Ukuleles are more popular than ever before, and why wouldn’t they be? Ukuleles are a great instrument, they’re fun, relatively affordable and a good starting point for people who want to learn an instrument. They’re also pretty small and portable, so it is easy to see why a lot of people opt for them as their first step into playing music. This is a guest post by Ben from Subreel, a website featuring music how-to guides, equipment reviews, and much more. If you’ve recently started playing, you’ll need to learn not only the basics of how your ukulele works, chords and finger positions, you’ll also need to learn about accessories. “How many can there be?” I hear you ask. Well, a surprising amount, but we’re here to help you navigate through these accessories, from the fun to the functional.
1. Gig Bag or Case
What good is a portable instrument if you don’t have the right equipment to carry it around? The only way to take care of a ukulele on the go is by using either a gig bag (these will normally be padded) or a hard case. Either way, these will protect your ukulele against everything from rain to bumps and scratches. Gig bags also usually have space for all of your other accessories…
Strings will inevitably go out of tune, it happens naturally, not just by knocking the tuning pegs, so the tuner is a pretty essential item! You can get tuners which have the ability to tune multiple instruments, or tuners specific to the ukulele. If you are a beginner, a ukulele tuner can make sure you don’t make any mistakes. The standard tuning for a ukulele is GCEA (from top to bottom as you look at the strings).
When your ukulele is at home, whether in a home studio or just in your bedroom, you’ll probably want it to be on display! Not just because it looks nice, but because it will remind you to keep picking it up and practicing. A ukulele stand means it is always there at your fingertips, but safely kept (leaning against a chair is a recipe for disaster!) If you own an expensive ukulele, you should definitely buy a high-end, sturdy stand to ensure the worst doesn’t happen.
A capo is an essential piece of kit for players of all sorts of stringed instruments, and the ukulele is no different! A capo covers all of the strings of your ukulele and effectively changes the length of the strings you are playing, and therefore the pitch, making it easier to play certain songs. A capo can also be used to change the pitch of a song to suit your vocal range, so it is a very useful piece of kit for those who sing along when playing.
5. String Care Accessories
Strings are, of course, vital to your playing! For beginners especially, it can be easy to ignore the strings and assume they will sound the same, but strings that aren’t cared for can become dull and even rusty over time, meaning you will have to replace them sooner. Accessories to help with this include a string cleaner, which is designed to wipe across the strings and remove grease and other residue. Other string care accessories include humidifiers, which ensure that the humidity in your case is kept at the right level to avoid damage to strings or the wood of your instrument.
It can feel overwhelming when you start out any musical journey, but the above accessories are nothing to be daunted by if you are a beginner. They will all help you to become a better ukulele player over time. As you become a more accomplished musician, your accessories will likely evolve, along with your style of playing. This is just the first step.