You wanna ukulele?


I RECENTLY taught myself to play the ukulele. It was a rare occasion that I had time on my hands, so I thought I would do something productive. Lucky for me, I knew that there was a spare ukulele lying about, so I picked it up, determined to play it.

This would be the first instrument that I would teach myself to play. Well, I use “teach myself” very lightly here. Teaching implies I have some sort of grip of what I’m trying to learn. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so naturally I had my apprehensions.

This is where this week’s foray into the App Store comes in. Where there is a will, there is a way, as the very persistent say. I didn’t want to look like the fool who gave up after the first hitch, so a few taps on a screen later, I was looking at the different apps on everything ukulele.

As it turns out, you don’t really need a working knowledge of musical theory to learn the ukulele. Knowing how to play the guitar definitely helps, but if you are learning from the ground up it won’t take you long either. One hour and a couple of blisters later, I can now play that Radiohead song everyone loves and a little bit of Tom Petty.

Ukulele Tuner
Developer: Alvin Yu
Available on: iTunes, Android
Easy to use: Five clicks out of five

User Interface: This is pretty straightforward to use. I’ve used guitar tuners before, but all of them were rather complicated to use. The touch-screen interface of this app makes it easy to use, no instruction manuals needed. I particularly like this one because it allows you to tune up or down in half-step increments without any fuss.

Overall comment: An app that does exactly what you need it to do. No bells and whistles are needed for this one, because any more would be an extravagance. This is the one that I use to tune my ukulele, and I don’t see myself looking for another one. Three clicks out of five.

Ukulele – Hawaiian Guitar
Developer: NETtuno s.r.l.
Available on: iTunes, Android
Easy to use: May need some figuring out. Three clicks out of five.

User interface: This app would be good for an iPhone, as it’s not so good on a bigger iPad. It’s a virtual ukulele that plays like the real thing through tapping the strings or strumming the screen. It even has some pre set chords for the rookie.

Overall comment: I’m not so hot about this particular one. The design is clunky, and it takes a while to understand how it works. It would be easier for you to pick up a real ukulele and learn how to play than to play on this. Two clicks out of five.

Ukulele Chordfinder
Developer: Peter Ristow
Available on: iTunes, Android
Easy to use: Dead simple. Five clicks out of five.

User Interface: Ukulele Chords is the newbie’s introduction to playing your ukulele.Those who already have the app “Learning the Ukulele in 7 Days” will recognise Chordfinder. The scroll through tabs make it easy to find the chord you need. I appreciate how the chords are demonstrated on an actual diagram, but it could do with a bigger picture and a frontal view of the fingerboard instead of a sideways one.

Overall comment: It doesn’t cover any of the lesser known chord permutations, but as a general purpose chord application it gets the job done.It isn’t fancy, but for a starting point it’s pretty good. I would probably look for another app that has more chords, but as a starting point it’s pretty good. Three clicks out of five.

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