“Misirlou” – Dick Dale

Below is the lesson for “Misirlou” by Dick Dale.

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Learn an iconic surf rock guitar riff on ukulele! But wait, there’s more! This song is arranged as a ukulele duet with a full band backing track (Drums & U-Bass); which makes this lesson infinitely more fun to play!

So what makes this riff sound so unique? Well, it’s written using the Gypsy Major scale. This scale creates an exotic, Eastern sound.

In a nutshell, this scale can be thought of as the Major scale with two altered notes (b2 and b6); resulting in the formula of: 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 7. For this song, we will be playing out of the A Gypsy Major scale:


If you’d like to learn more on how scales are formed and altered, check out our in-depth course on An Introduction to Music Theory & Jamming.

So let’s jump back and talk about how this is arranged for two ukuleles. Ukulele #1 will play the lead part (i.e. the riff). The riff uses a picking technique known as: tremolo picking. Tremolo picking allows you to play notes on one string at super sonic speeds! If this is a new technique for you, check out this lesson to learn how to do it.

And that leaves us with Ukulele #2, which plays the rhythm parts. The majority of the piece uses the Island Strum strumming pattern (taught in this lesson from our Music Reading Course), with the only variation being the addition of a “chuck” on beats 2 and 4.

Chucking, i.e. adding a backbeat, is taught in this lesson. Although, that lesson cover method number one. Method two is used for this song and is covered in this short video demonstration.

Part 1 – Performance & Free Lesson

Tab Play Along


Backing Track Play Along Sans Ukulele #1 (No Lead)

Backing Track Play Along Sans Ukulele #2 (No Rhythm)