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View Full Version : My number one question asked to me at NAMM



MGM
01-18-2011, 11:09 AM
This years Namm was interesting at best.....not a lot of new ground breaking new stuff but yes a lot of interest and manufacturewrs juming in the uke market Seems that they are having a wake up call call that the uke is booming and theirs lots of new interest. Heres the thing though...As one who has sense of the market and direction....this is what hey asked every onr with a sort of fear in their eyes.....:"how long do you think this bubble of ukulele interest will last" ....I know how i answered it how would you?

ukeeku
01-18-2011, 11:15 AM
I would laugh and say "Ukes are like guitars now, an instrument that will rise and fall in popularity, but it is here to stay"
I over heard a gentalman walk by the Kamaka booth and say to his friend "When will this F*&#ing ukulele fad go away?" I wanted to punch him in the nose.

allanr
01-18-2011, 11:18 AM
There's no way to predict. But there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that this is a classic bubble phenomenon. I think it is still on the upswing, which is why it doesn't feel like a bubble yet. I'm planning on riding this thing all the way up and all the way down, cause I'm loving every second of it... But I'm pretty sure that my son is going to inherit a bunch of nice ukes that he will probably unload at the Sally Ann!

And if people were any good at predicting when bubbles will burst there would be a heck of a lot more millionaires out there.

haole
01-18-2011, 11:39 AM
Musical instrument "fads" seem to last pretty long. In the 60s, all the British Invasion groups really liked to feature the harmonica and tambourine up-front. And in the 80s synths and cheesy electronic drums defined the whole era. So perhaps the uke "bubble" will last a decade, or it might even stick around long enough to be a semi-mainstream instrument.

If it fizzles out in another year I still won't be upset, because I enjoy playing it regardless. :B

Dane
01-18-2011, 11:49 AM
I would have said that the "uke-craze" that has been happening will die down a lot, but that we will see a lot more quality in builds, and more talented players rise up. I think the ukulele is coming to be known more as a real instrument.

Dougf
01-18-2011, 11:52 AM
Musical instrument "fads" seem to last pretty long. In the 60s, all the British Invasion groups really liked to feature the harmonica and tambourine up-front. And in the 80s synths and cheesy electronic drums defined the whole era. So perhaps the uke "bubble" will last a decade, or it might even stick around long enough to be a semi-mainstream instrument.

If it fizzles out in another year I still won't be upset, because I enjoy playing it regardless. :B

Speaking of long lasting musical fads, there's the story (perhaps apocryphal) of the British record producer who quipped after an audition of a struggling band calling themselves "The Beatles", something to the effect, "All these guitar groups are just a passing fad".

mds725
01-18-2011, 11:59 AM
I think the ukulele wave will last a while -- it still appears to be on the upswing, judging from sales reports -- unless another Tiny Tim comes along. Still, if the bubble bursts, I'll wait patiently for the market to be flooded with "barely played" K brand ukuleles at a fraction of their original price. :)

Chris Tarman
01-18-2011, 12:25 PM
I think the ukulele wave will last a while -- it still appears to be on the upswing, judging from sales reports -- unless another Tiny Tim comes along. Still, if the bubble bursts, I'll wait patiently for the market to be flooded with "barely played" K brand ukuleles at a fraction of their original price. :)

No kidding! I don't care much if the world in general is interested in the ukulele.. I enjoy it, and if the fad dies a bit, that just means the prices of vintage ukes go down. Right now, it is coming to the point where everyone with a dusty cheap uke thinks it ought to be worth hundreds on eBay. That's not good for ANYONE!

Hippie Dribble
01-18-2011, 12:39 PM
Totally agree with you Chris and Mark. As a buyer and collector, I hope the bubble does burst sooner rather than later in a way, for the simple reason that the prices will drop. Right now there are some crazy prices being asked for vintage and new ukes.

My contradictory and heartfelt hope though, is that the uke is here to stay. That the bubble won't burst, but that the beautiful, humble uke will become a mainstream, widely played and accepted instrument.

Hmmmm...maybe then I might start playing my Appalachian Dulcimer and Kalimba more seriously!!!! :)

peewee
01-18-2011, 12:41 PM
In your position I would have said "Only a few more months, cut your losses and take the opportunity to unload your inventory on me now while you can still can get a little cash for it. By Memorial Day it's going to be all about balafons."

Kidding of course, I have no idea about market direction in a macro sense. But I would guess it will run it's course, and the hardest hit when the cycle goes down may be the entry level first time makers who depend on volume and the very high end non-traditional makers. In the meantime, I would guess many noobs like me will be upgrading to more playable instruments for a while.

shaokee
01-18-2011, 12:56 PM
I'd answer, "We're here to stay!" :D

Well, I hope so. I believe Jake when he said, "if everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place." :rock:

Uke Republic
01-18-2011, 01:18 PM
I've had the question too. Theres just so many great makers, variety, tonewoods, styles, sizes etc for one to get not to get bored with this instrument. Why would it go away? Easy to play, portable, affordable etc has been what I've said.
Not only the standard sizes but banjoleles, luteleles, sitarleles, harpelele, sopranino sizes who know the tubalele may be the next big hit:)
I think there are plenty more amazing and interesting ukuleles in our future...The Space-ulele!

Hippie Dribble
01-18-2011, 01:24 PM
I know I've posted this beautiful Schulz strip several times before, but here looks like the perfect spot for anyone that hasn't seen it before to enjoy
it... :)

19450

Dane
01-18-2011, 01:29 PM
No kidding! I don't care much if the world in general is interested in the ukulele.. I enjoy it, and if the fad dies a bit, that just means the prices of vintage ukes go down. Right now, it is coming to the point where everyone with a dusty cheap uke thinks it ought to be worth hundreds on eBay. That's not good for ANYONE!

I'm going to say that I do not wish for the bubble to burst too badly. With more popularity comes more companies and more opportunities for invention and new ideas. Plus, I would hate to see some of my favorite ukulele companies lose customers, whether those customers be good players or not, that is not the point. I would much rather see my fav companies charging more for their ukes if it meant that they were doing better.

I have always stuck by one thing with the ukulele, although it may be small and take less materials to make, it is an instrument nonetheless and I am willing to pay what is percieved to be "expensive" for an instrument that is well made. The mere fact that you can get an amazing top-of-the-line custom build ukulele for $2-3k is fantastic. Look into top of the line customs or vintage instruments for other instruments, I've seen $10,000 flutes and saxophones, $20,000 vintage guitars, $70,000 amps.

I say people think it is expensive because they are maybe collecting too many ukuleles in the first place. I'd rather have 2 amazing ukuleles than 20 middle of the road ukes.

UKISOCIETY
01-18-2011, 01:37 PM
I know I've posted this beautiful Schulz strip several times before, but here looks like the perfect spot for anyone that hasn't seen it before to enjoy
it... :)

19450

Thank you for this! I know I'd seen it as a kid, but forgot all about it.

thejumpingflea
01-18-2011, 01:47 PM
I hope it sticks around for a while.... My job depends on it! ;)

3nails4holes
01-18-2011, 03:16 PM
Rihanna, Pink, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, and Justin Bieber.

I hereby prognosticate that when they have all recorded at least one single prominently featuring our favorite little instrument, then the end of the golden days is near.

So let it be written. So let it be done.

And, incidentally, if Bieber makes the uke "cool" by popular culture standards, I'm gonna have to keep my uke-in' on the down low. Waaay down.

3nails4holes
01-18-2011, 03:18 PM
that's a great piece! hilarious!

the peanuts comic strip, i mean!

eddyfinnguy
01-18-2011, 03:25 PM
I got asked that a lot too. In fact I had a lot of stores tell me that it is on the downswing.
If the excitement I saw was a downswimg, I am very sorry to have missed the up swing.

I am personally new to discovering how much fun the uke is, but even more how fun uke players are (as the NAMM was really my first exposure to so many in a live setting)


I think the ukulele wave will last a while -- it still appears to be on the upswing, judging from sales reports -- unless another Tiny Tim comes along. Still, if the bubble bursts, I'll wait patiently for the market to be flooded with "barely played" K brand ukuleles at a fraction of their original price. :)

pdxuke
01-18-2011, 03:33 PM
I got asked that a lot too. In fact I had a lot of stores tell me that it is on the downswing.


That's not what my local shop is telling me; this Christmas they had 200 ukes out the door!

I think it will be here as long as the current Great Depression II lasts; it's affordable, it's fun--I mean even if you have NO MONEY you can buy a Dolphin for $50, or heck, a Mahalo for $29. I think it may be a while before people can go back to massive spending on other things. Unless you're crazy like we all are and love to collect the buggers, I think we have a way to go until we see deep market penetration, i.e., a uke in every house. I have not yet seen a major media star emerge like Arthur Godfrey was back when. If we get Conan playing the uke and giving uke lessons on the air like Godfrey did, then we'll really see usage explode. We have a way to go still.

philpot
01-18-2011, 03:53 PM
My response would be who cares? Popularity is...well, popular opinion. But we don't play for popular opinion do we? In fact, I would say the majority of things we all do for enjoyment are not done out of a desire to appeal to popular culture, but out of pure enjoyment and pleasure. Who cares how long the "fad" lasts, my uke is here to stay.

GVlog
01-18-2011, 04:27 PM
My response would be who cares?

If you don't care, you're a true player. :)

If you care, you're a retailer or a manufacturer. Or maybe you're a collector who's desperately looking for bargains! :D


'Figures then that the question would come up at NAMM. It's an important one if you are in the business of selling ukes.

Dane
01-18-2011, 04:38 PM
Hey I will be completely honest, I like weird things. I like to be different or weird. I picked up the ukulele because it was different, and I saw how much potential it had by seeing videos of amazing players. I got my dreads to be different, I ride a unicycle to be different. I don't like to do things that the majority does. I came in time to respect the instrument, but I did not think as highly of it when I started playing. Whoever wishes to play the ukulele is fine by me, all those trendy folk or ukulele drop outs, just serve to expand the instrument that I now love.

70sSanO
01-18-2011, 04:54 PM
A lot depends on the next generation. The electric guitar went crazy in the 60's because of all the kids that wanted one.

If the next generation decides to adopt the instrument in the same way, we haven't seen anything yet.

Regardless, I think the ukulele will be popular for years to come. There is a different type of atrtist today that features the ukulele for its instrumental qualities and not just to accompany a vocal.

John

Ron
01-18-2011, 04:59 PM
When I first started teaching Media Studies the interweb was just making its influence felt. The one thing i used to say to my students as the years went by was "if anyone tells you they know what's going to happen next, you can ignore them because they don't. No one does".
None of us foresaw - Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Google Maps. Broadband.
We did foresee "paperless offices" and heaps of leisure time as computers did our work for us. What happened to THAT dream, eh? When they first brought out texting on mobiles it was just an add on. It wasn't seen as the main form of communication on the bleedin' things!

For what it is worth I reckon that difference between this current boom in ukes and past bubbles IS the interweb. Youtube has fuelled so much of the uke phenomenom and where it will all go next no one knows. I DO predict, however, that this boom won't be same as the last. I also predict that I'm probably wrong.

itsme
01-18-2011, 05:54 PM
I would laugh and say "Ukes are like guitars now, an instrument that will rise and fall in popularity, but it is here to stay"
I would also agree that ukes are getting to be more like guitars these days. Since the 60s and folk and rock, guitars are a mainstay and haven't really ebbed much IMO.

I see a lot of the popularity of the uke based on the web. It's also affordable and fairly easy to play compared to guitar, more portable, so it's the perfect instrument for the DIY crowd.

It's also a bit of a backlash against all the technology we're hit with these days. It all started with radio and records. Before then, people either had live music or none at all.

Being able to play music yourself is an enjoyable and rewarding pastime. You don't even have to be that good at it to have fun. And in today's economy, an uke can be an inexpensive source of entertainment and fun. :)

Chris Tarman
01-18-2011, 06:22 PM
I HOPE it sticks around for a long time, even if it does mean more expensive vintage ukes. Like Dane said, it would also mean more and better NEW ukes. It also means more players, more respect, etc.
I had one of my wife's coworkers (a girl in her mid-20s who plays some guitar) ask me a couple of weeks ago if I had any advice for what to look for in a uke. I told her she could borrow one of mine and see if she liked it. I need to follow up on that. I have no one to play with!
I think there are a couple of moments in the film "Mighty Uke" that say a lot... The woman saying that you can tell a song is good if it sounds good on just a uke is one such moment that comes to mind.
I have to say that I get more "Oh that's cool!"s than snickers and sarcasm when I tell people I play the ukulele. Of course, there are a few people (mainly either guitarists or else non-musicians, in my experience) who make some Tiny Tim comment. I tell them to look up Roy Smeck on youtube.

Lexxy
01-18-2011, 06:27 PM
"I think it would be around forever", then i proceed to kiss my uke.

Hippie Dribble
01-18-2011, 06:31 PM
A lot depends on the next generation. The electric guitar went crazy in the 60's because of all the kids that wanted one.

If the next generation decides to adopt the instrument in the same way, we haven't seen anything yet.

Regardless, I think the ukulele will be popular for years to come. There is a different type of atrtist today that features the ukulele for its instrumental qualities and not just to accompany a vocal.

John

When I read these forums, I hear of so many members with young children being exposed to the joy that comes from playing and listening to ukes. I just can't see the boom fading away. The ol' saying "the sins of the fathers are passed on to the sons..." :) rings true.

On another note, the uke is now outselling the guitar in our state of Tasmania, as more and more primary school music teachers are turning away from the recorder and towards the ukulele as a way of introducing young children to music. I have also read of this happening in Canada, New Zealand...the longevity of the ukulele is confirmed should this change of direction in musical education continue. And bravo!!!!

Plainsong
01-18-2011, 07:05 PM
Well for myself personally, it doesn't matter one little bit if the hipsters decide the uke isn't cool anymore and won't be caught dead with one. But think about the loss of business to our favorite companies, and loss of jobs... no, in that sense, I hope people continue to catch on.

But a few things need to continue to happen. The standard of sound quality and feel across the price spectrum needs to continue improving. Distribution needs to improve, and more people need to catch on. The one should naturally follow the other, but it doesn't always.

beergeek
01-18-2011, 11:48 PM
As someone else said, the internet has changed things. Social Media is making the ukulele viral which is only fitting for such a social instrument.

The uke has tons going for it...low entry price point, short learning curve and high portability. Add those to our Facebook/Youtube/Speed of Light world and you have a recipe for lasting success even after the big buzz dies down.

The telling sign for me is that the ukulele is being treated less as a novelty and is being given respect as a professional instrument. Thanks in part to ambassadors like Jake S., James Hill, Victoria Vox, Aldrine, Matt Dahlberg, Herb Ohta, Jr., Ken Middleton...and the list goes on and on. They have all shown the ukulele to be a versatile instrument worthy of a bigger place in the musical world.

As long as professional and semi-professional musicians continue to make good ukulele music in many genres, the uke will solidify it's place in the market.

crazyforukes
01-19-2011, 03:19 AM
I didn't know I was riding a "wave" of popular culture interest in the Ukulele.. In remember my dad playing the Uke back in the 50s and 60s .. and I wanted to learn to play an instrument as one item in my bucket list.. so it was logical to me to pick up the Ukulele and give it a go.. a year later I practice daily and there is so much more to learn.. I have explored the circle of 5s thanks to Jim, chord progressions thanks to Dr. Uke and Uncle Rod, and a song a day thanks to Jim and Liz.. and other teachers..My brother-in-law asked me why, of all instruments,are you playing the Ukulele.. if he had to ask then he is missing what music is all about.. just because the Uke has just 4 strings and is small doesn't preclude it from opening the doors into a whole world of some serious sounding licks.. just ask the Sudanese musicians playing their home made guitars using bike brake cables for strings.. they can't be serious can they? Surf's up!

eddyfinnguy
01-19-2011, 03:24 AM
I am with you Thom :)


That's not what my local shop is telling me; this Christmas they had 200 ukes out the door!

I think it will be here as long as the current Great Depression II lasts; it's affordable, it's fun--I mean even if you have NO MONEY you can buy a Dolphin for $50, or heck, a Mahalo for $29. I think it may be a while before people can go back to massive spending on other things. Unless you're crazy like we all are and love to collect the buggers, I think we have a way to go until we see deep market penetration, i.e., a uke in every house. I have not yet seen a major media star emerge like Arthur Godfrey was back when. If we get Conan playing the uke and giving uke lessons on the air like Godfrey did, then we'll really see usage explode. We have a way to go still.

Mandarb
01-19-2011, 03:27 AM
"how long do you think this bubble of ukulele interest will last" ....I know how i answered it

How did you answer it?

ichadwick
01-19-2011, 03:56 AM
"how long do you think this bubble of ukulele interest will last"...
How long has rock and roll lasted?
How long has guitar playing been popular?
How long will they go on?

Could be decades. Could be generations. Could all end tomorrow.

I suggest that there will be a shakeup in the ukulele manufacturing end within a very few years. Several companies will simply drop out of making them because it's not as profitable as their business plans projected (especially vulnerable are those which entered the market recently, expecting to grab a larger market share than has actually happened). And by then we'll see a lot more custom and premium instruments in the secondhand market, so sales of new high-end instruments will slow down, too.

I don't foresee a loss of popularity, merely a change in the business end. The Internet will keep it going. And we'll see more ukes used in mainstream media and onstage, which will give it a solid foundation for continued acceptance and popularity. But I wouldn't want to start manufacturing them now - there's already a lot of contenders out there, and it'll tip over to glut any time now.

hoosierhiver
01-19-2011, 04:51 AM
I don't think we've come close to the high water mark yet, especially considering that alot of other countries are just now discovering the uke.

SuzukHammer
01-19-2011, 06:09 AM
Its all about trickle down and pushing it.

You want the kids to be tapping their forearms for their uke fix.

I do think that is done through youtube.

csibona
01-19-2011, 08:09 AM
It's hard to know (at least for me) what motivates people to purchase their ukulele (or not purchase as the case may be). Are people playing the ukulele to be part of the next big musical act or are they playing for themselves? Are those who play typically those who play other instruments or is this the only instrument they currently play? Is growth driven by people buying their first instrument or their tenth? For me, well, I'll never be the next big musical act and I pretty much play for my own enjoyment. I'll never be "good."

Dougf
01-19-2011, 08:21 AM
As others have stated, no one can predict the future, but here's my prediction anyway: this century will be the century of the uke.

Why? Guitars will never go away, just as string orchestras and big bands will never go away, but I think people are finally starting to get a little bored with the whole guitar band thing. Been there, done that. We want something new and fresh. Along comes the uke, innocent and unassuming, but being played by virtuoso musicians, stunning audiences everywhere, yet easy to learn so we can play our favorite songs on it. The floodgates have not yet opened.

Tantal
01-19-2011, 09:01 AM
How long has rock and roll lasted?
How long has guitar playing been popular?
How long will they go on?

Could be decades. Could be generations. Could all end tomorrow.

I suggest that there will be a shakeup in the ukulele manufacturing end within a very few years. Several companies will simply drop out of making them because it's not as profitable as their business plans projected (especially vulnerable are those which entered the market recently, expecting to grab a larger market share than has actually happened). And by then we'll see a lot more custom and premium instruments in the secondhand market, so sales of new high-end instruments will slow down, too.

I don't foresee a loss of popularity, merely a change in the business end. The Internet will keep it going. And we'll see more ukes used in mainstream media and onstage, which will give it a solid foundation for continued acceptance and popularity. But I wouldn't want to start manufacturing them now - there's already a lot of contenders out there, and it'll tip over to glut any time now.

Yes and also the companies that see the Uke market as an opportunity to cash in on the unused wood backlog that is too small for guitars (split wood scraps and such). Once that supply is gone, I am not sure how much they will see the benefits of keeping at it when they actually have to buy wood for it. They will be at a turn point where they need to decide if the market is strong enough for it.

Personally, those type of manufacturers I would not want to buy from. I am still a noob with this instrument and music as a whole, but if I am to buy an instrument, I would much prefer to get one from a company that has a tradition and craftsmanship in making them. A company that cares about how they sound and the quality of workmanship, not the margins and profit only.

My 2 cents on this. :)

Dane
01-19-2011, 09:42 AM
As others have stated, no one can predict the future...
Ms. Cleo can predict the future.

Dougf
01-19-2011, 10:12 AM
Ms. Cleo can predict the future.

If she doesn't play uke, she's a fraud:).

Pueo
01-19-2011, 10:27 AM
I got into ukulele because I like Hawaiian music. My wife is Hawaiian, I wanted to be able to sing and play the songs that we like to listen to. Her sisters dance hula, and many times at their homes there are other musicians and dancers and we all like to jam - kanikapila. That was a few years ago. Then I saw Jake on youtube. Then I started to play non-Hawaiian music just for giggles. Now it's blowing up, and people probably think I'm just along for the fad, but I don't care, I enjoy the ukulele, and I expect I always will. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. The Hawaiian music scene ensures that there will always be quality instruments available, no matter what the current popularity does. I do like the vast variety of instruments currently available, and I look forward to seeing all the newfangled ukuleles, but I am happy with the ones I have now.

Dane
01-19-2011, 11:23 AM
I got into ukulele because I like Hawaiian music. My wife is Hawaiian, I wanted to be able to sing and play the songs that we like to listen to. Her sisters dance hula, and many times at their homes there are other musicians and dancers and we all like to jam - kanikapila. That was a few years ago. Then I saw Jake on youtube. Then I started to play non-Hawaiian music just for giggles. Now it's blowing up, and people probably think I'm just along for the fad, but I don't care, I enjoy the ukulele, and I expect I always will. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. The Hawaiian music scene ensures that there will always be quality instruments available, no matter what the current popularity does. I do like the vast variety of instruments currently available, and I look forward to seeing all the newfangled ukuleles, but I am happy with the ones I have now.

Ah who cares what other people think. I'll be quick to admit that I totally started ukulele because I wanted to be just like Mr. Jake.

kenikas
01-19-2011, 11:45 AM
I totally agree with Pueo, I got interested in ukes from my long time love of Hawaiian Mele, and it was the perfect instrument for my grandkids and I to play together.

OldePhart
01-19-2011, 01:32 PM
I hope that the ukulele "fad" lasts a good long while - not because whether the instrument is popular or not is going to affect whether I want to play it, though. I think that the several people on here who have indicated that the prices will go down are missing the boat, so to speak. Yes, there might be a short term "windfall" of used instruments available at great prices after the "downturn" (assuming such happens). But, in the long run, when you really think about it, we wouldn't be able to get an absolutely stunning tenor uke for ~$300 if not for the popularity! Companies like Mainland wouldn't exist. Folks like MGM and Mim would be doing something else. Choices would be "k-brand" at ~$1k+ vs. third-rate factory ukes with no-one to set them up properly, etc.

Just my $.02 (based on experience with other "fads" over the years).

John

Ukulele Jim
01-19-2011, 01:34 PM
I want to know how MGM answered the question.

I hope the fad never dies down. If it does I'll have to find a new stage name.

experimentjon
01-19-2011, 01:52 PM
I don't think the bubble has peaked yet or even really arrived. I think it is just starting. If manufacturers are still pushing out so many different models, it means the market wants them. The bubble will be here when we see the K-brand companies totally backordered and prices on the secondary market rising to near MSRP just b/c the wait to buy is so long. That point has not been reached yet. Right now, it's just a good growing trend. It's healthy and nothing to be concerned about.

Dane
01-19-2011, 03:07 PM
I want to know how MGM answered the question.

I hope the fad never dies down. If it does I'll have to find a new stage name.

Why would you need a new stage name? It would just make you more unique. By the way I saw you in the paper with your family a while ago!

Ukuleleblues
01-19-2011, 03:38 PM
As long as the media continues to be supportive or benign it will continue to be popular.

I heard the 20 wost songs list of 2010 on a blurb on TV "news "show. They got it from here:

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2010/12/the_20_worst_so_19.php

Here how the article starts:

"Hey, Soul Sister" was the only rock song to land in the Billboard Hot 100's top 10 this year. This is pretty much proof that rock music is dead, right? We're not gonna tell Nickelback to come back because all is forgiven, but this warm washcloth of facepalmy puns and cutey-poo pukulele might be why Captain Beefheart died.

A lot of 30 and above folks are still mired in the "Tip toe through the tulips" ukes head trip. Who controls the media? It isn't the new generation of uke players, it's the 30+ crowd.

I predict you'll see a massive dissing of the uke movement by the media and that will make it "uncool" to play the uke. When that happens you'll see a decline in the bubble.

The only hope is that I think the millennials are different enough from past generations and I think they are different enough not to be lead around by their nose by the media.

I'm in my 50's and am not dissing any generation. It's just my opinion.

Dane
01-19-2011, 03:42 PM
As long as the media continues to be supportive or benign it will continue to be popular.

I heard the 20 wost songs list of 2010 on a blurb on TV "news "show. They got it from here:

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2010/12/the_20_worst_so_19.php

Here how the article starts:

"Hey, Soul Sister" was the only rock song to land in the Billboard Hot 100's top 10 this year. This is pretty much proof that rock music is dead, right? We're not gonna tell Nickelback to come back because all is forgiven, but this warm washcloth of facepalmy puns and cutey-poo pukulele might be why Captain Beefheart died.

A lot of 30 and above folks are still mired in the "Tip toe through the tulips" ukes head trip. Who controls the media? It isn't the new generation of uke players, it's the 30+ crowd.

I predict you'll see a massive dissing of the uke movement by the media and that will make it "uncool" to play the uke. When that happens you'll see a decline in the bubble.

The only hope is that I think the millennials are different enough from past generations and I think they are different enough not to be lead around by their nose by the media.

I'm in my 50's and am not dissing any generation. It's just my opinion.

Oh dear the "Hey, Soul Sister" singer gives me headaches

OldePhart
01-19-2011, 04:44 PM
The first nine-million times I heard Hey, Soul Sister and it's derivatives I thought it was at least cute... It's kind of like kittens growing up to be cats - it ain't cute no mo'!

John

Ukuleleblues
01-19-2011, 05:36 PM
I can understand. I'm that way with "classic rock". Loved it when it was not classic (IE real). Overplayed SOS, the thrill is gone, been there, done that. I think some of the songs should be banned, at least until I'm gone. I am always amazed how you hear the same wore out crap, when there is so much great music out there. I have Satellite radio, they have "The Vault" station. When I first saw that I thought "might be some underplayed lost classics", nope, SOS top 40 billboard crapola that needs to stay in the vault. :)

Gee- I feel much better now I got that off my chest. ROCK ON!! (Ugh, how trite, I apologize)

itsme
01-19-2011, 05:54 PM
As long as the media continues to be supportive or benign it will continue to be popular.
Actually, media and the press tend to be behind the times about stuff like this and only document it when it becomes a noteworthy trend. By the time they are writing articles about it, it's already been a known fact.

ytmr
01-19-2011, 10:49 PM
A lot depends on the next generation. The electric guitar went crazy in the 60's because of all the kids that wanted one.

If the next generation decides to adopt the instrument in the same way, we haven't seen anything yet.


Well, perhaps I'm considered the next generation? :D

ichadwick
01-20-2011, 01:13 AM
I don't think we've come close to the high water mark yet, especially considering that alot of other countries are just now discovering the uke.
But what will their impact be on the market? Canada is just riding the wave now, but we have about as many people as are in California...

ichadwick
01-20-2011, 01:18 AM
A lot depends on the next generation. The electric guitar went crazy in the 60's because of all the kids that wanted one.
Actually, the electric guitar craze started a generation earlier, in the 50s, when rock & roll was born.

The 60s was the second wave (uncannily similar in many ways to our current third wave of ukulele fashion...).

I was too young to want a guitar in the 50s, but had one by the mid-60s, along with thousands of other young men and women who were caught up in the passion and delight of the British Invasion and decided to become musicians.

Fuzzy
01-20-2011, 05:11 AM
this warm washcloth of facepalmy puns and cutey-poo pukulele might be why Captain Beefheart died.
It's funny because it's true.

pulelehua
01-20-2011, 09:49 AM
Bubble? What bubble?

This is my Second Wave Theory:

The ukulele was a big hit from the 20s-40s (a bit earlier in California - much earlier in Hawaii). Then it was popular again from the early 50s-early 60s. So, basically it was popular from the 20s-early 60s with not much interruption.

Tiny Tim made it weird/kitsch/emblem of slightly deviant countercultural tendencies. He took away the virtuosity. Many of the early stars were funny, but they were mostly very talented. Beatniks made cool moody, downtrodden, hip. The ukulele was too sunshiney for the post-Bop era. We didn't REALLY want all that smiling anymore. There was a rise of "coolness" in the late 50s, which probably spelled the decline of the ukulele, and Tiny Tim knocked a few nails in the coffin.

So then it was out of fashion for about 40 years. We will, in centuries to come, remember these as "The Dark Ages". We've finally emerged from those years into an era where you can smile without being kitsch. You can be virtuosic without it needing to be on an electric instrument.

I think we need to see history form a bit further away. This isn't the Third Wave. It's the Second Wave.

(clambers down from soapbox, mutters annoyed that he's left his ukulele at work again)

Plainsong
01-20-2011, 02:33 PM
But you still can't walk into a shop and expect to see any decent selection of ukes. At best, you'll see the starter import models, and that's it. And I don't see that changing... pretty much ever.

haole
01-20-2011, 02:51 PM
But you still can't walk into a shop and expect to see any decent selection of ukes. At best, you'll see the starter import models, and that's it. And I don't see that changing... pretty much ever.

It's gotten better around here. Until recently, all of the local stores kept one token ukulele on hand, and it was always an unplayable Hilo or a pink Mahalo or (if you were lucky) an overpriced Martin S-O with a loose peg. ;) The staff's knowledge of ukes hasn't improved to match the selection, but at least there are multiple sizes and brands, and even some solid-wood ukes that play in tune! It's an improvement.

Ukuleleblues
01-20-2011, 03:27 PM
Bubble? What bubble?

This is my Second Wave Theory.....This isn't the Third Wave. It's the Second Wave.

(clambers down from soapbox, mutters annoyed that he's left his ukulele at work again)

So we are on Ukulele version 2.0 instead of 3.0?...maybe...1.0 - 1.4, lets call Tiny Tim "Vista", now now 2.0. I'm a software guy just trying to put it in my language.

Bill Mc
02-11-2011, 04:24 AM
All bubbles burst but predicting exactly when is more art than science. But when bubbles burst there is fall out. And the fall out will be a glut of unsold ukuleles on the markeplace. So don't get caught with your ukulele pants down.

savagehenry
02-11-2011, 05:32 AM
It's gotten better around here. Until recently, all of the local stores kept one token ukulele on hand, and it was always an unplayable Hilo or a pink Mahalo or (if you were lucky) an overpriced Martin S-O with a loose peg. ;) The staff's knowledge of ukes hasn't improved to match the selection, but at least there are multiple sizes and brands, and even some solid-wood ukes that play in tune! It's an improvement.

Last year my local Sam Ash had 1-3 ukes. I went the other day and the had a dedicated Lanikai fixture, a dedicated Kala fixture, a few Martins, flukes, and an Applause. The had about 20 ukes on the floor and the guy said that usually have more but they've been selling so well that they couldn't get them in fast enough to keep the fixtures full.

Brian

grammy
02-11-2011, 11:38 AM
i think it does not matter when the 'bubble' bursts for most of us who come here, chat post our vids etc. we, i think, mostly will carry on playing, whatever happens, i think that this means that he great people who who we can depend on for great gear, like yourself Mike, and also Mike, and er...mike. ( why are so many of you called mike?) will still be doing it, because you were there before and will be there after.

i should mention that i now live near the southern ukulele store , one of britains biggest retailers of ukes, and i play in the SUSBUS uke night with Paul who owns it. His shop is now full of great ukes, as someone who is riding the wave he loves it but he also just does it cos he loves playing uke and frankly has chronic UAS! ha ha

ItsMrPitchy
02-11-2011, 11:44 AM
Even when and if the bubble pops i will keep on playing.
I think the ukulele has a way to go before it reaches its peak of popularity. Hopefully we can get the uke into the mainstream before this bubble pops.

Lanark
02-11-2011, 12:17 PM
I'll put in my couple cents.

As to when the "bubble" burst, who knows. Who cares? I play. I'm happy. I'll keep playing whether anybody else is or not.

But another aspect of the appeal of the instrument that I think tends to get overlooked past the bunch previously mentioned (price, easy to pick up, portable, etc...) is that the once you get beyond the inevitable Tiny Tim comments is that for your average person there isn't the same level of history for uke playing as with the guitar.
If you pick up a guitar today you're dragging around nearly a century's worth of baggage and expectations along with you to live up to that you're not going to get with an ukulele. Whereas I used to be decent guitar player for many years, I've now become the best ukulele player most people know. I like that and that's certainly got to add to the appeal. It's all open territory as to what you can do with it.

The thing I do imagine will happen at the end of the day here is that with so many people taking up the instrument that even once the initial perceived "trendiness" has waned there's still going to be a lot more people both playing and attuned to the sound of the ukulele that I can see it making some pretty serious inroads into mainstream acceptance and becoming much less of a novelty than another instrument in the sonic toolbox. I suppose that will be the point where you can say the bubble has burst. We're already noticing it a lot more lately in all sorts of commercials, which I can see as perhaps subliminally working on people's perceptions.

I mean, it's taken a few months, but I think I've finally started to get some respect at the local jazz workshop/jam when I show up. (Improving my playing probably doesn't hurt either.) Though first day, one of the jazz guitarists had to ask me "So why did you decide to try and play jazz on the ukulele?" with a sort of bemused version of "The Smirk" to which I replied "Because I can."

Plainsong
02-11-2011, 01:24 PM
The Christmas before last, Anders suggested I look into guitar, not because he wanted me away from uke, but he knows how I like learning new instruments. He suggested that my fingers were behaving better for me than they had done in my previous attempts. So we to music store and yeah it's true, my fingers do better now. But it's not my thing. He was right with me on that one. So we wrapped up our playtime at the music store with a rendition of House of the Rising Sun. The jazz organs were right next to the classical guitars, and sitting there was one lonely generic uke.

Luckily I had a Leatherman with me to fix the friction pegs, tuned it up, and he did the intro. I was about to do my thing in A minor and I just had to laugh out loud. It was the Silent Uke! He started laughing and said "Strum harder!" "I am!" And the harder I strummed the more it cracked us up. Forget any finger picking here. It was seriously unbalanced, with a heavy neck like it was off an electric guitar.

And that's the one uke they have, although in fairness, most music stores suck here, no matter what you play. There is one in central Helsinki where parking is but a legend told in fairytales. The guy who runs the place is nice, and he has the full Lanikai range. Also, full range of Aquila strings. There's also a distributor of Flea and Fluke ukes in Turku, but you don't actually see the ukes in shops. They would sell like hotcakes though.

ricdoug
02-11-2011, 08:17 PM
That's easy, Mike - Lead, follow or get out of the way! If you're not on the ukulele bandwagon, get into another business besides music. Ric

pat rock
02-22-2011, 05:35 AM
Even up here in NYC the stores can't keep 'em from flying off the shelves.

Pete Howlett
02-22-2011, 06:51 AM
Plainsong - be fair... you live in Finland, a country big enough to hold the population of the world but only with 6 million people trying to make it look populated! You have one of the finest luthiers in the world in Helsinki who makes quality ukes and there is at least oen person I know who imports half decent ukes. Unless you go into the stores that are in Finland a create the demand, start a local group and generally put it out there, Finland is going to remain a backwater as far as ukulele are concerned. Last year I did my busiest extreme build in Haamanleena and have Finnish 2 Lads coming to my workshop for internships this year. It's not all bad!

As for an answer to the question? I hope many more companies enter the fray... as they do, the quality ukulele market will grow and I will sell more bespoke instruments. I think because of the new technology self marketing the kudos of this instrument it's here to stay and grow stronger. With Collings guitar rep saying 'we can build 2 a day and sell 'em' I think you have some idea of the demand both for entry level and bespoke instruments.

Hankthetank
02-22-2011, 06:57 AM
I say about 2 more weeks.