The Only Song You’ll Need to Learn on the Ukulele

Esteemed readers that haven’t left while I’ve found little to write about lately, may remember the time that I listed out the Reasons I’ve Purchased a Ukulele. I can report that it’s still the best $39.99 I’ve ever spent. Little Jack goes into a hypnotic trance whenever I bust it out, and it’s so light and portable, it’s easy to juggle it with whatever else you’re doing.
But the main reason I return to this fascinating topic, is that I’ve found the one and only song you need to learn in order to sound like a soprano ukulele pro. One song only: I’ll Follow the Sun by the Beatles (perhaps you’ve heard of them).
Once you learn C – C7, D7 – G7, and F – Fm transitions. You can start mixing and matching these to instantly sound like a Hawaiian ragtime virtuoso. Seriously! Also, by learning this one song, you can play others, like Proud Mary, Ring of Fire or Puff the Magic Dragon (I know, I know… but Jack loves ‘em).
So that’s it. If you’re a recent or future ukulele owner, learn this one song, and off you go into 4-string stardom.
My Odeo PodcastUpdate: I’ve recorded a little tune I like to call “Jackulele” over at Odeo. My first podcast, and hopefully not my last. The song uses all the chords from the aforementioned Beatles selection, with a few other experimentations. It’s a bit rough, but is always a crowd pleaser (to a crowd of one. One that is 5 months old).

41 Comments

  1. Jeff Croft says:

    That’s true of any instrument! You only need three chords to play a large chunk of the popular music out there: I-IV, and V7 (in C major, that’s C, F, and G7). Add a secondary dominant II7 (D7) and vi (Am), and you’re good for probably 90% of popular music!
    And that’s your basic music theory lesson for the day. :)

  2. Tyson Tate says:

    I’ve been messing around with a guitar for a few years now (I can play the intro to, like, five Red Hot Chili Peppers songs and some Semisonic), but I’ve recently been more interested in learning the Ukulele becuase of the sound, the four strings are easier to play (my fingers, oddly for my body type, are really thick and are a pin on the guitar), and there’s nothing cooler than learning to play “Can’t Stop” on a uke.
    So: Any recommendations as to where (online, of course) I can purchase a good decent ukulele? I’ve got a very nice guitar I’m willing to sell, as well!

  3. Alex Keeny says:

    Here is a link to ukulele’s priced from low to high on musiciansfriend.com
    They typically have some pretty decent instruments for fairly cheap.

  4. Diane Soini says:

    I though it was the one that goes “Five-foot two, eyes of blue, but oh what those 5 feet will do, has anybody seen my gal?” And where did you find a ukelele for $40? I went to a local shop to see if I could afford one and they were $400!

  5. Hugh Roper says:

    Thanks to your post in January I’ve had my uke for about three weeks. My son Quinan loves to play it too, but I always have to tuned after he is finished.
    All I’ve used is the chord chart you referred to and a children’s songbook with chords.
    I’m looking forward to moving up to the Beatles.

  6. Krasimir says:

    Another popular chord sequence: A, D, E! Because the Rock ‘N Roll is King! :)
    How does it sounds on this “Ukelele” thing?

  7. Tim Huegdon says:

    Throw an A7 and a D in there and you’ve got a whole load more songs!
    (Including some Bowie!)

  8. You can’t really play Puff without a Bm. It just doesn’t sound good.
    Well, on the guitar at least.

  9. Dave Belson says:

    Hey, you need to put one of your renditions up here for all to hear. And I know you would do a good job recording it.

  10. Burke says:

    Oddly enough I stumbled onto this vid earlier today.
    Over the top (I get weirded out when Beatles tunes get the virtuoso treatment) but still kind of cool.

  11. M.e. says:

    Indeed, you have found the secret. You can pretty much pull all the Hawaiian standards out of there. My band does “hula-jazz” on the side to make extra money. Hawaiian music is very popular in the wedding, corporate party and country club scenes. It’s quite lucrative. You will do well to not only sing to the boy, but pass on what you have learned.

  12. Crow says:

    How about “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
    looks easy enough ;)

  13. jacob harvey says:

    That’s great! I have a guitar gathering dust that I swear I’ll learn to play some day. ;)
    But does this mean that any future NEWD meetings will include musical entertainment?

  14. Joe says:

    Who in the heck is little Jack and why are you mentioning him?

  15. Jack is Mr. and Mrs. Cederholm’s son! The flickr pictures of him are generally adorable.

  16. Erin says:

    When will we get to hear your musical stylings, Dan? Any chance you take requests? How about a little “Stairway to Heaven” on the uke? ;-)

  17. Kyle Jones says:

    This is great! Keep em coming!

  18. Erin says:

    Sounds awesome! ::raises a lighter::

  19. John says:

    Dan, that sounds great. My 3 year old has a Ukulele which he loves to plonk away on with the Wiggles on TV or whenever I drag out the old guitar.
    Thanks for posting it.

  20. Christopher says:

    Dan – love the little tune. I’m totally inspired to pick up a ukulele now! I’m a drummer by trade, but drums aren’t great for jamming around the campfire.
    You should play around with Garageband sometime, record a song or two… :)
    Cheers!

  21. I love the tune, Dan. It really sounds great. I did a whole tune on my last album with a uke and I loved it! The song ended up being very dark, which is fun because you don’t hear that very often.

  22. motherduce says:

    Most excellent Dan. Really cool stuff. I have a guitar sitting in my closet, same place it’s been for nearly a decade. I learned a bit about it when I first got it, but never had time to really learn. How long did it take you to learn how to play this thing?

  23. Yeah man, really excellent!

  24. I’m in Wellington where the New Zealand Ukelele Orchestra has had a couple of gigs – 14 of them playing covers and NZ songs. Aha, Take on Me went down very well!

  25. Frank says:

    That was good! For a second, I forgot what I was listening to… I kept waiting for Jack Johnson to jump in with some lyrics.

  26. Paul says:

    Dan-
    I think you found your plan “B” if the web design thing doesn’t work out ;O)

  27. Fritsie says:

    Loved it!!

  28. Dave Belson says:

    NICE! And calling the song “Jackulele” just makes it that much better, thanks for sharing. It made me smile.

  29. Vegar Norman says:

    Heh, nice. I kinda understand why Jack is so happy when he hears it.

  30. العاب says:

    Heh, nice. I kinda understand why Jack is so happy when he hears it.

  31. Krasimir says:

    A great resource for Ukulele chords:
    http://4stringchords.com/

  32. Love the tune!
    Think you’ll like this, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain playing Smells Like Teen Spirit.
    Need to go out and buy a Ukulele for myself now.

  33. Trevor says:

    For anyone new to the Uke check out the book “Jimmy Kokopo’s Ukulele Sing & Strum Fun Book“.
    Seriously, this book may look like it’s made for kids, but, for a beginner, it’s the best darn Ukulele book I’ve come across! The book made the process of learning (not just strumming, but picking and harmony playing too) so very simple. I can’t recommend it enough! :)
    Did I mention that it was good? ;)

  34. Dries says:

    My first try at my brand new ukulele.
    What do you think?
    http://mrdries.blogspot.com/2006/05/ukulele.html

  35. Jon says:

    really nice playing Dan – fancy putting out a record? Discobleak is London based label – mail me, we’ll throw a few Uke podcasts together on disc and Mp3
    info@discobleak.co.uk
    Discobleak Recordings

  36. mark rush says:

    My GF does a great skit of george formby’s cleaning windows, with all of the head nods :)

  37. Jen says:

    shut-UP! You just singlehandedly made the ukelele cool. Funny, nothing seems to keep my five month old entertained…maybe I should give it a shot… Thanks for sharing that, it really was phenominal.

  38. austy says:

    i just got my ukulele today and all the chords i try don’t sound good plz help

  39. berker says:

    That sounds so easy, but I nearly borke my Fingers, tryling to play it……

  40. You should lear the Velvet Underground’s music named After Hours, little Jack would love it!
    http://alligatorboogaloo.com/uke/tabs/021203.html

  41. analgesia says:

    check this guy out. He’s awesome with his ukulele:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=829401773913198414