View Full Version : Do You Mainly Play Instrumentals or Do You Sing?

06-01-2011, 09:54 AM
For me, I mainly play instrumentals. It's not because I don't like singing or anything like that, it's just because my voice isn't as good as I wish it was :/ How about you?

06-01-2011, 09:56 AM
If we're being completely honest here, I only sing if I am also ukeing (or doin' karaoke). The whole reason I decided to learn to play instruments (guitar and uke) was so that I could strum/play while singing and have more fun with it.

True Story.

06-01-2011, 10:07 AM
I play, my wife plays and handles all the vocals.

06-01-2011, 10:13 AM
Sing... I'm not good enough for instrumentals yet & already know how to sing!

06-01-2011, 10:15 AM
Instrumentals, unless I'm part of a group.

06-01-2011, 10:17 AM
Damn you forum! - I wrote 5 lines here and nothing was posted. When I calm down I will repost....

06-01-2011, 10:20 AM
Sing... I'm not good enough for instrumentals yet & already know how to sing!
Same here.

06-01-2011, 10:25 AM
dont make me sing


06-01-2011, 10:35 AM
When I play out, I just play songs with vocals. When I started playing regularly at this place a couple years ago, my first show there I played my best instrumental and people talked loud all through it. Since then, I haven't played any instrumentals. When I'm at home practicing, I'll mix in some instrumentals with other songs.

My personal experience is that playing instrumentals, you're maybe putting in 1/3 the work of if you were also singing. Instead of just concentrating on your instrument, you also have to project your voice, remember the words, coordinate the singing and playing rhythms, try to get some feeling into your singing, look out at the audience, remember to sing into the microphone (not below it because you're looking at your uke fingering), etc.

I have to work at the singing. About 20 years ago, I got a voice lesson from someone I had a couple albums by. He put over 30 minutes of exercises onto a cassette for me, which I've now converted to my iPod. I do the exercises for a couple of nights before I'm going to play for people, and it really improves my tone and range. I still think my voice is best suited for instrumentals, but at least I can now sing well enough to get my songs across. My singing friends still don't come looking for me to provide them with harmonies.

06-01-2011, 10:38 AM
If we're being completely honest here, I only sing if I am also ukeing (or doin' karaoke). The whole reason I decided to learn to play instruments (guitar and uke) was so that I could strum/play while singing and have more fun with it.

True Story.

Lol, my story of ukeing is pretty much the same as yours. I started playing because I wanted to accompany my singing, but then I realized my singing wasn't up to par with my playing and started just doing instrumentals lol :/

Seems like lots of UU prefers singing while playing haha!

06-01-2011, 10:39 AM
I've always loved singing and playing. First with guitar for many years, now with ukulele. Just lately, I've been starting to work on instrumental solo ukulele arrangements. I'll never be Ohta San, but I'm having a lot of fun.

06-01-2011, 10:51 AM
I used to write a ton of poetry & I sing a lot. I first got into guitar/uke because I wanted to sing with them and attempt to write songs from my poetry.
I just don't have the technical skill, understanding of chord relationships, keys and all that for lead and instrumentals.
But I am working on it. I've already got a few instrumental songs down and will continue to try and understand music. Become more balanced. Hopefully making the transition to making music easier.

It's rare for me to come by someone who is really good at both. Like Aldrine

06-01-2011, 11:03 AM
Hate to cop out, but both.

06-01-2011, 11:04 AM
I'll never be Ohta San

Me neither, but it doesn't stop me from trying :)

mm stan
06-01-2011, 11:23 AM
Aloha Casey,
I have a bad voice, but I do sing when I play the uke...to keep the timing and rhythm..otherwise I listen to others..lol

06-01-2011, 11:54 AM
Every single man, woman, and child in my entire family can sing, except for me. I stick to the instruments.

06-01-2011, 12:17 PM
I sing better than I play. I'll sing anywhere, anytime..................................BO....... ....................

06-01-2011, 12:17 PM
I play and sing, but everything I write is instrumental.

06-01-2011, 12:21 PM
I play instrumentals because when i sing i make it rain.

06-01-2011, 12:40 PM
I sing and play. I respect the technical aspects of it, but I'm not really a fan of plain instrumental ukulele songs.

06-01-2011, 01:35 PM
I sing, rarely do instrumentals.

06-01-2011, 01:48 PM
I do both. I mostly do instrumentals when I am by myself, since most of my uke-togethers are other beginners and everyone kind of just wants to sing a few songs and have a good time. I don't have a very good voice, but I enjoy singing, so I do.

After listening to hundreds of amateur YouTubers playing and singing, I have decided that most people sing OK. Maybe 1% have truly awful voices, but those are mostly folks that are tone deaf and can't carry a tune. The rest just need to find their style. I enjoy listening to most people sing, so I figure I can't really be that bad right?

06-01-2011, 02:14 PM
Instrumentals, unless I'm part of a group.
Same here. Well, actually I haven't been part of a uke group yet, but look forward to it at some point. I'm not exactly a good singer, but I can read music and sing relatively in tune, which made me useful as an alto on harmony parts when I used to go caroling with a church group. :p

Mostly I do classical fingerpicking.

06-01-2011, 02:20 PM
Both. Both techniques are enjoyable in different ways. It depends on my mood, generally. I do hate listening to my voice on recordings, but I don't think this is unusual.

06-01-2011, 02:51 PM
Instrumentals. Before taking up the ukulele, my long time obsession was fingerstyle guitar ala John Fahey and Leo Kottke. It was chord soloing that first caught my ear and interest for uke playing although I'd been a long time fan of Cliff Edwards.

06-01-2011, 03:01 PM
I find that singing helps me with my playing, especially if the song is non-English.

I need to have a grasp of the language to make the music in my head work, and then singing the words and melody make everything easier.

I don't have much problem singing in French, once I learn the song, and the few I've tried in Italian, Spanish and German also work. But when i can't quite get my head around the language, and can't speak a coherent phrase (as opposed to isolated words), i can't sing the song, and have problems playing the music.

Hawaiian music is a great example of that. While I have a couple of words under my belt, and can usually pronounce what I've got written in front of me, I don't have a very good feel for the rhythm of the language. I love the music, but I can't sing it, and being unable to sing the songs keep me from playing them.

The one contradiction to that is the so-called "Hawaiian War Chant". (So called because I've been told it is a love song, and has nothing to do with war.)

Since I first heard that song in English, the rhythm was there. I can play it. I can sing nonsense lyrics around when I play it (da-da-Dah-duh-da-de-da-de-Dah-de-Dah!), and the English lyric, but the beautiful rhythm of the original language escapes me. So that one becomes an instrumental. But when I play instrumentals, I internalize my singing.

As to singing in Public, I hadn't done that for more than 25 years, until I started going to the Uke Club. Then,I started singing, and one of these days I'll find a key that I can both sing AND play in!

Am I any good? I dunno - ask an impartial observer, of which there is one who regularly posts to these forums.

And I can honestly say that she sings a lot better than she gives herself credit for. A LOT better! (are your ears burning, Carrie?)



06-01-2011, 03:16 PM
I am the proud owner of the worst voice on Earth. I wish I could sing along....heck, I wish I could play and sing at the same time!!!! Alas, I will be an instrumental type player for life..

06-01-2011, 03:27 PM
I sing with the grandkids... they respond to the fun of music in a spontaneous way.

06-01-2011, 03:41 PM
I play mostly instrumentals because my singing is awful. I have been forcing myself to sing in hopes that I will magically get better somehow. We'll see.
Here's me singing. I mixed it into the background hoping the instruments would cover me up.


06-01-2011, 03:54 PM
I play mostly instrumentals because my singing is awful. I have been forcing myself to sing in hopes that I will magically get better somehow. We'll see.
Here's me singing. I mixed it into the background hoping the instruments would cover me up.


That sounded awesome lol, a Mainland uke right? :P

06-01-2011, 08:06 PM
Me neither, but it doesn't stop me from trying :)

Right on!!

06-01-2011, 08:32 PM
I grew up listening to the classical guitar stuff and Ohta-San my Dad was into, but since little kid time I could sing, and well for me, my ace in the hole is my ability to sing, so for me the uke is a chord, strumming, accompaniment instrument. Sing and play man.

06-01-2011, 09:08 PM
I only play instrumentals as of now, but i never stop singing randomly :P

Who knows, i might learn to play AND sing at the same time. (When i sing, my strumming pattern messes up)

06-01-2011, 09:26 PM
@cb56 ....actually, you have good tone. I can see that you are not confident in your singing voice, but, you don't have to worry. You are much better than you realize.

06-02-2011, 01:39 AM
Thanks,I'll keep working on it.

06-02-2011, 02:21 AM
I mainly do instrumentals, like this one:


But every once in a blue moon, I would sing. I only sing songs I've written+composed myself on video though..



06-02-2011, 02:23 AM
Sing. I picked up the uke primarily as something that I could sing with. I'm not an amazing singer but I'm okay, and I really enjoy singing. For me the uke has been wonderful in helping me improve my singing and helping me keep in tune with what I'm singing. The thought of singing without it now scares the bejeebus out of me, although I have done so in the past a little. My little soprano, is friendly little crutch to help me along sometimes!
As I improve at the uke I have begun to think a little more about instrumental/solo type stuff but I'm a ways off from that yet really. Enjoying the process all the same!
Cheers -F

06-02-2011, 02:44 AM
I sing and play. Just like playing the more you practice singing the better you get. Grab a bokk like singing for dummires/idiots and read up on some of the simple techniques.

06-02-2011, 05:40 AM
I'm definitely a singer. I love good instruments, but the uke (and guitar) are just vehicles that allow me to sing great songs.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
06-02-2011, 07:45 AM
Back in 6th grade, in Mrs Wong's class, (she's the teacher who taught us all how to play the ukulele, and sing as well) at Ali'iolani Elementary School in Honolulu - this was right after Statehood!, we were playing the ukulele to accompany ourselves singing songs from all over the world.

I liked it, so I kept at it. Mostly trying to copy the rock and roll hits on the radio. That's how I learned to transpose since I knew only 2 keys (C and F) and those songs were NOT in C or F. I'd find a starting note/chord then have to figure out what chord came next by playing it in C or F and then figuring out the corresponding chord in the 'other' key.

Anyway, through High School and College, it was singing and playing. I finally got introduced to instrumentals after college via Ohta-San, Eddie Bush, Mungo, Eddie Kamae, et al. When I heard Gordon Mark at the Captain's Galley the day before I left for Portland for grad school/Seminary, I had to go back and record what I could then ask him how to do it. You can find the same advice he gave me on YouTube, the 2 minute instruction with the 1-2-3-4-5-6 picking pattern. I tried to copy what I had recorded but could only duplicate a couple of songs. So my instrumental reperatorie is very limited and I'd like to do more, but, let's face it, I'm predominantly a Singer/Strummer and I really enjoy that.

Every now and again I may do an instrumental number, (esp if I'm hoarse, like today!) but I generally stay with my forte,
singing and strumming.

Keep uke'in' Everybody, regardless of your preferences.

06-02-2011, 09:30 AM
I'm really a singer who pretends that I can play uke. I'm decent with some rhythm and strumming, but I'm no good at fingerpicking/soloing/fret board knowledge. I tend try and mask my mediocre uke playing with my voice. Sort of a slight of hand trick - if I distract you with singing, you won't notice that I flubbed the chords. :)

06-02-2011, 09:45 AM
Sing, sing, sing! I'm the type of person who sings so much my life could be a musical. I make up theme songs for most things I do. :) I love the uke/voice combo.

06-02-2011, 09:57 AM
I sing and play. I feel like I have more fun while doing both at the same time. If I'm not doing both you'll find me singing.