Playing the blues

Blues Ukulele

The blues has arguably been one of the most influential genres of music in the past century. The chants, spirituals, and songs of African-American slaves in the 19th century gave birth to the genre, while descendants of slaves carried their legacy into recorded form in the early 1900s.

When people think of the blues, they typically think of a man with a raspy voice singing and playing along with a guitar. While this is a common expression of the blues, it’s not unlikely that in the early to mid 20th century people would sing and play the blues on their ukulele too.
The blues are characterized by simplicity, repetition, rhythm, and pure emotion. Today, the most popular forms of the blues is 12 Bar blues. Most rock music is based on this form. For readers that have a bit of a musical background, you would know that this common blues format is a I IV V pattern. Basically start at any note and go up or down 4 notes and up or down 1 more for the 5.

Below is some blues chord progressions

C F7 G7

C# F#7 G#7

D G7 A7

Eb Ab7 Bb7

E A7 B7

F Bb7 C7

F# B7 C#7

G C7 D7

G# C#7 D#7

A D7 E7

Bb Eb7 F7

B E7 F#7

So if you wanted to play a 12 bar blues in the key of G it would look like this

|G |G |G |G |
|C7 |C7 |G |G |
|D7 |C7 |G |G |

Besides from 12 bar blues, which as the name suggests is a pattern 12 bars in length, we also have 16 bar, and 8 bar patterns. Although there are many other bar length patterns in blues music, these would have to be the most common. Back when I was a professional musician (playing drums and percussion) I used to play lots of jazz and blues. I used to play some quite obscure forms and patterns. One that comes to mind is 13 bar blues. This is an old folk blues form.

Most of our readers would have come across 12 bar blues patterns by now, so I have decided to include a basic 8 bar blues pattern for something different to have a go out.

8 Bar Blues

Not all blues songs are arranged into 12 bar sections, many are 8 bar progressions. Here is one example
Count one 4/4 bar for each chord except where 2 chords are included in bars. count these 1 2 and change 3 4 and change. For example | A A F#m F#m |

| A | A7 | D7 | Adim | A F#m | Bm7 E7 | A D7 | A E7+5 |

If you need to know the fingerings for the different chords a good chord chart is here –

SUP Group Playing Nights

A little word about our Sunnybank Ukulele Players Group

Many of you know of our meetings on the 3rd weds night of each month. We are a very new and small group, but slowly growing. I encourage you to come along and support our little group meetings. If you cannot make it along, please tell your uke friends. We need to grow and spread the joy of ukulele playing and your attendance would really help.

I hope our group can grow and develop into a place where we all can improve our playing and eventually form a performing group out of our members. We can then spread a lot more uke joy playing out in the general public arena.

So come along, and tell your friends.

We meet every 3rd weds of each month at “The Hut” (the little hall in the kindergarten grounds) 101 Lister St Sunnybank.

For more info contact me on email –

You can also get map and more info on playing nights page

Have you ever suffered from UAS?

Have you ever suffered from UAS?

This is a powerful disease that is hard to recover from, I have suffered from it for a while now. Just in case you do not know of the UAS disease, the symptoms are sweaty palms when in close proximity to a ukulele shop. Staying up late in the night looking at ukulele online stores. Owning more than 3 ukulele’s. UAS stands for Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome and the only known cures for this disease are bankruptcy or death.

The 4 K’s – No it is not a new brand of breakfast cereal

The 4 K’s – No it is not a new brand of breakfast cereal

Some of the best and well known ukes come from hawaii, the most popular being the 4 K brands – Kamaka, Kanilea, Ko aloha, Ko’ olau


Kamaka ukes, with their distinctive double K logo on the headstock, were founded in 1916 by Samuel Kaialiilii Kamaka in Kaimuki, near Honolulu.

Kamaka are credited for inventing the pineapple shaped ukulele body, and are endorsed by some big ukulele names, including Jake Shimabukuro and George Harrison. They are also famed for their support of the disabled community, winning the Outstanding Employer for Persons with Disabilities award.

They manufacture 9 models of ukulele in a variety of sizes.

Kamaka ukuleles


Kanile’a ukes are a more modern brand, but made on Hawaii to similar exacting hand made standards by Joe and Kristen in Kaneohe.

Joe started playing uke at school and started training to be a master luthier in 1990, and in the last 20 years has built up an enviable reputation for quality instruments.

They offer a large range of models, with some special finishes and bracing systems.

Kanile’a ukuleles


Koaloha ukes are hand crafted in Honolulu by Alvin Okami, who actually started his career as a singer!

Alvin started his manufacturing business in 1981, and now make a large range of high quality ukes in a variety of styles including the unique Pineapple Sunday, considered by many to be one of the best ‘stand out’ ukes on the market.

Koaloha ukuleles


Ko’olau started in 1979 as Kitakis Stringed Instruments, based in Wahiawa, Hawaii. The business expanded, and changed its name to Ko’olau, named after the mountain range on the eastern edge of the volcano on the island of O’ahu.

The company started in the early years making a small number of hand made ukes and mandolins, but mainly focussed on repairs to instruments. In the 1990’s and the resurgence in ukulele popularity and the business expanded to the large range of expertly built, hand made ukes available to this day. Ko’olau are also responsible for the Pono (non hand made) line of mid level ukuleles

Ko’olau ukuleles