Ukulele Fretted Arrangements by Ron

The Sheik Of Araby

Here’s a great exercise in hot jazz chords for the ukulele. There’s quite a bit of chord melody there also.The chord chart is not in order of appearance and the assumption is that the student will know the chords not illustrated.


After You’ve Gone

Jazz hit from the 1920’s with a sound file by Marion Harris, a truly great singer. This has been covered many times over the years, including a country western version.


Owl’s Lullaby

Traditional Hawaiian song as played and sung by the great Clyde Kindy Sproat . Here’s a ukulele arrangement that includes some of the sung melody in the chords, i.e., one form of “chord melody”. You can master the strum and sing this with just the 3 basic chords (in bold-underlined) first.


For No Good Reason At All

A song written for (and by?) Cliff Edwards, and a very clever one from the 1920’s. Transcribed from the original 78.


Sadie Green

A hot hokum jug band tune from the roaring 20’s. This is a good song for working on sliding chords;up or down a half step, or aka, chromatically.Recorded by the Five Harmaniacs!


Vo Do Dee Oh

A popular tune from the 1920’s that has been recorded as a foxtrot, novelty song, and jug band song. A classic on the ukulele.There are two examples of “circle of fifths” in this song.


Button Up Your Overcoat

Recording by Helen Kane, the original “Betty Boop”. You can find the original sheet music over in Free Fret Files.


My Own Iona

Here’s a novelty Hawaiian song, that’s a good one for working on chords that slide chromatically from a half step above or below. Sort of lends the uke a lap steel guitar feel. Original sheet music can be found in the Free Frets File. Recorded a number of times by Old Time Southern String Bands.


32 20 Blues

Here’s a blues that fits nicely on the uke: 32 20 by Robert Johnson. The partials on the guitar are full chords on the uke, so it can be strummed– or picked.This blues is a model for others sung by Robert Johnson, such as Kindhearted Woman Blues. Listening to the sound file is important to learn the timing on this, as is true of any blues.


I’m A Bear In A Ladies Boudoir

Here is a fun novelty song about football versus being a ladies’ man from the 1920’s by Cliff Edwards, AKA, Ukulele Ike. This will improve knowledge of chord changes in the key of A, and improve your basic strum, as the song is rather speedy.


Basic Ukulele Workshop

A collection of strums, chords, and three songs, (with sound files), to get you started on the ukulele.The materials of this presentation have been refined over years of teaching at festivals, classes, and private students. The strums are a distillation of my collection of ukulele method books from the 20’s and 30’s. The order of songs to apply the techniques are: first; “You Are My Sunshine”, second; “On a Coconut Island”, and third; “Button Up Your Overcoat”. To really learn this best, it would be a good idea to attend one of my classes, workshops, or arrange a lesson or two. Good luck, and hope to hear from you soon!


Dallas Rag

Written by the Dallas String Band long ago, and recorded with two,( and maybe more!), mandolin banjos. This is my arrangement for fingerpicking the basic two parts on the ukulele.You will have to review how my RGTab works to learn this tune; its fairly advanced.


Has My gal Been By Here

Recorded by a great blues-jazzy slide guitarist, Casey Bill Weldon, in the 1930’s. The ukulele idea here is to get a bit of that slide effect using partial chords; sliding them chromatically from below, and above the “home” chord. On a guitar this works well with a slide, but on ukulele with 4 strings and a short distance to go, the partials provide a similar sounding style.



This is an early music Iberian dance in a rondo form. After reading about the ukulele’s origins in the Madeira Islands; where it was called the Machete, I wanted to arrange a period “folk” dance to hear how it would sound on our modern four strings.This was composed by Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz ca. mid 1600’s. The high fourth string works well as a drone in my arrangement in C.


Honolulu Cakewalk

A cakewalk from late 19th century that given it’s name, really needs a ukulele version…. so here it is! The piece follows the classic ragtime form of 3 parts in 2 keys. A and B parts are, in this arrangement, the key of C, and the 3rd part , usually called a trio, is in F. There are some partial chords up the neck and some patterned…and un-patterned finger picking. Two sound files included, and it will make greater musical sense as one learns this to have the music somewhat internalized. As far as I know, no other uke version of this exists.


Rita Polka

Here is a tune that was collected in the 1840’s , as played on the Machete, the Portuguese precursor to the ukulele. I’ve rearranged it a bit so it will “fit” on a uke with a high “G”.The Machete was apparently tuned “low” G with an open tuning.I’ve included the original music for reference. There is a lot of plucking of chords, followed by note runs or arpeggios in this, unlike most fingerpicking tunes you would find on the uke.


Ain’t Misbehavin’

A jazz classic composed by Fats Waller. Good for chord voicing practice on four strings. Included is the original Fats Waller recording at a fast tempo as well as a slower guitar version for your reference.