How to Play Baritone Ukulele

Introduction

Ukulele is a fairly popular musical instrument; it is the favorite of many famous musicians. The compact size of the ukulele also makes it an amazing travel partner. You can always have it ready on the grab-and-go and cheer people up playing their favorite tunes wherever you are. Moreover it’s easy to master, making it an amazing instrument to start with.

If you’re looking for a ukulele with a much richer and deeper sound then a baritone ukulele is what you’re looking for! They’re much bigger than your standard soprano ukulele, in fact they’re the biggest ukulele amongst the 4 types of ukuleles, the soprano, concert, tenor and as you guessed baritone. 

Now if all that talk about baritone ukuleles interested you and you want to start to learn how to play yours then look nowhere else! We have here almost all the basics you’d need to start playing your baritone ukulele in no time!

Getting started on your Baritone Ukulele

To start playing your baritone ukulele you’ll first need to understand what the instrument is all about and how to tune your ukulele to get started.

Baritone ukuleles are essentially guitars missing the top two strings, they even have the similar tuning to the lower 4 strings of a guitar, D-G-B-E. The baritone ukulele has more of a low-pitched deep sound to it. It may sound like a ukulele but it plays just like a guitar, if you want to play the guitar but your hands aren’t big enough for the whole thing then a baritone ukulele isn’t a bad choice at all.

Baritone ukuleles generally have 18 to 21 frets whereas most common ukuleles would max out around 12 to 15 frets. Due to their tonal range, baritone ukuleles aren’t able to hit some of the high notes like other more traditional ukuleles, however, they can easily reach notes much lower compared to the others. 

Tuning

As mentioned earlier the baritone ukulele has the same tuning as the bottom 4 strings of a guitar. For a guitarist to play the baritone ukulele would be an easy of a move. The D-G-B-E tuning, with D being the closest to your face and E the furthest, is different from the traditional C-G-B-E tuning of the other ukuleles, though there are people and some musicians who use the traditional ukulele tuning on their baritone as well.

Due to the tuning of the baritone ukulele, the lowest pitched notes often sound similar to an acoustic guitar. It brings in a new variety of tonal range for players to use when playing it.

If you’re a complete beginner then try not to jump into sheet music from the get-go. They’re often a bit complicated for you to understand with the proper understanding of your instrument first, and they might just make you feel like you’re not good enough.

Some of the most Basic and Common Chords on the Baritone Ukulele

Make sure your ukulele is tuned to D-G-B-E for the following chords

  1. G Major: Simplest chord of all, to play this, put your finger on the E string on the third fret.
  2. E Major: This one requires you to position your index finger on the 1st fret of the G string and your middles goes to the 3rd fret of the D string
  3. A Major: To play this, position your fingers to hold down the bottom three strings on the 2nd fret. It is similar to playing the A chord on a guitar.
  4. C Major: This chord needs you to hold down the B string on the 1st fret with your index finger and with your middle finger hold down the D string on the 2nd fret.
  5. D Major: This is the last chord of our list, the D major chord, it is the same as the D Major chord on the guitar. Your index finger goes on the 2nd fret of the G string, your ring finger goes to the 3rd fret of the B string and your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the E string.

For a guitarist playing the notes above would be a much simpler task if they just think of the baritone ukulele as the bottom 4 strings of their guitar. But even if you’re new to this, there’s nothing to worry, just practice as much you’re able to and you’ll get the hang of it in no time. 

The 5 chords shown here are the most commonly used chords on the baritone ukulele. Knowing and mastering these 5 chords will allow you to add a variety of songs using 2 or 3 chords to your repertoire in no time!

Learning to Master the Chords

It is a simple task that requires a lot of patience and determination. It is recommended to start by strumming the chords and getting used to their shape, feel and sound while slowly moving into playing different songs with the chords you’ve learned. 

Learning to play songs with the chords you learn is a more practical way of learning as it allows you to not just memorize the chords but also to learn the songs themselves, you also get used to moving between chords smoothly without interrupting the song to find the next chord.

Pros & Cons of the Baritone Ukulele

Pros:

  • It’s easy to play if you’ve already played the guitar
  • Gives you a richer and deeper sound and lower notes compared to other ukuleles
  • It is typically louder than traditional ukuleles
  • Has more spacing between the frets so you don’t have to squish your fingers together

Cons

  • They’re less travel efficient and portable due to their size
  • Not a wide range of models available
  • You won’t be able to learn it from your ukulele books

Final Words

A baritone ukulele is an amazing instrument overall, it has a unique mix of a ukulele and a guitar which makes it stand out. Make sure to practice your chords everyday with breaks to build up the muscle memory and become an even more efficient player.

Remember to have fun and not to stress yourself over something, take things slow at your own pace and you’ll see great results!

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