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View Full Version : Playing the Heck Out of One Ukulele



luvdat
02-26-2010, 05:56 AM
You can read in interviews where Jake S. talks about playing and practicing and performing on only one ukulele. Sure, this was after connecting, after a number of instruments.

Is there some virtue or value in that approach even for beginners, intermediates, semi-advanced?

I think so.

haole
02-26-2010, 07:10 AM
Totally goes against the laws of UAS, but it's probably a better approach to learning the ukulele overall. If I spent half as much time practicing as I do looking at ukes on the internet and dreaming up my ultimate custom, I'd be a lot better by now. :B

thejumpingflea
02-26-2010, 07:15 AM
Since I have gotten my Moore Bettah Uke I have been nearly exclusive with it. I'd say since it has been mine it has gotten 95% of my total play time.

My goal is to where a hole in it.

SailingUke
02-26-2010, 07:19 AM
I personally enjoy collecting them as much as playing.
I know several professional musicians who are fabulous players and don't seem to be constantly shopping for instruments.
I wonder if many of us are always on the prowl looking for that uke/guitar that will take us to the level we dream about, while the pros are already there and view the instrument as a tool to work with.

PoisonDart
02-26-2010, 07:28 AM
If the notes that are supposed to come out, come out, and you are comfortable holding it (neck sizes and such), the issue is the player, not the uke. Although it is very fun to uke shop, and lord knows I do enough of that.

luvdat
02-26-2010, 07:30 AM
Clarification though I think it's clear: not saying you can't try out even buy a variety first.

But when you do connect (not talking Uke of Your Dreams or the best that is)...you can establish a baseline. You can also see "What else can I make this thing do?"

For me, feel free to chuckle, it's the humble Flea. I can honestly see myself playing that thing and only that thing for at least a year or more without another purchase. Sure, just yesterday I sought and got some great advice on tenors, but hours later...it's this weird conviction: just keep hitting that Flea.

In short, the upgrade is one's playing.

And this is also familar: a really good player can make even a cheapo or a presumed DOA or no big deal ukulele sing. BTW, in some ways there are advantages to playing a pretty good very good vs spectacular instrument. It makes you push a little harder, discover more.

It's in the hands.

Brad Bordessa
02-26-2010, 07:41 AM
My goal is to where a hole in it.

Ditto! I think you get to a certain point and you get a quality instrument and will only ever get a better one by getting sponsored (or getting rich). And to get sponsored you've got to practice. So I only ever play my Kamaka, there is just no point in me using something different. There is no other sound I'm looking for and it's easy enough to play. It's about the music, not how many 'ukuleles somebody has.

paraclete
02-26-2010, 07:48 AM
My instruments are the tools of my trade. I don't name them or warm up the car for them or take them to bed with me at night. I also do not have any duplicates. In other words, I have one soprano uke, one tenor.... one classical guitar, one acoustic, one electric, one bass guitar, one fiddle. I don't feel any pressing need to have more than that. If I get another instrument, it will be something that I don't already have.

And so for me, it's always been about finding the instrument that suits me well and learning to play the heck out of it.

... just a weird thought... do piano players get PAS?

luvdat
02-26-2010, 07:51 AM
Ditto! I think you get to a certain point and you get a quality instrument and will only ever get a better one by getting sponsored (or getting rich). And to get sponsored you've got to practice. So I only ever play my Kamaka, there is just no point in me using something different. There is no other sound I'm looking for and it's easy enough to play. It's about the music, not how many 'ukuleles somebody has.

Hey, if I lived in Hawaii and could have tried out a few Kamaka pineapples and bought the right one that would be it for me for quite awhile. The one I played BTW in NYC was not "dramatic" but simply ON...and for me ON is huge, like transparent, expressive. I just needed a consistent ukulele with volume/projection, playabiity and a different enough sound to be inspired...not the "greatest." We're in agreement. And the weather here in NJ made me think more than twice...even about cheaper solid woods.

Peace to you and yours...

WS64
02-26-2010, 08:10 AM
I need different ukes for different occasions.
For example I need a silent uke for playing after 10pm, and there are songs or at least phrases, where I need the wider space of a tenor, on others I need the frets close together to be able to play at the same time things like fret 1 on one string, fret 8 on another.
That's why I prefer concert size, usually everything goes there.

SweetWaterBlue
02-26-2010, 08:22 AM
For me, having more than one uke was mostly a consequence of trying to find out what I like, and being too lazy to sell the ones I don't need anymore. I have no desire at this point to collect ukes, but perhaps that is because I don't really have any that are "collectible." It took me awhile to discover that I really like the traditional sound of solid wood sopranos. Now that I have one, I still find myself playing my flea a lot, even though I don't think it sounds as good, because it is just easier to play with its wider concert neck. Where I will finally settle, I do not know at this point.

I do think that playing one instrument almost exclusively makes you better on that instrument. As others have said, I find I spend too much time looking for another uke and playing too many takes away from my practice time. That's just me though. There are people on this board who are incredibly talented, and can play anything. If they enjoy it then its all good.

GX9901
02-26-2010, 08:58 AM
I agree that it's beneficial to stick with one instrument, but I think it's more fun to acquire multiple ukuleles. Truth be told, even with 14 ukes in my collection, one gets about 90% of the playing time while the other 13 shares the remaining 10%, but on the occasion I take one of them out for a spin, it's usually an enjoyable experience. If I was a professional ukulele player, I'd probably stick with one uke though.

thejumpingflea
02-26-2010, 09:12 AM
I think it should be mentioned that James Hill uses three different ukes when he performs.

clayton56
02-26-2010, 09:37 AM
For me it's a phase, and it's a combination of tools and toys. For me, guitars are strictly tools. I have two identical Gibson classicals I got from Ebay and fixed up. They actually sound quite different, but I don't have any urge to upgrade or get something prettier. When I got them I immediately gave away the guitar I had. So for guitars, it's tools only. I don't dream of guitars.

When I was searching for banjos, I had as many as four, but now I have two, identical (except they sound different - go figure). I had more of the urge to have the prettiest, fanciest, and to have one in every room. Eventually they became tools to me and I got it down to the two that sound the best.

I'm sure it will be the same for ukes. I'm trying all the brands and woods, and when I get the "one" I like best, I'll sell off the others and keep two (or so) that I will play and get used to. Then that will be "my sound" and I'll continue with that. I do like to have two, though, in case of emergency I'm not without.

dentuke
02-26-2010, 09:54 AM
Take it from a recovering Uke hoarder...... Stick to one and get to know it well...... I have pretty much every uke size and variants of them.... I have improved in my playing by sticking to one and admiring the others...

Ahnko Honu
02-26-2010, 09:56 AM
A master Samurai usually owned 3 swords a Katana (tenor), a Wakizashi (concert), and a Tanto (soprano) and he learned to master all 3. 8-) The rare samurai was also a master Yari spearman (baritone).

casarole45
02-26-2010, 10:04 AM
It does seem to be the theme, and its the same with me. I have nowhere to try all these ukes out so I want to order them in, play them, but I don't know if its the best, I have nothing to compare it to so I need more and more... with guitars I trolled round hundreds of shops for a couple of weeks trying them out till I found the one that won me over....

scottie
02-26-2010, 10:37 AM
Since I got the Collings, the following things have happened. First I've been playing it exclusively. Just last week I busted the Lanakai outta' hibernation and had a lotta fun. The Collings has a woody bark to it that I really like. I've been trying to convince myself to get a second Collings, a little flamed mahogany concert number, completely gorgeous and sounds wonderful but the universe is gently telling me to work with what I have.

I put the first little nick on the Collings today, the top of the case came down and one latch just caught the very end by the strap button, not bad but I thought for a second that if I give in to the temptation of flamed mahogany goodness I can justify it by attempting to convince myself that I need at least one in pristine condition. . . and then I was reminded that I bought the Collings as a player and it's certainly being played.

"Shut up", Uncle Frank said, "Shut up and play yer' ukulele".

Also, for a couple of hundred less than the cost of the little mahogany jewel I could have a pair of Shure SM81s and an FMR RNP. . . do you see where this wackiness goes ? ? ? ? ?

portlandjosh
02-26-2010, 11:15 AM
I know several professional musicians who are fabulous players and don't seem to be constantly shopping for instruments.
I wonder if many of us are always on the prowl looking for that uke/guitar that will take us to the level we dream about, while the pros are already there and view the instrument as a tool to work with.

My dad was a professional musician, and gigged with the same acoustic electric for twenty years. He had a couple of other electrics for playing around with, but his working instrument never changed. On the other side, look at Sonic Youth. Those guys travel with dozens of guitars, and often switch to a specific axe between each song.

I, on the other hand, clearly see the collector appeal. They are pretty, fun and really not all that expensive.

leftovermagic84
02-26-2010, 11:50 AM
I've settled on the fact that not all ukuleles are created equally, and so I have a few of them. I justify it by telling myself that each of them sound quite different. I have a D tuned soprano, two concerts, a low-g tenor, a 6 string, and an electric. All of them make very different sounds. The only duplicate is a fluke concert, but it's built to knock around with, where my mainland concert sounds better, but I wouldn't dare drag it around like I do with my fluke. I actually bounce back and forth between them in spurts. They get, for the most part, pretty evenly played, because no two are alike.

pulelehua
02-26-2010, 12:56 PM
My mother plays the piano well. She never talks about it. You wouldn't know she plays until she sits down and plays.

My dad plays the piano not particularly well. And he could talk your ear off about piano playing, and music, and composers.

This whole discussion really reminded me of my parents. If they were ukulele players, my mom would have bought a nice ukulele in 1963 and never thought of getting another, and if something went wrong, she would have just fixed it rather than replaced it. My dad would own 17 ukuleles, all different types, and he would delight in telling people about them, and finding out about them, and finding out about the ones he didn't have.

For one, it's just about having a transmitter for music. For the other, it's the treasure trove of knowledge you get to be part of.

I currently own one ukulele. I might get a Flea at some point, as I have this sense that my Kala is going to be destroyed by the teenage boys I teach, my 2-year old son, the inclement weather, or some combination. I've got a strange sort of pride in my one ukulele. It makes it a workhorse. The one. A trusted friend.

Dunno. Rambling. I think it's a different mentality.

luvdat
02-26-2010, 01:20 PM
pulelehua, vivid.

I wish I could hand deliver that Flea myself with my wife. Years ago when I was in Toronto I met some people from Kent (I was in my mid-30's) they were younger. Salt of the earth. Aside from the fun I remember their passing in a car and giving me a ride to where I was going. Once at the end of a shared meal, a young couple from Kent paid the check for me without my knowing.

Your parents sound like great ones. I would do anything to tell my own parents once again how much I still miss them and love them. Be grateful you still have them.

That workhorse concept, hold on to it. It too is precious in a world where nothing lasts except love. Not even civilizations.

pdxuke
02-26-2010, 02:02 PM
It's all good, and interesting. I do get bored and I like mixing things up. I don't think I could ever just own one uke, but I could see settling on a handful, and I can definately see having a GO TO uke. I'm still experimenting, and like the way I'm buying, trying and moving them through when they don't work.

And to quote Frank Loesser, "I'll know when my love comes along..."

Teek
02-26-2010, 10:05 PM
I am still sorting them out, and moving up in quality because it makes a difference to me how much playability a uke has. I finally have after collecting 4 vintage sopranos a cheapie Ohana that is so much easier to play and I enjoy the feel of it and the sound. I've had it 24 hours and it's calling to me right now. It is my new travel uke. I have a tenor I will likely never voluntarily part with, a really nice Kanile'a deluxe. It fills the bill when I want a resonant low G to fingerpick. It's my little classical guitar. The concert CBU is my funky fun uke, it also ended up being a bit of a project uke and I think it will be much more satisfactory when done. Because it's a CBU it is a wall hanger to grab to fuss around with in front of the computer, and it is set up low G, so that and the Ohana cover those two tunings for pc play. I have a concert Kamaka that is the other I will never voluntarily part with. It's my sit in the chair when it's quiet to just enjoy it's age and sensitivity and special woody sound and sustain. I hope to have a custom concert pineapple in the future. If it turns out nice that will make 5 keepers and some loose vintage sopranos, and some of those will be up on the market later on. There is also a cheapass vintage bari hanging around with no case and getting scuffed that is my better half's, it is sweeter than my mom's Martin for $50 off eBay and a set of cheap tuners. It's not going anywhere either if I have anything to say about it.

There's not a huge expense involved in most, they fit in a small closet with plenty of room for other stuff,and I have to say I have got to a place of settling down with them, happy and not really looking for any more. I found what fits, and will be downsizing on Craigslist or Deaching in the future. Now I just need to settle into learning how to play them!

deach
02-27-2010, 01:44 AM
If I played like Jake, maybe I wouldn't need so many ukes to get the different sounds I wanted. and for the record, I play the hell out of all my ukes.

dkcrown
02-27-2010, 01:53 AM
If I played like Jake, maybe I wouldn't need so many ukes to get the different sounds I wanted. and for the record, I play the hell out of all my ukes.

I'm with Deach on this one. I do play the hell out of all my ukes. Unfortunately, it usually sounds like hell:)

Thumper
02-27-2010, 02:20 AM
Although I agree with the notion of playing the hell out of your uke, I don't think "uke monogamy" is terribly important. Instead, I'd advocate spending time with each uke you have, exploring what it is capable of, and modifying (and thus developing) your technique to get the most out of each of them.

Seems like that will build both your technique and your awareness as a listener, to the point that you can pick up any uke and quickly figure out how to make it sound its best. And the more you do this, the more instinctive the process will become.

scottie
02-27-2010, 02:32 AM
I don't really look at it as uke monogamy - rather I have 2 ukes one of which significantly nicer and which I like to play a lot more. If I were going to do any serious performing I'd feel much more comfortable with a backup instrument. . . and ukes are small so it's not like lugging 2 or 3 guitars around. . . I'm more of the I'd like 3 or 4 I'd really use view . . . and a beater or sorts to take on bike trips. . . kind of like a safari uke. . .

SamUke
02-27-2010, 02:48 AM
I went through a bad case of UAS for about 2 years and then sold everyone realizing I looked at them more then I played them; I have a concert now that I focused on playing, since then I have gotten a lot better.

guitharsis
02-27-2010, 05:58 AM
In the past 9 months have owned 9 ukes - not all at once. Buying, selling, trading. ( In February, bought 3 and sold 1). Was looking for what size felt comfortable, what sounded the best. Playability. . .
Love the 4 I have left! Now, want to concentrate on learning to play better.

Ronnie Aloha
02-27-2010, 06:39 AM
If I played like Jake, maybe I wouldn't need so many ukes to get the different sounds I wanted. and for the record, I play the hell out of all my ukes.

If I had Jake's slot head Kamaka I wouldn't need any other ukes...

dentuke
02-27-2010, 06:44 AM
Who leveled the frets for you in NY state?

guitharsis
02-27-2010, 06:57 AM
Who leveled the frets for you in NY state?

The Lehua is still at Mobile Music in Canandaigua. Tim, the owner, is an excellent technician - also a great musician.

Franco
02-27-2010, 02:46 PM
in my opinion, or at least in my case. the people with UAS are the ones who don't have a quality well built solid ukulele.
i realize there are many here who have a collection of custom made ukes and they completly kill my theory.
but in my case i floated around laminates and sub $300 ukes and didnt get the playabilty or sound i was looking for.
it wasn't until i got my pono ebony that i felt free of UAS. after that i felt i had the tool i wouldn't grow out of and not get tired of.

in jakes case. (as many people have said and i agree) he has an amazing kamaka, it has the sound and playability he needs. now he just has to play. likewise i dont see aldy growing out of his new baby anytime soon.

deach
02-27-2010, 03:16 PM
in my opinion, or at least in my case. the people with UAS are the ones who don't have a quality well built solid ukulele. .....
I could name several members with UAS who don't own a sub $300 uke.

deach
02-27-2010, 03:19 PM
If I had Jake's slot head Kamaka I wouldn't need any other ukes...

Unless you play like Jake, I find this highly unlikely. I've played Aldrine's Kamaka and Kanile'a and you would have sworn they were cheap laminate ukes. I've heard Aldrine play a Fluke and I had to look 3 times to make sure those awesome sounds were coming from a Fluke. No disrespect, just saying....

Franco
02-27-2010, 04:53 PM
I could name several members with UAS who don't own a sub $300 uke.

yes i realize this, and thats exactly why it kills my theory. members with nice solid ukes buy more and more nice solid ukes.
i guess i was just relating my own exp with UAS.

you also propose a good point deach. maybe it was my playing skills that developed over time and not the quality of the uke that caused me to become satisfied.

Chris Tarman
02-27-2010, 08:34 PM
In my opinion, there is no one right answer. It depends entirely on the person. In my case, I have several ukes (ok....12) because I am still trying to figure out what I like, but also because I enjoy collecting things. I have 8 bass guitars (down from 10), but kind of for a different reason. I actually gig with several bands on bass, and I have different basses for different purposes. They all sound a little different and are good at different things. Also I tend to play slightly differently on each of them, because of the sound and feel. Usually I take at least 2 basses with me to a gig, and sometimes as many as 4 (depending on which band and the size of the gig). I probably play my '77 Fender Jazz 75% of the time, but sometimes I need a fretless or a 5-string or some other sound. I am not to the point of really gigging on ukulele yet. I just like having different things. I have 3 fairly nice solid wood ukes and a couple of vintage ones, as well as a few beaters. I have at least one of each size. I don't yet have a low g, so that is one more I want. Do I NEED them all? Of course not. But I enjoy having them. I play nearly all of them at least a bit. I do play 2 of my sopranos more than any of the others, with my tenor coming in 3rd. They do all sound a little bit different, so I think my "different bass for different purpose" strategy could also apply here (if I was playing out with ukuleles, that is). I don't know if I would be a better player if I spent all my time on just one ukulele. I guess it wouldn't HURT, but I don't know that it would help either. I enjoy playing ukulele, and I enjoy OWNING UKULELES. They are inexpensive compared to some instruments (even the expensive ones are inexpensive compared to high-end guitars); they take up very little room; they are fun; I don't have kids who will go hungry if I buy another ukulele. And I am the only person around here (as far as I know) who collects them, or even plays them much. Some people are happy with just one really nice instrument. Personally, I think even if I had a really really nice expensive ukulele I would still spend a lot of time wanting another one, no matter how much I liked the one I already had. But that's just me.

Lanark
02-28-2010, 02:43 AM
... because I enjoy collecting things. ... They all sound a little different and are good at different things. Also I tend to play slightly differently on each of them, because of the sound and feel. ... Some people are happy with just one really nice instrument. Personally, I think even if I had a really really nice expensive ukulele I would still spend a lot of time wanting another one, no matter how much I liked the one I already had. But that's just me.


So much this.

I've got a number of ukuleles. I play them all at different times in different moods and different things. I like having a bit of variety to break up the routine of practicing and to keep me from becoming complacent. I like having a collection.

guitharsis
03-01-2010, 02:32 AM
Like having the number of ukuleles I do at this time. Mostly for he difference in sound, but even the difference in looks. The KoAloha concert has a curly koa top, the soprano (as seen in my avatar) straight grain with sap wood accents, and the Kamaka, highly figured. The Lehua also has beautiful unique wood.