Jake Shimabukuro Ukulele MasterClass Review

Published by: Julia

Let Jake Shimabukuro teach you how to play the ukulele in just a few hours. Then take your playing to the next level. You will be amazed by just what you can achieve with his help.

When you enjoy his masterclass, you soon realise that there is nothing small about the sound you get from this beautiful instrument.

Who is Jake Shimabukuro?

If you are already a fan of the ukulele, you will, without a doubt, already know who Jake Shimabukuro is. This Japanese-American ukulele virtuoso plays in a truly unique way. He plays traditional ukulele music but has adapted the way he plays to incorporate many other styles of music. Including, jazz, bluegrass, flamenco, classical music and more.

Jake has demonstrated to the world just how versatile this small instrument really is. His compositions are legendary and he has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Buffett, and a long list of other artists.

Yet, he strongly believes anyone can play the ukulele and is determined to make sure as many people as possible, do exactly that. His masterclass is a triumph. It covers the basics as well as more advanced techniques and everything is delivered in a clear, concise and easy to follow way.

If you’ve a couple of fingers to spare and you know how to count, you will learn this instrument.

Jake Shimabukuro – Ukulele MasterClass

What type of Ukulele player is this course suitable for?

Like so many Masterclass courses this one is not aimed at one specific type of player. The idea is for it to appeal to and teach players at all levels something new. I think it succeeds at doing this, it will work for the following kinds of people:

  • Absolute beginner Ukelele players
  • Advanced players
  • Non-musicians who want to learn how to play something and do it super fast
  • Fans of the Ukulele and Jake Shimabukuro
  • Composers who want to learn an instrument that enables them to innovate and quickly try things out
  • Songwriters – the Uke is a great way to get your creative juices flowing

By the way, we recommend purchasing Masterclass for more than just one single course. The value comes when you take several. If you want to read our review of the whole platform, check out this Masterclass review article.

If you want to just find out what some of the best masterclasses are, this is the article for you.

What you will learn by taking Jake Shimabukuro Ukulele MasterClass

As usual, I took the entire class, went through the workbook and did some of the assignments. So, potentially, I could write a book about what you will learn from Jake. But, I know time is short for many of you, so I am not going to start by giving you a quick overview of what you will learn from the course.

  • Quickly learn the basics of playing the Ukuele
  • How to tune your instrument to achieve the best sound
  • Understand chord grouping
  • Learn how Jake created his ukulele renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody and Hallelujah
  • How to figure out your favorite tunes and play them on the ukulele
  • How to compose unique music and songs for the ukulele
  • Some advanced techniques

What I liked about this course

There was a lot to like. The Masterclass platform has only got better. It is clear that the famous teachers have all learned a lot about presentation and how to teach over the past few years. The original masterclasses were all good, but the new ones are better still.

Jake certainly has done that. He:

  • Is an excellent teacher
  • His passion for his instrument is infectious
  • He injects fun into his classes whenever possible
  • Has come up with a great way to take you from being an absolute beginner to being able to produce a tune
  • Has provided plenty of engaging and helpful assignments – these are great for practicing what you have just learned and cementing that knowledge
  • Provides playback sections with closeups of finger placement and strum technique, which is just as good as you would get if you were having face to face lessons

The few things I did not enjoy about Jake´s course

This is a fantastic course and I highly recommend it. But there are a few little tweaks I would have liked to have seen. These include:

  • diagrams for each of the chord sets
  • the videos being marked with chapters so they are easier to navigate and refer back to
  • more lessons that are aimed at the intermediate player

What I learned from taking Jake Shimabukuro´s masterclass

OK, so that was the overview. Now, let´s dig deeper and see what this wonderful music learning course has to offer you.

The Ukelele basics section – what I learned

Thankfully, Jake started with the basics. Literally, from point zero. So, if you have recently been given a Ukelele or are going to buy one, Jake has you covered.

This part of the course is broken down into the following sections:

The history of the ukulele

I found this section intersting. It is not an essential part of learning to play, but it is inspiring. I had not realised just how widely used and versatile this wonderful instrument is.

What is the right Ukelele for you?

I was stunned to learn that there are many, many different types of Uke. So, was thankful that Jake covered the subject of how to buy the right one. He did so in enough depth to make it easy to narrow down the options. In this section he explains :

  • What the different types of Uke are
  • What size Ukulele is right for you
  • How to buy a good quality Uke

An overview of the parts of the Ukulele

Understanding your instrument is an important part of learning to play it. So, use the diagram in the workbook to help you to do this. Being familiar with what each part is called will also make following Jake´s course far easier.

How to tune your ukelele

Surprisingly, most new Ukes are not properly tuned. This may be because they have been laying around a long time in the shop. Over time and with use all stringed instruments go out of tune. So this is an important subject. Fortunately, it is far easier than you think. Certainly the way Jake teaches it.

The right way to hold a ukelele

It had not crossed my mind that there were different types of strums. Jake quickly explains how to perform the 4 main ones. But mastering them takes a fair amount of practice.

How you hold your instrument has a big impact on how easy it is to play. It also affects how long you can play for in comfort and without running the risk of a repetative strain injury.

How to navigate the fretboard

It is easy to follow the video, but there is also a fret diagram in the workbook that shows you how to play a simple tune. Jake shares a useful analogy that he makes refrence to throughout the masterclass. This was particulalry helpful.

Learn the four most important strumming techniques

Astonishingly, after completing the fretboard lesson, using my grandson´s ukulele I was able to follow Jake´s instructions and crank out a recognisable rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I did have guitar lessons as a child, but was never very good and had never picked up a ukulele before. Getting fast results like that was extremely satisfying.

Even more so, when, later, he shows you some other strumming techniques and how to tweak the basic ones he has just shown you. Things get way more complicated and it will take practice to become second nature.

Proof you really do learn to play the Ukulele fast with Jake´s help

Unfortunately, for me, once I had completed the basic lessons my progress slowed greatly. But, I still very much enjoyed completing the rest of the course and am making progress.

Jake´s playalong sections make you want to have a go and have pushed me further than I thought possible without one on one tuition. The fact you can slow the video down helps a great deal.

Demystifying Ukelele chords

In this section, you start out by learning to play:

  • one-finger chords
  • two-finger chords
  • three-finger chords
  • stair chords

In the next video, he covers more advanced chord groupings including:

  • barre chords
  • the E-major chord
  • higher-level chord techniques

This section of the course is designed for someone who has already fully mastered the basics. Someone who regularly plays other stringed instruments will have no problem in quickly learning the chords.

Jakes’s instructions and demonstrations are extremely clear. His approach is logical, but not constrictive. It enables you to progress quickly.

The fact he teaches you chord shapes enables you to use them up and down the fretboard. Allowing you to create a huge range of sounds with what you have just learned. Nor does Jake clutter up your mind and slow you down by trying to make you to learn all of the chord names.

Advanced chords and creating your own melodies

I have to confess to getting a bit lost at this stage in the course. A friend of mine who plays the banjo has also taken the course and he told me not to worry too much becuase a lot of this section is quite advanced. I felt better, but do wonder how I am going to make the transition from the intermediate level of the last lesson to this level.

However, that is not to say that there are not things that beginners and intermediate level players can immediately use. The finger strengthening tips are just one example. It is also interesting to see how Jake uses rhythm and creates the melody.

How to find and play with your own voice

This dovetails nicely into finding your own sound. Jake´s aim is to teach you to do far more than just ape other players. He wants you to be able to create your own music, to use the Ukelele to express yourself. To be able to play the tracks you love yourself, regardless of the style of music you like,.

In this section, he introduces, ways to explore and change the sound of your Ukelele using different strings, tuning and items like pedals.

Tremolo and Vibrato – how to master them

Learning to use tremelo and vibrato enables you to add richness to your sound and extend your range even further. They are great for ramping up the emotion.

Jake, like most players, creates vibrato by wobbling a finger in place. But he also uses two other techniques that guitar players typically use to produce an even larger range of sound. He explains how he does this, in detail in the video. The way he produces tremelo is very similar to how classical guitarists do.

Learning by breaking down and reconstructing other songs

One of the things that has enabled Jake to take the music industry by storm is his ability to play so many different styles of music on his ukelele. In this section, he begins to teach you how to do the same. It is the most fasinating section of the course. I have watched it several times. He breaks down:

  • Hallelujuh
  • Bohemian Rhapsody

It is a delight to watch, but quite hard for someone who is not already an experienced musician to follow fully. I am looking forward to the day when I can do exactly that.

How to avoid repetitive strain injuries while playing the ukelele

This is just one example of Jake´s tremendous attention to detail, by explaining how regular players can play complex pieces without putting themselves at risk of repetitive strain injuries. He covers:

  • the right grip
  • achieving and maintaining good posture
  • how to use a balance ball to learn the correct positioning
  • when and how to use a strap

Jake Shimabukuro´s masterclass PDF workbook

This workbook was exceptional. It is very clearly written and follows the course videos in order. Most of the main points are included in the workbook, along with details and instructions for each assignment.

Even better, the videos are properly referenced in the workbook. This makes it a little easier to find things when you want to go back over something. It frustrates me that Masterclass does not provide videos with chapter markings. The ability to do this has been around for quite some time. Yet, they still have not adopted it.

Jake Shimabukuro Masterclass FAQs

Can I get the Jake Shimabukuro MasterClass for free?

It is not possible to get a working copy of Jake Shimabukuro MasterClass for free. To get access to all of the features, you need to buy a Masterclass all-access pass.

Included in the price is access to another 80+ courses created by world-famous experts. Including over 20 other music-related courses Masterclass has committed to adding more each month.

Can I get a refund if I don’t like the Jake Shimabukuro MasterClass?

Yes, provided you contact Masterclass within 30 days of your purchase, and you bought from their website, you can get a refund.

How long is the Jake Shimabukuro MasterClass?

It is 2 hours and 50 minutes long. There are 20 videos to watch.

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