The ukulele is a fun little instrument. It's perfect for strumming along to campfire songs, as a teaching tool for kids or traveling with when a guitar is just too bulky, but can you play the blues on a ukulele?
The short answer is of course you can! Sadly the ukulele gets a little bit type-cast in the instrument world. It more often than not conjures up images of Hawaiian beaches or in the U.K comedy songs by George Formby.
But...the ukulele also has a long history with jazz music dating back from pre-war time Japan. In 1929 Hawaiian born Yukihikio Haida introduced the the ukulele to Japan on return from his birth nation creating a boom of popularity and success in the island nation. Around the same time George Formby was popularizing the banjolele (a ukulele/banjo hybrid instrument) in the U.K. Through the popularity and prolificness of this handful of players the ukulele witnessed a unparalleled rise to prominence in the U.K, Japan and the U.S, transitioning it from a basic instrument used in classrooms to improve and foster musical literacy to an instrument that people began to use as part of bar room trios and ukulele groups, performing both contemporary and early forms of jazz music.
It wasn't until the post second world war years that we could hear recordings of the ukulele (particularly the baritone size) being used on (what we now call) jazz music recordings throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The instrument became synonymous with the style.
So when it comes to blues music the ukulele with its four string set-up actually provides a fantastic tool for playing the blues. You can get some great sounds out of the instrument and it serves as a great alternative to the acoustic guitar when accompanying singing or harmonica.
Check out my brand new Blues Ukulele 101 course on Udemy to learn how to rip these cool sounding blues licks and 12-bars out of this great little instrument. Dust off the old ukulele and breath new life into its playing.
Click the image below to gain access to the course......Happy plucking!