The Music Industries Association (MIA) in the UK said that combined online and retail sales had doubled in Britain to about 250,000 a year over the past 5 years and in America The National Association of Music Merchants reported a 54% jump in sales in 2013.
They’re still not as popular as guitars of which 800,000 are sold each year but it’s not a bad number!
A spokesman for the MIA put it down to the Mumford effect (despite the fact they don’t play ukeleles) and schools seeing it as a cost-effective alternative to recorders.
The report in the Times says that “with four strings the ukelele’s tuning and chord shapes are different from a guitar’s“. That might be true but they are not that different.
A standard ukelele tuning is (from the bottom) g, C, E, A (small g indicates it’s tuned an octave up).
The top fours strings of a guitar are tuned (from the bottom) D, G, B, E. If you compare the tunings you can see that the ukelele has the same intervals i.e. gaps between the notes, as the guitar but 5 notes apart from the guitar notes i.e. g to D, C to G, E to B, and A to E.
What this means is that if you know some chord shapes for the guitar you know chord shapes for the ukelele, they just have different names.
Playing a simple guitar type G chord by placing a finger on the 3rd fret of the top E string of the ukelele gives you the chord of C (G, C, E, G). Playing a D guitar chord shape on the top three strings of the ukelele gives you the chord of G (G, D, G, B). And so on.
Anyway, end of lesson. Ukeleles are fun to play and as I posted this time last year they are played by many well-known guitarists as well as the famous Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain.