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afeistyfiesta
01-17-2010, 04:02 AM
I was in Sam Ash music the other day buying a couple sets of Ukulele Strings, and the guy says to me, "So, tell me...what the Hell is the deal with the ukulele, anyway? Why is it getting so popular all of the sudden?"

I didn't have a definitive answer for him....for those of you west of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, you may not know that here in the 'nati, as we like to say, ukuleles have typically been a rare thing. When I first got my ukulele about 8 years ago (it is worth noting that I didn't start really playing it until about a year ago), I couldn't find ukulele anything anywhere (which is part of the reason I stopped playing so much). I couldn't so much as find a chord chart on the internet let alone in a store in Cincinnati, so I gave up.

About 3 years ago, however, I noticed that music shops started carrying base line kala and savannah ukuleles (the 20-50 dollar ones). Then about two years ago, method books started showing up, then strings, then about a year ago, more ukuleles. So I did another google search for ukulele about a year ago, and my web browser EXPLODED with results.

I told the guy I noticed the trend too. I told him that I attributed it to a combination of things. I said first of all, Paul McCartney and George Harrison both gave very high praise to the ukulele...George Harrison late in life called himself more of a ukulele player than anything else, and that it was by far his favorite instrument to play, and that it was pretty much all he ever played at home...Paul McCartney saying that he instantly respects and has a soft spot for any adult who plays the ukulele.

Then I told him about how 10 years ago, Eddie Vedder played "Soon Forget" on the uke at pretty much every show on their world tour. Then I pointed out that we're starting to see it permeate pop and indie music more, between Death Cab using it, Beirut, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, IZ music getting put into movies, and now Train, and then of course that dude playing IZ's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow on American Idol, we're starting to see it all over the place.

I told him that that was the first part of why it is getting popular...the second part is that when people fiddle around on it, they can't not love it.

I told him that I don't think it was just a pop culture fad, and that I thought it is catching on because it actually is really fun, but if it IS just a fad, I don't care, because I love it.

So what do you guys think?

What the Hell is the deal with the ukulele, anyway?

Uncle-Taco
01-17-2010, 04:36 AM
I don't know for sure what the hell the deal is, but I like it!

I think it could have something with the overall ease of creating and spreading music these days, which I also like.
20 years ago, if you wanted to create music, you had to book studio time, pay a lot of money, jump through lots of hoops to make it right, reproduce it on some kind of physical medium, and distribute it in some way--all at pretty significant expense.
I'm not techie enough to do this like most on this forum are, but I could (conceivably) create a song, record a video or audio file, and put it out there for millions of people before I finish this cup of coffee!
That has brought music, I think, to a "delightfully crude" form where people actually LIKE to experience it raw and native, warts and all. (E.g., only real jackasses criticize people on YouTube for little mistakes in their videos, and lower-tech recording methods and less complicated equipment are becoming popular).

So, what the hell does the ukulele have to do with it? You can arrange pretty much any kind of music for the ukulele--just spend an hour in the UU forums and you'll see that. It is uncomplicated, easy to learn and play, and you can make music and accompany anything with relatively little training or prowess, which is the absolute beauty of our instrument.

At certain times in history, we got things right only to keep messing with them (the Chevrolet was perfected in 1955, Coke classic was just fine, etc.) Even today, "Pong," Atari, and the original Nintendo games are coming back, because they got it right when they created it.

The ukulele? Just the iPod of the 1920s.

Fitzy
01-17-2010, 04:58 AM
So, what the hell does the ukulele have to do with it? You can arrange pretty much any kind of music for the ukulele--just spend an hour in the UU forums and you'll see that. It is uncomplicated, easy to learn and play, and you can make music and accompany anything with relatively little training or prowess, which is the absolute beauty of our instrument.

I believe you just hit the nail on the head. You are a wise man, Uncle Taco!

fscott
01-17-2010, 05:20 AM
I'll tell you what the deal is from the perspective of someone who doesn't even have a ukulele yet, and only briefly played one for about 5 minutes at a music store.

The appeal for me, an acoustic guitar fingerstyle player, is the "intimate" tone. That's a hard word to audibly visualize, but hopefully yu all know hat I mean. Whereas a guitar can sound harsh sometimes, even when played intimately, the ukulele has this very personal, delicate sound.

No doubt this is all the result of a small classical guitar. That's what the ukulele is, a small classical guitar. You lose the bass of the guitar, but you gain a very high timbre instrument which makes for excellent lead work. Anyway that's how I see a ukulele. Either as a solo instrument or as a combination with a guitar.

geoffsuke
01-17-2010, 05:44 AM
I'll tell you what the deal is from the perspective of someone who doesn't even have a ukulele yet, and only briefly played one for about 5 minutes at a music store.

The appeal for me, an acoustic guitar fingerstyle player, is the "intimate" tone. That's a hard word to audibly visualize, but hopefully yu all know hat I mean. Whereas a guitar can sound harsh sometimes, even when played intimately, the ukulele has this very personal, delicate sound.

No doubt this is all the result of a small classical guitar. That's what the ukulele is, a small classical guitar. You lose the bass of the guitar, but you gain a very high timbre instrument which makes for excellent lead work. Anyway that's how I see a ukulele. Either as a solo instrument or as a combination with a guitar.

i think it's because the very first time you pick one up, you could have learnt a song and be playing it within the hour. you don't get that with too many other instruments.

plus, instruments like the clarinet or sax take technique just to get a good hoot. pluck a couple of uke strings and you have a song on your hands

always_ukulele
01-17-2010, 07:55 AM
I don't know why, but I'm glad it happend!

ukulelegal
01-17-2010, 08:07 AM
great topic, enjoyed and agreed with all oppions. :)

Ahnko Honu
01-17-2010, 08:15 AM
If it's a fad it's been running for over 130 years where I live.

pdxuke
01-17-2010, 08:18 AM
If it's a fad it's been running for over 130 years where I live.

I want a T Shirt: "Ukulele--130 Year Old Fad."

austin1
01-17-2010, 08:20 AM
ukes always want to be happy! in contrast with guitars, that don't mind being sad. and that, in my general opinion, is what the hell the deal is with ukes :D

paraclete
01-17-2010, 08:22 AM
It's kind of like coffee to me.... didn't understand what the fuss was until I tried it, and now I spend all my money on it and can't get through a day without it! (yeah, I'm from NW Washington State, where we walk around with a travel mug of coffee everywhere) Mornings are a struggle, you know.... play uke or drink coffee... uke or coffee, uke or coffee.... ;)

Richie23
01-17-2010, 08:26 AM
Also, the low starting cost and its small size make it ideal as a gift, and many of us started because someone we know bought us one. Then there's factories in China now making those cheaper ukes by the millions, and they are everywhere, and as we all know, once hooked, most of us end up with several ukes and more.....

HoldinCoffee
01-17-2010, 08:36 AM
... Mornings are a struggle, you know.... play uke or drink coffee... uke or coffee, uke or coffee.... ;)
Coffee first, then uke, then more coffee. Its a balance.

aviezero
01-17-2010, 08:54 AM
Best thread ever. From my experience in general people hate listening to amateurs playing instruments except when it comes to the ukulele. Sometimes they even join in. That never happens when somebody breaks out a trombone.

rubenken
01-17-2010, 09:39 AM
I believe you just hit the nail on the head. You are a wise man, Uncle Taco!

Don't forget portability, overhead bins and that sort of thing. Try fitting a guitar in one, even if they let you carry it on.

whetu
01-17-2010, 10:17 AM
Nobody can be told what the deal is, they have to experience it for themselves.

If any of you are interested in copyright law, online rights, patents etc then you've no doubt come across Larry Lessig. He gave a speech where he referenced John Philip Sousa, I recommend you all watch it (http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity .html), because I think it's related. I think that everything works in cycles (i.e. history repeats), and we're trending away from McPop music towards something more fraternal, and the ukulele is a very accessible way to achieve that. There are a couple of other cycles that Lessig's presentation hints towards too.

pingraham
01-17-2010, 10:40 AM
I played ukulele as a child more than 50 years ago. It spoke to me then and I seemingly outgrew it. On a trip to Hawaii a few years ago I got re-united with the instrument and it sang to me again. From that perspective, I think the kind voice and aloha contained in this little instrument touches people and makes them smile. It is unpretentious (Jake says he has an advantage in that when people hear he is playing an ukulele they have such low initial expectations....) and as noted previously, has a voice to match any music and any style. it can be as complex or as simple as you want. When you consider the wonderful folks who participate in UU - there must be an element of magic involved with the ukulele's siren song.

Hastour
01-17-2010, 11:12 AM
I'll second the portability advantage. I've always been dragging my guitar around - on scouting camps, mountain hikes, sailing and cycling trips, once stuffed it in a canoe where it almost drowned, and once we spent a week on horseback together... But it's always been difficult, and I'm so happy to have found an instrument with similar capabilities, but so much easier to carry around :)

Though for all the other people who fell in love with uke recently, I doubt that portability is the killer feature...

ukejack82
01-17-2010, 12:00 PM
Best thread ever. From my experience in general people hate listening to amateurs playing instruments except when it comes to the ukulele. Sometimes they even join in. That never happens when somebody breaks out a trombone.

:rofl:

Speaking as a parent who lived a child who took trombone in high-school I can attest that you speak the truth.

Sambient
01-17-2010, 12:54 PM
There's also the punk rock mindset.
The thing about punk was that part of it was the sensibility of "we could do that ourselves".
The recent craft movement has been that same sort of mindset. Instead of accepting the mass produced, people are wanting to create and share their own items.
I see the 'ukulele fitting this sort of application. A reactionary, "don't tell me what to enjoy, I'll create my own sounds."

Nu Uke
01-17-2010, 12:59 PM
A miniature stringed instrument. What more could one ask for?

ukulelearp
01-17-2010, 01:02 PM
I don't really buy into the whole "it's fun", "it's small", etc. explanations. It's always been that way. From the people I've talked to it was kind of kicked off with Jake Shimabukuro's youtube video and spurred on by the use of it in more and more popular music.

StereoJoker
01-17-2010, 01:16 PM
The ukulele? Just the iPod of the 1920s.

Lolz.


It is unpretentious (Jake says he has an advantage in that when people hear he is playing an ukulele they have such low initial expectations....) and as noted previously, has a voice to match any music and any style.

That's one of the reasons why I personally was attracted to the uke. Well, that and because nobody else I knew played it ;D.


I don't really buy into the whole "it's fun", "it's small", etc. explanations. It's always been that way. From the people I've talked to it was kind of kicked off with Jake Shimabukuro's youtube video and spurred on by the use of it in more and more popular music.

I definitely agree with this a lot, with more of a focus on its popularity on YouTube. I honestly think some of the increased use of the instrument in popular music is a result of the UkeTube phenomenon. Since about '07, just when folks really started to use the 'Tube, I've noticed more and more of an awareness of the ol' uke.

If this increased (primarily) Western fascination with the instrument is a fad, so be it. I'll be clutching a uke in my grave.

ukulelearp
01-17-2010, 01:30 PM
If this increased (primarily) Western fascination with the instrument is a fad, so be it. I'll be clutching a uke in my grave.


I'd be willing to bet it's a fad. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Zaza The Rebel
01-17-2010, 02:18 PM
I don't really buy into the whole "it's fun", "it's small", etc. explanations. It's always been that way. From the people I've talked to it was kind of kicked off with Jake Shimabukuro's youtube video and spurred on by the use of it in more and more popular music.

It has always been that way, true - but I think that when people discover how fun and how small it is, along with how many different styles of music that can be played on a ukulele, they might realize that it's not just a toy.

Also, OP - it bothers me that ukuleles are so rare here. I think I searched through 2 or 3 music stores and only found one solid-top. Sigh. But at least they're here, right?

seeso
01-17-2010, 02:22 PM
First wave = Radio
Second wave - TV
Third wave - Internet

We owe this wave of uke popularity to the internet.

ukulelearp
01-17-2010, 02:27 PM
First wave = Radio
Second wave - TV
Third wave - Internet

We owe this wave of uke popularity to the internet.

Eeeeexactly.

whetu
01-17-2010, 02:34 PM
First wave = Radio
Second wave - TV
Third wave - Internet

We owe this wave of uke popularity to the internet.

I can't wait for the core mind (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2005/12/12/) then! :)

Seriously though, have a look through any of the "why did you get into the uke" threads and you'll find a breadth of answers. Perhaps there is a common theme or two that we're missing, maybe the Mighty Uke documentary touches on this too?

itsme
01-17-2010, 02:46 PM
A lot of good points made here. :)

I'm going with seeso and saying the internet has been a huge factor in creating exposure. There's a vast array of instructional material and tabs available for free, and you can buy just about any uke or related accessories online, even if you live in the middle of nowhere.

D-I-Y (do it yourself), yeah, like the punk movement. People see youtube vids and say, "I could do that!" A cheap webcam, and you, too, can be posting vids in no time.

Cost is an important point. While you can spend a lot on a uke (or ukes, over time) you can start out with a pretty small initial investment. You can buy a uke for less than what it would cost to go out to dinner and a movie these days and it lasts a lot longer.

Compared to other pasttimes like golf or paintball where you incur a significant cost every time you engage in it, uking is a downright bargain. Aside from occasionally buying strings and maybe extra paper/ink to print out all the tabs you want to learn, it's an inexpensive hobby, something people are looking for in today's economic climate. It's also very satisfying to be able to create music.

Also, uking is something that you can basically do 24/7/365 come rain or come shine. (It's raining here right now.) 2AM? No problem, I can still play quietly enough to not bother the neighbors or even my husband sleeping in the next room, can't say the same for the saxophone.

cerebus
01-17-2010, 04:00 PM
I think the answer is more specific than the internet-- I would argue that it is youtube in specific. While Jake made the first big splash, I can't say that is what made me want to play a uke. Jakes video is amazing, but intimidating for me; other more experienced string artists may be drawn in on that one. For people like me, I am guessing it was the millions of youtube cover songs from people like Seeso, Aldrine, Sweetafton23 etc that make the uke seem approachable and fun while the price of the cheapo models allow you to pick one up on a whim.

Link
01-17-2010, 04:21 PM
I think Youtube started it too. Never even heard of an ukulele. Then I kept seeing featured videos on youtube with ukuleles. So I gave in, watched some, and boom. I've heard literally hundreds of stories like that. Youtube is definitely the catalyst of the current ukulele explosion.

And to get even more specific... Jake is awesome. But I didn't see any Jake videos until waaaay after I saw Julia Nunes. Then Seeso. Aldrine. WS64. I think the current ukulele explosion can honestly be narrowed down to 10 or less youtubers. That's just my opinion though.

Whatever started it, thank the Lord. Because it's more than just a hobby for a lot of us.... my entire life revolves around ukulele!

fscott
01-17-2010, 04:38 PM
Also, don't forget its appeal to the ladies. My wife, who would never ever play anything except the radio, is intrigued with the ukulele. She thinks they are cute. So just from her looking at someone playing a uke, it's enough for her to at least shrug her shoulders when I ask if she'd be interested in playing one.

It's very easy on the fingers. How many chics do u see walk into a guitar shop, sit down and start playing a guitar? Not often. A uke however is very easy on the left hand fingers. So it won't damage those costly manicured nails. That's a HUGE plus. For an instrument to to be popular, it has to be accessible to the masses.

eldaddy007
01-17-2010, 05:02 PM
Agree with all of the above. Just gotta add 2 words: Bruddah Iz.

Sambient
01-17-2010, 05:12 PM
Also, don't forget its appeal to the ladies. My wife, who would never ever play anything except the radio, is intrigued with the ukulele. She thinks they are cute. So just from her looking at someone playing a uke, it's enough for her to at least shrug her shoulders when I ask if she'd be interested in playing one.

It's very easy on the fingers. How many chics do u see walk into a guitar shop, sit down and start playing a guitar? Not often. A uke however is very easy on the left hand fingers. So it won't damage those costly manicured nails. That's a HUGE plus. For an instrument to to be popular, it has to be accessible to the masses.

Wow. Aren't you an evolved and enlightened specimen.

austin1
01-17-2010, 06:51 PM
Also, don't forget its appeal to the ladies. My wife, who would never ever play anything except the radio, is intrigued with the ukulele. She thinks they are cute. So just from her looking at someone playing a uke, it's enough for her to at least shrug her shoulders when I ask if she'd be interested in playing one.

It's very easy on the fingers. How many chics do u see walk into a guitar shop, sit down and start playing a guitar? Not often. A uke however is very easy on the left hand fingers. So it won't damage those costly manicured nails. That's a HUGE plus. For an instrument to to be popular, it has to be accessible to the masses.

Ah yes, you hit the nail on the head there, the only reason I picked up a ukulele is because I didn't want to damage my lovely manicure.

Evidently, you've never met a chick who plays anything, or else you'd have been knocked upside the head with something heavy by now. And if I want to, I will walk into a guitar shop, sit down, and start playing whatever instrument I damn well feel like, so there.

Accessible to the masses...grumble grumble grumble.

itsme
01-17-2010, 07:02 PM
fscott, I think you have just ruined your reputation with all of the ladies on UU, myself included. :(

I'm not a "chick", I'm a woman who also happens to be formally trained in classical guitar. While I am concerned about my RH nails because they serve me for fingerpicking, it has nothing to do with costly manicures.

Pukulele Pete
01-18-2010, 01:59 AM
For me, a ukulele was just a little plastic toy I played with as a child. Then I heard Izzy and "somewhere over the rainbow" and I realized it wasn't a toy but a beautiful sounding musical instrument. One thing I like is that it is so small, looks like a toy, but you can get beautiful music from it. I've played guitar off and on for about 45 years and never even considered a ukulele because it was just a plastic toy. I wish I had known about them years ago.

fscott
01-18-2010, 05:12 AM
Yes you're correct. There is a certain stereotype with the ukulele that it is a toy. It does take some serious playing to change that stereotype. Jake has really been a major influence. Not just with the music he plays, but his overall attitude. He takes it seriously. That goes a long way to changing that stereotype.

RevWill
01-18-2010, 05:20 AM
Just paraphrase the great Louis Armstrong quote: "If you have to ask what it is, you'll never know."

paraclete
01-18-2010, 05:32 AM
Also, don't forget its appeal to the ladies. My wife, who would never ever play anything except the radio, is intrigued with the ukulele. She thinks they are cute. So just from her looking at someone playing a uke, it's enough for her to at least shrug her shoulders when I ask if she'd be interested in playing one.

It's very easy on the fingers. How many chics do u see walk into a guitar shop, sit down and start playing a guitar? Not often. A uke however is very easy on the left hand fingers. So it won't damage those costly manicured nails. That's a HUGE plus. For an instrument to to be popular, it has to be accessible to the masses.

I probably should pretend to have NOT seen this little bit of ignorance. You must go to all the wrong music stores or something.

Hastour
01-18-2010, 06:18 AM
Yes you're correct. There is a certain stereotype with the ukulele that it is a toy. It does take some serious playing to change that stereotype. Jake has really been a major influence. Not just with the music he plays, but his overall attitude. He takes it seriously. That goes a long way to changing that stereotype.

If a toy means something like "a small thing that brings joy and entertainment in your spare time", then I'm sure ukulele is the best toy I've bought since my last set of Lego bricks :)

And the videos on youtube that made me buy an uke myself were not from Jake, but from guys who apparently had tremendous fun with this little so-called toy guitar. Uke is a wonderful toy, and there's nothing wrong with that. I don't need an instrument than you feel awkward playing while not wearing a tailcoat, or one you have to play for a year before producing something remotely resembling a melody...

And don't get me wrong, I much admire uke virtuosos like Jake, but I'm sure the image of an instrument not-quite-serious is not a bad thing. I smile every time I strum my uke, and that was the killer feature for me.

GreyPoupon
01-18-2010, 06:50 AM
Yes, the uke is clearly in the middle of a boom relative to where it was ten years ago - but it's still a fringe / novelty instrument.

Yes, the big chains now carry a few ukes amongst hundreds of guitars, but the ratio is still around 1,000 to 1.

I have heard, but do not know for sure, that in the 20's the ukulele was MORE popular than the guitar. (Anyone in the know want to confirm or debunk this claim?)

I think the recent popularity of the uke comes from both a) the rise of the do it yourself culture b) a celebrity effect from a few well placed people and c) the growth of all niche arts due to the internet.

Note that due to the internet a lot of obscure arts that would normally have tiny audiences now have grown to have small audiences. (More people looming their own fabric, more people making their own cheese, more people playing didgeridoo, more people growing exotic chickens in their back yards, more people growing orchids in their own DIY hot houses...) I think the rise of the ukulele is another symptom of the accessibility of once rare knowledge thanks to the internet.

The real question for me is: Is this just a small rise in the tide of quirky individualists, or the start of something big in which, 20 years from now, the Guitar Center is renamed The Ukulele Center. And most musically inclined young people grab an uke as opposed to a guitar when going off to college. ??

Anyone dare make a prediction?

rubenken
01-18-2010, 07:38 AM
Yes, the uke is clearly in the middle of a boom relative to where it was ten years ago - but it's still a fringe / novelty instrument.

Yes, the big chains now carry a few ukes amongst hundreds of guitars, but the ratio is still around 1,000 to 1.

I have heard, but do not know for sure, that in the 20's the ukulele was MORE popular than the guitar. (Anyone in the know want to confirm or debunk this claim?)

I think the recent popularity of the uke comes from both a) the rise of the do it yourself culture b) a celebrity effect from a few well placed people and c) the growth of all niche arts due to the internet.

Note that due to the internet a lot of obscure arts that would normally have tiny audiences now have grown to have small audiences. (More people looming their own fabric, more people making their own cheese, more people playing didgeridoo, more people growing exotic chickens in their back yards, more people growing orchids in their own DIY hot houses...) I think the rise of the ukulele is another symptom of the accessibility of once rare knowledge thanks to the internet.

The real question for me is: Is this just a small rise in the tide of quirky individualists, or the start of something big in which, 20 years from now, the Guitar Center is renamed The Ukulele Center. And most musically inclined young people grab an uke as opposed to a guitar when going off to college. ??

Anyone dare make a prediction?

Yeah, the uke will continue to gain on the guitar. I don't know how fast, but it won't be very slow. The reason has to do with broader cultural issues dealing with people wanting to do things faster, get quicker results. The uke gets you up and strumming fast, sort of like Guitar Hero and dancing on the electric dots. The uke is the fast music, like the MacDonalds is fast food, and Starbucks is fast espresso. The uke is in tume with the times. Maybe the kazoo is next.

ukulelearp
01-18-2010, 07:51 AM
Yeah, the uke will continue to gain on the guitar. I don't know how fast, but it won't be very slow. The reason has to do with broader cultural issues dealing with people wanting to do things faster, get quicker results. The uke gets you up and strumming fast, sort of like Guitar Hero and dancing on the electric dots. The uke is the fast music, like the MacDonalds is fast food, and Starbucks is fast espresso. The uke is in tume with the times. Maybe the kazoo is next.


That might be taking it a little too far. I don't think I would bet on the ukulele becoming much more than a niche instrument. I'm happy with that. As long as I enjoy it, it's all good.

GreyPoupon
01-18-2010, 07:59 AM
Yeah, the uke will continue to gain on the guitar. I don't know how fast, but it won't be very slow. The reason has to do with broader cultural issues dealing with people wanting to do things faster, get quicker results. The uke gets you up and strumming fast, sort of like Guitar Hero and dancing on the electric dots. The uke is the fast music, like the MacDonalds is fast food, and Starbucks is fast espresso. The uke is in tume with the times. Maybe the kazoo is next.

Huh, that's interesting.

I agree, but I think we could frame it differently. People are very busy with more work and study demands then ever before - and the uke is simple enough to still allow over extended people the ability to play music on their own.

brickerenator
01-18-2010, 08:08 AM
I'll say right off that I started off getting interested in the ukulele at a weekend conference with a bunch of other college students and high schoolers. One of my friends that I was sharing a hotel room with brought his ukulele. I was rather interested at first (having attempted guitar previously) and extremely interested after his playing gathered a large crowd every night.

So yeah. I'll admit to being initially interested due to the popularity and novelty. But I still love it, and enjoy it now more than before (even stay up an extra hour or two at night to get more playing time).



Also, don't forget its appeal to the ladies. My wife, who would never ever play anything except the radio, is intrigued with the ukulele. She thinks they are cute. So just from her looking at someone playing a uke, it's enough for her to at least shrug her shoulders when I ask if she'd be interested in playing one.

It's very easy on the fingers. How many chics do u see walk into a guitar shop, sit down and start playing a guitar? Not often. A uke however is very easy on the left hand fingers. So it won't damage those costly manicured nails. That's a HUGE plus. For an instrument to to be popular, it has to be accessible to the masses.

I can attest to the fact that many teens and early 20's females think the ukulele is "cute" or "adorable", I certainly don't mind ;)

However one of my best female friends absolutely kicks butt on the guitar (she's 17). We also jam together. But she has said that she plans on picking up an ukulele in the summer.

He is right about being accessible to the masses. Not many new guitars for under $50. I started on a $25 Mahalo, spent $20 on music books, a college student could afford a similar purchase by skipping a few meals, or selling a textbook or unnecessary item



I probably should pretend to have NOT seen this little bit of ignorance. You must go to all the wrong music stores or something.

He's just making an observation, nothing more.


If a toy means something like "a small thing that brings joy and entertainment in your spare time", then I'm sure ukulele is the best toy I've bought since my last set of Lego bricks :)


Agreed.
I miss my legos :(

paraclete
01-18-2010, 08:22 AM
He is right about being accessible to the masses. Not many new guitars for under $50. I started on a $25 Mahalo, spent $20 on music books, a college student could afford a similar purchase by skipping a few meals, or selling a textbook or unnecessary item



Oh yeah, definitely easier to afford a playable uke than a playable guitar. But what's more, it's a lot smaller than a guitar and more easily transported to wherever you move. When I was in college, I didn't have a lot of room for anything, and moving my solid-body electric guitar and violin back and forth between Washington and Iowa was a huge burden, both physically and financially. If I had to do college all over again today, I might just sell the guitar and take a uke instead.

hoosierhiver
01-18-2010, 09:22 AM
Maybe it's a sort ying-yang thing. There is so much bad crap happening all over the world, maybe it's a cosmic balencing act.

fscott
01-18-2010, 09:43 AM
And don't get me wrong, I much admire uke virtuosos like Jake, but I'm sure the image of an instrument not-quite-serious is not a bad thing. I smile every time I strum my uke, and that was the killer feature for me.

Yes I agree but it takes both the "fun" and the "serious" to make an instrument popular. Playing a kazoo is fun, but it's not likely it would become a serious musician's main instrument.

As an example let's just take the steel string guitar. Fun to play? Ehhh.. I'm not so sure. For a new player, someone just looking to play a stringed instrument, it can be very hard to play. Hard on the left hand, the 6 strings can be confusing, complexing for the right hand. I wouldn't put a standard sized steel string instrument in the "fun" category. What makes it popular however is that once it's learned, it becomes fun. And of course the sound it makes can be taken seriously.

The ukulele has always been seen as a "fun" instrument, so there's nothing new there. But someone has to take that fun to a new level and say, not only can it be fun, but it can hang with the big boys in a group. That is where people like Jake, and Hill, and IZ took it.

buddhuu
01-18-2010, 10:56 AM
[...] As long as I enjoy it, it's all good.

There you go. What else matters?

That's what the deal is with the ukulele - we enjoy it! :)

Gipserio
01-18-2010, 11:10 AM
Look at a standard ukelele and look at a guitar.
Play all the strings open and then do the same on a guitar.
Mentally repeat the word ukelele and then do the same with the word guitar

... need I go on?

whetu
01-18-2010, 03:22 PM
I have heard, but do not know for sure, that in the 20's the ukulele was MORE popular than the guitar. (Anyone in the know want to confirm or debunk this claim?)

Maybe Bill Tapia can confirm/debunk? :)


The real question for me is: Is this just a small rise in the tide of quirky individualists, or the start of something big in which, 20 years from now, the Guitar Center is renamed The Ukulele Center. And most musically inclined young people grab an uke as opposed to a guitar when going off to college. ??

Anyone dare make a prediction?

I don't think it'll get that far, I personally think it might grow a little more in popularity and then level out. There is a push in at least a few countries to replace the recorder with the ukulele as the standard instrument for school music classes, and that may have an effect in the 15-20 year forecast. But how many of those students who stick with music will stick with the uke? How many will move on to other instruments?

I learnt (and have subsequently forgotten) basic music on the piano, once I had the theory down I kicked the piano to the curb and picked up a guitar. Then I tried drums before settling on the Saxophone*. Not everyone sticks with their first instrument, I couldn't show you anything on a piano now, those braincells have been wiped out with copious amounts of whiskey applied over the years ;)

* In retrospect the only musical regret I have is not picking up the Mandolin. I will this year though.

scottie
01-18-2010, 04:35 PM
I agree that it'll likely level out. People take it up in droves. My music store guy says the ukulele is the hottest thing going right now. It's nice that you can have a nice instrument for relatively little outlay and it is physically less demanding than the guitar for the beginner.

I think it'll level out, though. Some who take it up from scratch will get bitten by the music bug and continue. Some who take it up will give it up. . . depends on the person and their expectations. Some people who take it up because they think it's easy will discover that it's not and their focus will shift. Some of the people who take it up and discover it's not easy will decide for some reason that they want to devote lots of time to becoming musicians. Between those two extremes there's a whole lot of room for a whole lot of people to have a whole lot of fun because, regardless of the instrument, music is a blast. The internet is making it possible for lots of people to play together and interact as well as making lots of music available in a way that wasn't possible when I was growing up in the '70s.

I'm glad I found the ukulele. Truth is, being a bit of a contrarian at heart, I'd like it if the ukulele kept some of it's fringey status. . . adds to the "cool factor".

afeistyfiesta
01-18-2010, 04:39 PM
I think the answer is more specific than the internet-- I would argue that it is youtube in specific. While Jake made the first big splash, I can't say that is what made me want to play a uke. Jakes video is amazing, but intimidating for me; other more experienced string artists may be drawn in on that one. For people like me, I am guessing it was the millions of youtube cover songs from people like Seeso, Aldrine, Sweetafton23 etc that make the uke seem approachable and fun while the price of the cheapo models allow you to pick one up on a whim.

I actually just discovered this internet faction within the last month. The thing that got me into it was Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. I got his CD at the Pacific Whale Foundation on a complete whim after a whale watch when I was in Maui. That was the firs time I ever really noticed the ukulele as a dynamic emotional instrument. I got one the next day.

I will say, however, that I stopped playing because of lack of availability to anything whatsoever (as I said in my initial post), but got back into it when I found so much available music on the internet.

afeistyfiesta
01-18-2010, 04:51 PM
I have heard, but do not know for sure, that in the 20's the ukulele was MORE popular than the guitar. (Anyone in the know want to confirm or debunk this claim?)

Anyone dare make a prediction?

Oh for sure. The Beatles were denied from record labels claiming that the guitar was just a fad, and that guitar music was on its way out. Even in the early sixties, it was viewed as a fad that would eventually fade and return to the big band, symphony/pops style concerts being the standard of music entertainment. While I still enjoy big band and love the symphony, the guitar stayed and it changed music forever.

The guitar was originally used for a couple of things: a rhythm instrument to add texture to the back of a jazz band, and of course b.) to be played (anyone who has been to spain/portugal and seen the "Tuna" groups play know this) among the many, many, many, many stringed instruments (there's about 15 if I'm not mistaken) in traditional singing groups. It just so happens that the guitar (and the ukulele of course - what they call a "quatro") made it out. The ukulele had its day, but as the guitar is certainly a more dynamic instrument, it became the mainstay to pop music.

Will ukulele have a rise over the guitar again? I seriously doubt it. I'm fine if it doesn't...but I still have a lot of fun with it.

peacepaddler
01-21-2010, 03:21 PM
The deal may be that we don't (yet) have these ridiculous performance expectations for the ukulele. Think about how many people with 10 years of piano training wouldn't think about performing in public, or at a party. Same goes for too many instruments. Ukulele players don't give a damn. We're just having too much fun to care.

homEsick
01-21-2010, 06:54 PM
i like a lot of these comments. particularly the "ukes always sound happy whereas guitars don't mind sounding sad," and all the ones on portability. true true. i didn't realize it, but it was also very easy to get some good sounds out of within the first hour, unlike most instruments. it is also more unique in the way that mostly everyone in my age group (college years) can play guitar or something but very few play uke. i never realized how much it could add to mix with guitar during recording as well. what a lovely little thing indeed. the "fast, have it now" modern culture in relation to ukulele was also amazing insight.

after reading about all the simplicity, i'm feeling a bit sad that i'm giving my lanikai 21 to my gf while owning a several hundred dollar solid uke. there's nothing inherently wrong with a nicer instrument, obviously! but i think i may be getting another <70$ uke to keep me humble.

Chris Tarman
01-21-2010, 07:53 PM
For me, there are several things that are "the deal" with ukulele. First, George Harrison. I saw him plunking away on one at the end of the Beatles Anthology thing on TV in '96. I thought "Wow, that's kind of cool that he plays ukulele". Then when he died and his posthumous final album was released with several ukulele tunes, I was reminded of the coolness of the thing. THEN a year after he died, I saw the "Concert For George" tribute and saw Paul McCartney's uke arrangement of "Something". That was about the time I thought "I gotta get me one of those things!". I've played bass guitar since 1980 when I was in 9th grade, and frankly, if Paul McCartney plays it it MUST be cool! I bought a really cheap soprano a couple of years after that, messed with it some and then kind of forgot about it.
Last December, for some reason, I picked it up again and decided to look on the internet for the ukulele chords to Beatles songs. And guess what I found? Jake doing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", along with about a billion other things. I decided I needed a better ukulele. And that leads into another "deal" with ukulele. They are (compared to other instruments) affordable. Now, I have always been a collector of various things since I was a really little kid. Rocks and things when I was little (a few of which I still have as decorations in my aquarium 35+ years later!), model airplanes, records, etc. When I started playing bass, I longed for various things I couldn't afford at the time. I saved forever to get a Rickenbacker bass, which was my only bass for a long time. As I got older and more financially able I picked up a few other basses and now have 8 (down from 10 at one time). I got into bicycling.... I have 6 bikes. I collect smoking pipes and have over 500. I can't really afford the 1965 Fender Jazz Bass I would like to own some day. But as it turns out, a vintage Martin ukulele (one of the plain ones!) would probably be quite attainable. In a year, I have picked up 10 ukuleles and spent less than I would have on ONE nice bass guitar. Of course, you can spend a LOT of money on a ukulele, just like you can with any other instrument. But try finding a playable saxophone or piano for $45!
But I think there is even more to it. Several people have talked about the intimacy of the instrument compared to others, and I think that is part of it. There is also the quick learning time compared to guitar. I tried to play guitar for about 3 weeks when I was 14 and it was HARD! But then I realized that none of my friends played BASS guitar and I thought "Hey, that only has 4 stings... how hard can it be?". It turns out it can be REALLY hard, but you can get started right away. To play guitar with other people, you have to know at least a few chords and how to switch cleanly and quickly from one to the other. On a bass, all you HAVE to do to get started is go "duhduhduhduhduhduhduhduh" on the root and stay in time. Ukulele is similar in that you can pick it up and in just a few minutes you can play a song that other people can recognize. You might not strum like George Formby, but you don't HAVE to.
Another factor is the historical connection. I was showing my ukulele to one of the guitarists in a band I play bass with. He said "You know what's cool about ukulele? No matter what you play on it, it automatically sounds like it is from the '20s" (he meant that as a compliment, btw!). I think people associate the ukulele with a simpler, happier time, whether or not that is accurate. Of course, a lot of people also associate it with Tiny Tim, and not always in a good way...
So is it a fad? I don't think so. Or at least, if it IS a fad it is a cyclical fad that has happened several times before. But I think this is a good time to be a ukulele player! I was in a music store in New Mexico last week while on vacation. It was just some random store I went into. They had about 20 ukuleles hanging on the wall. The guy said that he picked a couple up at NAMM a few years ago to see how they would do and they sat in the store for a year. Then he sold one. And a week later he sold the other one. And less than a week after that, 10 people came in and asked if they had ukuleles. Now he says he sells the student models as fast as he can get them in, and sells 4 or 5 nicer ones a month. He pretty much asked me the same "What the hell is the deal" question, but added that even if he didn't understand it, there must be SOMETHING going on, and he planned to keep getting ukes in the shop and to see about getting nicer ones.
Sorry this went on so long!
Chris

Eriquito
01-22-2010, 02:21 AM
I used to play the guitar a lot and there was definitely a sort of expectation that when you played (especially in public) that you had to be awesome (else why play it?)...I mean, EVERYONE plays the guitar so you'd better be something special. Lots of eye rolling if you dared play a popular tune just for fun. The guitar just seemed to me to be more ambitious, less about being chill and playing for yourself and more about playing for admiration. Picture the classic open mike night in a college town...

When I play the ukulele I don't feel that pressure (for lack of a better term). It is just me jamming out on my couch. In that sense, I guess it is more like what music used to be way back before the days of recorded sound. People (the vast majority NOT virtuosos) would just play their favorite tunes for pure pleasure. IMO the ukulele is very good for that in particular since it has a typically mellow sound...conversations are not squashed just by one guy strumming.

I know I'm overgeneralizing and I personally know some very chill guitar players but that's just my opinion.

RevWill
01-22-2010, 03:01 AM
It's freakin' awesome, that's the deal.

P-co
01-22-2010, 03:15 AM
I agree with the comment that the uke takes one back to a happy simpler time...that time was about ten minutes ago and there will be another in a few more minutes.

Mim
01-22-2010, 03:19 AM
I played guitar for the longest time, but would put it down frustrated because I have short fingers and playing anything more than a few chords seemed impossible to me. I did pretty well with classical, but I wanted something I could sing a-long with. I looked into the Uke for a prop for my shop and fell in love the the diversity of it. I almost went with a baritone because I play guitar and thought it would be an easier transition. Boy was I wrong!!! I find the chords progress so much better on my concert and I love playing it. People at my shop think it is great I play it, and everytime they realize I can actually play something on it rather than it just being a prop they smile and laugh. It really is just a happy instrument. I played some Jason Mraz Lucky and then turned around and played some Beyonce Halo. Talk about diversity. I am in love and have been trying to spread the uke love to all the young people in my shop so we can hopefully have a good little jam group soon. I think no one wants to admit it, but they are going to be looking into buying some ukes!

harpdog
01-22-2010, 04:55 AM
I guess the source of what turns you on might differ - for me it was seeing the "Fluke" in the Homespun Music mailer for several issues back in the mid 90's, while browsing guitar related stuff.
The wife thought it was cute, so I bought her one.
But the REAL deal with the uke, for me: I didn't expect to be hooked by the time I tuned it up for her!
I have to guess that Jim Beloff and the Webbs have had a lot to do with the increased popularity just from the standpoint of how they made a decent playing/sounding instrument accessible to anybody.

Ukuleleblues
01-22-2010, 10:59 AM
The stigma of Tiny Tim is over, God rest his soul.

pulelehua
01-22-2010, 11:48 AM
I'm with hoosierhiver. I think the gods are balancing things out. Given present circumstance, it's going to take a LOT of ukuleles to do it. But if that's the price we pay, then we must pay it. ;)

Beef Stew
03-04-2010, 08:27 AM
what the hell is up with the ukulele? good question. easy answer. its fun. everytime i pick it up i get happy. if im already happy(im always happy) then i get happier. this little instrument has brought smiles to the faces of everyone i've played it for. and i really suck. i got one for my nephew and he is rockin the hell outta it for a 6 year old.

P4ttheb4ker
04-02-2010, 02:37 PM
Well, since the internet exists, music has been easy to play with tabs and such. Nowadays, with people posting their own videos of them playing guitar or an uke and posting tutorials of songs, it just makes it seem like anyone can do it. There's also a bunch of easy songs that anyone can play within an hour of just searching on google or youtube.

That's why pretty much everyone I know in my school now picks up guitar and plays simple chord progressions or just fast-finger death metal.

Also, it's a freakin' chick magnet, especially when you're the only guy in a whole school that plays an ukulele.

iDavid
04-02-2010, 04:10 PM
Record-players and radio moved music out of people's hands...

Internet gave the Uke the exposure it needed

Now the Ukulele is bringing music back into people's hands and hearts.

It is the people's instrument and it is fantastic. :cool:

Dane
04-02-2010, 09:07 PM
It is quite amazing how much it has grown in just the 2 years I have been playing (on and off) This forum now is MUCH more populated than when I was making previous posts, and even then it had quite a lot of people on it! I recently saw Mr. Shim play in my town, and I was shocked by how many uke players there were there who lived locally. And most of them I spoke with hadn't started playing more than a year ago. So obviously word is getting around somehow.

My deal with the ukulele is that it just sounds so pure, it is truly the instrument of happiness, and I am very glad that I have taken up playing more seriously again recently, because it has helped me deal with some hard times. The uke started me in music really, and I now play guitar, a little bit of mandolin, and I'm learning harmonica and piano! What a great thing the uke is!

mrplatypus70
04-02-2010, 10:09 PM
I think the uke is a great instrument to start on. I wish I had started on uke instead of guitar when I was a youngster, I have seen people just pick up the uke and within days or weeks have a bunch of chords down and be playing or even writing songs on it. I can't think of another instrument except maybe the kazoo that is easier to learn. I already played guitar when I started uke so the ease of learning was not really a factor, nor did I want to be Jake although I had seen him and was ( still am) very impressed with his playing. I simply wanted to play an instrument other than guitar to get a new sound and see what kind of music I could make with it. The fact that I enjoyed it as much as I did and now play it as much or more then the guitar and have a need to own many ukuleles came as quite a surprise to me. I think the real deal with ukes is they posses some sort of magic power that takes over your brain and you become obsessed with them. The people who don't get it find it an annoying little guitar wanna be and the people who do get it love it to death and don't even know why! I think all of the reasons for the uke revival given are valid and surely contribute but I am going with magic brain controlling powers as the main reason!

bunnyflower
04-03-2010, 04:42 AM
I think also, since people are playing uke more, then people are seeing it more, and then they get interested, and it spreads...

I have experienced this at my workplace. I started bringing my uke to work with my best friend, and we play in the break room every day. Then other people saw us doing that, started hanging out in the break room whenever we were there, got interested, and then they borrowed ukes, and then bought their own, and now.... we have several people rocking the uke at work!

It's like a ukulele-virus. I am spreading it by playing it, and when you see it, you want to play it tooooooooo....

muahaha.

E-Lo Roberts
04-03-2010, 05:24 AM
This is the digital age on communicate. The act of playing a Ukulele breaks this fast paced iphone, facebook, myspace, twitter, blogging, youtube lifestyle back down to a basic analog conversation between itself and it's owner. In return, this simple act of strumming 4 strings happily turns off all the digital static in our lives, if only for a brief moment, allowing us to jump start our lives once again.

What do you think? Too deep... :) Probably...

MTGuru
04-03-2010, 05:59 AM
We went through the same sort of "fad" in the other kind of music I play - Irish music, and the whistle and low whistle. First Riverdance, then films like Rob Roy, and Titanic, and Lord of the Rings. And the Internet. There was an explosion of new whistle players. Like the uke, the whistle is relatively small and cheap and easy to play, and attracts both musicians and non-musicians.

If the parallel holds, the fad will eventually taper off, but not stop. It will leave behind a stronger core, and a lasting influence and interest in the instrument and its music.

To paraphrase Ahnko's post on page 1 ... If Irish music is a fad, it's been a fad for some of us for 300 years now.

Funny, in my case I didn't even know about the ukulele craze. I've been playing with uke for 30 years, and came back to it for strictly personal reasons. Then I surf onto the net and find an explosion in progress. Just lucky, I guess. :)

Oh, and I think a lot of the reasons given in this thread are spot-on.

Aito
04-03-2010, 11:32 AM
Same here, I didn't realize uke was gaining in popularity.

In Tahiti you find uke everywhere so u can't judge from here.


Good to know is it spreading :)

Aito

Aito

I Ukulista
04-03-2010, 12:30 PM
Always have an instrument that you can run away from a police man with. I play with a bongo player and an harmonica player and we can scramble in split second.
Music on the move.

Flea Flicker
10-08-2011, 02:19 PM
When it comes to the resurgence, you gotta give credit where credit is due.

In a word? "IZ"

modern day ukuleleist
10-08-2011, 06:25 PM
Is there anyone in the world who doesn't enjoy the sound of a ukulele?

It's probably the most relaxing instrument to play/listen to. It's good for your mental health.

Trinimon
10-08-2011, 06:41 PM
I've heard the uke used for at least 3 TV commercials recently.

burnell
06-14-2013, 04:20 PM
By comparison, a guitar is cumbersome and awkward to hold. As a singer/songwriter I play both, although these days, it is pretty much all ukulele. I find in talking to other ukulele players, a definite affection and even love for the instrument. Perhaps it also has something to do with the fact that it is small, the size of an infant or a cat, and you just feel happy holding it. In fact, one could even say we don't "hold" an ukulele as much as "embrace" it.

bborzell
06-14-2013, 04:58 PM
It is mostly tonality for me. None of my guitars or mandolins are inherently relaxing the way the uke is. Granted, I am talking about tenor tone because that is what I prefer to hear as well as play.

Which brings me to the increasing popularity of the tenor, and to a lesser degree, the baritone. I think it is hard to ignore the fact that so many of the popular performers play a tenor. There are all sorts of reasons why tenors are suitable for performing, but that fact has introduced people to the uke in a form that is a bit more famliar to them (small guitar look) than the classical looks and sound of a soprano.

Since I bought a uke, it is not as natural to grab a mandolin or guitar when I want to get lost in playing something. Even the classical guitar that I used to pick up when I want to be mellow doesn't quite make the grade anymore. Being in the middle of the sound that emanates from my ukes is a very good lace to be.

Sundown Jim
06-14-2013, 05:08 PM
I've played guitar for over 50 years. One evening, maybe about 7 or 8 years ago, I was listening to an instrumental channel on XM satellite radio. I heard an instrument that I could not identify. It was not a guitar!? What was it and who was it? It turned out to be Herb Ohta on ukulele. I went from Harmony baritones to a variety of tenors and baritones. It's been a good ride. A nice little personal mellow sound.

PereBourik
06-14-2013, 06:18 PM
It makes me smile. I'd been running short of smiles lately.

It makes other people smile whenever I talk about it.

It's a happy little instrument.

Markr1
06-14-2013, 06:43 PM
I've been a member here for a little over 2 years and Something that seems strange to me is that I only recognize a few members. Most I've never heard of. What happened to them? Did they quit playing or change profile names or just not frequent the forum anymore?

mds725
06-14-2013, 09:53 PM
I've been a member here for a little over 2 years and Something that seems strange to me is that I only recognize a few members. Most I've never heard of. What happened to them? Did they quit playing or change profile names or just not frequent the forum anymore?

If you click on a person's name, you're taken to that person's profile page where, by clicking on the "Fond latest posts" link on the left side of the page, you can see when that person last posted. It may not answer your questions, but it's a start.

igorthebarbarian
06-15-2013, 08:40 PM
Me having zero musical background ever, the ukulele seemed like something that might actually be do-able. Then when I saw normal-looking people sitting at their computer desks, singing into a webcam, doing covers of songs that I knew - some good, some not so good but props for trying! Plus, 4 fingers / 4 strings seemed much more manageable than a guitar.

So a little practice, a lot of internet research on forums like UU here, lots of youtube watching, Uncle Rod's Bootcamp downloaded, more practice, and nearly two years later, I'm not terrible! Haha! And really that's all I ever wanted - was to be quasi-capable of creating something that sounded somewhere in the ballpark of the original song. I realize I will never be Jake or IZ, but who cares? The Uke is fun, it's relaxing after a long day of work, and it is awesome to actually create something "real" with your own two hands, especially when I never thought it possible.

If you're bored, play the uke. Nothing on TV, play the uke. Angry from work, play the uke. Can't sleep, play the uke... It's dare I say, "therapeutic". And in these crazy, fast-paced, angry times, I think it's a great release and source of happiness.

As an added plus, it'll bring out any Hoarder mentalities you may have hidden in your subconscious when that UAS bug hits you. The relatively low cost of entry also makes it extremely appealing (and easy to want and actually buy one of every 'flavor').

Hms
06-16-2013, 12:36 AM
One thing not mentioned is the group side of things.
How many other instruments get played as a group of 30 or more.
Great cameraderie, with a group of like minded friends, making great music and having a whale of a time. i always come away from our meetings on a high.
Ukulele ought to be on the National Health!
H

miksel
06-16-2013, 03:26 AM
Coffee first, then uke, then more coffee. Its a balance.

Yes,Must have coffee first for brain to be functional and do the uke justice !!!

Bagaag
06-16-2013, 03:49 PM
I've been playing for about 5 months now, after having played guitar with varying spurts of interest over the past 25 years. For some reason I never got past writing my own tunes on the guitar. I always found learning anything challenging written by someone else to be discouragingly hard. I could do it, but it felt a lot like work to me and usually lost interest. What I love about the uke is that I've learned tons of songs, and am starting to learn some pretty challenging instrumental tunes, and it's still loads fun.

This evening, I listed one of my two guitars on Craigslist to fund the purchase of a properly made solid wood ukulele to replace my starter instrument.

iDavid
06-16-2013, 04:04 PM
I've been playing for about 5 months now, after having played guitar with varying spurts of interest over the past 25 years. For some reason I never got past writing my own tunes on the guitar. I always found learning anything challenging written by someone else to be discouragingly hard. I could do it, but it felt a lot like work to me and usually lost interest. What I love about the uke is that I've learned tons of songs, and am starting to learn some pretty challenging instrumental tunes, and it's still loads fun.

This evening, I listed one of my two guitars on Craigslist to fund the purchase of a properly made solid wood ukulele to replace my starter instrument.

Man are we in the same boat! I recently bought a 12-fret Martin as my final attempt to fall in love with guitar. Beautiful instrument and the best finger-style guitar I have ever played. It will be up for sale next week in order to fun a new uke.

The bottom line for me, is that the uke is fun. I've started on the John King book and having a blast.

A.H.
06-18-2013, 10:44 PM
Man are we in the same boat! I recently bought a 12-fret Martin as my final attempt to fall in love with guitar. Beautiful instrument and the best finger-style guitar I have ever played. It will be up for sale next week in order to fun a new uke.

The bottom line for me, is that the uke is fun. I've started on the John King book and having a blast.

Man, I hope I'm not in the same boat as you guys, but it's been months since I seriously picked up any of my guitars, and it's been months since I first picked up my first uke, went thru a little uas phase, and have been playing no less than an hour everyday since! I agree, the uke is fun, and easier to sound decent in a shorter time than on the guitar.

iDavid
06-18-2013, 11:03 PM
Man, I hope I'm not in the same boat as you guys, but it's been months since I seriously picked up any of my guitars, and it's been months since I first picked up my first uke, went thru a little uas phase, and have been playing no less than an hour everyday since! I agree, the uke is fun, and easier to sound decent in a shorter time than on the guitar.

Welcome to the uke-boat!

Mattyukaholic
06-19-2013, 12:18 AM
Man, I hope I'm not in the same boat as you guys, but it's been months since I seriously picked up any of my guitars, and it's been months since I first picked up my first uke, went thru a little uas phase, and have been playing no less than an hour everyday since! I agree, the uke is fun, and easier to sound decent in a shorter time than on the guitar.

I used to play guitar at least once a day and have toured with various bands in Europe playing one. Since I discovered the ukulele a few years back I now only ever use a guitar for recording and when I do it feels like picking up a tank! The ukulele is so much more fun. I also love the fact that I can easily bring one to work every day with me to play at lunch. I never could have done that with my dreadnought!

TJ Uke
06-19-2013, 12:38 AM
It's just comfy!

strumsilly
06-19-2013, 01:37 AM
Hello, I'm strumsilly and I'm a ukaholic. I sold my last guitar to fund a ukulele fix. I have a uke coming in the mail and before it even arrives I'm looking for the next "one". I'm running out of wall space and there is no more room in the closets or under beds for cases. Is there any hope for me?

ichadwick
06-19-2013, 01:40 AM
I guess I went the other way. I bought a couple of tenor guitars and have been enjoying them a lot of late. Not as much as my ukes, but I like having the extra large body for the volume and richness of sound. They're really substitutes for my baritone ukes because I like steel strings for some music. But I have to admit I don't like the scale length as much any more. Even the shorter tenor scale seems awfully long.

Shastastan
06-19-2013, 07:37 AM
@ichadwick

I thought about getting a tenor guitar. Guitars just seemed too big for me. I bought a Little Martin but never really got going on it. I traded it for a baritone uke and it seems a little big to me also. The tenor is a good size for me, but I just got a Mainland concert and it just seems so easy to play so maybe I'm a smaller uke person? However, I like the sound of the tenor the best. Maybe a tenor guitar will come someday, too?

addicted2myuke
06-19-2013, 08:49 AM
I doubt anyone will scroll through 95 other posts to read this one but I'm going to chime in anyway. The ukulele is the thing that calms me when I am having a bad day, makes me happy when I'm sad, makes the time fly by when I am bored, cheers up my dying 96 year old aunt when I go to the nursing home and play songs from the 20s, makes my 2 parrots chirp with glee, and best of all makes me feel like a star in my own eyes. It's all good.

greenie44
06-19-2013, 09:07 AM
And I played guitar (not very well) for 35 years and now I know it never really clicked. Since I found a uke that was right (not my first, but the first I really picked up on), it's a whole new world of music. I play an hour a day, which makes you get better whether you plan to or not, and find that the music just flows with the uke. Lucky me!

As long as I can keep UAS under some kind of control, it is definitely all good.

jefrs
06-19-2013, 09:17 AM
I play guitar, and bass, and several other things, for 50 years. A few years ago for some reason I got a banjo-ukulele since then ... nevermind -

The 'ukulele has been 'bubbling under' for many, many years. Just now they appear to be peaking again, but still not mainstream.. For a guitarist, they are very easy to play. They are great for a grab-it and noodle around, once you get over the bass strings are missing, the neck too narrow, the frets too close together and the strings too far apart;) but the guitar is far more expressive. Biggest problem for me is sight-reading, the 'ukulele chord shapes are so familiar but they have all the 'wrong names' on them ;)
The nylon strung classical guitar is the most expressive guitar of them all but the 'ukulele, even the baritone, is not a 4-string version of it, they're something -else.

Someone mentioned minor chords. I think you're right, minor chords do not seem to sound as sad on the 'uke - but it can be done. The expression has to be put into the hesitation pauses, timing is critical on the 'uke.

Nickie
06-19-2013, 03:22 PM
fscott, I think you have just ruined your reputation with all of the ladies on UU, myself included. :(

I'm not a "chick", I'm a woman who also happens to be formally trained in classical guitar. While I am concerned about my RH nails because they serve me for fingerpicking, it has nothing to do with costly manicures.

I don't care if they call me a chick, lady, woman, girl, gal, sister, chica, or whatever....as long as it has ukulele on the front of it....and I'm glad I'm not a guy....they are prone to catching hell, LOL...
Manicures? What's that? I'm a nurse, I havnet had one in years!
For me, I think You Tube has a much to do with it as anything....that's where I saw the UOGB, and I've been hooked ever since...
It's small, I can take it to work without feeling I'm lugging something huge into my clients homes....my songbook weighs more...and it goes perfect with telling jokes, which I am fond of doing...
4 strings are just right, hell, I've only got 4 fingers on my hand...the neck is small enough to get my hand around....it's not so loud it jars patients out of bed...but I don't sing loudly either, so it's just right.
I think the biggest part of it for me is, I've made so many friends that also play or just love to listen. And as long as I can play, although I live alone, I never FEEL alone....it's such a good friend....my bestie....more dependable than anyone I know... it never fails to cheer me up, unless I try to play something too difficult....ha

PTOEguy
06-19-2013, 04:44 PM
Best thread ever. From my experience in general people hate listening to amateurs playing instruments except when it comes to the ukulele. Sometimes they even join in. That never happens when somebody breaks out a trombone.

I can vouch for that - people will put up with me noodling around a ukulele. The times I've tried the same on the trombone either they leave or or I've been told in no uncertain terms to get out.

PTOEguy
06-19-2013, 04:58 PM
I think this has been mentioned elsewhere on this thread, but just the other night I was talking to a friend that I grew up playing music with. We both played euphonium, but since there isn't a huge amount of literature for that instrument he picked up tuba and I picked up trombone. Our sisters are both serious violinists. I was explaining why I like the ukulele - the conversation went as follows:

What does a reasonably decent trombone cost?

Over $1,000 (plus you can't practice without annoying everyone in a mile radius)

How about a violin?

$1500 gets you rubbish - $20,000 is what the professional we know plays and it can go up from there. plus, adult beginners sound awful (my sister the violin teacher points out that starting your 4 year old works because the fractional size violins aren't very loud)

Piano?

Decent starts in the $2,000-$3,000 range and professional is close to $100K and they are sooo portable :)

Guitar?

I've heard that the lowest playable options are around $200, and you're getting better at a pretty steep rate up to $600-$1000

Consider the ukulele

the lowest playable option is often considered the dolphin for under $40. My Pono is a serious instrument for under $400. My flea plays great, is quite durable and cost me less than $200. Plus, the only instrument above that even comes close on portability scale is violin.