Learn to play "Turn Your Lights Down Low" by Bob Marley on Ukulele
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A brand new month brings a brand new Uke Lesson - this time, it's "Turn Your Lights Down Low" by Bob Marley. This one is a cover of the song that Aldrine arranged in the Key of F, based on 3 different versions of the song (Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, and Pure Heart)
Overall, it's a pretty simple song with easy chords, perfect for beginners to practice with. The strumming and rhythm adds a little complexity for intermediate players. And finally, the riffs and picking give advanced players something to chew on and practice for a bit. Fun stuff for everyone! Feel free to jump right in by playing along with the Play-Along video above, and if you need help learning this tune, begin with any of the steps below:
STEP 1 - Chords
To start off, you'll need to learn 6 basic chords:
The hardest chord in the bunch is Bb. This is mainly because for this chord, you'll need to position your thumb on the back side of the neck for support. Be sure to practice switching from Dm to Bb (and also C7 to Bb) to get the transition, especially the repositioning of your thumb, down smooth. See Aldrine's chord explanation video above for more tips on how to do this.
The only other chord you may want to use is a C chord inversion:
The C chord inversion here is basically just holding the Bb chord two frets up the neck. Practice moving from the Bb chord to this C chord. This movement happens in the intro of the song, as well as at the end of each verse.
Once you have all the chords down, you should be able to pretty much play the entire song! Head up to the top of the page and play along with the "Turn Your Lights Down Low" Ukulele Play-Along to practice. If you'd like to add some rhythm to your chords, move on to Step 2:
STEP 2 - Rhythm / Strumming
Next, add a little bit of rhythm to your chords. The trickiest part here is that not all of the chords are switched on "down" beats. The first 3 chords for the Verses are: F, Am, Dm. Start off by counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, using down strums for each number. Next add up strums in between each down strum. You would play the F chord on 1, the Am chord on 3, and the Dm chord on the "up" strum of 4, then hold the Dm for the next 1, 2, 3, 4 count.
You can make this a little easier by doubling up your strums. Play down on each number and instead of adding an up in between, add an extra down strum. That way you can technically play the Dm on a down strum (but on an "up" beat).
This will all take a little practice to master, if you've never changed chords on an up beat before. But once you get used to the timing, it's pretty easy. Continue adding more complexity by adding rolls and chunks to your strum, if you feel comfortable. Be sure to check out Aldrine's strumming explanation video above for more instruction and pointers. Then, when you're ready play along with the "Turn Your Lights Down Low" Ukulele Play-Along at the top of the page, to practice your strumming. Great job! For the final touches, move on to learning some of the riffs for this song in Step 3:
STEP 3 - Riffs
There are 3 main riffs that Aldrine uses for this song. The first two riffs borrow from both the Lauryn Hill and Pure Heart versions, and are played throughout the song. The other occurs only in the intro, a simple picking part from the Pure Heart version of this song that takes advantage of the 8th and 10th frets on the E and A strings. The trickiest part for this will be bending the strings. A little tip for bending the string would be to use two (or more) of your fretting fingers to push the string in the bent direction. This will take a little coordination and getting used to. Try it out and see what works for you.
Check out the video above for Aldrine's explanation of both and use the "Turn Your Lights Down Low" Ukulele TAB Sheet (Page 1) for even more guidance. Once you get the hang of these riffs, use the "Turn Your Lights Down Low" Ukulele Play-Along at the top of the page to practice them.
There's one more final boss to conquer, if you're up for it: the "Canon in D"-inspired picking towards the end of the song. Check out Step 4 to learn it:
STEP 4 - Picking
Finally, use the picking practice video above to learn and practice the picking for this song. Aldrine created this picking partially based off of Jake Shimabukuro's picking in the Pure Heart version, but stuck a little closer to the original "Canon in D" inspiration. Try it out, and if you need an even slower version, click on the little gear icon in the bottom right hand corner of the video player to select a different playback speed. Also be sure to check out the "Turn Your Lights Down Low" Ukulele TAB Sheet (Page 2) for more the exact notes. And when you're ready, try it out using the "Turn Your Lights Down Low" Ukulele Play-Along at the top of the page to play along with the entire song at full tempo.
Nice job! Feel free to progress as far along this path as you are comfortable - part of the fun is running into challenging techniques or riffs that help to expand you as a player. Remember, you don't have to be able to play every piece of the puzzle to have fun playing the song. Enjoy this one and be sure to check out all of our other Bob Marley Ukulele Tutorials for more reggae fun. As always, if you have questions about playing this or any song on your ukulele, just send a message, we're always here for you! Keep strummin' UUers