Using String Sets to Jump Octaves

Because the G and C strings and the E and A strings on an ukulele are tuned in perfect 4ths (4 scale notes in between – G A B C, E F# G# A), anything played on one set can be played using the same shape on the other. The idea works on with a high-G, but for a more consistent sound, a low-G string might be in order. From the root of your first shape, to find the corresponding shape on the second pair of strings, move up 3 frets and skip a string down (or vice-versa). Arpeggios are a good way to illustrate this concept (arpeggios are the notes of a chord play one at a time instead of all together).

Here’s a Cm arpeggio played on the top set of strings (notes: C Eb G):

A |-------
E |-------
C |---3-7-
G |-5-----

Now move the same shape to the bottom set of strings and up 3 frets. (Another way to do this is just to find the starting note 2 strings away.) You end up with the same sound, just up an octave:

A |----6-10
E |--8-----
C |--------
G |--------

Okay, here’s a D arpeggio starting on the higher set (E and A) and going backwards (notes: A F# D):

A |--12-9----
E |-------10-
C |----------
G |----------

…And down on the lower set (G and C):

A |-------
E |-------
C |-9-6---
G |-----7-

One more. A Gmaj7 arpeggio starting low and going high (notes: G B D F#):

A |---------|-----5-9-
E |---------|-3-7-----
C |-----2-6-|---------
G |-0-4-----|---------

This works for anything played on ether of the two sets.

Because of the major 3rd between the C and E string (different than the perfect 4th between the other two sets) once you try and play something using those two adjacent strings and move it, the position of the notes change a bit.

So to wrap it up and hopefully complete the picture, here is an excerpt from the chorus of “Cliffs of Dover” by Eric Johnson played in 3 different places:


A |-----------------------------------------------------------------
E |-----------------------------------------------------------------
C |-12---9-12\11---7-11\9---6-9---6-7-9/11---7-11\9---6-9-7-6-------
G |----9---------7--------7-----7----------7--------7---------9-7-4-

Up an octave:

A |-15----12-15\14----10-14\12----9-12----
E |----12----------10----------10------10-
C |---------------------------------------
G |---------------------------------------

A |-9-10-12/14----10-14\12-----9-12-
E |------------10----------10-------
C |---------------------------------
G |---------------------------------

A |-10-9----------
E |------12-10----
C |------------11-
G |---------------

…And on the two middle strings. As you can see, playing here requires more stretching.

A |-----------------------------------------------------------
E |-8---5-8\7---3-7\5---2-5---2-3-5/7---3-7\5---2-5-3-2-------
C |---4-------2-------2-----2---------2-------2---------4-2---
G |---------------------------------------------------------4-