchs. Stu has a number of lessons concentrating on different strums and rhythms, such as ones from his ‘Uke-a-Billy‘ rockabilly collection, which are suited to rock ‘n’ roll numbers – including straight strums, shuffle, backbeat, Bo-Diddley beat (aka clave) & boogie. He also explains how to play many different rhythmic styles in his playalongs, including swing, rhumba, calypso, boom-ditty, funky, reggae & more.

Get out your metronome (Google brings up its free one or there are plenty of free apps available) and try out Stu’s backbeat lesson:


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PLUC Tips – Gail

Here are some practical tips from Gail, who is always busy travelling around from her home in Colchester (where she plays in a U3A class and also in a group Ukulele for Fun, who do little gigs, mostly for old people’s homes) and her family, looking after her young grandchildren in Catford & elsewhere. So she is used to carrying round all her equipment effectively between locations and playing under different conditions! She’s also an avid crafter, doing knitting and other hobbies, and makes use of equipment she has from those activities to create some cheap and functional items for her uke-playing.

Gail's Essential Equipment - Nappy Carrying Bag, Clipboard, Handy Notes, Ring Binders, Book Stand

Gail’s Essential Equipment – Nappy Carrying Bag, Clipboard, Handy Notes, Ring Binders, Book Stand

Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

New Year’s Workouts

Happy 2017!

Sheila's 50th IMG_0844

Sheila’s 50th – PLUC

  • If you’ve just received your first ukulele, then have a look round our site for playing tips, such as our New Uke For Xmas? article which directs you to some beginners’ guide and handy resources. Or search down the right hand side of the page for the many topics we cover.
  • Should you wish to buy a uke, check out our recommendations for decent starter instruments in Good Buy To All That….
  • For those of you wishing to access some online lessons,  James Hill’s Booster Uke is free until the end of Jan 2017, which will get you moving up & down the fretboard.
  • For a bit of a workout, why not try out the Chord Quiz on Ukulele Go or head over to Uke Hunt’s more challenging Ukulele Quiz 2016.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PLUC Tips – Tina

Here is one of my favourite uke tutorial YouTubes.

This is by Ten Thumbs Productions. Tyler Austenfeld produces a wide range of ukulele materials – he does a couple of new song tutorials every week (from beginners to advanced; classics to the latest chart hits) in addition to lessons covering different playing techniques.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Happy 2015!

Top Referring Sites 2014

Top Referring Sites 2014

Our free downloadable PLUC 2015 Calendar shows the movable major chord shapes for year-round reference, in a handy diagram from Thanks to Buz for kindly tweaking the layout for us! (He also runs PizzaByTheSlice, which contains many uke-related designs & is well worth a look.) Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy 2014!

As usual, WordPress have sent us a report to show how the site has done over the last year. And if statistics aren’t your thing, do grab our free 2014 PLUC calendar, which contains a handy Circle Of Fifths (our full-sized transposing tool is available here). Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , , ,