How to Slide Notes on Your Ukulele
A slide is a way of transitioning between notes by shifting a finger along the ukulele string. Slides can transition between two fretted notes in either direction along the string. A big advantage of slides is that they allow you to move up and down the fretboard seamlessly.
You can use a whole range of slide techniques, as described here and demonstrated in the video about sliding notes.
Sliding up on your ukulele
The tab for a slide up is a slanted line between the notes pointing up:
To play an upward slide:
Fret the first note as usual and pluck it.
The first note is the fifth fret of the C-string in this example.
Most people find that they have most control over the middle finger of their fretting hand, so start by using that.
Keep the pressure on the string constant and slide your middle finger up the string to the next fretting position.
Let the movement come from your elbow (as if you’re moving up or down the fretboard without the slide) and keep the shape of your hand fixed.
Keep the string ringing at the target fret (the final note you want to play), in this case the seventh.
Keep your slides swift and smooth. The sound needs to be continuous — you shouldn’t be able to hear the individual notes as you are sliding. If you can hear the individual notes, the result is a particular type of slide called a glissando.
Sliding down on your ukulele
As well as sliding up to a new note, you can also slide down. The tab for a slide down is a slanted line between the notes pointing down, in this case sliding from the seventh fret to the fifth:
Sliding in on your ukulele
You can use slides as a way to move into a note, adding an effective flourish. The big difference is that this slide has an indeterminate starting position; it seems to slide in from nowhere:
Start with your finger two frets below the target note.
This starting place is only a suggestion, but it’s a good place to start when you’re perfecting the technique. When you’re confident with it, try shorter or longer slides in.
Begin sliding up to the note.
Pick the note a split second after you start sliding.
Stop at the target note and let the string ring.
Only pick the note after you’ve started sliding, because that’s what gives the impression of the note sliding in from nowhere.
You can also slide downward into a note by starting two frets higher than the target note.
Sliding out on your ukulele
If you can slide into a note, you can also slide out of a note as well:
Fret and play the note as usual.
Slide the note downwards and slowly release the pressure as you’re sliding.
Stop fretting the string so that you can no longer hear the note (you can vary the distance, but between two and four frets is normal).
You can also slide out and up: just change the direction.
Slowly release the pressure of your fretting as you slide out of the note. That should make the sound gently fade out so that you don’t hear the end of the slide.
As with any soloing technique, sliding into and out of a note is most effective when used sparingly. Sliding into a note is a great way to start a phrase and sliding out gives a phrase a great ending.