View Full Version : What every ukulele performer needs

Howlin Hobbit
05-14-2019, 07:13 PM

this is my friend salamandir and his C tuba. we're busking at Pike Place Market in the pic. (apparently you can post a pic here, it just needs a click or tap to embiggify it.)

everybody should be lucky enough to have their own sal!

I sometimes get the feeling that so many uke folk get so involved in the instrument itself, and proselytizing about it, that they miss some of the fun bits of playing with others.

how many of you reading this are members of a uke club? do you regularly have someone there holding down the bottom end? doesn't have to be a tuba, could just be a regular bass or bass guitar/uke. a bassoon would be jammin'.

whether or not you're in a club, think about forming a little combo where you're the only one on ukulele. don't get hung up on "proper" instrumentation, just fill the roles in your combo with instruments and players who can do that given part of the sound.

it changes the way you think about the music when you do that, and it also does wonders for your uke chops.

plus it's just plain fun.

05-14-2019, 07:28 PM
I love this comment. A combo, a jug band, or whatever! Trying to figure that out. That would float my boat. I am not that interested in the group or 25 ukes doing the dududud thing, though I may be just flat out ignorant! Not saying that it is wrong, I do see clubs on the internet that look pretty fun.

05-14-2019, 08:01 PM
I am in no ukulele groups, no band, and I dont perform live. Except for a rare bonfire.

Only time I played with someone else is a few times I have played with my father, him playing his guitar.
Playing with someone who plays chords on a guitar is not as optimal as playing with someone playing a bass, I guess. Best thing to do is to bring your loudest uke and play some picking patterns.

I would really like to have a jam group with a few people playing bass, cajun box, clarinet or stuff like that. But I dont know a lot of people playing instruments like that. And being the one who "only" plays a bit of ukulele, it is probably hard to advertise for people to play with, given the less serious reputation of the Ukulele. I looked up a local musicians forum, but all adverts in there were people looking for serious musicians. It would look a bit silly to post, asking if there are someone who used to play bass when they were in highschool and want to pick it up again 20 years later to play a few jazz standards in a basement with no ambitions...
I assume that most people with extensive recent experience on their instrument would want a more serious setting.

05-14-2019, 08:27 PM
When I started play ukulele about 6 years ago, I joined two groups almost immediately, one had 10 members, the other had 60. After a year I decided to focus on the 60 person group that met twice a week rather than the other that met once every two weeks. At the same time, the leader asked if anyone would like to take up the bass to fill in our sound. When I played rhythm guitar for almost fifty years before, I was often told I should play bass, but I didn't want to be encumbered by a large electric bass, forget a standup bass.

When I found out about all the bass ukes and mini bass guitars available, I went for it, along with one other member of the group. We play at the same time, and it comes off very well, plus we cover for each other when one of us can't make it, or for small gigs, one plays bass, the other uke. We're often praised by our leader and members for providing the bottom. It's been very gratifying, both playing bass and being a member of a group. (I have serious BAS with 25 basses.)

Because I play bass much more, I decided to also join a Sunday play acoustic in the park group with guitars, mandolins, slide acoustic, acoustic bass uke (with a small amp), and me on uke but no bass since this gives me an opportunity to play more ukulele, and my harmonica. Boy, am I glad I'm retired.

This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

05-15-2019, 12:57 AM

this is my friend salamandir and his C tuba. we're busking at Pike Place Market in the pic.

I can see the advantage of me playing in public with a tuba player. Maybe he could use an amp. :)

05-15-2019, 01:24 AM
Our jam group has one regular bassist (U-bass) and two others who come occasionally and bring both ukes and bass guitars just in case more low end is needed. We also have a beat box player and, of course, kazoos and harmonicas. We sound a lot more like a cohesive group. Plus, a rhythm section keeps everyone together.

05-15-2019, 01:28 AM
We have two bass uke players in my main uke group. It's great to have them providing the beat & bottom line. We also have a guy that plays the cajon (beat box) from time to time, and that really helps with tempo & timing. We've had some out of state visitors join our group this winter. They've been in the Salt Lake City area for the ski season, and they play ukulele plus harmonica. It's been great fun adding the harmonica to jams.

I play with three different ukulele groups. 50-60 people in one, 20-25 in another, and 5-15 in the last. The first two do community performances from time to time. The smallest group is just a get together to strictly jam. Both types are fun on different levels.

05-15-2019, 01:56 AM
Tuba and uke, how cool! Any video? I attended a community college for a time that had a very fine music dept. The guy who played tuba in the concert band used to walk around carrying the tuba without a case. It was funny to see him in the parking lot or student center. He would play it sometimes walking in the parking lot or walking in the hall. His name was Alvin and he was a bit eccentric but a real fun guy.

05-15-2019, 02:29 AM
Our family does some Christmas carols. One year, just me. This pic is of me and my brother on the bass. Last year we have 5 ukes a cello and a bass (but of course, I cannot find a pic from this year)


05-15-2019, 05:22 AM
I joined a uke group before I owned a uke. Just borrowed one off the rack the first session at the end of the session I bought my first uke. Still a member of that group and we meet every week. We do have bass players normally on a U-bass but occasionally on an upright, sometimes the store owner pulls up a Cajun and joins us. We have one or two that play the harmonica from time to time or guitar once in a while. I also like smaller groups when we try to get ready to gig a bit. You can get more creative with the music and arrangements with a smaller group.

05-15-2019, 06:36 AM
Great post HH! It really makes a difference to have instruments covering different parts and difference voices. It really expands the sound palate and each instrument has its function. It is a much different experience than some of the all uke groups.

A bari sax or bass clarinet could be a sweet choice as well!

05-15-2019, 09:20 AM
Groups I play with have a variety of additional instruments: bass, ubass, washtub bass, Cajon, kazoo, harmonica, egg shaker, steel guitar & steel/nylon string guitar.

Helps when some ukulele players fingerpick or strum on certain beats.

All of these instruments add to the overall sound. However, adding a bass (or tuba) seems to make the biggest difference.

05-15-2019, 02:13 PM
The jam I run is mixed acoustic and while we get a lot of ukers, we also get plenty of guitars, usually a bass player, a harmonica or two, banjo, and sometimes violin and percussion. It’s an ok blend. I do like the idea though of a smaller group.
My fav is playing with a mellow bluegrass (and a little old country/gospel) jam. They meet once a week in the afternoon, in a little gazebo in the park in downtown Arroyo Grande, CA. It’s about 6-8 players Usually a few guitars, a few banjos, a few mandolins. It would be even cooler if we had a fiddle, and upright bass.
The most unusual jam i’ve been to was a little group in Oceano and I played with a guitar, a trombone and one of those keyboard things you blow into.

05-16-2019, 04:14 AM

How are you doing? It is so good to hear from you.


05-16-2019, 05:04 AM
Even Jake now performs with a bass player, makes a world of difference.

One of the group's I perform with had a Cajon player but she left. So a group member took up U-bass and the songs sound so much better with the bass added. We are fortunate to have bass and percussion players at the Uke Jams I attend. I have been to other jams that don't have it and the difference is noticable.

For you solo bedroom players......has anyone tried playing with drum or bass backing tracks???

05-16-2019, 05:27 PM
Howlin' Hobbit, great to have your musical wisdom and fellow military veteran back here in these here interwebs! I run 3 microphones, 2 'ukulele, 1 guitar and 1 u-bass through a battery powered Behringer Xenix 1002B mixer into a single battery powered Bose S1 Pro with great success! My gain staging experience and skills afford me the opportunity to entertain an audience up to 50 with a single Bose S1 Pro.