Elvis’s guitar player, Scotty Moore, can teach us a thing or two about creating a simple rockabilly-style solo on the uke. PLUS: the great debate — pick or no pick?
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All right, Ben, We’re ready to get started, Ben.
OK, thank you very much for that wonderful, warm welcome. Hi, everybody. Welcome to Ukulele Practice Time with Danno. This is the ukulele. This is the Danno and the time is all around us.
Nice to have people here thinking about music, thinking about ukuleles and the lovely little oasis of happiness we’ve created to get away from the woes of the world for just a few minutes.
I have a little treat for us today, musical treat coming up later, which is an Elvis Presley song, looking at it from a picking perspective, because, as you know, yesterday we spent a lot of time talking about picks on the ukulele and whether you need them or not. And I had another little thought process that I want to share with you on that.
A message from Ben!
But even more exciting to me, you know, Ben, my producer Ben drinks a lot Ben stays back and sort of a soporific stupor and runs The event and today, I was excited and delighted to find on my desk what seems to be a written message from Ben.
Now, Ben’s not altogether there on the best of days and he seems to stay back there and drink and take care of his rheumatism, his arthritis and his gout. But I’m great now. How do I get rid of that? So here’s a guy who goes away by itself. So here’s a on paper message from Ben. Now, the weird thing is, I don’t know if you can make that out, but it seems to be in a code and I don’t know who would be able to break this code, but I have a brain the size of a planet, so I’ve been working at it. And I’m going to try to finish deciphering this message right before your eyes. So if you don’t mind, it’ll just take me a second.
But I’m going to try to work out that says to anybody who can help me now.
That’s sweet, isn’t it? Because, you know, Ben has a lot of problems. And here he seems to be putting out a plea, a cry for help.
Let’s see to anybody who can help me. I — that’s easy.
Seems to be a basic code where you just sort of transpose one letter of the alphabet for one a few down. But because of his drunkenness, I’m guessing it seems to rotate through the alphabet, which makes it a little harder to solve, to steer anybody.
I need help.
I am being held. That’s interesting. I didn’t know been new complex verbs like that. I am being held a Gornstein my wall. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to be held against my wall. Please. Definitely it’s says please and big code letters get this is almost the end. Get me AAFP.
I don’t know.
So that’s the best I can do. So not a very exciting message from Ben but I thought I would share just because it was so thrilling to have the message at all. Get me. Ah I don’t know, maybe this translating that.
So that’s our message from Ben.
Yesterday we were talking about using picks and you know, I don’t do all my ukulele practice while we’re on the air. I do some of my ukulele practice on my own. And after we went off the air yesterday, I found myself fooling around with the picks a little bit. And I got going on an Elvis Presley song, which I love. It’s not originally an Elvis Presley song, but that’s how I know it. So I’ll play it for you and then I’m going to show you my practice process. But what I went through, nobody knows what I go through to try to work out using a pick versus not using a pick for a part that seemed like it wanted to be picked. So here’s the song. I’m going to play it without the little lead piece, which is the picking piece, but just to sort of get the song planted in your mind.
Anybody know that? So I don’t care if the sun don’t shine. In fact, I want to look it up for you today to see if I could share a PDF with you. And the only version I seem to have is one of the Jumpin’ Jim books, one of the calendar books, and it’s in the wrong key for what I wanted to do. But it is there in the Jumpin’ Jim Daily Ukulele Leap Year book, I think.
I don’t care if the sun don’t shine.
What about the lead part?
So that’s the song, just to give you a how the melody goes, then there’s this nice little walk up that Scotty Moore does on the electric guitar, something like. Give me a second. Remember, ukulele practice time literally is me practicing, so some of these things, that is a real lesson. I would have all smoothed out, actually take me a second to work out and think through when I lived with me.
When I lived with my baby.
Oh, here goes.
So nice little melody peace.
Another nice little melody piece.
So that’s my kind of slow spread out rendition of the guitar solo from the Elvis version of that song.
No one said that they do know it. I’ll take that to mean that you don’t know it. Look it up. It’s a goodie. So what’s fun about that little solo is that it’s so based around the chords. Right? So the I’m going to show you that the two portions, the part that’s right around the cord and then the little run.
And I’m going to talk to you about why I’m choosing to use a pick or not use a pick.
That’s not the pick I wanted to use. That’s the pick I wanted to use. So F.
And I’m adding my little finger to add a scene out onto the air in the melody
Now, we don’t have all those notes on the ukulele, so those are the three things I’m going to show you that you can whether or not you like the song, whether or not you know this song, and you can apply these principles to other things that you’re working on. So the idea is whether or not to use a pick, how to manage the fact that we don’t have the range that a guitar has. And there’s a third thing that I’ve lost track of. Let’s see if it comes up in the conversation. Gerri says Dr. Uke also has it in C good. So there’s another source for it. Anyway, in the key of C, I find that for me anyway, it is a better singing key for this song
Key of C vs F
And playing in C gives us a lot of advantages because we have open strings when we play in C, and that’s great for, say, blues or certain rock songs, being able to have access to certain notes because they’re already on the open strings.
Uh-oh out of notes
But by playing in another key like F, that does extend our range a little bit because we’re starting up higher, which means we can go relatively down the scale further before we run out of notes. Which brings me back to this song and the fact that we still run out of notes. Do you know what I mean?
The notes just aren’t on the ukulele. Guitars have two more strings. And with all those extra notes, thanks, Annie.
It’s a little more that’s more of a rockabilly lead. And this is more of a country lead from the version that we’re working on today. So it goes —
So let me show you how I’m achieving that F chord. The key here, this was the third point that I could remember. The key here goes back to selective streaming and the emphasis you put on the let’s call it the top of the strong or the bottom of the strum.
And I’m achieving that emphasis in this case by using my finger for an up pluck.
That’s basically what I’m doing, except I’m keeping the rhythm going with this kind of strum. So let me give you the single notes again.
So F with the C on top.
Bum, bum, which is where the guitar goes that I’m just repeating that last phrase, since we don’t have the notes.
Use a pick?
Now, the thing with the pick is that it’s real easy to do this.
I told you yesterday all the reasons I generally don’t like to play with the pick, but to get that speed with the pick, and that’s not fast speed by any means for somebody who knows how to pick. It’s nice to be able to get that up and down.
The other advantage of a pick is that you can get right in there and aim for the specific string that you want.
Emulating the pick with fingers
So when I was fooling around, I did like using the pick, but I don’t like where I have to hold my hand to enable the pick. So I decided it wasn’t worth it and then I could achieve most of the same effect with my fingers. So since you can’t really do the pick motion with a single finger, of course you can.
I’m doing it.
But it’s impractical. The way to emulate that — focus on my strumming hand now — is with a down up from the thumb and the finger. This actually happens very commonly, although it feels weird if it’s not something you’ve tried before, to pluck the same string down and up.
Is this fingerstyle?
But there’s nothing that says you have to pick exactly the one string unless you’re going for a specific effect. You can do a little strum down. So, as always, when we start talking about these things, we’re we’re verging on fingerstyle territory, fingerpicking territory, but I’m still thinking of it as kind of a strum pattern with a down, up, down, up, down, up is just my down and up are separated.
But that gives me a lot of flexibility here, I get the melody, note, melody note again, then I can fill in the blanks without losing my place in the motion. So let me see if I can put it together.
You see how those go together, so it’s a kind of a combination of picking with a lot of strumming the. And so far, I haven’t played it the same way twice, so if you ask me exactly what I’m doing, I’d have to give you three different answers.
On the recording, I think it sounds like it’s all down plucks.
Because it’s got kind of a stilted awkwardness to it, but you could do the single string down-up.
Resolves on C. What do you think?
So, like I said, whether or not you like this exact song, I hope those are maybe some ideas that you can apply. That idea of using your finger and thumb together really bothers people when they first try it out, because it seems foreign to have different parts of your hand doing different things at different times. But it really, really can open up and smooth out some different things that you might not even be able to do otherwise. So I think it’s a fun song to play. It’s got funny lyrics. It’s a catchy little number and it’s got a really, really easy solo. Even if you don’t put in the single note run, you can pick up that little chord, just the chord section and do a real simple but real nice sounding solo in between your verses.
So that’s what I wanted to share with you today. No further messages from Ben. In fact, he hasn’t moved. He seems to be lying strangely close to the radiator by the window, but he seems like he’s OK. So whatever that message was at the beginning doesn’t seem like anything we need to concern ourselves about. He’s he’s cute and funny, old guy.
So that’s what I wanted to share with you today, friends. I hope that’s helpful and or interesting Meanwhile, we’ll be back again tomorrow at 12:01 for another short ukulele practice time. So I hope you can stay healthy, wealthy and wise. Claire, I’m glad you find it fascinating. And I’ll I’ll pass your message along to Ben. He might have a secret message for you tomorrow. So take care, everybody, and we’ll be back for more music and more fun.
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