I’ve veered back over to CS Ukulele Academy now that I’ve got a solid start on barre chords, and I think I need a day or two away from ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’. Sometimes, plugging away at the same thing makes it worse, not better.

So, ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton is the next song on the list. I’m a bit indifferent to this one. It’s a good song, but one I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to learn if it wasn’t on the lesson list.  It is on the lesson list, though, and it’ll give me some good practice on bends in the context of an actual song, so it seems worthwhile to pursue it, at least for the moment.

So, today I decided to just focus on the lead line and nail that in my head before moving forward.

It’s not too bad. The bends definitely need some work, and it’s not very smooth yet, but it’s a pretty good start.

I had some pretty mixed feelings about some of the lessons in volume 1 and volume 2, but volume 3 only has a few non-song lessons in it, and they’re all fairly solid. I watched on on moveable barre chords (and having just worked through that on my own, there was really nothing out of the ordinary there), and another on “dead notes”, which apparently just means muting. I won’t pretend I’m particularly good at that on ukulele, yet, but it’s not a foreign concept. When I have a song that uses it to apply it to, I’ll get in some solid practice.

There is no stand-alone lesson for bends, but the Wonderful Tonight Lesson does go over them in brief. What I like about this lesson is the simple way that it’s explained: ‘you bend a note to sound like the next whole note, or maybe the whole note after that’.  While this is, in theory, fairly obvious, it’s only obvious if you already know it. The reality is that this wording is really useful because if you have a ‘goal’ of sorts, you have something to reference. Maybe I’m bending at the 5th fret and I want to go up a whole note. Well, then I’m trying to bend the note at the 5th fret to sound like the 7th fret of the same string. That means I have a handy reference note on the 7th fret to compare against as I practice. Does A sound similar to B? Well, if you don’t know what your aim is with a bend, you’ll never really know. But, if you know where you’re going, you’ve also got a better idea whether or not you’re getting there.

I’ve actually realized that bends are a little harder on ukulele than guitar. That’s a little counter-intuitive, but Most of my ukes have action a bit higher than my guitars. What that means is that if I’m not careful, my fingernail slides under the string above and accidentally plucks it. That’s something that just doesn’t happen on my guitars because the action is quite low even on my acoustic. The nylon strings on the ukulele, of course, offers less resistance, so it doesn’t require much strength to effect a decent bend, but it does require more finesse (comparing my guitars to my ukuleles. This could be very different if I was comparing different equipment.).

The release I find is more problematic than the bend itself. The second, distinct note, as you bring the bend back into position, if I don’t get it just right, I’ll run out of sustain before I get to where I need to go.  This is also not much of a problem on a guitar, which, compared to an ukulele, has more sustain to work with.

Still, if my only real worry at this point is about fine-tuning and finesse, I don’t really think I’m going to have too much to worry about with this one.

Until Next Time, adding to my ukulele repertoire little by little.

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