View Full Version : Stepping stone?

11-26-2015, 05:29 AM
Just to get something going, a couple of things transpired recently, and I thought that I might just put them out there and we can all discuss it in anyway one feels. I mean, there is no point to this thread, so go where you please with it.

Just the other day I was at a music store, where they have all of three ukuleles, and not real expensive ones at that, and the manager was trying to get me to teach ukulele lessons. This isn't the first time he has talked to me about it. I feel like I'm pretty good at what I do, but I'm lacking in a lot of areas when it comes to having a broad understanding of playing the ukulele, and I think that a talented young soul learning to play the ukulele could go past me pretty quickly if they really wanted to learn how to play the ukulele. But this guy told me that we could switch them over to the guitar before that happened. Well, I don't really take offense to that remark. It is fine. I think it is funny. But I'm not going to teach ukulele lessons anyway, because I just don't care to, even if I were good enough to teach lessons. I did suggest that they actually hire a real ukulele instructor, and not try to hire some ne'er-do-well off the streets, like me. So that is all neither here nor there.

But then, in jest I'm sure, Coolkayaker1 made a comment in another thread,

Or, jump one step further directly to the endgame: buy a guitar.Which I am not going to read into it than it is, which is just a comment. So I'm cool with Coolkayaker.

But I know that a lot of people came to ukuleles from guitars, and I know that a lot of people go from ukuleles to guitars. I like guitars fine. I was seriously thinking about learning to play the guitar, when I discovered the ukulele, and really, I feel like the ukulele saved me from playing the guitar. I'm pretty much a ukulele man, in fact, I'm pretty much a concert high G re-entrant tuned ukulele man, and I got no interest in moving on to something else. But anyway, I just find the dynamics between uke and guitar interesting. I find it all interesting. So that is enough to get something started. Happy Thanksgiving all, I'll check back after I eat.

11-26-2015, 07:04 AM
Happy T day to all. I played guitar for almost fifty years until a little over two years ago when I started playing ukulele, I haven't touched my guitars since. But a little less than a year ago I also started playing bass uke for the group I'm with, and now I find I have to consciously grab a uke just to keep up my chops, but not often enough. Never intended that to happen, but there ya go. I'm thinking of joining an additional group just to play ukulele regularly again.

11-26-2015, 07:08 AM
I, too, was thinking of learning to play guitar when I chanced to pick up a uke. That was 5 years ago and now I have no desire to play guitar.

11-26-2015, 08:29 AM
My fingers have been struggling for 30 years with six low-string-spaced strings.
In came the four-string-mini-monster. Well well, strumming a simple song within a day.

A few years later the Dolphin is always near me, but my primary instrument is the baritone. Most things I play I learn from guitar tutorials, that's the great thing about the baritone. I still glance at 'the endgame' now and then, and I might give it a try some time, but for a few years now I've been more happy with my ukes than I ever was in my 30-year struggle with that evil six-string-monster.

11-26-2015, 08:46 AM
Stepping stone is an intersting title. Some will move on, others stay put, then the uke is a touch stone.

I have been bitten by the steel string bug and ordered a tenor guitar. I will tune it DGBE like a baritone........it will be my steel string baritone uke.

I like different sounds and tones. That has lead me to explore soprano, concert, tenor in high G and low G (my fav) baritone and now a tenor guitar is on the way. I just enjoy. .........NO make that....I am thrilled that at the age of 58 I am now able to make music. I owe it all to the ukulele. It's sound still captivates and transforms me.

11-26-2015, 08:57 AM
I've played both at various times in my life (as well as attempts at piano and bass) but have only stuck with the ukulele long enough to become reasonably proficient at it. Since my interest is fingerstyle playing, it only makes sense that as someone who did not commit to learning until mid-40s to stick with 4 strings rather than 6. It's fun to bang out a few chords on guitar, and for me even more fun to try to apply my knowledge of uke to guitar from time to time, but I know myself well enough to know that taking on learning fingerstyle guitar at the ripe old age of 50 is just a set-up for failure. It's that much harder, especially with the added physical discomfort of the bigger instrument and the bigger fretboard. It's uke for life, for me... although if I ever live somewhere large enough to house one, I'll add piano at some point as well.

As for me... "stepping stone" sort of takes on a different meaning. I've been around music and musicians my whole life, but being someone who tends to give up if I can't do something perfectly right out of the gate, I've never really committed to playing or to learning theory. Uke has been more than anything a stepping stone toward some sort of self-awareness that it's OK to take my time, and it's OK to not be perfect from the start, and it's OK to learn things gradually. With all of that, there's never really been much of a desire to move on to something else!

Down Up Dick
11-26-2015, 09:01 AM
I started the Uke because I happened to have one, and because I wanted to sing. But hard as I tried, something in my personality moved me on in different directions. For one thing, I kept playing melodies rather than chords. I'm a melody or counter melody musician, and I've seldom played harmony. So, I finally gave in and started playing scales and doing a lot of noodling. I still chord and sing, but playing melodies has taken over.

And that brings me to the next step, for now I'm also playing the banjo. I have a regular one and a mini (travel) one. Though it's much more difficult for me, I really enjoy it much more. I'd always liked the banjo and folk music. I'm worried that I waited too long to start, though, because learning new info is very difficult at my age. Right now, I'm having coordination problems. I have trouble finding the correct strings with both hands. I'll be able to play all right if and when I beat that though (I hope). Ha! I have to admit that I've been looking at banjos with more bling than mine. Good Lord, are we ever satisfied?

Anyway, I think that others of us just have the desire to move on to something more. I've gotten tired of most of the instruments that I know how to play. And studying and learning new info is supposed to be very good for us old folks. Well, we gotta do somethin' fun . . .

11-26-2015, 09:35 AM
I always loved the sound of guitars, I tried to learn classical on an old Goya in my youth, a little stuck, but I couldn't manage consistent practice. There was no YT, just books and a course on KCET on Saturday mornings. No VHS yet either. By my 40's I'd dug out from under the bed and sold every guitar I had gathering dust.

The availability of video instruction, forums and tabs really got me enthused with ukuleles in my 50s. I wanted to learn to play something before my hands froze all the way up and my brain congealed. Ukes were a blast and a journey.

Now my ukes are in the closet while I explore short scale steel and nylon string parlor guitars, after finding that capoing the full sized monsters didn't help as much as I thought it might!

I have found I love love love the sound of steel strings, especially acoustic fingerstyle blues and folk, some bluegrass, and of course country and even some Christian stuff (NEEDTOBREATHE especially). I got tired of trying to find uke tabs, and I now have, I have lost count, somewhere around 10-11 guitars stashed around the tiny house from the same process of buy, try, move along, keep the ones that "resonate" best, then get down to one or two. After playing a steel string guitar a uke sounds a little puny, so they are all resting awhile. However I intend to come back around to them.

I also find that guitar being more complex, it is pushing me into theory more because of the several courses I have bought on blues, and also developing proper technique, and it's starting to make sense. I'm pretty much stuck at home because of my job, never go anywhere, never get to do much. So for now this is my venue for adventure.

As a stepping stone it has also got me really interested in the history of guitar and ukulele, and various aspects of luthiery.

11-26-2015, 10:15 AM
The ukulele has been a stepping stone for me to guitar. I had no desire to play guitar or ukulele 1 1/2 years ago. My daughter bought a diamond ukulele. I started playing it more than her. Before long, I bought a tenor uke.

I started exploring jazz on the ukulele from the beginning. Then this summer after working through Pekelo Book 2, I started working on playing classical pieces on ukulele. It was not long before I realized that I needed a classical guitar for the kind of music that I wanted to play. So I purchased a Classical guitar and started learning it. I found that playing the ukulele made the guitar easier to learn.

About a month later I purchased a Jazz Archtop guitar and started learning Jazz on the guitar. It was nice that many of the chord shapes I learned on Jazz ukulele could be applied on the guitar.

I still play my ukulele at least an hour a day and will continue to keep playing it. It's a different and unique instrument than a guitar.

For me, the synergy of playing Classical Guitar, Jazz Guitar and ukulele mesh well together. The classical guitar gives me the technique with left and right hand independence. Classical guitar also helps stretch my left hand, which helps on the uke. Jazz guitar has taught me that those chord on the uke are not so difficult afterall :D The uke has helped in my music theory and applying ideas to music. Also, I like the feel and funk of the ukulele. It's a raw instrument. I usually have my feet up on the chair when I'm playing the uke. I need my feet on the floor for the guitars.

11-26-2015, 12:17 PM
Great stories of musical voyages...

My story is along the same lines. Picked up a guitar as a teenager in 1960s, played in a small band through college, then stopped playing much, as work and family did not allow much free time. I have really short fat fingers, so I always had trouble with guitar. Picked up a banjo along the way, then some mandolins, since they have smaller necks and require less stretch. Now, I finally have the time to play and my doc told me playing music would help with the developing arthritis in my hands. After doing some more research I decided the ukulele was the right choice for me. They are portable, great to sing along with, make me smile, and are easy enough to play to a level that you can have fun without too much stress. Oh, and my stubby little fingers can barre chords, no problem :-).

Happy holidays to all!

Croaky Keith
11-27-2015, 03:34 AM
Well I tried playing guitar, but it really hurt my fingers, both steel & nylon strings, so I gave up - I just wasn't getting on with it.

Years later, here I am trying to play music again, now with ukuleles, both pineapple/soprano & tenor, one for strumming, one for finger picking, at least, that is my intent.
So far, things are going well enough to be encouraging, fingers don't seem to hurt as much on the uke, plus I can sit down & learn, (which wasn't so easy with a guitar).
Also, the wealth of info available via the internet is helping to keep my interest going. :)

11-27-2015, 04:04 AM
Yes, the guitar was a great stepping stone to a ukulele.

I have advanced in two years on the ukulele to more advanced than I was at five years on the guitar.

11-27-2015, 04:15 AM
I have never wanted to play the guitar. I've been playing ukulele for 7 years. I still have no interest in learning how to play the guitar.

11-27-2015, 05:18 AM
I see the two as two rather different instruments for different types of music. Knowing how to play one helped the other. The theory I picked up from the guitar translates well on the ukulele. The <2-octaves-worth of notes on the ukulele really challenges me to do more with less, plus, I've greatly improved in my right hand strumming and picking techniques which transfers over well to guitar.

There are just some things I can do on one and not on the other. I can't play "Crazy G" on the guitar with the same spirit. I can't play "Back in Black" on the ukulele with the same spirit.

Sure, you can see a hierarchy if you want to. To me, they are different hobbies that overlap a little. Outside my house, I get a whole lot more attention with one than with the other because of its portability. Whereas, I force myself on to other people with the other when I crank my amplifier and get those tubes cookin' (haha).

Though, admittedly, it happens form time to time, I don't play the guitar like an ukulele, and I don't play the ukulele like a guitar. They have different purposes to me.

Pick up the guitar because it will open a new world. Play the ukulele to continue opening new worlds.

Learn both. Don't be "loyal." Be more "musical."

Really, though, . . . just play.

11-27-2015, 06:28 AM
There were a few stars that had to align for me to discover the ukulele, and while my experience with a guitar consists of three or four chords and about tas many weeks of playing it, the guitar really did influence my discovery greatly. But I'm pretty happy just playing the uke. I'm not one who want to experiment or experience lots of ukulele variations, or various and other musical instruments. Much of what lead me to the ukulele came as a result of rejecting certain aspects of playing the guitar which favored the ukulele, and those reasons are even more valid now, than they were when I chose to play the ukulele. And because of that, I do not see the ukulele in the shadow of the guitar, which I get the feeling that a lot of people do. I am pretty happy that providence lead me where it did. For me, the ukulele is the better choice.

11-27-2015, 06:48 AM
After years of classical guitar the ukulele was a stepping stone towards actually enjoying music and having fun on an instrument for the first time. I have picked back up the guitar on and off but i am limiting it to 4 strings since that seems to be the point where it goes from fun to hard for me. When does a tenor guitar and a baritone uke start and end? For me so long as it has 4 strings them i'm playing it and having fun...

Ukulele Eddie
11-27-2015, 07:13 AM
I think if any instrument opens people to other instruments, that's awesome. As long as people are making music and having fun, it's all good!

I really love the sound and look of acoustic guitars, but I am plenty challenged with four strings for the next decade or two. ;-)

Croaky Keith
11-27-2015, 07:13 AM
......the ukulele was a stepping stone towards actually enjoying music and having fun on an instrument for the first time.
I like that sentiment, people that play the uke do seem to always be enjoying themselves. :)

Irish Uke Tom
11-27-2015, 07:58 AM
I picked up my flatmates ukulele one fateful hangover day several months ago and played til my hands cramped. Most enjoyable hangover I've ever had. Since then I've played everyday, enjoying every moment of it. I will try other instruments but the ukulele turned my mind to music and it will always be my number one. I may buy a different type of instrument for the craic but it remains unlikely. Before the uke, I seriously wasn't musical and barely enjoyed listening to music even (yes I was one of those guys!). I see it as a separate instrument/endeavour and it definitely puts a smile on peoples' faces in a way a guitar never does. My friends who play the guitar very well are sometimes jealous of the reaction I get from people with my uke (especially women haha). It can be serious and it can be hilarious - that's the best thing about a uke imo.