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Ukulele Tab: Learn To Play Jingle Bells

Aug 17, 2007
Many ukulele players use their ukulele for chord playing but you can actually play melodies on this nice little instrument. Let's learn to play Jingle Bells on your uke!

Jingle Bells is one of the most popular secular Christmas songs in the world. The most played part of the song is the refrain which we will concentrate on in this ukulele tab lesson.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way!
O what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

I use my own special form of ukulele tab for articles like this to be sure that the tabs are readable on article sites. On my own site you'll also find the more common ukulele tab staff notation.

The string with the highest pitch is called the first string and is usually an A. The first string is the string nearest your feet when you hold you uke in a playing position.

The first notes you will play are on the first string. As I mentioned before I will use a special form of ukulele tab with numbers.

The first number indicates the fret. The second number after the slash indicates which string to play. Here is the first line of lyrics and the corresponding ukulele tab:

Jingle bells, jingle bells,

0/1 0/1 0/1 0/1 0/1 0/1

0/1 means that you play the first string with your right hand thumb without pressing down any left hand finger. It is called to play on an open string.

The ukulele tab above means that you play six notes on the open first string. This type of ukulele tab doesn't indicate the length of the notes. I guess you hear that the third and sixth note ought to be a little longer than the rest.

Let's play some more of Jingle Bells:

Jingle all the way!

0/1 3/1 1/2 3/2 0/1

3/1 means that you press down a left hand finger on the third fret of the first string. I haven't told you anything about which left hand finger to press down on the frets on your ukulele.

You can of course use your first finger for all the notes. A more professional approach is to play the notes on the first fret with your first finger and the notes on your third fret with your ring finger.

You might find this difficult at first but as your ring finger get used to it it will actually be easier to find the right notes. You don't even have to look at your fingers to find the right fret if you get accustomed to this way of playing.

Let's explain some of the numbers: 3/1 means that you press down the third fret on the first string and play the note. 1/2 means that you play the first fret on the second string.

Let's play the next line:

O what fun it is to ride

1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1 0/1 0/1

I don't need to explain the ukulele tab above as you by now know what it's all about.

The last line comes here:

In a one-horse open sleigh.

0/1 0/1 0/1 3/2 3/2 0/1 3/2 3/1

The refrain in sung twice so it's time to play the melody from the beginning again but the second time you'll play the last line a little bit different:

In a one-horse open sleigh.

0/1 0/1 3/1 3/1 1/0 3/2 1/2

Now you can play a Christmas melody on your ukulele. The ukulele tab notation I have used is good for finding the notes but I recommend you to learn the melody by heart so you can play it anywhere without the need to read on a piece of paper you will not find anyway!

Good luck with your ukulele playing and Merry Christmas! (Sooner or later it's here!)
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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