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katysax
01-31-2015, 04:05 PM
http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/01/though-it-be-little-the-rise-of-the-ukulele/384453/

Check out this article in the Atlantic. Does the wider press recognizing the growth of the ukulele now mean the uke boom really is dead?

I think interest in the uke is still alive and attracting new players. However, perhaps the frenzy has worn off on uke sales. But there are more festivals and gatherings and meet ups than ever.

janeray1940
01-31-2015, 04:11 PM
My friend teaches beginning ukulele classes. For a while, at the beginning of the boom, interest was high, classes were full. This past year it dropped significantly and it seemed like the boom was over - but then a new beginning class just started up and it's full! Could be a fluke (bad pun intended); could be an indicator that the boom is still... booming. Hard to say.

I was kind of surprised to see that article, seems the Atlantic is a bit late to the party :)

peterbright
01-31-2015, 04:35 PM
They try...they really do.

Diamond Dave
01-31-2015, 04:53 PM
Does every article about ukuleles mention Tiny Tim? Is it mandatory? I'm new to this...:)

For me, the ukulele is simply a chance to play music in a group setting. I didn't buy one because of any boom; I didn't know there was a boom or a bust or anything else. I'd love to find four or five forty-something guys to play classic rock once a week, but that hasn't fallen in my lap. However, there is a weekly uke jam right down the road that is pretty fun. So one seizes the opportunities life presents instead of wishing for what may never be. :)

janeray1940
01-31-2015, 05:06 PM
Does every article about ukuleles mention Tiny Tim? Is it mandatory? I'm new to this...:)

YES. I think there's a law or something. And Jake, usually. And Arthur Godfrey tends to often make an appearance.

VegasGeorge
01-31-2015, 05:22 PM
“If a kid has a uke in his hand, he’s not going to get in much trouble,” Arthur Godfrey had said, apparently unaware that he'd put his finger on the uke’s fatal weakness."

An interesting insight. I don't know why this comment caused me to immediately think of the British Mods (riding motor scooters) versus Rockers (on motorcycles) tumult of the early 1960's. I guess I associate the sweet affability of the Ukulele with the pleasantly civilized and unthreatening character of the Italian motor scooter. But it also conjures up ridiculous visions of roaming gangs of young toughs wielding Ukuleles, and tattered, alcohol befuddled street buskers playing Uke in looser bars and homeless shelters. Isn't it interesting how certain musical instruments carry with them various social implications that have nothing to do with music itself?

Of course, the writer was suggesting that the goody-goody image of the Ukulele was a turn off for the young crowd of the day, who were looking for a more exciting and dangerous instrument to play. If that's so, then what does that say about how society has changed to allow the recent resurgence of interest in the Ukulele among our youth? An interesting, and potentially disturbing question.

Phluffy the Destroyer
01-31-2015, 05:38 PM
The best thing the Mods had going for them was Sting and the Who. Ukulele has The Rock and the Beatles. The Mods wish they were this cool!

Seriously though...

I've lived to see a lot of the things that made me an outsider when I was younger become popular. Fads come and go. I'm sure there have been thousands of people who decided to play the ukulele in the last few years because it was the "in" thing to be playing. Experience has taught me that those people will go away when the next "in" thing comes along. No one will miss them when they move on.

The people who play ukulele simply because they love to play ukulele will still be around.

Steveperrywriter
01-31-2015, 10:06 PM
Uh, Bill, the Tiny Tim character was established six years before he appeared on Laugh In, and was created by Khaury, not Rowan and Martin. What you saw what who he was, and by most accounts, no kind of put-on.

Because he became about as uncool as it was possible to be once the joke wore thin, a lot of folks believe that Tim helped the Godfrey-generated Second Wave of uke popularity ebb a lot quicker that it might have otherwise.

Ever hear the term "soap opera?" Came from radio. And most radio and television programs have always been written so as to sell products. Look at what Super Bowl ads run ...

WhenDogsSing
01-31-2015, 11:42 PM
However quirky he was at the time, Tiny Tim was an extremely talented musician.

CeeJay
02-01-2015, 12:59 AM
Now ...after thought ,inserted pre ramble.. The following may perhaps only apply in the UK : ;)

The electric guitar had a heyday in the 70s with rock,n,roll,rock,prog rock,metal,heavy metal...it was surpassed and supplanted by the slightly more effete bands (my opinion only) of the 80's who made much more use of the keytar ,synthesisers,electronic keyboards ...( the geetar bands still existed ,they just could not as much play on air )

I don't really know what happened in the 90's as I lost interest in listening to the pap pumped out by commercial record labels of any stripe and I am still waiting for a resurgence of young talent in the 2000s(However that may be down to a Crusty old Fartliness that I nurture with a passion)......you can only take so much androgony , waif like young ladies who sing in a lisping and slightly breathless manner (Melluah etc) and scruffy looking Scotsmen or 17 year old gingas with an "affected" beat up guitar and a retro sound......(Nutrino ...and Ed ...thing ..Shenanigan or similar)

Throughout all these musical convolutions and twisty turny in and outs of instrumental popularity I kept my Ukulele (Banjo Uke ...1 only)in my hand ,yes sir ....I kept me ukulele in my hand.....not constantly ...in the late 80s to about 2010 I did not play it as faithfully nor as often as I should..but like a good old friend kept in touch whilst experimenting with it's bigger six stringed cousin...

I never "got" Tiny Tim during his brief period of UK popularity, I was a kid and he made no sense to me .....George Formby was my influence...and to a lot of other ukers in soggyland in late the 60's...a Formby right hand technique was the goal of many a spotty yoof....because we had not realised the little tricks that he played with his left.....

Anyhow ....what I think I am saying is that wave of popularity ....what wave of popularity ...?

I think that term really only applies to those who treat the uke as a passing fad ,to try this "easy to play" instrument ,to realise that actually this really needs some time devoting to it, I can't be bothered ....move on........ and the corporates and individuals who can ride that crest of a wave.......my Old Pet Peeve..for example ....straps....mostly unheard of ...definitely unheard of by my crew as kids.......now they are all over , in discussions , in shops ,in your houses. I concede that they are fine for those that use and want them ....if I ever play anything bigger than a concert even I may possibly have to eat crow pie and get one....( I have many ,many guitar straps ) I think these "waves" may be artificial and driven by slick marketing and merchandising........I don't think Ukers come and go ,They See , They Uke , They Conquer , They Stay.........................
:biglaugh::old:

Sorry ...it's longer than I meant it to be....ah well...

PhilUSAFRet
02-01-2015, 01:20 AM
Just another uke article, albeit a decent one. Certainly the increasing number of uke manufacturers is no indication anything is waning.

Lalz
02-01-2015, 01:33 AM
Dare I say that most young ukers will never have heard of Tiny Tim apart from him keep getting mentioned in this kind of articles, especially outside of the US/UK. He's probably not the first person that comes to mind to most people worldwide when thinking of ukuleles. Personally, I've only ever seen one short video of him on youtube. Musicians like Iz or Beirut (or what's his name, the guy who sings "hey soul sister?") are much more iconic references for the uke in pop culture these days, I reckon.

As to the wave of popularity fading out, I get the impression that what is happening is that the ukulele has become recognised as a true music instrument like any other. So on the one hand some people will appreciate it like the wonderfully fun and expressive instrument that it is, beyond the quirkiness, and take it seriously, but also might consider other equally attractive options in terms of "serious instruments" to dedicate themselves to (whereas it used to be "Oh look, a uke! How fun! Let's get one they're cheap" rather than "which instrument do I want to spend the next few years learning?"). And on the other hand some people will shun the uke because it's not indie or quirky enough anymore ("Oh-Em-Gee, ukulelees are sooo 2010, i'm into kale and microbreweries now").

I don't think that's a bad thing ;)

Long live the uke!

VegasGeorge
02-01-2015, 01:34 AM
The people who play ukulele simply because they love to play ukulele will still be around.

An excellent point!

Rllink
02-01-2015, 02:52 AM
Whatever, whether the Tiny Tim character started 6 years before Rowan and Martin or not, the character was set up to be uncool. Clever TV production teams can do a lot with an eccentric character like Tiny Tim, they could have scripted the show to make him cool, but they actually set him up as uncool and laughed at him, not with him. Look at current TV shows to see how quirky eccentrics can be cast as heroes and cool.
Many accounts I have read from ukulele players of the time indicate that the advent of Tiny Tim marked a rude and sudden end to regular bookings and acceptance. Who knows how he came to be on the Rowan and Martin show, it does not really matter what he did before that, because his appearance in the TV show is still a point of reference for ukulele history 50 years later as shown in the linked article.
Going back to the question of whether the current ukulele era is over, have we had a Tiny Tim marker event yet, I can't see one happening. Maybe, the ukulele has reached a critical mass where it is like other musical instruments, it does not have waves any more, it just is?I grew up with Rowan and Martin's Laugh In and it was as irreverent as it could possibly be. That was the whole premise of the show, to laugh at people. Tiny Tim certainly was not going to be an exception just in order to make him cool, or to make ukuleles a serious instrument.

I thought that it was a good article. As far as if the interest in ukuleles is waning, or hit its peak, heck, a year ago I didn't have any interest in ukuleles. I
didn't think about ukuleles, I hardly knew they existed, and I will admit it, my only exposure to the ukulele up until I happened to discover that video of Jake playing one in Central Park, was Tiny Tim, back in the sixties. And, I will bet I'm not the only one who associated the two before they saw the light. But I did discover the ukulele, and all you have to do is look at all the people introducing themselves in UU, and you can see that people are discovering the ukulele every day.

Rllink
02-01-2015, 03:09 AM
My friend teaches beginning ukulele classes. For a while, at the beginning of the boom, interest was high, classes were full. This past year it dropped significantly and it seemed like the boom was over - but then a new beginning class just started up and it's full! Could be a fluke (bad pun intended); could be an indicator that the boom is still... booming. Hard to say.

I was kind of surprised to see that article, seems the Atlantic is a bit late to the party :)Better late than never. I think the timing couldn't be better actually. It is nice to keep it in the news, to catch the interest of some of those who missed the boat. Anyway, I wonder if the fact that attendance in classes didn't fall off because of all the lessons and tutorials that have grown on the internet? I know that a lot of people are going there right now to learn. I'm glad though that the new class is filling up.

IamNoMan
02-01-2015, 03:28 AM
"There is a tide in the affairs of men that taken at the ebb leads to Ukulele... and taken at the flow leads on to decreased sales by"... Corprats, Journalists, and other such riff-raff that never set the trends, are always late to the dance and never get the girls/guys. In short what is good for General Motors is not what's good for the country. When Theodore Roosevelt was Secretary of the Navy he instigated he Spanish - American War along with his Yellow Journalist cronies because he thought Amis Men were becoming wimps, (my word. Teddy also made his first appearance in the Albany State House wearing a purple velveteen suit).

The pundits do not know how to think outside of the box. They never will. They are the Louse on a Lady's Hat in Church. The article quoted by the OP is interesting. It suggests a cyclical decline in Ukulele interest. Maybe. It suggests Ukulele sales are in decline, markets shrinking. This explains why Sears, Montgomery Ward, and Walmart all sell Ukulele, right? Its Hokum!


“If a kid has a uke in his hand, he’s not going to get in much trouble,” Arthur Godfrey had said, apparently unaware that he'd put his finger on the uke’s fatal weakness."

An interesting insight... social implications that have nothing to do with music itself?

Of course, the writer was suggesting that the goody-goody image of the Ukulele was a turn off for the young crowd of the day, who were looking for a more exciting and dangerous instrument to play. If that's so, then what does that say about how society has changed to allow the recent resurgence of interest in the Ukulele among our youth? An interesting, and potentially disturbing question.Arthur Godfrey never met me! George points out there are at least two different kinds of Ukulele communities, social and music. Ukulele is un-popular , passe? Hands up. who has a recorder?

I don't know George "goody-goody", a turn off? Maybe. I wear Hawaiian Shirts, odd hats and play Banjo, Ukulele, and Accordion because I think they're Cool; not because some geek in a white button down shirt and necktie tells me they're Cool.


The following may perhaps only apply in the UK :

The electric guitar had a heyday in the 70s with rock,n,roll,rock,prog rock,metal,heavy metal...it was surpassed and supplanted by the slightly more effete bands (my opinion only) of the 80's who made much more use of the keytar ,synthesisers,electronic keyboards ...( the geetar bands still existed ,they just could not as much play on air )...
Throughout all these musical convolutions and twisty turny in and outs of instrumental popularity I kept my Ukulele (Banjo Uke ...1 only)in my hand ,yes sir...
I never "got" Tiny Tim during his brief period of UK popularity, I was a kid and he made no sense to me .....George Formby was my influence...and to a lot of other ukers in soggyland in late the 60's...a Formby right hand technique was the goal of many a spotty yoof....because we had not realised the little tricks that he played with his left.....

Anyhow ....what I think I am saying is that wave of popularity ....what wave of popularity ...?

I think that term really only applies to those who treat the uke as a passing fad ,to try this "easy to play" instrument ,to realise that actually this really needs some time devoting to it, I can't be bothered ....move on........ and the corporates and individuals who can ride that crest of a wave... I don't think Ukers come and go ,They See , They Uke , They Conquer , They Stay...

Gee CeeJay, I just said the same thing you did! The article cited by OP ignores factors outside of the continental USA as irrelevant. Yellow journalism is just as prevalent today as in Roosevelt's heyday. Never even mentions Formby. The highest paid entertainer in Britain during his time. Mentions Tiny Tim, the Karamatzov brothers .... doesn't say a thing about "New Vaudeville" or shtick. That's what it is folks, Shtick, same as Rush Limbaugh. Entertainers making a living by allowing people to laugh at em.

I grew up in the Sixties. Folk music was something one found in the family. Then came the "FolkRevival". Lots of hype, lots of marketing, lots of Folk Festivals started. How many threads have you read about Granma's Ukulele being passed on in the UU forums? Lots of Uke marketing today. Lots of Uke Gatherings? The person who wrote the article didn't do a bad job. Folk Music and Ukulele are not dead, dying or passe.

I'm from the government. I'm your friend! I'm a journalist. I wouldn't lie to you, would I?

Good discussion guys. Keep it up!

good_uke_boy
02-01-2015, 03:57 AM
NAMM's data on ukulele sales in the US (in units and dollars) since 2009 show growth through 2012, and some decline from 2012 to 2013.
75570

I tried a couple of times to insert a larger version of this image. Oh, well. Original report can be found here:
https://www.namm.org/files/ihdp-viewer/global-report-2014/
US ukulele numbers are on page 12.

Diamond Dave
02-01-2015, 04:27 AM
Tiny Tim was actually very talented. But the 60s and 70s were very, very tacky in terms of pop culture and what "the establishment" found entertaining.

Just think where we'd all be without the internet. The wealth of uke knowledge and information about others who play the uke just wouldn't be there. We'd all be wondering if anybody out there played these things. Today there are active, vibrant online communities for every interest, from barn restoration to smallmouth bass fishing to ukulele playing! The point made about those who play the uke will keep on playing it regardless is spot-on, and online communities like this will only help keep slightly off the beaten path instruments like the uke, hammered dulcimer, accordion, what have you going strong.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-01-2015, 05:37 AM
NAMM's data on ukulele sales in the US (in units and dollars) since 2009 show growth through 2012, and some decline from 2012 to 2013.
75570

I tried a couple of times to insert a larger version of this image. Oh, well. Original report can be found here:
https://www.namm.org/files/ihdp-viewer/global-report-2014/
US ukulele numbers are on page 12.

Thanks for that. Interesting charts. The total sales ratio between ukes and guitars seems to be better than 1:3. That's a significant number and far higher than I would've thought. It looks like guitars are poised to widen that gap a little more now.

kvehe
02-01-2015, 06:40 AM
Given the number of people I hear about who say they took up the uke because they're retired and now have time for musical pursuits, or because their arthritic hands aren't as comfortable on a guitar fretboard as they used to be, or because their grandchild received a Disney Mickey Mouse "toy guitar" (and hey, it's neat!), and given the number of Boomers now reaching/approaching retirement, I would think there would be a steady market. Or not. :D

janeray1940
02-01-2015, 06:57 AM
Better late than never. I think the timing couldn't be better actually. It is nice to keep it in the news, to catch the interest of some of those who missed the boat. Anyway, I wonder if the fact that attendance in classes didn't fall off because of all the lessons and tutorials that have grown on the internet? I know that a lot of people are going there right now to learn. I'm glad though that the new class is filling up.

That's a good point - catching the interest of newcomers. Since I'm a relative old-timer, this article is nothing more than a re-hash of every other article I've read about ukulele for the past... 5 or 6 years, at least. So thanks for the newcomer perspective Rllink!

And you nailed it - that's exactly why both class and private lesson attendance has dropped off. I know a lot of music teachers, not just ukulele, and they all have had the same experience: a student shows up for a few lessons to get started, then at their last lesson says "Well thanks for getting me started, now I can learn from YouTube for free" or something along those lines.

There really is no substitute for face to face education, complete with comments and feedback. I've seen *so* many "I taught myself from YouTube!" players who get the notes right but have zero sense of timing or rhythm, or have no ability to connect notes in elegant phrases (they just get the notes, plink plink plink, but it's all staccato and the durations are seldom right). A video isn't going to stop someone and correct them.

Okay, rant over. I'm just glad to see a resurgence in interest in face to face instruction!

Dan Uke
02-01-2015, 07:01 AM
since there's always new comers and most people don't listen to ukes all day like we do, we shouldn't frown when someone asks us to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow or I'm Yours! If we want to make it real interesting, learn the instrumental version!

janeray1940
02-01-2015, 07:04 AM
Given the number of people I hear about who say they took up the uke because they're retired and now have time for musical pursuits, or because their arthritic hands aren't as comfortable on a guitar fretboard as they used to be, or because their grandchild received a Disney Mickey Mouse "toy guitar" (and hey, it's neat!), and given the number of Boomers now reaching/approaching retirement, I would think there would be a steady market. Or not. :D

Retirement?! What's that?! As someone born exactly on the cusp of baby boom to Generation X, I doubt I'll ever experience this mythical state of being :)

I have a friend who teaches at all the uke fests (a "retiree" himself but he works like mad!). He was asking me why I never attend them; I have a multitude of personal reasons that I didn't want to go into, but the one that everyone should understand is COST - frankly, they're pretty expensive, especially when factoring in travel and lodging. His response was that he never thought of that but that in his extensive experience on the uke fest circuit, the vast majority of attendees are retirees.

So when the cycle of the true Boomers has all reached retirement age and those of us born in 1964 and later are all that's left, I suspect the pattern will change (at least in terms of festival pursuits and buying of multiple ukes). Heck, I've been paying into the system for 35 years and if I were to retire, my monthly check wouldn't even cover my rent. I'm just glad I bought my forever ukes while employed; I'll be able to play them the rest of my life for free! :)

janeray1940
02-01-2015, 07:06 AM
we shouldn't frown when someone asks us to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I used to play in a strum and sing group that played at a Hawaiian restaurant sometimes. One night we had a really unenthusiastic audience. The group's leader reluctantly agreed to play SOTR after complaining about it being overplayed. The end result? A standing ovation!

Dan Uke
02-01-2015, 07:11 AM
I used to play in a strum and sing group that played at a Hawaiian restaurant sometimes. One night we had a really unenthusiastic audience. The group's leader reluctantly agreed to play SOTR after complaining about it being overplayed. The end result? A standing ovation!

M., your group at McCabes and WUE are great! I really like when you guys play music for the mass!! ;)

janeray1940
02-01-2015, 07:21 AM
M., your group at McCabes and WUE are great! I really like when you guys play music for the mass!! ;)

Thanks Daniel. That was a completely different group that played SOTR - it was a great experience, but what I really love about the McCabe's group is when people respond positively when we *don't* play the expected stuff :)

Rllink
02-01-2015, 07:25 AM
Retirement?! What's that?! As someone born exactly on the cusp of baby boom to Generation X, I doubt I'll ever experience this mythical state of being :)

I have a friend who teaches at all the uke fests (a "retiree" himself but he works like mad!). He was asking me why I never attend them; I have a multitude of personal reasons that I didn't want to go into, but the one that everyone should understand is COST - frankly, they're pretty expensive, especially when factoring in travel and lodging. His response was that he never thought of that but that in his extensive experience on the uke fest circuit, the vast majority of attendees are retirees.

So when the cycle of the true Boomers has all reached retirement age and those of us born in 1964 and later are all that's left, I suspect the pattern will change (at least in terms of festival pursuits and buying of multiple ukes). Heck, I've been paying into the system for 35 years and if I were to retire, my monthly check wouldn't even cover my rent. I'm just glad I bought my forever ukes while employed; I'll be able to play them the rest of my life for free! :)
That is very true, ukulele festivals aren't cheap, even the free ones. I'm finding that out right now, as I am looking at food, gas, and lodging for one this summer. I'm looking at it as a vacation though. I'll probably go to the festival, then go on down to Nashville, TN to check things out, then home. Vacations aren't cheap regardless. Even though retirees have plenty of time, it doesn't necessarily mean they have unlimited funds. Most retirees have to budget those ukulele festivals in with everything else.

Booli
02-01-2015, 08:24 AM
The best thing the Mods had going for them was Sting and the Who. Ukulele has The Rock and the Beatles. The Mods wish they were this cool!

+1 for the obscure but important Quadrophenia reference. :)

see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrophenia_%28film%29 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrophenia

Booli
02-01-2015, 08:38 AM
http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/01/though-it-be-little-the-rise-of-the-ukulele/384453/

Check out this article in the Atlantic. Does the wider press recognizing the growth of the ukulele now mean the uke boom really is dead?

I think interest in the uke is still alive and attracting new players. However, perhaps the frenzy has worn off on uke sales. But there are more festivals and gatherings and meet ups than ever.

Maybe this is propaganda, or 'astroturf' as we call it in the IT/Infosec realm, whereby the story is a lot of fluff, that is supported by random 'facts'.

There seems to be an awful lot of this on the internet, no matter what the topic of the article.

Seems to me that Jazon Mraz, Train, Zooey Deschanel, Kate Micucci and IZ are all that youngsters know about for the ukulele.

As mentioned in another post how Sears, Walmart, Toys'R'Us are all selling these instruments now, but what gets me is that they market them as little 'guitars' and not ukuleles, which I personally find offensive and a form of malicious ignorance, but I guess there is some 'Marketing Psychology' at play here to try and make them palatable to the unwashed masses who have yet to discover the truth, and maybe also become active participants here on UU.

I'm not sure of the intended reader audience of The Atlantic (conservatives?) but...

In the end, if this exposes the ukuele to new folks, and helps to get the word out and the uke into the hands of NEW players, it's all good to me.:)

janeray1940
02-01-2015, 08:42 AM
+1 for the obscure but important Quadrophenia reference. :)

see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrophenia_%28film%29 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrophenia

I love how I learn something new when I check in here. I had no idea about Sting. Come to think of it - despite listening to the album about a gazillion times I can't recall if I've ever seen the film!

hendulele
02-01-2015, 10:18 AM
I'm a big fan of The Atlantic, but a lot of this reads like "News from 2010." It's an OK feature, but something that looks like it would be in a midsize newspaper rather than a magazine as respected as The Atlantic.

Steveperrywriter
02-01-2015, 10:37 AM
Well, not to be contentious here, but the most brilliant TV writers who ever lived could not have made Tiny Tim "cool," unless it was the 1920's. He was a one-trick pony novelty act, and he got as far as he did because he looked and sang as he did. Sure, he knew a lot about music from bygone eras, but this was the Sixties, with all the uproar that entailed, and Tim personified none of what was cool, or groovy, or far out. Nobody set him up, he was what he was before he got there. You can't blame Laugh In for Tiny Tim. They didn't make him, they merely showed him. Of course he was set up to be laughed at -- everything on the show was set up to be laughed at -- and it was easier to laugh at Tim because he looked funny before he ever opened his mouth, and a lot funnier once he started singing. If you were a teenager in 1968 and you had a choice of being Lennon, or McCarney, or Jagger or Tiny Tim? Tim would have been so far back on your list as to be invisible without the the Hubble telescope, which had not been invented yet ...

Yes, there were other ukulele players who were goofy, but if you look at George Formby, who was funny, he was a talented musician with expert comedic timing. Tim was a so-so player who covered nostalgia, and that was always going to be the extent of what he could do. He had the same kind of celebrity the Kardasians have, he was famous for being famous, not for being particularly talented.

I don't begrudge the man his act. It made him rich and famous for his fifteen minutes, and more power to him. But from where I sit, he certainly didn't help the image of the ukulele for people exposed to American entertainment at the time. Nobody wanted to look or sound like Tiny Tim, at least not anybody playing with all his marbles.

As there are people who begin waves by reaching the public eye or ear, there are those who help end them. That's who Tim was. For a period of years starting in the 1970's and running up to Iz and Jake, if you said you played ukulele i(n the U.S.), people would start to warble "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" in quavery falsettos ...

janeray1940
02-01-2015, 10:50 AM
In the autobiography written by Dylan's former girlfriend (the one on the cover of Freewheelin'), I think, she talked about Tiny Tim playing clubs back in the Greenwich Village scene long before he became famous. And it sounded as if he basically was his character, even in real life.

I don't consider him a musician as much as maybe a musicologist or archivist. While the falsetto isn't really something I would choose to listen to, I've gotta give him props for his love and knowledge of the Great American Songbook.

Nickie
02-01-2015, 03:46 PM
Thanks for this thread guys! I found the article quite interesting, even though I've read many ukulele history articles.
Every time I turn around I learn of another ukulele maker or seller I've never heard of before. I'm always meeting people who "just bought myself a uke", or I got this uke for Christmas".
Every single month we have a jam session, and there is a new person or two or more that I've never seen before. And at our open mic, uke players of all range of talent show up out of nowhere. The TBUS membership is still growing, it's over 775 now....kinda freaky. I've only seen 2 members leave in 4 years, and one of them moved away.

coolkayaker1
02-01-2015, 06:45 PM
NAMM's data on ukulele sales in the US (in units and dollars) since 2009 show growth through 2012, and some decline from 2012 to 2013.
75570

I tried a couple of times to insert a larger version of this image. Oh, well. Original report can be found here:
https://www.namm.org/files/ihdp-viewer/global-report-2014/
US ukulele numbers are on page 12.

The sliding numbers for 2013 are now 14-months old.

I suspect the numbers from 2014 will drop even more precipitously.. One only needs to read Walsh and King's fabulous The Martin Ukulele to understand how devastatingly fast--over the course of 2-3 years-- the uke interest was decimated in the past booms. Due to the limitations and rather narrow range of the instrument, it lends itself to boom-and-bust cycles, as does the harmonica, the bongo drums, the accordion, and the pan flute. Those have not had the boom of the uke (actually, the accordion did in the 50s) because they are not as "cute", comical, or easy to play. (The bongos are, but they get on parents' nerves so few kids get them under a Xmas tree).

Let's face it: even at the absolute peak of recent uke fandom, the combined total CD sales of the top 100 uke professionals, from Iz and Jake and James Hill on down, might have sold as many CDs as a single mainstream guitarist, like John Mayer, has sold in one day. A day! (A guesstimate, to be sure, but you get the drift)

We play an instrument that has two-octaves, for God's sakes; it's never going to be a lead instrument on the radio other than as an accessory on humorous songs, like the one by Bruno Mars with all the apes in the video.

Alas, the upshot for us all is good: we will soon be in a rather exclusive group of kitschy renegades. A so-ten-minutes-ago renegade group of toy guitar strumming weirdos, but who gives a rat's patoot, right!? Hand me a straw pork-pie hat and Groucho glasses--I'm in!

Booli
02-01-2015, 07:03 PM
we will soon be in a rather exclusive group of kitschy renegades. A so-ten-minutes-ago renegade group of toy guitar strumming weirdos, but who gives a rat's patoot, right!?

:agree:

and now I will make it my personal mission to become an unstoppable emisarry, and cut-throat evangelist, yet kind but renegade embassador of the ukulele.

Most of my friends and family already think I am a freak with my ukulele obsession, so I dont have much farther to go with this, but I will continue to spread the word far and wide.

:)

Ukuleleblues
02-01-2015, 07:29 PM
Great discussion. As I read everyones thoughts it popped into my head that the internet is a huge contributor to the growth of interest in the ukulele. "Isolated" individuals have access to videos, lessons, tabs, and a ukulele community, that would not be there without the internet.

Youtube was founded Feb 2005, what a extraordinary resource. How many folks have said they first saw the uke with Jake on Youtube? Would anyone know who Roy Smeck was, let alone have seen him perform without the internet. For me it was the availability of free tabs on the internet that got me playing music again.

I think it is difficult to compare this "wave" of popularity with those in the past as the internet has drastically changed the way we interact. I had a friend that taught computer science years ago and one of the discussion questions he asked was "Will the internet make society become more homogonous or will it foster more disparity as small pockets of people with similar beliefts are able to interact and validate each other".

One of the contributors to this post said maybe the uke community has hit critical mass to become self sustainable. Maybe, especially now that our participant base is the entire world.

Steveperrywriter
02-01-2015, 07:37 PM
The uke isn't going away. Yeah, the fad-folk who jumped on the band wagon will hop off, but serious players won't.

Back in the day, there were mandolin clubs all over the US. Every other town had one.

Back in the day, there were banjo clubs, too.

Not so much now, but both of those instruments are staples.

I expect there will be fewer ukes sold, but I also expect most of that decline will be in the entry-level instruments. There is probably enough of a base to support luthiers who build quality instruments for a long time. And if there are fewer folks playing overall? The ones left will be more dedicated. Wave good-bye at the dilettantes as they leave ...

janeray1940
02-01-2015, 08:25 PM
Back in the day, there were mandolin clubs all, over the US. Every other town had one.


They're still around! Mandolin orchestras (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mandolin+orchestra) - as well as recorder orchestras (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=recorder+orchestra), and probably others that I don't know of - are all over YouTube. The mando orchestras were what got me interested in orchestral/ensemble uke playing (true instrumental orchestras, not uke + vocals like some uke "orchestras" out there). Funny how nobody's writing about the resurgence of the mandolin orchestra... or recorder orchestra... or perhaps it's just not on my radar.

Right there with ya, waving goodbye to the dilettantes :)

VegasGeorge
02-02-2015, 02:38 AM
Oh sure, mando's and recorders are fine, insofar as they go. But, what about the ........ Kazoo? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngoLc9s0YgQ

True story: I have a little Kazoo collection. One day I was meeting friends for a birthday lunch, and took one of me Kazoos. I think there were six of us at the table. When it came time to sing "Happy Birthday" to the unfortunate fellow, I pulled out my Kazoo. To my utter amazement, a lady in our group pulled her Kazoo out too! I mean, what are the odds of that happening?

Oh, and in anticipation of all you wags out there, yes, my Kazoo was bigger than her Kazoo.

Ukuleleblues
02-02-2015, 02:56 AM
The uke isn't going away. Yeah, the fad-folk who jumped on the band wagon will hop off, but serious players won't.

Back in the day, there were mandolin clubs all, over the US. Every other town had one.

Back in the day, there were banjo clubs, too. . Back before radio and television people did things. A lot of people I know spend all of their free time in front of a TV. How sad. I read that at the turn of the last century more people could read music and play an instrument than after the advent of Radio/tv. Bavk in the day clubs, live music and the such was the only form of entertainment.

Rllink
02-02-2015, 02:56 AM
I question how big the boom was. Up until last year I did not know anyone who played the ukulele. The local music store stocks three ukuleles, and they are hidden in the back. After I got my ukulele, I started looking for a group to play with in our area, and there wasn't any. I looked for an instructor in our area, and all I could find was a couple of guitar instructors who were more interested in transitioning me into a guitar, than they were in teaching me to play the uke. I understand that in some regions, there is a bigger ukulele movement, but not big enough to reach out. Frankly, I wasn't aware of a ukulele boom until I bought my ukulele. In the ten months that I've been playing the uke, I have yet to casually run into someone else who plays the uke. Not saying they aren't out there, but I have to look for them. So my point is, where is this boom? Like Booli said,
"Seems to me that Jazon Mraz, Train, Zooey Deschanel, Kate Micucci and IZ are all that youngsters know about for the ukulele."

So in my new found interest in ukuleles, I find out that Warren Buffett plays the ukulele, but I also find out that he has been playing the ukulele since he was in college, so Warren isn't riding the wave. I find out that George Harrison is a big ukulele player. I didn't know that, but evidently he has been for a long time. And so it goes. Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and Pete Townsend. But then Dwayne Johnson, the Rock is a ukulele player? I find out that the ukulele has been around for a long time, it has just been under my radar. So I'm saying I guess, that the ukulele is not a passing fad. It has been there all along. It just has been well hidden.

janeray1940
02-02-2015, 04:54 AM
Oh sure, mando's and recorders are fine, insofar as they go. But, what about the ........ Kazoo? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngoLc9s0YgQ

True story: I have a little Kazoo collection. One day I was meeting friends for a birthday lunch, and took one of me Kazoos. I think there were six of us at the table. When it came time to sing "Happy Birthday" to the unfortunate fellow, I pulled out my Kazoo. To my utter amazement, a lady in our group pulled her Kazoo out too! I mean, what are the odds of that happening?

Oh, and in anticipation of all you wags out there, yes, my Kazoo was bigger than her Kazoo.

Laughed out loud at that last sentence :) And I'll see your kazoo orchestra and raise you one matryoshka theremin orchestra (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnlsfeRNw1I)!


Back before radio and television people did things. A lot of people I know spend all of their free time in front of a TV. How sad. I read that at the turn of the last century more people could read music and play an instrument than after the advent of Radio/tv. Bavk in the day clubs, live music and the such was the only form of entertainment.

At the turn of the last century, every home that could afford one had a piano, and sheet music business was like the record business today. Or so the story goes, anyway. I'm just this side of the half-century mark myself and I still remember when I was a kid, at parties my parents and their friends would always end up around a piano or even no music at all, all singing and/or playing something if they had it. My parents were older (born in the 1920s) and their music was standards and big band, so I grew up with a headful of this stuff :)


I question how big the boom was. Up until last year I did not know anyone who played the ukulele. The local music store stocks three ukuleles, and they are hidden in the back. After I got my ukulele, I started looking for a group to play with in our area, and there wasn't any. I looked for an instructor in our area, and all I could find was a couple of guitar instructors who were more interested in transitioning me into a guitar, than they were in teaching me to play the uke. I understand that in some regions, there is a bigger ukulele movement, but not big enough to reach out. Frankly, I wasn't aware of a ukulele boom until I bought my ukulele. In the ten months that I've been playing the uke, I have yet to casually run into someone else who plays the uke. Not saying they aren't out there, but I have to look for them. So my point is, where is this boom?

Most of the press I've seen about the boom has been United States, UK, Canada, and a bit Australia focused. And Japan, since I read Japanese (and perhaps other parts of Asia?). Most of the locations I've seen cited have been bigger cities, or college towns, or places with existing music industry histories - Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin etc. Here in the Los Angeles area I don't so much casually run into someone who plays the uke as I do someone who KNOWS somebody who plays the uke.


So in my new found interest in ukuleles, I find out that Warren Buffett plays the ukulele, but I also find out that he has been playing the ukulele since he was in college, so Warren isn't riding the wave. I find out that George Harrison is a big ukulele player. I didn't know that, but evidently he has been for a long time. And so it goes. Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and Pete Townsend. But then Dwayne Johnson, the Rock is a ukulele player? I find out that the ukulele has been around for a long time, it has just been under my radar. So I'm saying I guess, that the ukulele is not a passing fad. It has been there all along. It just has been well hidden.

At my local shop, there's a story that George used to buy up their stock of Kamaka ukes to hand out to friends whenever he'd stop by. He's been gone since 2001, so - well before the so-called boom.

katysax
02-02-2015, 05:27 AM
I agree that the internet has been a huge factor in the growth of the uke. The internet does a great job of serving all kinds of unique communities. For many people on this forum, this forum is their uke community.

Those of us in the US tend to be very US Centric (often to the amusement of the rest of the world). We don't hear much about places like the Phillipines - where ukulele is huge or Singapore. We even forget about Australia (in part because I think we unconsciously can't distinguish between ourselves and Australians and Canadians).

good_uke_boy
02-02-2015, 08:40 AM
So in my new found interest in ukuleles, I find out that Warren Buffett plays the ukulele, but I also find out that he has been playing the ukulele since he was in college, so Warren isn't riding the wave. I find out that George Harrison is a big ukulele player. I didn't know that, but evidently he has been for a long time. And so it goes. Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and Pete Townsend. But then Dwayne Johnson, the Rock is a ukulele player? I find out that the ukulele has been around for a long time, it has just been under my radar. So I'm saying I guess, that the ukulele is not a passing fad. It has been there all along. It just has been well hidden.

http://www.gotaukulele.com/p/famous-ukulele-players.html

philpot
02-02-2015, 10:53 AM
The sliding numbers for 2013 are now 14-months old.

I suspect the numbers from 2014 will drop even more precipitously.. One only needs to read Walsh and King's fabulous The Martin Ukulele to understand how devastatingly fast--over the course of 2-3 years-- the uke interest was decimated in the past booms. Due to the limitations and rather narrow range of the instrument, it lends itself to boom-and-bust cycles, as does the harmonica, the bongo drums, the accordion, and the pan flute. Those have not had the boom of the uke (actually, the accordion did in the 50s) because they are not as "cute", comical, or easy to play. (The bongos are, but they get on parents' nerves so few kids get them under a Xmas tree).

Let's face it: even at the absolute peak of recent uke fandom, the combined total CD sales of the top 100 uke professionals, from Iz and Jake and James Hill on down, might have sold as many CDs as a single mainstream guitarist, like John Mayer, has sold in one day. A day! (A guesstimate, to be sure, but you get the drift)

We play an instrument that has two-octaves, for God's sakes; it's never going to be a lead instrument on the radio other than as an accessory on humorous songs, like the one by Bruno Mars with all the apes in the video.

Alas, the upshot for us all is good: we will soon be in a rather exclusive group of kitschy renegades. A so-ten-minutes-ago renegade group of toy guitar strumming weirdos, but who gives a rat's patoot, right!? Hand me a straw pork-pie hat and Groucho glasses--I'm in!

I think James Hill's new album is a counter-point to the idea that ukulele-centered music wouldn't fit on the radio. There's several songs on the Old Silo that would sit happily beside radio hits like The Black Keys and Cage the Elephant. Just in our lifetimes, there have been pioneering advancements in ukulele technique and application. Maybe you're right. Maybe the uke will be forever consigned to cutesy commercials and cheesy acoustic love songs. Still, I'm relatively optimistic that the uke will hang on as a serious instrument. If it doesn't, just be good enough to impress ;)

Diamond Dave
02-02-2015, 11:07 AM
Maybe the uke will be forever consigned to cutesy commercials and cheesy acoustic love songs.

It's the curse of playing an instrument that most people think looks like a tiny guitar. Well, because it does. That doesn't help matters any...:(

Booli
02-02-2015, 11:16 AM
It's the curse of playing an instrument that most people think looks like a tiny guitar. Well, because it does. That doesn't help matters any...:(

Maybe we need a pop/rock musician like Eddie Vedder, to act all fed up and crazy on stage with a uke in hand and pull a Pete Townsend act of taking it by the neck and repeatedly smashing it against something until it's all splinters for the instrument to achieve a higher level of respect by the unwashed masses. Bonus points for a viral Youtube video.

Just a thought. :2cents:

Osprey
02-02-2015, 11:46 AM
I was listening to Real Jazz channel on Sirius Radio and they played "Take Five" performed by Dave brubeck's son's group Triple Play and one of the group played an Ukulele. It was the first time I have heard an ukulele on a mainstream radio station
Cliff

Mivo
02-02-2015, 03:39 PM
It's the curse of playing an instrument that most people think looks like a tiny guitar. Well, because it does. That doesn't help matters any...:(

I actually think that this is one of the bigger obstacles to developing its own identity (though it arguably has achieved that): Most ukes have the "eight" shape of a guitar, so people who don't know anything about instruments see a "little guitar", and it's just a short distance from there to "it's a toy" or believing that it's an entry instrument for future guitar players (quite a few web pages seem to state that when they talk about first instruments for children), or a dumbed down version of a guitar for beginners.

Diamond Dave
02-02-2015, 03:45 PM
I actually think that this is one of the bigger obstacles to developing its own identity (though it arguably has achieved that): Most ukes have the "eight" shape of a guitar, so people who don't know anything about instruments see a "little guitar", and it's just a short distance from there to "it's a toy" or believing that it's an entry instrument for future guitar players (quite a few web pages seem to state that when they talk about first instruments for children), or a dumbed down version of a guitar for beginners.

Very true. I'm not sure why mandolins don't get the same abuse, since they're tiny and plinky too. I think it's because there's no stereotype of island natives in grass skirts strumming mandolins...and nobody sells a $50 mandolin.

One could also wonder why we care what anyone else thinks about the ukulele.

Mivo
02-02-2015, 03:53 PM
Very true. I'm not sure why mandolins don't get the same abuse, since they're tiny and plinky too. I think it's because there's no stereotype of island natives in grass skirts strumming mandolins...and nobody sells a $50 mandolin.

One could also wonder why we care what anyone else thinks about the ukulele.

Do we, though? :p I really love the underdog vibe of the uke. I don't get to be a rebel often, so I seize every opportunity!

Mandolins have their own shape, and I think a lot of people somehow associate them with medieval lutes (the same people are then very surprised if you show them an actual lute!), which gives them a romantic reputation. (Mandolins keep tempting me, but the steel strings are luckily a turn off.)

Ukuleleblues
02-02-2015, 04:17 PM
Down here in South Cackalackie a good 1/3 of the folks think we are playing mandolins. They will come up and say how much they love the mandolin. I used to correct them and tell them its a ookolele. I gave up on that and just smile, thank them and say I am glad you are enjoying the music.

Ukuleleblues
02-02-2015, 04:24 PM
Mivo, since you are a rebel with a uke you need to change your signature to that "Rebel with a Uke" and add a pic of a cool dude with a uke slung over their shoulder. I think it would be cool.

Mivo
02-02-2015, 04:38 PM
Mivo, since you are a rebel with a uke you need to change your signature to that "Rebel with a Uke" and add a pic of a cool dude with a uke slung over their shoulder. I think it would be cool.

But if I followed suggestions, that would diminish my rebelness!

Nickie
02-02-2015, 04:46 PM
Exactly! Why do we care what other people think of the ukulele?
I couldn't care less.

philpot
02-02-2015, 05:05 PM
Exactly! Why do we care what other people think of the ukulele?
I couldn't care less.

I care because I have a passion that I want people to understand! It's not so much that other people disliking the ukulele personally offends me, it's that I'd like for them to see why I love the ukulele, and ideally, I'd like them to love it too :)

Ukuleleblues
02-02-2015, 05:54 PM
But if I followed suggestions, that would diminish my rebelness!
You are a true rebel!

CeeJay
02-02-2015, 06:01 PM
I care because I have a passion that I want people to understand! It's not so much that other people disliking the ukulele personally offends me, it's that I'd like for them to see why I love the ukulele, and ideally, I'd like them to love it too :)

....I been trying to do that for ....a loooooooooooong time........now I say " ah stuff 'em .....it's their loss ".

...'s no good evangelising a subject ...you can turn people off............after 6 years of compulsory twice a day enforced worship in my school's chapel I never have set foot voluntarily in a place of worship....doesn't make me a bad person......just a sinful Ukelele player :o:biglaugh:

kohanmike
02-02-2015, 09:01 PM
I'm smack in the middle of the baby boomers, started playing guitar with the mid 1960's boom, carried that on until June of 2013 when I took up the ukulele on a whim and signing up for the Los Angeles Music Center Ukule-Along summer sessions, haven't touched my guitars since. Retired unofficially a year ago and now really enjoy meeting with a senior group in Culver City that keeps signing up new members, with close to 100 members. I was a member of the Westside Ukulele Ensemble with janeray1940 and nongdam, but I realized I bit off more than I could chew and dropped out.

I noticed in the last couple of months that Guitar Center and Sam Ash in Hollywood have expanded their ukulele sections, McCabe's always has a great selection, and U-Space in Downtown also seems to be expanding. They made an attempt at the world record last year with over 1000 people, trying again this year. There's also a new Palm Spring ukulele festival happening this weekend, and a first time one at Santa Monica High in a couple of months (which might not come to fruition). Seems to me the wave is still moving along.

Captain America
02-03-2015, 03:23 AM
The boom is just starting. The pioneers are being replaced by homesteaders, which is the change you are noticing. Beginners from 2006 are now maturing a bit and getting to understand some things about music to start to form an informed critical mass. Without annoying them, check out the likes of Jumping Flea and Aldrine who may be like the visible iceberg tip.
A thing well known or famous players could start doing is networking great arrangers and composers to get ukulele repertoire. Look up how Julian Bream managed to eventually get repertoire created by Benjamin Britten. I know there is money in playing your own arrangements, but there is a lot more in getting a famous composer to write stuff for you.


This is an excellent commentary in all respects.

katysax
02-03-2015, 04:53 AM
It's a really good point about repertoire. When we talk about the uke as a fad - it is as though the uke is a thing in itself - kind of like the hula hoop. But the music to be played is a major factor with musical instruments. As the NAMM report pointed out there has been a big shift away from electric guitars toward acoustic guitars. (I think there is a connection between the interest in acoustic guitars and the interest in ukes). Guitar driven rock has faded from popularity. One thing that moved me away from saxophone was that I needed a band to play. Yes, I could play with band in a box, but ultimately I needed a band to play, and every band I played with was a major headache.

I don't enjoy playing classical music all that much, but I like to play fingerstyle. I played guitar fingerstyle long before I ever got a uke. At the moment I actually have a multitude of more good tabs for uke fingerstyle than guitar. What keeps drawing me back to the uke is the music that I can play with it. I do play with a uke group and enjoy the group, but I usually play bass with the group. It's the fingerstyle multiphonic melodies that keep drawing me back and have me playing a lot. Since I stuck to the guitar for 50 years, with occassional breaks but never gave it up, I imagine I'll stick with the uke. I do think the number of excellent musicians playing the uke, and the nicely growing repertoire of stuff to play, along with the wonderful quality of the instruments being built combine to assure that the uke will be a cultural force for a while. Especially when you add on the influence of the internet and the ukulele community.

A lot of the discussion on this board about "is uke a fad" is really an expression of anxiety a lot of us have about the long term value of our instruments for which we have spent a great deal of money. I think that is to some degree an entirely different issue. We don't know how much demand the market can absorb. At one time there was a pent up demand for high quality instruments. That's over. I think the market has reached a kind of supply and demand equilibrium.

janeray1940
02-03-2015, 05:09 AM
Beginners from 2006 are now maturing a bit and getting to understand some things about music to start to form an informed critical mass.

You know, this comment made me think of something else: a lot of the players I know who were beginners back in the day have moved on to include other instruments in their learning, particularly guitar, mandolin and banjo. Perhaps they are self-identifying more as musicians rather than ukulele players? (Me, I'm strictly uke - but I generally call myself a musician before I call myself a ukulele player.) The press isn't exactly going to start writing about the "musician boom" in the way they have the ukulele boom as it's not exactly a catchy news story that people are musicians...

coolkayaker1
02-03-2015, 06:03 AM
Exactly! Why do we care what other people think of the ukulele?
I couldn't care less.

Who cares? One who is trying to sell a uke. A person who owns a ukulele store or shop. A large music chain ordering ukes. A luthier trying to plan their future, inlcuding inventory and time. A planner who is organizing a uke event. A person in the market for a used uke weighing new versus used bargains in a dipping market. A person who was planning to make a tablature book, a uke accessory, or other uke-related product. A person hoping to tour or charge for uke-related playing at events (eg weddings). And on and on.

Other than that, no one really cares, for sure.

:o

Rllink
02-03-2015, 06:25 AM
I care because I have a passion that I want people to understand! It's not so much that other people disliking the ukulele personally offends me, it's that I'd like for them to see why I love the ukulele, and ideally, I'd like them to love it too :)I am just the opposite. I don't care if people understand or not. I'm not a ukulele evangelist. I mean, if people ask me, I'm more than happy to tell them what I'm doing, but I'm not out there trying to convert the masses. I'm doing my ukulele thing, and if someone is interested, fine, if not, I'm fine with that too. But my passion is to play, not to educate other people. So that is great if that is what you want to do, it just isn't me. As far as all those people who CoolKayaker1 pointed out, who have an investment in the ukulele market, that it great. We are talking about business people vs ukulele players. I hope that they are successful. I hope that people will hear me play the uke and be interested, but I'm not out there to drum up business for people. I'm a ukulele player. But anyway, that is where I stand on it.

Booli
02-03-2015, 07:37 AM
I am just the opposite. I don't care if people understand or not. I'm not a ukulele evangelist.

I find that, as CeeJay has said, the evangelism tends to backfire more often than not. Often an opportunity will present itself to actually make a difference, one-on-one to someone who is most certainly in need of your counsel.

Below are the details of but once such event in my life...

The last time I was in Guitar Center, which was a huge mistake (what the hell was I thinking?), and there will be no 'next time' for me going to a Guitar Center...

While in the 'ukulele area', which was next to the acoustic guitar room, I heard the 'manager' of the guitar department tell a woman who wanted to get her 9 yr-old son (who was with her) started on an instrument, and that he was into all kinds of music, but gets frustrated easily. She cautiously and kindly asked to look at some ukuleles that where hanging on the wall.

The manager told her, 'you dont want him on ukulele, it's a toy instrument for sissy's, and he's going to get picked on in school and never have a girlfriend'.

She gasped profoundly.

I could not believe what I just heard. I turned to look and see who said that, and this 40-something looking guy with graying long hair to his waist, covered all over his arms and hands with violent skull tattoos, multiple ear and eyebrow piercings, and a thick bull ring in his septum in his nose (not that anything is wrong with tattoos or piercings, but I want to paint an accurate picture), and I was both horrified and shocked.

Not so much by his appearance, since that store has all kinds of characters with that kind of look, but more shocked by the 'advice' that I just heard.

My first reaction was to be riled with rage at this 'advice'. I mean, I wanted to teach this guy a lesson. Then I counted to ten, several times, and took a few deep breaths, and eventuall heard the woman say 'thank you for your time' in a meek voice. The manager hopped off to inflict his 'advice' upon someone else.

I approached her, and asked her if I could help, and told her that guy was an idiot. She accepted my offer, I introduced myself and told her my experience with guitar and ukulele, and then we discussed her son and her desires for him. Then I asked him (Jonathan) a few questions about music and what he likes to do for fun.

Turns out he likes jazz and classical, (his mother told me that the Grandfather and Uncle were both musicians Dixieland Jazz and Blue Grass scene) and not so much into pop music (he told me he hates Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus), not really into sports or video games, and enjoys building models and doing projects for the science fair at school. I had a deja-vu, as this was a lot like me at that age.

We looked at and tried 9 different ukes that were hanging on the wall, Diamond Head, Kala and Mitchell (skipped the Mahalo and other lower brands). It seemed that a concert scale was easier for him to hold than a tenor, and I explained that the concert and tenor have more frets than the soprano, and that the note range would be slightly greater on these larger instruments. Also, I showed him how to finger some chords in order to gauge his reach and dexterity on the fingerboard. He seemed to have an easier time with the concert fretboard. This confirmed the concert vs. the tenor.

We then tried 3 different Kala KA-C ukes that were on display, and I explained to her about setup and playability. They had one particular uke that was better than the rest, and the intonation was very good. I advised her to buy that exact uke instead of one 'in the box' from the back room.

$105 out the door with a kaces padded gig bag, cheapie chinese ukulele tuner (not chromatic), extra set of aquila nylguts, and cleaning cloth. I advised her that this was a good deal and explained why. She accepted my well-intentioned advice.

I then wrote down the web site addresses for UU, Ukulele Way, Jim DeVille, Got A Ukulele, UkuleleHunt and advised her of the forums and online lessons, as well as Ukulele Mike's various youtube channels with free song tutorials.

I chaperoned her as she bought the uke (even if only to make sure that someone else did not convince her otherwise after spending almost 90 minutes with her and her son) and she thanked me profusely. I wished them luck and said goodbye. The 'manager' was giving me the evil eye the whole time, but I dont care. He was a bad influence.

Most of my life I have tried to remedy ignorance whenever I can. Had I tried to force 'the truth' upon the 'manager', most likely this would have been an exercise in futility, so instead, I tried to help a budding uker, a curious child to get started properly, and did what I could to preempt some of the knowable pitfalls for a beginner.

I do not relate this story to pat myself on the back, but instead to demonstrate that despite what is published for the general public for a boom, fad or waning trend of interest, there are STILL large obstacles for ukulele beginners that have nothing to do with the learning curve, but instead are IMPOSED by the staff at certain evil retail music stores. Granted, all of my influence with this effort was based on my own opinion, which is based upon 39 yrs of experience being a musician (which is most of my life), 35 of which with guitar (and many other instruments), and now more recently 19 months with the ukulele.

I could have handled the above situation in a completely different way, but most definitely that would have ended badly, and nobody would benefit from that at all, most certainly not Jonathan.

Ramart
02-03-2015, 07:37 AM
YES. I think there's a law or something. And Jake, usually. And Arthur Godfrey tends to often make an appearance.

But somehow the author missed George Formby.

Ramart
02-03-2015, 07:47 AM
Thanks for recounting your GC story, Booli. Bravo to you, sir, for your stand-up humanism and empathy.

janeray1940
02-03-2015, 07:49 AM
But somehow the author missed George Formby.

Outside of a paragraph mentioning UOGB and Langley, it was a pretty US-centric article - actually, most along these lines that I've read have been. Come to think of it, I rarely recall seeing Formby mentioned in the American press' "ukulele boom" articles. Maybe because he was associated with banjo uke?

Rllink
02-03-2015, 08:14 AM
I find that, as CeeJay has said, the evangelism tends to backfire more often than not. Often an opportunity will present itself to actually make a difference, one-on-one to someone who is most certainly in need of your counsel.

Below are the details of but once such event in my life...

The last time I was in Guitar Center, which was a huge mistake (what the hell was I thinking?), and there will be no 'next time' for me going to a Guitar Center...

While in the 'ukulele area', which was next to the acoustic guitar room, I heard the 'manager' of the guitar department tell a woman who wanted to get her 9 yr-old son (who was with her) started on an instrument, and that he was into all kinds of music, but gets frustrated easily. She cautiously and kindly asked to look at some ukuleles that where hanging on the wall.

The manager told her, 'you dont want him on ukulele, it's a toy instrument for sissy's, and he's going to get picked on in school and never have a girlfriend'.

She gasped profoundly.

I could not believe what I just heard. I turned to look and see who said that, and this 40-something looking guy with graying long hair to his waist, covered all over his arms and hands with violent skull tattoos, multiple ear and eyebrow piercings, and a thick bull ring in his septum in his nose (not that anything is wrong with tattoos or piercings, but I want to paint an accurate picture), and I was both horrified and shocked.

Not so much by his appearance, since that store has all kinds of characters with that kind of look, but more shocked by the 'advice' that I just heard.

My first reaction was to be riled with rage at this 'advice'. I mean, I wanted to teach this guy a lesson. Then I counted to ten, several times, and took a few deep breaths, and eventuall heard the woman say 'thank you for your time' in a meek voice. The manager hopped off to inflict his 'advice' upon someone else.

I approached her, and asked her if I could help, and told her that guy was an idiot. She accepted my offer, I introduced myself and told her my experience with guitar and ukulele, and then we discussed her son and her desires for him. Then I asked him (Jonathan) a few questions about music and what he likes to do for fun.

Turns out he likes jazz and classical, (his mother told me that the Grandfather and Uncle were both musicians Dixieland Jazz and Blue Grass scene) and not so much into pop music (he told me he hates Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus), not really into sports or video games, and enjoys building models and doing projects for the science fair at school. I had a deja-vu, as this was a lot like me at that age.

We looked at and tried 9 different ukes that were hanging on the wall, Diamond Head, Kala and Mitchell (skipped the Mahalo and other lower brands). It seemed that a concert scale was easier for him to hold than a tenor, and I explained that the concert and tenor have more frets than the soprano, and that the note range would be slightly greater on these larger instruments. Also, I showed him how to finger some chords in order to gauge his reach and dexterity on the fingerboard. He seemed to have an easier time with the concert fretboard. This confirmed the concert vs. the tenor.

We then tried 3 different Kala KA-C ukes that were on display, and I explained to her about setup and playability. They had one particular uke that was better than the rest, and the intonation was very good. I advised her to buy that exact uke instead of one 'in the box' from the back room.

$105 out the door with a kaces padded gig bag, cheapie chinese ukulele tuner (not chromatic), extra set of aquila nylguts, and cleaning cloth. I advised her that this was a good deal and explained why. She accepted my well-intentioned advice.

I then wrote down the web site addresses for UU, Ukulele Way, Jim DeVille, Got A Ukulele, UkuleleHunt and advised her of the forums and online lessons, as well as Ukulele Mike's various youtube channels with free song tutorials.

I chaperoned her as she bought the uke (even if only to make sure that someone else did not convince her otherwise after spending almost 90 minutes with her and her son) and she thanked me profusely. I wished them luck and said goodbye. The 'manager' was giving me the evil eye the whole time, but I dont care. He was a bad influence.

Most of my life I have tried to remedy ignorance whenever I can. Had I tried to force 'the truth' upon the 'manager', most likely this would have been an exercise in futility, so instead, I tried to help a budding uker, a curious child to get started properly, and did what I could to preempt some of the knowable pitfalls for a beginner.

I do not relate this story to pat myself on the back, but instead to demonstrate that despite what is published for the general public for a boom, fad or waning trend of interest, there are STILL large obstacles for ukulele beginners that have nothing to do with the learning curve, but instead are IMPOSED by the staff at certain evil retail music stores. Granted, all of my influence with this effort was based on my own opinion, which is based upon 39 yrs of experience being a musician (which is most of my life), 35 of which with guitar (and many other instruments), and now more recently 19 months with the ukulele.

I could have handled the above situation in a completely different way, but most definitely that would have ended badly, and nobody would benefit from that at all, most certainly not Jonathan.I think that under the circumstances, you did exactly what I would have done. It would appear to me that the salesman was pretty one way in his thinking. To help is one thing, to preach the gospel is another. Kudos to you. Like I said, if someone is interested, I'm more than glad to talk to them about it.

Booli
02-03-2015, 08:40 AM
Thanks for recounting your GC story, Booli. Bravo to you, sir, for your stand-up humanism and empathy.


I think that under the circumstances, you did exactly what I would have done. It would appear to me that the salesman was pretty one way in his thinking. To help is one thing, to preach the gospel is another. Kudos to you. Like I said, if someone is interested, I'm more than glad to talk to them about it.

Thanks both of you for your kind words. I try to pay-it-forward (I really dislike that phrase though) whenever/wherever possible, especially in the direct face of evil.

sorry, for this is a bit of topic drift...

When I was 9 yrs old, my guitar teacher was rigidly set on only teaching me The Beatles, and ONLY The Beatles, which I was not into at all at the time and was not familiar with the music, I persisted and finally he taught me some Clash (Should I Stay Or Should I Go), Joan Jett (I Love Rock and Roll) and John (Cougar) Mellencamp (Jack and Diane), Billy Idol (White Wedding), Van Halen (Ain't Talkin 'bout Love).

Soon after, armed with about a dozen Beatles tunes, and these others listed here, all comitted to memory, I was actually able to play songs by ear off the radio, without too much effort. After about 2 yrs of weekly lessons, I showed up one day for my lesson and played him 'Message In A Bottle' by The Police, note for note, perfect to the radio version, and he was amazed and told me that he had nothing left to teach me and recommended I contact a much more advanced teacher.

In the beginning I did not appreciate what he was trying to show me, and only years later, when I re-kindled a real interest in The Beatles after having studied classical music and music theory in high school, did I develop a deep and abiding respect for their music, and in especially in context with Bach and Pachelbel.

But I digress...

The main point is that if you have good influences, to help you get started, the published media 'trends' for uptake or downturn of sales of, or of learning an instrument, or a specific instrument (ukulele, guitar, kazoo, mandolin, theremin, etc), may not specifically apply to oneself as an individual, as our needs and interests will wax and wane over time as others have said previously in this thread...

Ramart
02-03-2015, 08:50 AM
Yep, well said, Booli. It's (whatever "it" is) really all about the music, less about the ukulele or whatever instrument you're playing.

CeeJay
02-03-2015, 02:05 PM
Outside of a paragraph mentioning UOGB and Langley, it was a pretty US-centric article - actually, most along these lines that I've read have been. Come to think of it, I rarely recall seeing Formby mentioned in the American press' "ukulele boom" articles. Maybe because he was associated with banjo uke?

He actually preferred the banjo-uke for its sound projection and tone , but he did also play ukelele as well......"With My Little Ukelele In my Hand" featured the uke in 1933.....possibly the first to be banned by the stuffy old BBC......

janeray1940
02-03-2015, 02:15 PM
He actually preferred the banjo-uke for its sound projection and tone , but he did also play ukelele as well......"With My Little Ukelele In my Hand" featured the uke in 1933.....possibly the first to be banned by the stuffy old BBC......

You know, I would love to see some of those Formby films. Especially the banned ones :) To the best of my knowledge they aren't available digitally, and I'm too confused about such things to know if I bought DVDs from the UK would they play on my computer or not... can't wrap my head around all that regional stuff.

CeeJay
02-03-2015, 03:38 PM
..I just had a quick look and yes it seems that according to The American vendors (Amazon.com) of the George Formby films there is no call for American audiences to watch them as they are all region 2 and 4 (mostly UK and Europe) Canada and USA is region 1 .

However you can reset your PC or laptop DVD to a different region using the Time set facility....but that could be a faff........why we have to have different bloody settings I don't know !!!!

Mivo
02-03-2015, 03:48 PM
Hmm, all DVD drives I had in computers were able to play DVDs from both the EU and the US, by default. It's been a couple years since I watched DVDs on the computer, though, since most stuff is now available for download, so things may be less unrestricted.

edit: Quickly tested it. My 7-month old European laptop's DVD drive plays US (region 1) and German DVDs without having to change anything. But apparently not all DVD drives do this.

janeray1940
02-03-2015, 03:53 PM
Hmm, all DVD drives I had in computers were able to play DVDs from both the EU and the US, by default. It's been a couple years since I watched DVDs on the computer, though, since most stuff is now available for download, so things may be less unrestricted.

I know mine can't play stuff from Japan, but then on top of everything the new stuff is all Blu-Ray in addition to a different region. I just wish they'd make it easy digitize everything - heck, I'm even willing to pay for it! :)

Andy Chen
02-03-2015, 04:18 PM
What a great story, Booli.

Good musicians and people who love music do not need big instruments to compensate for their insecurity in other (perhaps anatomical) areas.

philpot
02-03-2015, 06:01 PM
I think you all are misunderstanding what I mean when I said I "care" what people think. I don't "evangelize" and beat people over the head with my ukulele. I just take opportunities to shatter misconceptions, mostly by simply playing the instrument I love, on the street, in open mic nights, in jam sessions, talent shows, whatever. I'm no professional by any stretch of the imagination, but I've wowed music store employees with far more musical expertise than I simply by playing a couple moderately difficult finger style pieces. Typically I end up getting the chance to turn people onto the ukulele just by suggesting it when they mention wanting to learn an instrument. I've gotten at least half a dozen people started on the ukulele so far!

I once had the opportunity to talk to a music store owner about ukuleles for over an hour after stopping by to see if they had any in stock. He had played guitar for over 40 years, and had no idea that anyone played the ukulele seriously. We browsed the Martin website together, watched a couple videos, and he even said he would consider keeping some ukuleles in stock in the future. Booli, I love your Guitar Center story, although I probably would have followed up with a couple questions for the manager about why he's trying to scare people away from buying his products :P

CeeJay
02-03-2015, 06:31 PM
I think you all are misunderstanding what I mean when I said I "care" what people think. I don't "evangelize" and beat people over the head with my ukulele. I just take opportunities to shatter misconceptions, mostly by simply playing the instrument I love, on the street, in open mic nights, in jam sessions, talent shows, whatever. I'm no professional by any stretch of the imagination, but I've wowed music store employees with far more musical expertise than I simply by playing a couple moderately difficult finger style pieces. Typically I end up getting the chance to turn people onto the ukulele just by suggesting it when they mention wanting to learn an instrument. I've gotten at least half a dozen people started on the ukulele so far!

I once had the opportunity to talk to a music store owner about ukuleles for over an hour after stopping by to see if they had any in stock. He had played guitar for over 40 years, and had no idea that anyone played the ukulele seriously. We browsed the Martin website together, watched a couple videos, and he even said he would consider keeping some ukuleles in stock in the future. Booli, I love your Guitar Center story, although I probably would have followed up with a couple questions for the manager about why he's trying to scare people away from buying his products :P


Oh do me a favour and lighten up Mr Philpot ....I'm not having a pop .:smileybounce::nana:

I wouldn't be brash , or cocky , enough to write what you just have :biglaugh: but good for you and
no -one is accusing YOU of anything ....it was just a general say so...people can get fed up with having their ears bent by people rhapsodising on....and on and on ...your way is the best way...

I played my very first ever Open Mic to people that I do not know last Sunday (Burns Night) ...as I walked up to
the stage Banjo - Uke in hand ,shaking like a shi.......small dog having a poo.......I heard ."oh, When I'm bloody Cleaning Windows " ....which is a bit like somebody saying .."Oh , Tip-toe Through The Goddamned Tulips " over there....it is not exactly complimentary ..........

At first I was a bit put off ,then I got angry...because I thought you bigotted ..ignorant ..know nothing etc .....

1 x Bad Moon Rising , Wreck Of The Old '97, both strummed and picked ....The Braes o' Killiekrankie ..percussive and strummed drum....I had silenced the critic....I did a second spot This Little Light Of Mine , Honky Tonk woman (Stones version) and finished with Me and The Devil Blues ....won 'em over....so yes we need to play...........and we need variety.......So play on Mr Philpot..I have also entered the fray.....


So maybe I would actually be brash and cocky enough....I don't like to be though ....I always think some body will say "right that's enough of that ...you have to stop playing it now."

Booli
02-03-2015, 07:06 PM
What a great story, Booli.

Good musicians and people who love music do not need big instruments to compensate for their insecurity in other (perhaps anatomical) areas.

Thanks for the kind words. :agree:

Booli
02-03-2015, 07:22 PM
I once had the opportunity to talk to a music store owner about ukuleles for over an hour after stopping by to see if they had any in stock. He had played guitar for over 40 years, and had no idea that anyone played the ukulele seriously. We browsed the Martin website together, watched a couple videos, and he even said he would consider keeping some ukuleles in stock in the future. Booli, I love your Guitar Center story, although I probably would have followed up with a couple questions for the manager about why he's trying to scare people away from buying his products :P

Great story philpot, maybe you changed his mind.

The GC manager was giving me the evil eye the whole time. I'm not sure I could have remained composed enough to attempt a meaningful conversation with him. I do not seek conflict, but further interaction with someone who espouses such a narrow view (on any subject) is usually an exercise in frustration at the very least. If someones mind is so closed and locked tight, experience has taught me that little can be done to open, never mind change it.

I was still pretty mad when I left the store that day. For a while I kept saying out loud to myself 'WTF' about it.

There's an old saying that I'm seeing proven more often lately:

'You can fix ignorance, but you can't fix stupid.'

Believe me, I tried to actively share and spread the good word about the ukulele, but some folks hold on to their malicious ignorance like a security blanket, and so far, when I tried to evangalize or convert folks to understand the reality of ukulele music in the past year, most of the time I am told that I am a freak, and those folks that cannot tell me this directly, well, they act that way.

Evidence of this reaction recently was manifest by the total lack of invites to superbowl parties this year by folks that I thought were friends. Not that I follow the NFL much, but the comeraderie is nice and the social aspect too. One alleged 'friend' I questioned was honest with me and told me that he thought I'd 'have trouble fitting in with this group' and wanted to spare me the discomfort.

Nice, but that's also a way to say that 'your kind aint welcome here' (as if I am a leper, or follow Rastafarianism as a religion or something)

No loss for me. I worked on my songwriting all day and went to bed early, and missed out on having a massive hangover the next day and I am so much better for it. Plus, now his true colors are revealed, for whatever that is worth.

mm stan
02-03-2015, 09:16 PM
Aloha Katy,
Just an intellectual point of view of an individual who has no idea of what he/she is talking about. ... WHOOOSH
The old saying, don't believe everything you read :)
These high profile media types can change the perception of the uninformed ones for sure, like in anything in
General they print pubically. They could be dangerous to society if believed..

good_uke_boy
02-04-2015, 01:14 AM
When I play for family and friends, they seem always to say, "I didn't know a ukulele could sound like that." (I hope that's a compliment. :rolleyes:)
I've got much to learn and achieve as a player, which makes things fun. But showing others what the instrument can do may be the best way to spread the ukulele virus. Small steps.

Hippie Dribble
02-04-2015, 01:28 AM
Maybe, the ukulele has reached a critical mass where it is like other musical instruments, it does not have waves any more, it just is?

Agreed Bill, I was going to say exactly the same thing. It's no boom anymore - I remember these threads being very common around when I jopined - it has established itself as a credible, flexible, user-friendly instrument for sometime now and is a much more frequent regular in bands' arrangements and live playing. It is. It is here.

Kinda like vinyl. Everyone thought it died. But those who knew always knew. It Never Died!!!

Hippie Dribble
02-04-2015, 01:29 AM
And we can thank Jim Beloff this time around. :) Legend.

good_uke_boy
02-04-2015, 01:39 AM
Based on the NAMM stats I cited above, more than 4 million ukuleles were sold just in the US during 2009-2013. That's more than 1 per 100 in the US population and about 1 uke for every 3 guitars sold.

Of course, some of us have slightly more than one. The author of the Atlantic article could and should have looked at these numbers.

Brian1
02-04-2015, 03:30 AM
Based on the NAMM stats I cited above, more than 4 million ukuleles were sold just in the US during 2009-2013. That's more than 1 per 100 in the US population and about 1 uke for every 3 guitars sold.

Of course, some of us have slightly more than one. The author of the Atlantic article could and should have looked at these numbers.

Hi, I couldn't find the stats mentioned, I believe them, but I would like to see them if they are easily available. I did find the link you posted to the got a ukulele site that had a list of famous people living and dead who have played (or at least been photographed with a) ukulele.

good_uke_boy
02-04-2015, 03:36 AM
Hi, I couldn't find the stats mentioned, I believe them, but I would like to see them if they are easily available. I did find the link you posted to the got a ukulele site that had a list of famous people living and dead who have played (or at least been photographed with a) ukulele.

Post #19 in this thread.

Rllink
02-04-2015, 04:20 AM
I know that this is going to sound a little blasphemous, but I sort of like the uniqueness of the ukulele. I'm glad that everyone doesn't play one. In my social circle of friends, I'm the only ukulele player, and that is fine with me. I don't want them all to take up the ukulele. I mean, playing the ukulele makes me different, and I've always liked being different. So if we are a select group of individuals, that is good with me. I like being a part of it.

Booli
02-04-2015, 04:35 AM
I know that this is going to sound a little blasphemous, but I sort of like the uniqueness of the ukulele. I'm glad that everyone doesn't play one. In my social circle of friends, I'm the only ukulele player, and that is fine with me. I don't want them all to take up the ukulele. I mean, playing the ukulele makes me different, and I've always liked being different. So if we are a select group of individuals, that is good with me. I like being a part of it.

OMG. This ^ exactly. I feel the same way.

I don't like following the crowd, and enjoy being (myself, different, weird, a freak, unique) and following my OWN path has always been very rewarding.

Herd mentality is annoying to me.

However, I would be very pleased if even just one of my friends, or one of my sisters wanted me to teach them what little I know about ukulele, but I will not push them, they need to find it for themselves.

philpot
02-04-2015, 05:20 AM
Oh do me a favour and lighten up Mr Philpot ....I'm not having a pop .

I wouldn't be brash , or cocky , enough to write what you just have but good for you and
no -one is accusing YOU of anything ....it was just a general say so...people can get fed up with having their ears bent by people rhapsodising on....and on and on ...your way is the best way...


Believe me, everything I said was lighthearted. I've taken no personal offense and meant none :) certainly not trying to be cocky, either, although I'm probably too young to know when I am ;) like I said, I prefer not to rhapsodize, just play and discuss when occasion permits.

CeeJay
02-04-2015, 06:58 PM
Believe me, everything I said was lighthearted. I've taken no personal offense and meant none :) certainly not trying to be cocky, either, although I'm probably too young to know when I am ;) like I said, I prefer not to rhapsodize, just play and discuss when occasion permits.

That's us Old Farts jobs to let you youngsters know when you're being cocky , just like it was back when I was a youngster being cocky:biglaugh::old:

Keep on strumplucking !!

coolkayaker1
02-05-2015, 04:34 AM
I know that this is going to sound a little blasphemous, but I sort of like the uniqueness of the ukulele. I'm glad that everyone doesn't play one. Then your degree of "gladness" will get a boost in the years ahead. :D

Lalz
02-05-2015, 05:28 AM
I know that this is going to sound a little blasphemous, but I sort of like the uniqueness of the ukulele. I'm glad that everyone doesn't play one. In my social circle of friends, I'm the only ukulele player, and that is fine with me. I don't want them all to take up the ukulele. I mean, playing the ukulele makes me different, and I've always liked being different. So if we are a select group of individuals, that is good with me. I like being a part of it.

Personally, I don't really care if lots of people play it or not. I get a lot of joy from playing the uke. If other people do too then I'm happy for them, and sometimes with them. All the same if something else makes them happy.

janeray1940
02-05-2015, 05:40 AM
Personally, I don't really care if lots of people play it or not. I get a lot of joy from playing the uke. If other people do too then I'm happy for them, and sometimes with them. All the same if something else makes them happy.

Agree completely. I didn't exactly start playing because it was hip and cool and popular; I'm glad that for whatever reason the popularity led me to meet a lot of fellow uke players right from the start, but I'm equally content to enjoy playing it on my own as well.

Hippie Dribble
02-05-2015, 05:47 AM
Agree completely. I didn't exactly start playing because it was hip and cool and popular; I'm glad that for whatever reason the popularity led me to meet a lot of fellow uke players right from the start, but I'm equally content to enjoy playing it on my own as well.

+2. It's just a sweet and surprising instrument and not as easy as many guitarists would like to think !

spookelele
02-05-2015, 05:51 AM
Last summer I saw a bumper sticker that that made me laugh.

"My daughter is 'alternative', just like all her friends."

Lalz
02-05-2015, 05:54 AM
Let's face it: even at the absolute peak of recent uke fandom, the combined total CD sales of the top 100 uke professionals, from Iz and Jake and James Hill on down, might have sold as many CDs as a single mainstream guitarist, like John Mayer, has sold in one day. A day! (A guesstimate, to be sure, but you get the drift)

We play an instrument that has two-octaves, for God's sakes; it's never going to be a lead instrument on the radio other than as an accessory on humorous songs, like the one by Bruno Mars with all the apes in the video.

I beg to differ. Beirut for instance is one of the most popular indie pop bands of the past 10 years, and the ukulele is their main instrument, which they use as a serious instrument, not a gimmick. Iz had the biggest selling single of 2010, double-platinum. These are professional uke players too - not just Jake and James Hill - and they're far from the only ones. I hear hit singles that use ukuleles on the radio all the time.

strumsilly
02-05-2015, 06:06 AM
Very true. I'm not sure why mandolins don't get the same abuse, since they're tiny and plinky too. I think it's because there's no stereotype of island natives in grass skirts strumming mandolins...and nobody sells a $50 mandolin.

One could also wonder why we care what anyone else thinks about the ukulele.
I bought one for $29 on amazon, and the fit and finish was much better than their ukes. they are now $60 shipped
http://www.amazon.com/Rogue-RM-100A-A-Style-Mandolin-Sunburst/dp/B0002H0KG0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1423155843&sr=8-2&keywords=rogue+rm-100a

janeray1940
02-05-2015, 06:37 AM
+2. It's just a sweet and surprising instrument and not as easy as many guitarists would like to think !

Um, wait. It's supposed to be easy?? :)


Last summer I saw a bumper sticker that that made me laugh.

"My daughter is 'alternative', just like all her friends."

I think the minute the word "alternative" entered the vocabulary to describe music, and to some extent, lifestyle, it completely and totally lost its meaning. I came of age in the early 1980s punk rock scene and I remember when restaurants wouldn't seat us when we had magenta or green hair; when my double-pierced left ear was downright shocking; and when tattoos were considered extreme. I suspect that the generation before me has similar stories with regard to their long hair and such - actually, I'm old enough to remember the comments some adults made toward the "hippies" when I was a kid ("is that a boy or a girl?" being the main one, said toward males with long hair - hey, guys like Tiny Tim!). Now you can get all of these looks and more at the mall...

Brian1
02-05-2015, 07:44 AM
I bought one for $29 on amazon, and the fit and finish was much better than their ukes. they are now $60 shipped
http://www.amazon.com/Rogue-RM-100A-A-Style-Mandolin-Sunburst/dp/B0002H0KG0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1423155843&sr=8-2&keywords=rogue+rm-100a

I get ads for that mandolin on my e-mail everyday for $49.

I think Mandolins have a stereotype too, but it is of European travelers from 150+ years ago even if that was a lute. Banjo players are categorized as hillbillies. Guitarists have a stereotype of being tattooed and pierced pot dealers living off of their girlfriends. And I don't even want to go into the stereotype of those who play the cello. In the big picture we don't have it so bad.

spookelele
02-05-2015, 09:32 AM
I don't see that versatility in other stringed instruments.

People are versatile. Instruments are just a means of expression.

Lindsey Stirling plays dubstep on violin.
Ewen Dobsen plays techno on guitar.
The Piano Guys take 5 guys playing One direction mostly without using the keyboard of the piano itself.
Bobby Mcferrin can play his audience as an instrument.
etc

Instruments make sounds. But people make music.
Uke attracts some creative people, as well as traditional ones.
But it's not unique in that respect.

DownUpDave
02-05-2015, 10:39 AM
I started playing ukulele 10 montns ago, according to some people here I entered during a down turn. I attend three different regular uke jams and the funny thing is in 10 months all of them have grown to the point where lack of seating is becoming an issue. There are new people showing up every week. Three relatives of mine have taken up the uke since I started and it was not because of me.

It might not be at a frantic growth state at the moment but it seems to have hit critical mass with enough people to sustain a healthly existence.

Tigermelon
09-22-2017, 10:31 AM
Stumbled upon this on my own and thought it was a great read. If you haven't checked it out yet, you're in for a treat.

For the more experienced ukers in the bunch, you'll appreciate the comments even more!

Jarmo_S
09-22-2017, 12:51 PM
I read a few comments and they are over 2 years old and I myself think that the ukulele boom is fading and have already done so quite a lot. We must understand that most who bought uke because it was an in thing to do, have never learned much and will eventually drop their playing if not had done so already.

But there will always be those, like I imagine myself to be, who will play it for the rest of their life, if allowed by health. Treating it as an unique versatile accompanying instrument.

Edit:
And I am of same mind as some others, that the internet (youtube videos) will keep the uke from falling into obscurity again, but instead keeps it alive. :)

hendulele
09-22-2017, 01:29 PM
The recent success of several young people playing ukes (and writing songs using them!) on America's Got Talent suggests to me the uke may become less an oddity and more a mainstream alternative to guitar. We're not about to enter oud territory, folks.

janeray1940
09-22-2017, 04:20 PM
We must understand that most who bought uke because it was an in thing to do, have never learned much and will eventually drop their playing if not had done so already.


And this happened during the early 20th century ukulele fad, and the mid 20th century ukulele fad, and... hey, it's still around and we're still playing it! Trend followers may come and go, but those of us who are hooked are probably in for the long haul.

This was really fun to revisit this thread, good call on resurrecting it.

70sSanO
09-22-2017, 07:27 PM
Boom years "can" have a positive long term effect, although not apparent in previous ukulele booms. But those booms were fighting the guitar.

The 60's bred an electric guitar boom, but kids that tried to emulate the riffs of their favorite bands, never completely gave up on the instrument and as they had families, and that was passed on to their kids. But even though there wasn't another electric guitar boom that rivaled the 60's, guitars were selling. And boomers were also buying and collecting.

I can imagine the same thing happening, although maybe too soon to see, with the ukulele. It may be more subtle than the boom frenzy, but consistent sales for the ukulele, rather a boom fad is better than the past when the instrument seemed to disappear. Let's face it, cheaper ukes if today are many times better than 10-15 years ago. It is so easy to learn and the perfect instrument for a kid with minimal investment.

Below is an interesting response from Fender to a June 2017 article on plummeting electric guitar sales being tied to the death of rock and roll.

"Fender CEO Andy Mooney told Quartz via email that Fender currently has under $100 million in debt, less than half the amount it had in 2012. “Sales of fretted instruments are in great shape and Fender’s electric guitar and amp revenues have been steadily rising for several years,” he said, adding that electric sales are holding steady, acoustic sales are on the rise, and “ukelele sales are exploding.”

John

Croaky Keith
09-22-2017, 10:42 PM
The internet will keep the uke alive this time around, (even if high street shops don't sell them), they'll be available from specialists for years (centurys?) to come. ;)

(The days of the touring groups is over, it is too expensive to accommodate them & their entourages, & there are too few major venues left.)

DownUpDave
09-23-2017, 02:06 AM
The recent success of several young people playing ukes (and writing songs using them!) on America's Got Talent suggests to me the uke may become less an oddity and more a mainstream alternative to guitar. We're not about to enter oud territory, folks.

Agreed. Grace Vanderwall, 21 Pilots, Vance Joy to name a few are all big international stars that perform with the ukulele. Just go on youtube and check out all the teens and twenty somethings doing covers with the uke. It is alive and well and will continue to florish.

maki66
09-23-2017, 02:53 AM
Great article.

Jim Beloff told the beginners. “There are no ukulele police.”

That Jumpin' Jim quote is pure gold.

Irish Traditional Music definitely has the Trad Police.

OhioBelle
09-23-2017, 05:12 AM
Great article.

Jim Beloff told the beginners. “There are no ukulele police.”

That Jumpin' Jim quote is pure gold.

Irish Traditional Music definitely has the Trad Police.

Are there Trad Police? I volunteer every year at the Dayton Celtic Fest (and thank my lucky stars that we have something so great in our community). An amazing array of musicians play at this event, from locals all the way to bands from Ireland. I love them all, from the Trad bands to the rockers. For years, along with Gaelic Storm, a perennial crowd favorite has always been Scythian, with their unique and wonderful fusion of Celtic with Gypsy. https://www.scythianmusic.com

I hope the Trad Police never arrest Scythian, as they are downright magical!

But I digress... I would love to see one of these Celtic bands bust out a ukulele! It would totally fit in. I love this thread, and agree with so many that the uke, although fun as hell, is a serious instrument just like any other. The next thing I'm ordering from Samantha Muir's shop is her book of Irish tunes. :music:

Tootler
09-23-2017, 08:07 AM
I sing traditional songs with my ukulele, mainly English but also Scottish and a few Irish.

I live in the North East of England and play in Folk Clubs around the area. I find people accept me on my own terms and no has said the ukulele is inappropriate. Most people who play ukulele here tend to sing or play pop songs or 20s to 40s jazz. I go to very few purely ukulele events, preferring folk events.

hendulele
09-23-2017, 08:41 AM
Are there Trad Police? I volunteer every year at the Dayton Celtic Fest (and thank my lucky stars that we have something so great in our community). An amazing array of musicians play at this event, from locals all the way to bands from Ireland. I love them all, from the Trad bands to the rockers. For years, along with Gaelic Storm, a perennial crowd favorite has always been Scythian, with their unique and wonderful fusion of Celtic with Gypsy. https://www.scythianmusic.com

I hope the Trad Police never arrest Scythian, as they are downright magical!

But I digress... I would love to see one of these Celtic bands bust out a ukulele! It would totally fit in. I love this thread, and agree with so many that the uke, although fun as hell, is a serious instrument just like any other. The next thing I'm ordering from Samantha Muir's shop is her book of Irish tunes. :music:

Yes, Scythian violates every rule. Along with the amazing energy they bring, they're a super-nice group of folks.

maki66
09-23-2017, 10:29 AM
I sing traditional songs with my ukulele, mainly English but also Scottish and a few Irish.

I live in the North East of England and play in Folk Clubs around the area. I find people accept me on my own terms and no has said the ukulele is inappropriate. Most people who play ukulele here tend to sing or play pop songs or 20s to 40s jazz. I go to very few purely ukulele events, preferring folk events.

Hi Geoff!!!
I'm a long time fan and subscriber.
I first found you by your concertina playing.

joshsimpson79
09-23-2017, 04:14 PM
They're still around! Mandolin orchestras (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mandolin+orchestra) - as well as recorder orchestras (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=recorder+orchestra), and probably others that I don't know of - are all over YouTube. The mando orchestras were what got me interested in orchestral/ensemble uke playing (true instrumental orchestras, not uke + vocals like some uke "orchestras" out there). Funny how nobody's writing about the resurgence of the mandolin orchestra... or recorder orchestra... or perhaps it's just not on my radar.

Right there with ya, waving goodbye to the dilettantes :)

I took piano lessons for many years from a teacher who actually had more accordion students in the 60s and 70s than piano. Remember Lawrence Welk and how popular it made the accordion? I only watched reruns as a kid, but she shared stories about taking a ten sextet called the Teen Tones to New York for a radio show. How many accordion players do you know now?

Tootler
09-23-2017, 10:43 PM
Recorder orchestras are doing well here in the UK. I played contrabass in one for a while but gave up because it was a bit of a trek to rehearsals and it was taking the edge off it and I wasn't enjoying it as much as I did at first. I still play my contrabass recorder when I get the opportunity.

Tootler
09-23-2017, 10:45 PM
Hi Geoff!!!
I'm a long time fan and subscriber.
I first found you by your concertina playing.

Good to hear that and many thanks. I'm still playing my concertina but not so much for folky stuff these days. I'm playing harmonica more.

janeray1940
09-24-2017, 07:30 AM
How many accordion players do you know now?

Two, actually. One's a teacher and he actually has students, plural, so - it's still around. But nobody ever talks about the Accordion Boom or the rise and fall of it, at least not that I know of... :)

Random Lawrence Welk apropos-of-nothing factoid: I live in a house formerly owned by one of the Lennon Sisters; they were big real estate investors in my town. I'm definitely old enough to remember the show but it seems I encounter fewer and fewer people who get the reference!

maki66
09-24-2017, 08:03 AM
Two, actually. One's a teacher and he actually has students, plural, so - it's still around. But nobody ever talks about the Accordion Boom or the rise and fall of it, at least not that I know of... :)

Random Lawrence Welk apropos-of-nothing factoid: I live in a house formerly owned by one of the Lennon Sisters; they were big real estate investors in my town. I'm definitely old enough to remember the show but it seems I encounter fewer and fewer people who get the reference!

Accordion players are actually pretty common.
But the first rule of Accordion Club is that you never talk about Accordion Club.

I think that they are going to become widely popular again. There I said it.
http://squeezeboxgoddess.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0P0EvJOfRQ

Ziret
09-24-2017, 08:59 AM
Accordion players are actually pretty common.
But the first rule of Accordion Club is that you never talk about Accordion Club.

I think that they are going to become widely popular again. There I said it.
http://squeezeboxgoddess.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0P0EvJOfRQ

Are you in Mound? I grew up there. My folks and everyone I knew knew the Andrews Sisters, and watching Lawrence Welk on Sunday night (after rassling) was as obligatory as Sunday morning church. Maybe moreso.

Ziret
09-24-2017, 09:02 AM
Great article.

Jim Beloff told the beginners. “There are no ukulele police.”

That Jumpin' Jim quote is pure gold.

Irish Traditional Music definitely has the Trad Police.

Not to mention the Bluegrass police. Come on! Mandolin yes, ukulele no?

maki66
09-24-2017, 09:50 AM
Are you in Mound? I grew up there. My folks and everyone I knew knew the Andrews Sisters, and watching Lawrence Welk on Sunday night (after rassling) was as obligatory as Sunday morning church. Maybe moreso.

I don't know Mound, sorry.
I do remember watching Lawrence Welk during prime
time on the back and white 12" TV.

Rllink
09-24-2017, 09:52 AM
Not to mention the Bluegrass police. Come on! Mandolin yes, ukulele no?There is a combination Bluegrass festival and Ukulele festival in Minnesota in November. http://www.bluegrassfun.com/2017-great-minnesota-uke-gathering.html You won't see any ukes on the Bluegrass stage though. Still, great people and fantastic workshops.

Nickie
09-24-2017, 10:12 AM
There is a combination Bluegrass festival and Ukulele festival in Minnesota in November. http://www.bluegrassfun.com/2017-great-minnesota-uke-gathering.html You won't see any ukes on the Bluegrass stage though. Still, great people and fantastic workshops.

Wow, this looks like one heck of a lot of fun!

Rllink
09-24-2017, 11:01 AM
Wow, this looks like one heck of a lot of fun!
It is fun. I think that Choirguy has something to do with it this year. I saw his picture somewhere connected with the festival.

70sSanO
09-24-2017, 07:33 PM
While it does look like fun... Minnesota in November does sound a bit too cold. I would think an event like this in the Summer would be a little more appealing.

John

Tootler
09-25-2017, 02:16 AM
Accordion players are actually pretty common.
But the first rule of Accordion Club is that you never talk about Accordion Club.

I think that they are going to become widely popular again. There I said it.
http://squeezeboxgoddess.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0P0EvJOfRQ

Accordions are very common in folk music over here. Mostly diatonic in England but the piano accordion is probably more common in Scotland. We call diatonic accordions Melodeons over here, though in Ireland they only call,the one row a melodeon. Go to a folk session in England and the melodeon is often the most common instrument, even more so than the fiddle.

Rllink
09-25-2017, 03:19 AM
While it does look like fun... Minnesota in November does sound a bit too cold. I would think an event like this in the Summer would be a little more appealing.

John
It is held in a convention center. Last year they had the first snow of the season while we were there, but it was nice and toasty inside. Anyway, it is very interesting to see the ukulele culture and the bluegrass culture colliding. You can definitely tell who is who.

Ziret
09-25-2017, 08:31 AM
There is a combination Bluegrass festival and Ukulele festival in Minnesota in November. http://www.bluegrassfun.com/2017-great-minnesota-uke-gathering.html You won't see any ukes on the Bluegrass stage though. Still, great people and fantastic workshops.

I'm thinking of being there in October. November is a bit late in the year for me.