Missing Infobox musical instrument / Maintenance / sound parameters example: template

The ukulele (Hawaiian: ukulele ) is a guitar-like plucked string instrument, which can normally be drawn by four, but also with six or eight strings. It is usually in guitar-like proportions about 60 cm long and 20 cm wide.


The Portuguese immigrants Joao Fernandes brought 1879 Braguinha, a local form of the cavaquinho, from Madeira to Hawaii. There it was given the name ukulele ( " jumping flea " ) which is intended to reproduce the impression of Hawaiians at the sight of the rapidly across the fingerboard of the instrument moving finger. They decided to rebuild it, and put the first ukuleles from native koa ago.

During the Pacific War brought American soldiers who were previously stationed in the Philippines and Hawaii, ukuleles after Melanesia. In New Guinea, they were among the few imported musical instruments and made ​​possible after 1945 the formation of string bands, which created the first modern style of music until then purely based on local traditions music of New Guinea.

From Hawaii, that is since 1959 state of the United States, the ukulele came to North America and from there back to Europe. In England it became popular as an accompanying instrument of skiffle music. By Billy Wilder film Some Like It Hot (, Some Like It Hot ' ), in which Marilyn Monroe as Sugar plays a ukulele, the instrument was further known. In Germany, the ukulele has been popular since the late 1990s. In particular, the younger German television audience knows the ukulele from Stefan Raab's " Raabigrammen ". Recently, the YouTube has become known singer-songwriter Julia Nunes has the instrument given an iconic status.

Internationally known the ukulele was also by Jake Shimabukuro. In the UK, the comedic The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain plays on this musical instrument.


Ukuleles are generally made ​​of wood. But some are also partially or completely made ​​of plastic. Cheap ukuleles are often made from laminated wood, then being happy is such as spruce, built a massive top of a cheap sound wood. More expensive ukuleles are generally made entirely from solid exotic wood (eg mahogany ). The most valuable ukuleles, which may cost several thousand euros, are made of koa, a Hawaiian wood that is known for its sound and its grain.

Typically ukuleles have known of the acoustic guitar figure-eight shape. Popular but also more unusual body shapes, like an oval, pineapple (English for pineapple) are called. For the body of some ukuleles and cigar boxes are used. In general, the ukulele has four strings. However, these can also be combined to form choirs, making the instrument then has six or eight strings.

Size and mood

There are different models, voice types and moods. The classic Ukulele which is also spread most, is the soprano ukulele with a total length of about 55 cm and a string length of about 35 cm. In addition, there are the smaller sopranino ukulele and ( in terms of size ascending order ) concert ukuleles, tenor and baritone ukuleles ukulele. There are also five -, six- and achtsaitige instruments in various sizes and designs, but especially in Europe are rare.

For sopranino, soprano, concert and tenor there are two common tunings: the so-called C-tuning gcea (also called Hawaiian mood ), and by a whole tone higher, so-called D tuning adf # -h ( Classical mood ). The distribution of the different moods is regionally and temporally varying; Currently in Europe, the D tuning still quite common, while in the Anglo-Saxon world, the C-tuning is popular. Through the formative dissemination via Internet finds the C-tuning also in Europe their followers. The D tuning was against very popular in the U.S. early last century and disseminated. Both in the Anglo-Saxon countries as well as in Europe, there are training literature, fingering charts and scores for both moods. Earlier, the sentiment eac # -f # was common for Tenorukulelen, but this is almost gone.

The fourth (top ) string is, in contrast to the guitar, octave at these scales, and thus voted higher than the middle strings. This gives it the distinctive, "exotic" sound. Just Tenorukulelen are, however, often voted with deep 4th string. The baritone ukulele is usually tuned " DGHE ", the D-string is not octaved here. This reflects the proximity to the guitar, the mood EADGBE 'corresponds to the two lower strings of the baritone ukulele.

A relatively new form is the bass ukulele that is offered by a few manufacturers. Because there is only a small market, were able to establish no generally accepted measure. It is in this instrument, strictly speaking, not a ukulele, but a miniaturized e- or acoustic bass in about the size of a baritone ukulele. The instrument is in fourths ( E, A, D -G) voted. This is not the Ukulelenstimmung. Due to the low string length and the small body no large volumes are expected, such instruments do not come typically without an amplifier. The sound is usually taken piezoelectric. As strings either polyurethane or steel jacketed plastic strings are used. PU strings have only a very short sustain, with steel strings can be heard due to the low dead volume, the handling noise relatively louder than instruments full size.


There are different notations, according to which the ukulele can be played. A distinction is often between ( melodic ) and plucking ( liedbegleitendem ) hitting.


For the accompaniment of music mostly from the fields of rock, pop and folk chord names are often given to the lyrics. These are universal for instruments, that is, a chord sounds the same on two different instruments. In fingering charts for the right mood of the ukulele, the corresponding handle can be looked up. A disadvantage of this notation is that neither information on the melody are not specified to be playing rhythm.

A few chords:

G- chord ( C tuning ) and A chord ( D tuning )

E7 chord ( C tuning ) or F # 7 chord ( D tuning )


Tab is the short form of tablature. This is an instrument-specific notation as opposed to a chord. When Ukulelentabulatur are four lines representing the four strings of the ukulele. These are indicated in the reverse order. When gcea mood, for example, the bottom line of the g - string is to you, up to the top, the a-string. The quoted on the lines of numbers give to the federal government, in which each string is to grip. In addition, this will be indicated not only what, but it should also be played like.


The ukulele can be played directly from notes, for example, to interpret classical pieces. This requires, in contrast to the chord and Tabulatorschreibweise, knowledge of reading music and where a sound is on the fretboard. These can be seen in the following table, which is disposed corresponding to the tab notation in the reverse order.

Hawaiian mood                          A, A #, B, C, C #, D, D #, E, F, F #, G, G #                          E, F, F #, G, G #, A, A #, B, C, C #, D, D #                          C, C #, D, D #, E, F, F #, G, G #, A, A #, B                          G, G #, A, A #, B, C, C #, D, D #, E, F, F #                   Bund: * 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11                          Soprano Ukulele                          H, C, C #, D, D #, E, F, F #, G, G #, A, A #                          F #, G, G #, A, A #, B, C, C #, D, D #, E, F                          D, D #, E, F, F #, G, G #, A, A #, B, C, C #                          A, A #, B, C, C #, D, D #, E, F, F #, G, G #                   Bund: * 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11                          Baritone ukulele                          E, F, F #, G, G #, A, A #, B, C, C #, D, D #                          H, C, C #, D, D #, E, F, F #, G, G #, A, A #                          G, G #, A, A #, B, C, C #, D, D #, E, F, F #                          D, D #, E, F, F #, G, G #, A, A #, B, C, C #                   Bund: * 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11                   * = Open string From the 12th fret the notes an octave higher repeat itself.

Related instruments

Meanwhile, ukuleles available in a variety of different designs. So there are models with pickups, which can be combined, for example, a guitar amp or effects unit. Various manufacturers offer ukuleles, which are modeled in form and function as the resonator guitar, electric guitar, steel guitar or the guitar counterpoint. For guitar players, in turn, want to learn new handles to get the typical " Hawaiian " sound, there is the Gitalele. However, knowledge in the Transpose are here, especially in interaction with guitars, required because the Gitalele is a fourth tuned up. Also, the cavaquinho or the Cuatro is related to the ukulele.