In this article, we answer some of the most common ukulele questions we receive from ukulele players. If you have a question that is not listed here please drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help you out.
Don’t forget to check out Part One here for more FAQs and useful info.
How old to play ukulele? – Is a ukulele good for a child?
I got a lot of emails from parents asking about the best age for their children to take up the ukulele. I’ve seen children as young as 4 playing ukuleles. It’s a great instrument for a child.
Ukulele is a great instrument for kids because it is small and lightweight so children can hold the instrument easily, not only that they can also more easily play the ukulele with their smaller fingers.
Ukuleles strings also aren’t as thick as guitar strings. The sound of the instrument is not overpowering and doesn’t drown out a child’s voice when they sing or recite a song. Also, as a first instrument, the ukulele is ideal because it’s not too complex to figure out, and who knows, it could be a great stepping stone to a bigger string instrument like a guitar or even a mandolin.
Can you paint a ukulele with acrylic paint?
This is an interesting question, I’ve seen many painted ukuleles that look amazing. Painting your ukulele to personalize it to your personal style and taste is a great idea, just make sure you use the right type of paint.
Acrylic paint is one of the most common types of paints for painting walls, clothing, furniture, and canvasses. Acrylic paintings are durable and flexible because they dry quickly to produce strong colors that won’t fade easily.
But it is not as simple as just choosing the right type of paint. I found a great step by step guide on how to repaint your own ukulele here
Does putting stickers on a ukulele affect the sound?
The short answer is no; there’s no evidence that putting stickers on a uke will impair its tone. People put stickers on their instruments for various reasons (to personalize them, to make them look like other instruments, etc), and it has no effect on the instrument’s tone.
In the same vein, you wouldn’t want to put a sticker on an acoustic guitar or any other instrument with much more delicate varnish which would be harmed by a sticker. Ukuleles have a very thick finish that is made to take stickers and last for years, so go ahead and decorate your uke!
So, if you’re just dying to stick some stickers on your uke, go for it. It won’t do any harm.
Do you have to sing to play ukulele?
You can sing while you play, but you do not have to. For certain songs, ukulele players often think they are required or expected to sing. You can still be a very good player without putting vocals on all your songs.
If you search for recordings of songs in ‘acapella’ or ‘vocal version’ you can play ukulele over them and not have to use your own vocals.
I was very shy about singing along with my ukulele at first, but I found it hard to learn without singing along. Especially when it came to making sure I was hitting the right note at times.
I would say that, to start out, you should focus on learning the chords and making sure your strumming is consistent and rhythmic. If singing comes naturally, you can begin to include it as well. But if it’s not for you, don’t force it or feel like you’re not doing something right because of this aspect.
Do you have to sit down to play ukulele?
No, you don’t. You can play the ukulele while standing up, sitting down, or lying on the floor. There is no wrong way to play it (that’s what I like most about the ukulele).
There are times that it might be hard to reach certain places on the fretboard if you’re playing while standing up (though there are also times that this can be seen as advantageous).
If you’re sitting down, your strumming arm should be at about the height of your lap. This will keep it from cramping up too quickly. However, I like to play while standing because it usually makes me focus more on singing (since you normally don’t look down when you’re singing).
Is there a minimum amount of time required to learn how to play ukulele?
That depends on the type of person you are and your goals for learning. Obviously, if you want to be able to play songs from day one, it will take longer than someone who is okay with just strumming a few chords.
I wanted to be able to play songs right away, so I looked for ‘ukulele for dummies’ style resources and tried to learn as many chords as possible. A good book I can recommend is this one which also has access to online video to guide you.
Can you use fishing line for ukulele strings?
Yes, fishing line is a good alternative for strings. It is strong and available in various gauges. You can find it at any sporting goods or fishing store.
If you are asking whether this will make your ukulele sound bad, the answer is “no”. I have played with fishing lines on my ukuleles numerous times and have been pleased with the sound.
If you are asking whether fishing line will hold up as long as nylon or fluorocarbon strings, the answer is “no”. In my experience, after a day of playing, they start to wear out. But it’s not a big deal – they’re easily replaced with regular ukulele strings.
Will they hold up under the tension of steel strings? I don’t think they do.
I’ve encountered other people online who say they’ve used fishing line on their ukuleles and haven’t had problems with it breaking. But, for me, I needed to switch to regular strings after a day’s worth of playing. It is possible that it’s just me making some kind of mistake though.
I personally think that if you are fine with changing the strings on a ukulele, then by all means try fishing line out and see if you like the difference.
Ukulele Questions Part 2 Summary
So there you have it! Hopefully, this article will have been useful to you.
Do feel free to add any corrections or share your experiences in the comments below. Feel free to share your knowledge too!