PDA

View Full Version : What's a ukulele and what isn't?



kissing
08-04-2011, 02:33 PM
***RANT ALERT***

Straight to the point - I like a variety of ukuleles.
These include ukuleles that deviate a bit from traditional ukuleles.
I like my steel string electric ukuleles with magnetic pickups. I like my baritone ukulele tuned GCEA an octave down.

But it doesn't mean I have anything against traditional ukes either. In my collection of about 15 or so ukes (I'm losing count), I have both "normal" acoustic ukes as well as some non-standard ones.

However, there seem to be some people out there who feel that it is their place to scoff at non-traditional designs and claim they're not ukuleles. That's fine, if that's their opinion, I can respect that. I'm not here to say people aren't free to express their opinions.

However, I can't help but wonder whether such hostility and narrow-mindedness is necessary?

Ok, let's talk about being "traditional".

Analogy 1:
Ukuleles originally used gut strings.
Therefore, a traditional ukulele should use gut strings, as nylon, nylgut and fluorocarbon are modern innovations. Anyone claiming that non-traditional ukes are not ukes should only use gut strings. And they should only tune to D-tuning too, since C-tuning is a later development also.

Analogy 2:
Guitars were originally gut string instruments, then nylon string.
However, their "advancement" did not stop there. Steel strings were introduced, and later on magnetic pickups too, for a different sound to traditional gut-string and nylon string guitars.

Should the ukulele always be frozen in the gut/nylon-string era?


Analogy 3:
Why do some traditionalists feel "threatened" by new innovations?
It's not like electric ukes are going to plague and ruin ukuleles. I mean c'mon, do they "own" the ukulele? Is the ukulele some snobby corporation? The ukulele is about playing music. Electric ukes may not be their cup of tea, but others may feel a need for it to play certain styles of music. Who is anyone to judge?

A common thing some traditionalist nazi's like to say is "Go play an electric guitar instead". Well then I would like to tell those people, "Go play classical guitar instead then". No, an electric uke is not the same as an electric guitar. They are similar... only to the extent that a uke is similar to classical guitar.




Anyway, this is just my view.
I think new kinds of ukuleles should be encouraged. I don't believe in the snobbish resistance for all ukuleles to be traditional-only. Afterall, an instrument is an instrument. If there is a musician out there who feels at home with a particular instrument, why should anyone else judge and condemn?

UncleElvis
08-04-2011, 02:55 PM
I never understand why people express these kind of strong, divisive and inflammatory opinions (always expressed as though these opinions were facts, of course!) unasked-for.

Then again, I don't get why people care so much, or at least enough to go out of their way to make these kinds of comments to someone who's pretty much a complete stranger, especially about something so completely irrelevant as whether the person likes non-traditional instruments! I mean... really? That's what means that much to you? Kissing liking steel-string ukuleles is what spurs you to action?

I don't get it.

Kissing, I got your back on this. Play what you like. Play from your heart and ignore those folks. There's GOTTA be something missing in their lives if they care THAT much about what you like.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-04-2011, 03:00 PM
I never understand why people express these kind of strong, divisive and inflammatory opinions (always expressed as though these opinions were facts, of course!) unasked-for.

Then again, I don't get why people care so much, or at least enough to go out of their way to make these kinds of comments to someone who's pretty much a complete stranger, especially about something so completely irrelevant as whether the person likes non-traditional instruments! I mean... really? That's what means that much to you? Kissing liking steel-string ukuleles is what spurs you to action?

I don't get it.

Kissing, I got your back on this. Play what you like. Play from your heart and ignore those folks. There's GOTTA be something missing in their lives if they care THAT much about what you like.

I don't get it either Elvis. Especially since we all know it's not really an ukulele unless it's made out of koa. And built in Hawaii.

kissing
08-04-2011, 03:19 PM
Thanks guys, that makes me feel a lot better :)
The annoyance did not happen in UU, but on Facebook page of an electric ukulele company that I won't mention by name.

bbycrts
08-04-2011, 03:20 PM
I don't get it either Elvis. Especially since we all know it's not really an ukulele unless it's made out of koa. And built in Hawaii.

I had to quote this just because it made me laugh. Hard.

Some people just like to play semantics and superiority. Don't let their need to feel superior rain on your aloha. They have the problem, not you.

whetu
08-04-2011, 06:18 PM
The annoyance did not happen in UU, but on Facebook page of an electric ukulele company that I won't mention by name.

Let me guess, some knucklehead narrow-minded kiddie who thinks he's Slash because he can twiddle enough on a guitar to do the Smoke On The Water riff was being an a-hole? :)

joejeweler
08-04-2011, 06:52 PM
I don't get it either Elvis. Especially since we all know it's not really an ukulele unless it's made out of koa. And built in Hawaii.


:stop: ummm,....and maybe a "real" ukulele has to be made by a native Hawaiian? :uhoh:

(sorry, couldn't resist :cheers: )

pulelehua
08-04-2011, 07:03 PM
I thought a real ukulele had to be made by a Portuguese furniture maker...................................


EDIT: Oh dear, posting of the beast :mad:

UncleElvis
08-04-2011, 07:19 PM
I don't get it either Elvis. Especially since we all know it's not really an ukulele unless it's made out of koa. And built in Hawaii.

...by you.

Oh, wait... that should read:

Especially since we all know it's not really Uncle Elvis' dream ukulele unless it's made out of koa (and Bermuda Cedar). And built in Hawaii... by you.

But yes...

It's like... I get being passionate and purist and all that. I really do.
Heck, I've been going off all afternoon and into the night about the new Superman costume that looks like they got a crappy Sleestak lizardman costume and spraypainted it blue and red.

But to go off on someone because they like something that isn't a hundred year old Nunes is just plain ridiculous.

UncleElvis
08-04-2011, 07:21 PM
Then again... I DID play "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind on my banjo uke, so... what the hell do I know?

(Sounded ridiculously awesome, by the way!)

SuzukHammer
08-04-2011, 07:22 PM
China is now where all ukuleles are made. Anybody who thinks otherwise is confucious.

joejeweler
08-04-2011, 08:19 PM
I thought a real ukulele had to be made by a Portuguese furniture maker...................................


EDIT: Oh dear, posting of the beast :mad:

Nope,....the Portuguese had their "cavaquinho", which became a "ukulele" after the Hawaiians got their mits on it and refined it. (darn flea infestation! )

....don't believe the Portuguese ever called it anything but a cavaquinho.

Teek
08-04-2011, 09:11 PM
Nope,....the Portuguese had their "cavaquinho", which became a "ukulele" after the Hawaiians got their mits on it and refined it. (darn flea infestation! )

....don't believe the Portuguese ever called it anything but a cavaquinho.

AH! But the cavaco currently has, you guessed it, steel strings. :cool:



Hey Sam, Marissa says "Hi!"

kissing
08-04-2011, 09:24 PM
Hey Sam, Marissa says "Hi!"

Hi back!

And guess what, I missed having a Risa LP so badly, I'm saving up for a Soprano one LOL.
Perhaps in the cherry sunburst this time....

ichadwick
08-05-2011, 12:53 AM
I thought a real ukulele was any one I owned compared with the cheapies that the local music store always has in stock....

WhenDogsSing
08-05-2011, 02:11 AM
I had a similar question I was going to ask some time. I have a cigar box resonator, strung with steel strings and which has a tenor ukulele scale length. What would one call this instrument? Would you call it a ukulele? It doesn't have nylon strings or does that matter? It really is a hybrid between a cigar box resonator guitar and a tenor ukulele...I think...!?!?!? It's like a "Labra-Doodle" in the dog world...!!!

Anyone got any creative names for this hybrid?

The bottom line is that it doesn't really matter what you call it, it sounds and plays great...!!!

austin1
08-05-2011, 02:24 AM
I thought a real ukulele had to be made by a Portuguese furniture maker...................................


EDIT: Oh dear, posting of the beast :mad:

As far as I'm concerned, if you're not Portuguese, you're not playing a ukulele, you're playing a block of wood with cat blood on it. My tio made mine from a tree he cut down in his backyard, and with the extra wood, he made a sarronca and some nice coasters. Ya'll are posers.








EDIT: Just to be clear, this is sarcasm. My tio did not make my ukulele. He did make me some decorative boxes though, once.

roxhum
08-05-2011, 02:50 AM
I just googled the definition for ukulele. It simply said it is a small guitar type instrument with 4 strings.

haolejohn
08-05-2011, 03:18 AM
I don't get it either Elvis. Especially since we all know it's not really an ukulele unless it's made out of koa. And built in Hawaii.

and spelt 'ukulele and pronounced correctly...and...

pulelehua
08-05-2011, 08:17 AM
Nope,....the Portuguese had their "cavaquinho", which became a "ukulele" after the Hawaiians got their mits on it and refined it. (darn flea infestation! )

....don't believe the Portuguese ever called it anything but a cavaquinho.

So, the first 3 great Portuguese ukulele makers didn't make ukuleles??????

<deeply confused>

Skitzic
08-05-2011, 09:28 AM
The ukulele is a lie.

Just like the cake.

SailingUke
08-05-2011, 09:41 AM
There are those that believe only "Traditional Hawaiian" music should be played on the ukulele as well.
There are times when "closed" mind and "narrow" mind have the same meaning.

70sSanO
08-05-2011, 09:44 AM
So, the first 3 great Portuguese ukulele makers didn't make ukuleles??????

<deeply confused>

I don't know much about Portuguese ukulele manufacturers, but here is a blog I found from December 2009 on ukuleles in Portugal...

http://ukulelelanguages.com/ukulele-languages/portuguese-ukulele-blog-ukulele-shop-in-portugal/

Not to knock Portugal, but if this blog is true, it is a little embarassing that it took this long for them to realize that there was a world-wide ukulele craze going on.

Sounds like material for a Cheech and Chong skit... "No man, not a cavaquinho, it's that little baby guitar..."

John

austin1
08-05-2011, 09:52 AM
So, the first 3 great Portuguese ukulele makers didn't make ukuleles??????



nope, they made tupperware

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-05-2011, 09:53 AM
There are those that believe only "Traditional Hawaiian" music should be played on the ukulele as well.

At the same time it saddens me that so few players know even one Hawaiian song. I wouldn't be building ukuleles if not for my love of Hawaiian music and culture.

Rick Turner
08-05-2011, 09:57 AM
Is the ukulele a traditional Hawaiian instrument?

When do traditions start and then become engraved in stone?

There were no ukuleles in Hawaii before the 1870s.

Then again, Bluegrass is now traditional music, yet it did not exist in current form before WWII, and barely before 1950.

The best traditions constantly evolve and are renewed by innovation.

JT_Ukes
08-05-2011, 10:01 AM
I never understand why people express these kind of strong, divisive and inflammatory opinions (always expressed as though these opinions were facts, of course!) unasked-for.

Then again, I don't get why people care so much, or at least enough to go out of their way to make these kinds of comments to someone who's pretty much a complete stranger, especially about something so completely irrelevant as whether the person likes non-traditional instruments! I mean... really? That's what means that much to you? Kissing liking steel-string ukuleles is what spurs you to action?

I don't get it.

Kissing, I got your back on this. Play what you like. Play from your heart and ignore those folks. There's GOTTA be something missing in their lives if they care THAT much about what you like.


yeah wut he said

70sSanO
08-05-2011, 10:03 AM
At the same time it saddens me that so few players know even one Hawaiian song.

Hey everyone knows Over the Rainb...

...never mind.

John

haolejohn
08-05-2011, 10:05 AM
Hey everyone knows Over the Rainb...

...never mind.

John

Buhahahahaha!!

Ukuleleblues
08-05-2011, 10:28 AM
I don't know much about Portuguese ukulele manufacturers, but here is a blog I found from December 2009 on ukuleles in Portugal... John
How ironic, No ukes in Portugal. That would be as bad as Budweiser being owned by a European company.

If you go to a translation site you get this for Ukulele English to Portuguese

Ukulele = Ukulele

Chinese

Ukulele = 四弦琴

Beer English to German

Beer = Bier

Portuguese

Beer = cerveja

That ought to solve this riddle, go ahead mods you can close this thread!!!!

http://imtranslator.net/translation

kissing
08-05-2011, 02:56 PM
By that logic, guitars should only play baroque music and pianos should only classical music.

And drums? Oh gosh... they date way back to caveman music days LOL




... not to mention voice

southcoastukes
08-05-2011, 03:31 PM
AH! But the cavaco currently has, you guessed it, steel strings.

Have to admit to a "selective traditionalism". Even though our layouts are not traditional, our outlook on stringing is very much traditional. Maybe because it's because we have more familiarity with the cavacos than most.

It's not that they're not great instruments, but you know in the back of your mind, that they were once much closer to ukuleles. If you happen to prefer classical strings instead of steel, then everytime you see one of these instruments, you have this irrational fear that one day it will happen to the ukulele.

You find yourself having sleepless nights - nightmares of the imminent arrival of the CAVALELE!!! The Portugese and Brazilians unite and drive out all native Hawaiians and obliterate the memory of their little instruments with the sissy strings. Tell me this can't happen!!!