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Ukulele Tab: Learn To Play Tom Dooley On Your Ukulele

Aug 17, 2007
Maybe you play mostly chords on you ukulele? Do you know that you can play melodies with the help of ukulele tab? Let's play Tom Dooley!

Here you have the lyrics to the first verse:

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy you're bound to die

You don't have to know sheet music notation to play. Instead we will use a form of tablature.

Tablature is a special form of musical notation that will show you how to place your fingers in order to play a melody on your ukulele. This notation is also called ukulele tab.

On your ukulele you have four strings. The one with the highest pitch is called the first string and is usually tuned to an A.

When you play on your ukulele you will have the first strings nearest your feet.

Before you start to play Tom Dooley let's take a look at the ukulele tab notation. What does the following tab mean?

01

In this type of ukulele tab this means that you play the first open string. An open string is a string you play without pressing down a left hand finger. One more example:

32

The numbers indicate that you shall press down the third fret on the second string.

Now it's time to play the first part of Tom Dooley. Here is the lyrics and corresponding ukulele tab:

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley

03 03 03 23 12 01 01

Remember, the first digit tells you which fret to press down and the second which string. Here comes the next ukulele tab:

Hang down your head and cry

03 03 03 23 12 32

This type of ukulele tab doesn't tell you the length of the notes but you will probably find that out by yourself as you already know the melody.

Let's move on!

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley

03 03 03 23 12 32 32

You can use your right hand thumb to play the notes. What about your left hand?

Of course you can play all notes with your left hand index finger. However in the long run you will probably find it easier to play melodies with more of your left hand fingers.

I suggest that you use your left hand index finger to press down the notes on the first fret, your middle finger for the second fret and your ring finger for the notes on the third fret.

Let's continue with the last ukulele tab:

Poor boy you're bound to die

32 32 01 12 23 12

This ukulele tab will also work on a guitar as the first three strings are tuned in the same way on a guitar.

Try to memorize the melody by practicing the ukulele tab one line at a time!

Well, now you can play Tom Dooley on your ukulele so now it's time to play for your friends!

If you have a friend who owns another ukulele and can play chords you can play the melody together with the following two chords:

F major: 24 03 12 01

C7: 04 03 02 11

Start with F until you come to the word cry. When you sing cry change to the chord C7 and play it until you come to the word die where you change back to F again.

It is always nicer to play with friends, isn't it!
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit his site Capotasto Music and download your free sheet music and ukulele tab at http://www.capotastomusic.com
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