Note: Today I introduce you to our guest Neil from Sublimelody who brings us a simple and clear visual guide to understanding the relationship between the notes of the music staff, ukulele fretboard and piano keys.
Is it easier for a ukulele player to learn piano notes or a pianist to learn ukulele notes?
And how are the notes of the ukulele fretboard related to the notes of the piano?
In this lesson, you discover:
- The relationship between musical notes and the notes of the ukulele fretboard
- The relationship between musical notes and the notes of the piano
- The relationship between the notes of the ukulele fretboard and the notes of the piano
Let’s dive in.
1. Musical Notes and the Notes of the Ukulele Fretboard
The chart below shows you the connections between the musical notes and their corresponding strings and frets on a soprano ukulele.
Let’s assume we’re in standard tuning:
- 1st string is A
- 2nd string is E
- 3rd string is C
- 4th string is G
We use the treble clef in ukulele sheet music known as the music staff. Each note on the music staff usually has two or more corresponding string/frets on the ukulele fretboard.
Let’s look at three examples of how to use the diagram above to identify a music note and its corresponding string/fret:
1. Where is this note (C4) on the fretboard?
According to the diagram above, there is only one position: the open 3rd string – the C-string.
2. Where is this note (G4) on the fretboard?
This time we can find the note G4 in three different places on the ukulele fretboard:
- Open 4th string – the top g-string
- 3rd fret of the 2nd string
- 7th fret of the 3rd string
3. Where is this note (C5) on the fretboard?
Look at the diagram above and you’ll see there are four places on the ukulele fretboard!
- 3rd fret of the 1st string
- 8th fret of the 2nd string
- 12th fret of the 3rd string
- 5th fret of the 4th string
From a piano learner’s point of view, this may seem complex because to play C5 alone we have four positions to choose from.
It may be helpful to think of each string as a mini keyboard. This means there four keyboards on the ukulele!
Now, let’s see how musical notes and piano keys are connected.
2. Musical Notes and the Notes of the Piano Keyboard
The diagram above shows you the musical notes on both the bass and treble clefs of the music staff as well as their corresponding keys on the piano keyboard.
You’re overwhelmed by so many notes, aren’t you?
Don’t worry, let’s take a closer look.
As opposed to the ukulele, each note on the sheet music has one corresponding key. If I want to play the C5 note, I just find the only one C5 key and press it.
From a ukulele player’s point of view, the piano keyboard is just like one string. Each key is similar to a ukulele fret.
However, this “string” is much longer and has a wider pitch range than a ukulele.
While I don’t encourage you to memorize all the notes and positions of the diagram above, you can see that with a little effort it would be possible for a ukulele player to learn piano notes.
If you want to learn more about how to read piano notes and keys, click here to visit the original guide with many illustrations and the interesting “metal flip strategy” to help learn how to read music.
Now, let’s move to the final section.
3. Connecting the Notes of the Ukulele Fretboard and Notes of the Piano Keyboard
Combining the two diagrams above we have the following chart:
I will leave this chart here alone for your exploration.
I’m sure that you now know how musical notes, ukulele frets, and piano keys are connected.
If you have any question about this guide, just leave me a comment below.
A5 is missing from the fretboard diagram. Is it string 1, fret 12?
You got it. A5 is at the 12th fret of the bottom A-string.
Why are some designations “4” and some “5” ?
Where is A5 on the fret diagram?
Thankyou Brett, you have the best lessons! I used to have an electric organ that I learned to play, just to amuse myself. I could read simple music and play mostly one finger chords. This was a very interesting lesson.
Hi, thank you for this it’s amazing but how can I play a B3 note on the ukulele and also how can I play g sharp
In standard tuning, there’s no possible way to play a B3 note. However, in low G tuning, with a low G-string, you would play a B3 note on the 4th fret of the top low G-string.
How the black ones are connected?
Thank you very helpful
This is Exactly the information I was looking for! Thanks
Hi! The numbers refer to the Octave starting from the lowest octave on an 88 key piano. So the lowest possible C is C1, and octave up from that is C2 and so on. Middle C is C4. Hope this helps!