Struggling to find all the notes on your baritone ukulele? Look no further, this article is for you!
A while back, I wrote a post called How To Find All the Notes on Your Ukulele that a lot of people found to be helpful. So helpful in the fact that we got requests to do a baritone edition. Well, you asked for it, so here it is!
How Many Notes Are On a Baritone Ukulele?
Baritone ukuleles have four strings and typically have somewhere between seventeen and twenty-one frets. I’m no mathematician, but I do have a smartphone next to me, so I can tell you that that equals between sixty-eight and eighty-four notes. Yikes, that is a lot to memorize! Don’t despair though, I’m about to teach you how to find each and every one of these notes, and you will only need to memorize one simple pattern!
And, as if that is not enough, I will give you some tips, tricks, and shortcuts to help you do it super fast! No pouring over diagrams or boring note charts for you.
Let’s get started!
Our understanding of notes on any instrument must begin with a thorough understanding of the Chromatic scale. While that may sound intimidating (and perhaps a little like something out of a steampunk novel) the Chromatic scale is really just a fancy way of saying “the musical alphabet”.
Read more: A guide to the Kala Brand Ukuleles
As many of you may already know, our musical alphabet only goes from A to G, but in addition to these 7 letter notes – A B C D E F and G – there are also 5 sharp/flat notes available as well. I say sharps slash flats because each of these notes, while identical in sound, have two different written names depending on the context (like what key a piece of music is in for example). For our purposes here though, we really only need to know which sharps and flats exist, and where they fit. They are as follows:
A# or Bb, C# or Db, D# or Eb, F# or Gb, and G# or Ab.
Did you notice that each sharp note is the same as the flat note one letter up? That’s because sharps and flats are really just half steps between two notes.
So when we include the sharps/flats, our Chromatic scale (all the notes available in the musical alphabet) looks like this:
A / A#/Bb / B / C / C#/Db / D / D#/Eb / E / F / F#/Gb / G / G#/Ab
The easiest way to visualize this on an instrument is to look at the keys of a piano, where all the white keys are plain letter notes and all the black keys are sharps/flats.
Note (pun intended) how the sharps and flats – the black keys – are quite literally half steps between the letter notes.
That is it. That’s all you have to memorize – twelve notes! Whenever you reach the end of the scale, you simply start over.
Understanding the Chromatic Scale on the Baritone Ukulele
When it comes to visual clarity, no instrument will ever be able to compete with the keys of a piano. So how are you supposed to know which notes on a ukulele are sharp or flat, and which ones are not, without those helpful black keys?
I’ll tell you how! By memorizing the chromatic scale of course. I did tell you you would have to memorize a pattern, didn’t I?
Each fret on the ukulele is one-half step (or semitone) away from the one before or after it, which is to say, one step on the chromatic scale. So now that you know all the notes and what order they are in, you can work your way to any other note you find by simply counting your way there.
And before you say something along the lines of, “but I don’t know any notes on my baritone yet, that’s why I’m reading this article you buffoon!” let me point out that, if you have tuned your ukulele, I’m guessing you know that the open strings are D, G, B, and E. Also, please do not call me names. I am just trying to help!
So, if you are trying to find an A note for example, all you have to do is figure out which of the open strings is closest to A (it’s G), and count from there. This should lead you to the second fret. Why? Because if the open string is G, and the first fret is one step up the chromatic scale (G# or Ab), then it stands to reason that the second fret is two steps up the chromatic scale – A!
Try some for yourself (answers at the end):
- What is the note on the fourth fret of the E string?
- How about the sixth fret on the B string?
- And the twelfth fret on the D string?
- Oh, go on then, the fifth fret on the G string?
Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts!
If you tried the quiz out for yourself, you may be a little overwhelmed with how long this process takes. While it will get faster the more you become familiar with the notes and their order – as well as once you start to remember some of the notes that aren’t open strings – here are the promised tips and tricks to help you find notes fast!
- You may have noticed that there isn’t a sharp/flat between every letter note. Focus on memorizing the two spots in the scale where it goes straight from letter note to letter note (between B and C and E and F).
- Print out a picture of a baritone ukulele fretboard with all the notes written out on it – like the one below – or better yet, make your own! Making your own chart will really help to burn it into your memory. I make one of my own for each of my ukuleles, baritone or otherwise, and keep it in their cases so I always have a chart available (and so I can change it depending on how many frets the uke in question has).
- If your uke has fret markers (usually white dots), memorize the notes on the first few – that way you can simply start from those instead of the open strings when trying to figure out higher notes.
- Remember that the 12th fret on any string is 12 steps – AKA an octave – from the open string, making it the same letter note (just higher in pitch). This means that a note on the 13th fret is the same as the note on the first fret of that string! Basically, once you get to the 12th fret, everything is the same as at the start of the neck.
- Alternatively, if for some weird reason you are really into a particular letter (like your name also starts with that letter or something), memorize all the places that that note appears so you can use them as a reference point.
- Understand how to find octaves across different strings. Did you know if you play a note on the D string, and then go up three frets from there and play a note on the B string it will be the same note one octave higher? The same is true for any note on the G string, played again three frets up on the E string. For example, the 2nd fret of the G string, as we discovered earlier, is an A – going up three frets from there, if we play the 5th fret of the E string, we get an A one octave higher.
So there you have it, that is how you find notes on the ukulele. I hope this lesson helped!
Quiz Answers (you better not be peeking at these!):
- G# or Ab (Open string E, 1st fret F, 2nd F# or Gb, 3rd G, 4th G# or Ab)
- F (Open string B, 1st C, 2nd C# or Db, 3rd D, 4th D# or Eb, 5th E, 6th f)
- D (remember, the chromatic scale is twelve notes long, then it starts over!)
- C (Open string G, 1st G# or Ab, 2nd A, 3rd A# or Bb, 4th B, 5th C)
For more lessons on chords, techniques, and songs, make sure to step on over to our site www.ukelikethepros.com. We offer you a bunch of great ukulele content that comes hand-in-hand with an awesome ukulele community that will support you in this journey.