Registers categorizes the timbre of the ukulele. As with other stringed instruments, three registers are distinguished that are produced (in the case of an acoustic instrument) according to the position of the strumming hand:

sul tasto

Above the fretboard: mellow, dark, loud; few overtones



Above the sound hole: „normal“


sul ponticello

Near the bridge: „metallic“,1) hard, bright; many overtones


By making use of registration (i.e., by using different tone colors), the performance of a musical piece can be varied considerably, e.g., when repeating parts of the piece.

Registration can be very effective and good at the right places and even should be used there, but is often used at problematic parts just „to make a difference“. Typical example: You are afraid that a repetition sounds boring, and therefore play it metallico. However, all too often the result is that the repetition sounds as boring as the first execution, plus it sounds clanking.2)

Corey Fujimoto: Canon in D (Pachelbel)

Figure Eight

Roy Smeck in 1928 introduced an „exhibition stroke“ called Figure Eight, which uses all three registers in turn, while the strumming hand moves as if writing the figure eight:
  • downstroke at the third fret (sul tasto),
  • upstroke near the sound hole (naturale),
  • downstroke near the bridge (sul ponticello),
  • upstroke near the sound hole (naturale)



Tuning sul ponticello

When tuning an instrument, it is recommended to choose a bright register (i.e., sul ponticello) in order to make all overtones sound.

For a ukulele that does not have metal strings, this does not make much sense as a description.
Utz Grimminger: Aspekte der Orchesterarbeit (2007), p. 7