The ukulele parts are very similar to those of a guitar or a bass guitar, so most people likely have some familiarity with them already. The ukulele parts and their role in producing its sounds are detailed below.
The Body: The body is what the neck attaches to. It provides the resonating chamber for the strings, in the case of hollow-body—what most people call acoustic—instruments. Solid-body ukes have pickups that provide the amplification.
The Neck: May or may not have frets and usually as 12-16 positions. The 3, 5, 7 and 10th frets are traditionally denoted by dots. Some ukuleles have these positions marked on the top of the neck, as well, which provides an easy reference while playing. Mahogany is a popular material for necks, as is rosewood.
The Headstock: This is where the tuning pegs are located. Many Hawaiian ukuleles have a three-point headstock design, though this is not universal. The headstock may have the tuning keys located to the side or behind. Either location is fine; it’s not much of a consideration among musicians.
The Bridge: The bridge is located on the body and provides the fastener for the strings. The strings are usually drawn through small holes in the bridge, though there are different designs, as well.
The Nut: At the beginning of the first fret, the strings pass over the top of the nut, which rests between that fret and the headstock. This is one of the most vital parts of the instrument where tone is concerned. Bone is oftentimes used for the nut on expensive instruments. Cheaper instruments usually use synthetic materials, though these can also be quite good and are sometimes used on very expensive instruments.
The Strings: A string, sometimes called a course, runs from the bridge to the tuning pegs, traversing the body, neck and nut. Your choice in strings will greatly determine your overall sound and your comfort level when playing.
Any maintenance to a ukulele beyond simple cleaning should be performed by a qualified luthier. Though these instruments are oftentimes described as being simple, they’re as complex as any guitar and their small size tends to make them a bit more fragile.
One of the most important parts of any ukulele is the case. If you spend money on an instrument, get a good case to ensure that it’s protected. The small size of a ukulele makes it perfect for travelling, and you should make sure that it’s adequately protected against damage so that you can enjoy this very fun part of playing a uke!
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