So you just got your new ukulele and every piece of it is exciting to you. You NEED to know what every parts of the ukulele is called and what it all does. You’ve come to the right place as in the article we are going to explore your new instrument in depth and increase our knowledge of the ukulele. It’s really handy knowing this kind of thing as its going to make it much easier when you want to talk to other ukulele players about your uke. It might be worth grabbing your own uke and using it as a reference when identifying the parts!
- What each part of the ukulele is called.
- What its purpose is.
As you can probably imagine, this is what you use to tune your ukulele (maybe the name gave it away). Where they are located depends on the type of ukulele you have. The can either be pointing out the side of the headstock or be facing up. Most tuners are geared which means they are very easy to turn, unlike ones that rely on friction. As a general rule, the more you pay for a ukulele, the better the tuning pegs will be.
They work by threading your ukulele string at the bridge end and tying it up, Then bringing it up to the tuning peg and putting it through the hole in the peg and wrapping it around slightly. You then begin to tighten the handle until all of the string is wrapped around the tuning peg. Now it’s time to get the ukulele in tune. Check out this guide that tells you exactly how to tune a ukulele.
You could also refer to it as the head of the ukulele. It tends to be really sturdy as its one of the parts that hold all the tension of the uke. It’s also home to the tuning pegs. This is usually where the brand will put their logo or model number. You can sometimes find a strap button the back of the headstock so you can wear a strap while playing. Often people will tie some string around the base of the headstock and use that as a way of connecting the strap on.
The nut is used to keep the strings apart at an equal distance. It’s usually made of plastic and has small ridges where the strings sit. Its located at the top of the fretboard and the bottom of the headstock. It’s also used to raise the strings of the fretboard so you actually fret them. This tiny little piece is a very important part of the ukulele and it’s essentially impossible to play without it.
This is the curved piece of wood or plastic that connects the headstock to the body of the ukulele.It’s curved so that players are able to comfortably get their hands around it when fretting the strings. More often then not the neck and the headstock are made of one solid piece of wood.
These are what allows us to make actual music out of the ukulele. Sure we could bash it to bits like a drum but that would soon get boring! So instead we delicately pluck or strum the strings. Most of the time they are made of nylon due to its soft nature. Believe it or not, some of the very first ukulele strings were made from gut which is actual animal intestines. It’s very important that the strings keep their tension as this is what allows us to play high notes. Its recommended that you change your strings at least every 6 months.
This is the part that creates the frets. It’s a smooth, often black piece of wood that is glued onto the neck and has ridges for the frets to sit. It’s wise to clean this part every time to change your strings as its very common to get a build up of dirt and dead skin from your fingers.
The frets determine what pitch the note we play will be. They are spread apart at very specific intervals which allow us to play notes in a scale. They are made of metal and they are placed into the fretboard at a distance that means they stick up a little bit. So when we place out fingers in-between them, the metal fret to the left will stop the string and not the finger. Which allows the note to be played.
We use fret markers as visual guides so we know where we are on the fretboard. They are usually found on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th fret on the ukulele. These tend to be super helpful when you are travelling large distances up and down the fretboard. They are often a white dotted inlay but some more expensive ukuleles tend to have fancy designs.
It would be fair to say that the body of the ukulele is the main part. Its big and hollow and allows the sound of the strings to be amplified. Most commonly made of wood as the nature of wood means you get a nice warm sound. Plastic ukuleles tend to be quite tinny as the sound is bouncing straight back out the sound hole, whereas with the wood, the sound tends to be soaked up a little bit. The body is made of 3 pieces, the front face, the back and the sides.
Most often they are the traditional dreadnought shape, which is kind of like two circles blended together. Some ukulele bodies have a small cutaway that allows your fingers to reach further up the fretboard without being blocked by the body.
The sound hole is the big hole in the ukulele body. You can find it at the bottom of the neck and underneath the strings. 99% of the time it will be a circle, however, I have seen a few varying shapes in the past. You can often find a nice design surrounding the sound hole. This could be painted on or carved into the wood. When you play the strings, the sound goes into the body and comes back out through the sound hole. If you play the strings right above it, you will get the loudest sound.
The bridge is usually made of wood and is glued to the body. Its purpose is to hold the strings in place on the body. We thread the strings through the bridge and tie them back on themselves. It’s important that your bridge is firmly attached to the body as any loss in tension will result in your strings becoming loose. Which means they will regularly go out of tune.
The saddle acts the same way the nut does. its attached to the bridge and acts the same way the nut does. It keeps the strings the correct distance away from the fretboard. When buying a new ukulele its wise to take it to a luthier who will set it up for you. One of the things he might do is sand down the saddle and nut so the strings are closer to the fretboard, therefore been easier to play.
If your ukulele has a pickup inside, it means you can plug it into an amplifier. Often you will find an EQ preamp on the side of the body. This allows you to control the volume and tone of your ukulele without having to go over to your amp. They common have tuners on them too.
This is where you will plug in your ukulele to the amplifier. You need a jack cable and they can be picked up from most music shops. Its wise to tighten the nut surrounding the jack each time you unplug as they tend to get loose.
Now all the different parts of the ukulele have been explained, its time to learn some songs. Check out my guide to basic chords and how to play them or learn how to read ukulele TABs and head over the TABs section of this website.