Ukulele Accessories: Beginners Guide
What’s great about the ukulele is that you don’t need that much to get started. You can buy it at an affordable price.
But of course, if you are serious about learning to play the instrument, you have to consider a few items to make things a little easier for you.
Here are some of the accessories that I recommend for beginners:
Ukulele Clip-on Tuner
If you are just starting out, then this should be on your priority list. The first thing that you need to do before playing your ukulele is to check if it is in tune and clip-on tuner will help you do that. It’s so simple to use. Just clip it to the head of your ukulele and it will pick up the vibrations from the instrument. It will give you feedback if the strings are properly in tune.
Ukulele gig bag or hard case
It is very important to keep your ukulele protected and make sure it will sound great for many years (or even for a lifetime). You can choose between a hard case or a gig bag depending on your preference.
Gig bags are smaller compared to hard cases and usually sold at different price range. You can have it at a very cheap price under $15 and these are simple nylon bags with no padding. If you have the budget, you can also choose very expensive gig bags that can offer much protection just like the hard-shell cases. Most ukulele players prefer something in between.
Bags usually come with a back or shoulder straps and have a pocket or two to accommodate accessories like extra strings, tuner, or capo.
One of best ukulele gig bags out there is the Bondi Tribal Ukulele Gig Bag. Compared to other Ukulele gig bags, it offers better design and protection. It has a “Smooth Glide” mechanism that is designed to keep the zipper on track. It also has an impressive 15mm thick compression sponge padding designed to protect your ukulele from bumps while travelling.
Hard Cases are much more expensive compared to gig bags and they come in different styles. There are two types of Hard Case - soft shell and hard shell.
Soft shell case combines some features of hard-shell cases and gig bags. This type of case covers your ukulele in a foam core and nylon exterior that zips closed. This helps lower down the weight while still providing enough protection and space for the exterior pockets.
Hard shell is stiff and offers the best protection of all. It is traditionally made of plywood but recent designs use modern materials like thermoplastic, carbon fiber, or fiberglass.
A good hard shell case should have a soft interior and provide enough support for the neck of your uke. It should also have a small accessory compartment.
You can store your uke inside a case or bag but there are times that you just want it nearby for a quick access or you just want it on display. Ukulele stand comes in handy for this.
What you need to look for in Ukulele Stands:
Attractive appearance. There are many types of ukulele stands and you have to choose something that resonates with your personality. Make sure you like the design as this will be your companion as long as you play your uke.
Portability. There are times that you’ll be traveling with your ukulele. Look for a stand that you can fold and is not bulky when you pack.
Size. If you check online stores, you’ll find some stands marketed as ukulele stand but in fact, they are designed for guitars. Make sure to check the size before purchasing the item. I suggest you buy this at any known ukulele retailers online.
Stability. Ukulele stand should keep your instrument safe. Find a model that is stable enough to prevent any damage to your uke.
Ukulele stands are made of different materials. You can choose a stand made of wood, aluminum tubing or ABS plastic. Regardless of what you prefer, they all provide stability and protection if you put your uke on standby.
Ukulele chord stamp
Whether you are a beginner or an expert, at some point, you’ll be looking at a ukulele tablature for making chord boxes and diagrams. To make it fast and easy, a chord stamp comes in handy. Some Ukulele players will draw chord diagrams but more savvy players will definitely use the ukulele chord stamp to save time and to be more consistent. You just simply press the rubber stamp to an ink pad and then press it on your music sheet.
There’s no question that playing the ukulele while standing up can be really difficult (especially if you are a beginner). You need to be able to hold the instrument while allowing both hands to play music.
There are several types of straps:
Regular strap. It requires your ukulele to have a strap button to attach the strap. Just like a guitar, strap buttons are usually installed at the base of the neck heel and at the base of the body.
Hug Strap. Most players want to avoid drilling any holes on their uke just to put the strap button. A hug strap is a hands-free shoulder strap that doesn’t require to use a button. You just need to wrap it around underneath the strings of your ukulele. It’s a good fit and really great at supporting the ukulele. However, it is not applicable on pineapple ukes since it is designed to work on traditional style of ukuleles that has waist form.
Hook Strap. Just like the Hug strap, hook strap doesn’t require you to use a strap button. It is sometimes called thong strap. Instead of putting the strap around the body of the ukulele, this strap is hooked into the sound hole. It then goes under and behind the body of the ukulele. You may need to hold the uke though to keep it steady.
A device that you clamp on the ukulele fretboard. It’s an accessory that enables you to instantly adjust the key of a song without changing the chord patterns. For example: You know how to play a song in the key of C and you want to accompany a singer whose vocal range is better suited in the key of D. You can easily adapt to that pitch by using the ukulele capo. Simply clamp the capo on the 2nd fret and play the song in the same key of C position.
Some players prefer not to use picks when they play. However, there are some good reasons why you need one. It is usually recommended for children’s delicate fingers. Another reason is if the strumming is a little bit painful, by all means, use a pick. Using felt pick also produces mellow sound. Felt picks are traditionally used on ukuleles and they come in different shapes and sizes.
When you purchase a ukulele, you have to think about taking care of it for long-term use. You have to make sure it will sound great and last for many years. With that said, one of the things that affect the performance of your ukulele is the humidity.
What is humidity? It is simply the measure of water vapor in the air. Just like how the weather condition affects your surroundings, it also affects the wood. The wood expands when humidity is high and it shrinks when humidity is low. This affects the sound quality of your uke.
The biggest challenge usually comes when battling dry conditions without enough humidity in the air. Your ukulele won’t have a good range of sound if it is too dry. If your instrument is stored in low humidity over a long period of time, it will sustain serious damage. It becomes brittle and cracks easily.
To avoid damaging the wood of your ukulele, you need to keep the humidity level at around 45-55%. If you live in a hot and dry area, it means you’ll need to add some humidity. Therefore, a good humidifier will help you keep your ukulele in great shape.
D'Addario Planet Waves Small Instrument Humidifier helps protect your instrument. It’s a sponge style humidifier that releases moisture slowly and evenly. It will definitely prevent any cracks, warping, or shrinkage of your instrument.
Having a good set of accessories will keep your instrument in tiptop condition and it will also help you become a better ukulele player. If you have the budget, I suggest you get all those accessories to make your life easier.
What to try next...
Learn how to tune your ukulele strings by reading How to tune the ukulele using different tuning methods.
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