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View Full Version : Is a Ukulele a type of Guitar?



nomis
04-09-2010, 03:18 PM
That is to say does it belong to this group of "Guitar Instruments"

Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Flamenco, Resonator or Dobro, 12-string, Guitarrón, Tenor guitar, Guitar battente, Parlor guitar, Baritone guitar, Lap steel guitar (aka Hawaiian guitar), Pedal steel guitar etc.

or the other main group of "Non-Guitar Instrument"

Cello, Banjo, Polynesian Nose flute, Stylophone (and one or two others)?

On my copy of Sibelius its notation comes under "Hawaiian Guitars", is this correct?

Melissa82
04-09-2010, 03:21 PM
Can of worms has opened!

ceviche
04-09-2010, 03:23 PM
I'm going to be a jerk and say, "Why not?"

But, a little more seriously, it might be fair to class ukes with guitars, as their strings are tuned similarly (4ths: guitar 6th string EFGA 5th string)--say, in the same way that mandolins and violins are a class of instruments tuned in the same manner (5ths: mandolin 4th string GABCD 3rd string).

Lori
04-09-2010, 03:24 PM
When I bought a ukulele from Italy, and it needed to be classified for import duty to the USA, it was classified as a "non-guitar".
–Lori

pithaya9
04-09-2010, 03:33 PM
Can of worms has opened!

:agree:
:wtf: guitar

HoldinCoffee
04-09-2010, 03:37 PM
As a square is a type of rectangle, a ukulele is a type of guitar.

molokinirum
04-09-2010, 03:46 PM
A small guitar????? :wtf:

I've heard the uke called a Kazoo with strings.....but a guitar?!?

pithaya9
04-09-2010, 03:49 PM
Personally a "Kazoo with strings" would be less insulting.

ceviche
04-09-2010, 04:08 PM
When I bought a ukulele from Italy, and it needed to be classified for import duty to the USA, it was classified as a "non-guitar".
–Lori

You expect the bureaucrats at Customs to know the difference? Actually, they have to work from a non-musical standard based on trade issues. It's along the lines of why Scottish whiskeys cost so much here in the States. IOW, I wouldn't use your import duty experience as a gauge.

harpdog
04-09-2010, 04:20 PM
Sheesh. You all have it backwards.
A guitar is a type of bass. If it's tuned right. The bass, that is.
The bass is a type of ukulele. Therefore,
a guitar is a ukulele.
It's so simple.

cletus
04-09-2010, 04:26 PM
hmmmm, canned worms.

whetu
04-09-2010, 04:32 PM
I would say yes and no. Quoteth John King:



In the time of J.S. Bach—some years before Capt. James Cook stumbled upon the island he called Owyhee—guitarists armed with re-entrantly tuned instruments had pioneered a style of playing they called campanela, which means little bell sounds. The bottom line is, they played each note of a melody on a different string, creating a sound like a harp—or little, pealing bells—where notes over-rang one another. I taught myself an appropriate Bach tune using the campanela technique and applied it to my mother’s pineapple. It was a revelation.

Guitars used to be re-entrant tuned. The ukulele is re-entrant tuned and John King has said elsewhere in his notes that the re-entrant tuning was borrowed from a 5-string Portugese guitar (obviously borrowed into the uke's forerunner, the braguina/machete). In a way, the uke is a fork of the guitar family, kind of in the same way that American English is a fork of 1700's English, Quebecci is a fork of French and so on...

However, quoteth the mighty wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukulele) (emphasis mine):



The ukulele, (pronounced /ˌjuːkəˈleɪliː/ YOO-kə-LAY-lee, from Hawaiian: ʻukulele [ˈʔukuˈlele]; variantly spelled ukelele in the UK), sometimes abbreviated to uke, is a chordophone classified as a plucked lute; it is a subset of the guitar family of instruments, generally with four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings.[1]

A lute??? Forsooth thine knave forthwith, henceforth to thy tavern and drink hearty mead!

Chris Tarman
04-09-2010, 04:39 PM
I would consider the ukulele to be part of the guitar family, broadly speaking. It is clearly more a guitar than a banjo is. It's constructed like a guitar and tuned more or less the same way as a guitar (granted, to a different pitch, but the same intervals). So, it's closer to a guitar than it is to any other instrument, and closer to a guitar than other instruments like mandolin, banjo etc are.

eleuke
04-09-2010, 05:40 PM
I think ceviche hit it right off. As players, we pick something up and try to play it. A guitar player can pick up an uke and play it. An uke player can pick up a guitar and play it (albeit without the requisite alien 5th and 6th fingers) So, the concept of 'family of instruments' seems logical to me. I used to play the violin, and the mandolin would have been a manageable adjustment. So, from a players perspective, I'm going to come down on the 'yes' side of the fence. whetu is absolutely right in introducing the word 'fork' into this can of worms. For a treat, check here to see the incredible amount of forking thats been going on: http://www.atlasofpluckedinstruments.com/

itsme
04-09-2010, 05:51 PM
Ukes are considered to be chordophones, so can be classified as similar to guitar.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chordophone

A chordophone is any musical instrument which makes sound by way of a vibrating string or strings stretched between two points. It is one of the four main divisions of instruments in the original Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification.

What many would call string instruments are classified as chordophones. Violins, guitars, lyres and harps are some examples.

P-co
04-09-2010, 09:00 PM
Yes and tequila is a cool refreshing drink.

ricdoug
04-09-2010, 09:02 PM
Guitars and ukuleles are ancestors of the vihuela. Ric

haole
04-10-2010, 04:26 AM
What's a guitar?

nomis
04-10-2010, 04:27 AM
Yes, I guess it was intended as a sort of discussion opener. Although, I'm quite surprised that so far most people say it IS a type of guitar. I expected much more snarling. It amazes me how many people who walk into my home (why are these people walking through my home?) say things like ,"put that guitar down and stop making such a racket" when in fact I'm playing an instrument that's a quarter the size of a normal guitar. It's as if they only see the shape.

The other thing which I find quite interesting is that most normal punters (musically illiterate people) here in the UK make no connection whatsoever between the Ukulele and Hawaii. I think the reason here is clear in that the uke became a seminal part of British culture in the hands of the the comedy actor George Fornby. In the UK I think the two are inexorably linked. This has also gone a long way towards casting the Ukulele as a comedy instrument here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfmAeijj5cM

I wonder how well George is known outside the UK, although i have to say his style didn't personally inspire me to play.

P.S. These are my favourite quotes from this thread so far

.....and applied it to my mother’s pineapple. It was a revelation.

whetu is absolutely right in introducing the word 'fork' into this can of worms.

http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/1990/formbygeorgethatukelele.jpg (http://img8.imageshack.us/i/formbygeorgethatukelele.jpg/)

Skrik
04-10-2010, 08:34 AM
In a way, the uke is a fork

Come on, now -- that's just ridiculous!

Seriously, both the guitar and the ukulele are members of the lute family.

pulelehua
04-10-2010, 10:01 AM
It's generally thought that there was an instrument many hundreds of years ago called a vihuela, which was not like the modern vihuela. Like instruments of its day, it was made differently in different areas, and different courses of strings, and came in different sizes. At some point in said history, two camps emerged: the pluckers and the bowers. The bowers created a line of instruments called the viols, which came to be our modern string family. But in those days, violins and the like had frets.

The pluckers created the guitar and all its cousins. But, and I think this is important, its cousins, not its descendants. Not everything comes from the guitar. It's just one of the descendants. It just happens to be the most popular at this point in time.

Going back beyond that, it's often thought that the Indo-European cultural heritage led to these instruments.

So, in fact, it might be better to say that the ukulele is a kind of sitar.

Or, you can go for the Classical theory, that some bozo during the "dark" ages stuck a neck under his lyre strings and started to stop/fret notes. In which case, the ukulele is a kind of lyre.

But I would have to say a big fat no. The ukulele is no more a kind of guitar than a Ford is a kind of Mercedes.

Diatribe over. Thank you for your time.

pulelehua
04-10-2010, 10:03 AM
And can I just add that probably my greatest ukulele hurdle was to recognise that George Formby was a seriously good player.

Hakuna Matata
04-10-2010, 10:14 AM
i completely agree with you :)

ceviche
04-10-2010, 10:24 AM
Here's a fun link with info on ukes and other lutes of North America.
http://www.atlasofpluckedinstruments.com/n_america.htm
After looking at all the instruments related to guitars and ukes, I now want a tiple. Also, it's cool finding out that an 8-string uke is called a "Taro Patch."

This following link has a very interesting discussion on ukulele tunings found in Coolhanduke's "Confession." Maybe pedantic, but still interesting.
http://www.coolhanduke.com/tuning.html

This thread also mentions coolhanduke: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?25231-Lineage-of-the-Ukulele-What-are-it-s-roots&highlight=coolhanduke
Here's the link that leads to coolhanduke's ukulele history: http://www.coolhanduke.com/history.html Good reading.
This definitive history of the uke also came via the thread link above: http://www.nalu-music.com/a-strum-through-ukulele-history/ Another reason to use the search function.

From what I gather, from all this online info, is that the uke is not a type of guitar, but, rather, a member of the same family of instruments.

--Dave E.

GrumpyCoyote
04-10-2010, 10:45 AM
Musical instruments, much like biological systems, essentially evolve. This means that similar traits can develop on separate branches stemming from a common ancestor. The uke is not a direct descendant of the guitar, but it is historically and clearly related.

In their current incarnations, they are both typically tuned in intervals of 4ths (re-entrant octave being essentially irrelevant) with a chromatic scale of frets, and so are fundamentally the same instrument family. I would not call the uke "a type of guitar", but I would consider them very closely related and in practical application, nearly the same.

Chris Tarman
04-10-2010, 01:10 PM
And can I just add that probably my greatest ukulele hurdle was to recognise that George Formby was a seriously good player.

George Formby was definitely a seriously good player.

buddhuu
04-10-2010, 03:20 PM
*Sigh*

OK, yes. An 'ukulele is a kind of guitar, in the same way that a guitar is a kind of 'ukulele. And a mandolin is a kind of guitar, and a kind of 'ukulele, and a kind of violin...

They are all string instruments. Some are lute-derivatives, plucked. Some are are bowed, but share tunings with plucked varieties. They are all related and, if you go back far enough, share common ancestry.

That particular wheel has probably been invented independently several times in various parts of the world.

So, yes. Any of them is a type of any other member of that broad family of instruments.

It's late and I am tired and short of patience. Maybe that's why I feel compelled to comment upon the stupidity of claiming that it is insulting to consider either an 'ukulele or a guitar to be 'a type' of the other. It is not insulting, it is valid. Thoughtless dismissal of questions and opinions... that is insulting. Please stop doing it.

Pippin
04-10-2010, 03:35 PM
Come on, now -- that's just ridiculous!

Seriously, both the guitar and the ukulele are members of the lute family.

Absolutely! They are both of the lute family.

Janko
04-10-2010, 04:55 PM
"A Chordophone is a musical instrument which produces sound by means of a stretched vibrating string.

Chordophones have subcategories depending on how the strings are played. Examples of chordophones that are played by plucking are banjo, guitar, harp, mandolin and ukulele.

Examples of chordophones played by bowing are double bass, violin and viola. "

Ok....so they are both in the chordophone family.
The question "That is to say does it belong to this group of Guitar Instruments" is politicly incorrect.
You have to ask if a guitar and a ukulele both belong to the "group of chordophone instruments" Yes they do except ukuleles rock!

ukantor
04-10-2010, 09:28 PM
The short answer is, Yes.

guitarlover2010
04-11-2010, 02:03 AM
Thanks a lot for clearing the types of guitar as i was so confused.

scottie
04-11-2010, 09:11 AM
The absolutely best looking female barista in the entire city of Pittsburgh calls it my 'baby guitar'. I'm not going to argue with her because she's so hot and I'm so shallow. She also insists that it's female whereas I see my ukulele as more like a throat warbler mangrove kind of thing.

Chris Tarman
04-11-2010, 09:47 AM
The absolutely best looking female barista in the entire city of Pittsburgh calls it my 'baby guitar'. I'm not going to argue with her because she's so hot and I'm so shallow. She also insists that it's female whereas I see my ukulele as more like a throat warbler mangrove kind of thing.

Yeah, if a hot female barista called my uke a baby guitar, then that is what it would be forever more. Shallow? Sure. And it's pronounced "Throat Warbler Mangrove", but it's SPELLED "Raymond Luxury Yacht". I imagine we just lost about 95% of the readers on that one, but what the heck!

Gipserio
04-11-2010, 11:17 AM
I believe Ernest Ka'ai published a book about a hundred years ago titled something like: THE UKULELE, A HAWAIIAN GUITAR, AND HOW TO PLAY IT. It appears he ate his can of worms long before we were around

pulelehua
04-11-2010, 09:50 PM
Yeah, if a hot female barista called my uke a baby guitar, then that is what it would be forever more. Shallow? Sure. And it's pronounced "Throat Warbler Mangrove", but it's SPELLED "Raymond Luxury Yacht". I imagine we just lost about 95% of the readers on that one, but what the heck!

Right with you on that one, Chris. Sadly, he is now an ex-parrot.

I Ukulista
04-19-2010, 12:53 PM
Guitar is a type of large ukulele I think....

ichadwick
04-20-2010, 07:18 AM
That is to say does it belong to this group of "Guitar Instruments"

Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Flamenco, Resonator or Dobro, 12-string, Guitarrón, Tenor guitar, Guitar battente, Parlor guitar, Baritone guitar, Lap steel guitar (aka Hawaiian guitar), Pedal steel guitar etc.

Yes.

It comes from a long line of small-size guitars and guitar-like cousins. One can even argue the modern acoustic guitar is further from the source than the uke, since many of the ancestral instruments in that family were smaller than today's guitars.

These instruments have a rich and proud heritage of shared ancestry. Many of the uke's smaller cousins are still being played in Portugal, Spain and throughout Latin America. Look at a baritone uke - and ask yourself is there any signifcant difference between that and a nylon-string tenor guitar? So how could they not be related?

Saying the ukulele isn't a guitar or isn't related to guitars is like saying humans didn't come from the same family tree as apes. Just like we share 95% of the genetic makeup of chimps, ukes share 95% of the design makeup of guitars.

ichadwick
04-20-2010, 07:22 AM
Absolutely! They are both of the lute family.
Well, I have images in my head of guys dressed in pointy hats and shoes with bells playing the lute while singing about Brave Sir Robin while they danced around, but that aside, sure, lutes and ukes share some of the same genetic material.