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View Full Version : Why do you play the Ukulele?



mentalfloss
09-12-2008, 10:19 AM
I know that sounds like a silly question but bear with me a second.
I play the ukulele because of how it makes me feel. It is FUN.
I play alone.
I also play the mandolin but I sound better on the ukulele faster and easier.
Reasons could be:
Tradition - someone in family played

Being unique

Sound - I still like the sound of the mandolin better than any other insturment but I cant get that sound out of one! I love the sound of the uke and am getting some of that sound out of it already.

The island mentality - just want to take the island sound around with you.

Found a Ukulele

Lost a bet

Because it is easy to play at the start and has tremendous upside for Jake like sounds.

Just wondered........:love:

thejumpingflea
09-12-2008, 10:34 AM
It's different. It gets double takes and people ask stupid things like, "Why do you play a toy guitar?" It is limited too. To play things on a uke takes innovation to get over the limited range.

But at the same time, it just makes people smile. Can't ask for more than that. :D

Jimmy
09-12-2008, 10:36 AM
I first started playing just for fun, like it was a novelty thing. Even now I wouldn't consider it a "serious instrument" because I do still play it for fun. It just like how it's so accessible and you can play with others easily.

And now it's like my thing. When someone once referred to me as the "ukulele guy" I knew I couldn't stop :P

uke142464
09-12-2008, 10:45 AM
it makes me happy:D

LoMa
09-12-2008, 10:45 AM
Well I started when I was 6 years old - I got it with S&H Green Stamps. I never played it seriously because I wasn't a natural and who ever heard of ukulele lessons in 1961? My family sure didn't. I took piano lessons... my mother was a piano teacher. Odd, I can't play the piano at all...

I really didn't start playing the uke until 1999. I picked one up on a lark, and really dug it. I played my guitar less and less until now, when I don't really play the guitar at all anymore. I took myself too seriously and overly self-critical when playing the guitar - it stopped being fun. I'm lousy on the uke, but it's totally fun because I can somehow give myself permission to just be a dork.

Dorks have more fun.
And the uke has gotten a cool factor here in the San Francisco Bay Area, so now I'm a cool dork... yep, I be cool, chillin' with mah uku...

mentalfloss
09-12-2008, 10:46 AM
it makes me happy:D
I feel the same way!;)

MarungaiPower
09-12-2008, 10:52 AM
Started playing it because all my roommates did (all from da aina)... and when they all moved out of state, I missed all the jam sessions that we had. Plus it's relaxing, frustrating when first learning it but satisfying.

SnakeOiler
09-12-2008, 11:32 AM
2 reasons...
1) the tenor Uke just feels the most natural to me. Of all the different scales of guitars, basses and misc. other things I've played in my life, the tenor Uke just seems to fit.
2) it's different, it really stands out as not an everyday thing. People are impressed that you can make real music from one. I've gotten gigs just walking down the street carrying my case.

haole
09-12-2008, 12:22 PM
My grandpa used to play ukulele and sing for the family. We ended up with his old baritone, and I picked it up for fun when I wasn't playing guitar. Didn't get too serious about it at first. On a very long trip to Kaua'i a few years ago, I went into Bounty Music hoping to find a cheap guitar or uke to mess around on, and ended up splurging on a Kamaka soprano. Since then it's been my constant travel companion, and it's so relaxing to play. :D

upskydowncloud
09-12-2008, 12:32 PM
I know that sounds like a silly question but bear with me a second.
I play the ukulele because of how it makes me feel. It is FUN.
I play alone.
I also play the mandolin but I sound better on the ukulele faster and easier.
Reasons could be:
Tradition - someone in family played

Being unique

Sound - I still like the sound of the mandolin better than any other insturment but I cant get that sound out of one! I love the sound of the uke and am getting some of that sound out of it already.

The island mentality - just want to take the island sound around with you.

Found a Ukulele

Lost a bet

Because it is easy to play at the start and has tremendous upside for Jake like sounds.

Just wondered........:love:

Great thread! I play 'cos it reminds me of Hawaii. When I play I know that somewhere there's someone having a really fun time on a beach somewhere, especially when I'm stuck in grey, rainy London!

ainokea
09-12-2008, 01:01 PM
I love the sound of the uke, and it makes me happy / smile.

I can also play it in cramped spaces, lol.

Ukuleleblues
09-12-2008, 01:17 PM
If I don't play at least 3 hours a day my wife gets mad.....oops wrong thread.

deach
09-12-2008, 01:47 PM
A couple years ago I heard a Jason Mraz song and wanted to be the first person to play it on a trombone but the music store only had ukuleles.

UkeCanDoIt!
09-12-2008, 02:35 PM
Hmm... doesn't Jason Mraz sing a song called I'm Yours or something? :)

I'm attempting to play the ukulele because I like that they're considered a "fun" instrument. Skill levels from sucky, good to great still lends plenty of entertainment and fun. I like that the uke is simple in a complex kind of way. It's a unique instrument to play. My roommate, after seeing my uke laying on the bed, ask me if it was real and what it was called. :) There are people out there that don't know what a ukulele is? Wow!

Waterguy
09-12-2008, 03:45 PM
I picked up a Mahalo at my local music store on a whim. (best they carry around here (real shame in the state that makes the Fleas and Flukes)). I had played a uke a little as a teen almost by accident and after stumbling over Jakes "Weeps" vid the idea of picking one up again apealed to me.

I found myself playing on a daily basis. I don't know exactly why. I had tried guitar 4 or 5 times but the strings were to painful on my fingers and the sound never hit me where I live. On the other hand I can't tell you how many times I've strummed a uke chord for the first time and thought to myself "That's pretty".

I did eventualy upgrade to a tenor Kala ka-st from MGM. When it arived, the Mahalo started collecting dust. I still picked up a uke every day though.

I have a decent job with an ok boss. Every once in a while though he will say something that will just piss me off. I bite my tongue and get on with the rest of my working day. This is life for the most part for the majority of the world.

I have a secret weapon though, I found it out by accident. The last time my boss had said something to me that really pissed me off was about 1 month after I had started practicing the uke on a daily basis. I came home that day and I was almost afraid to pick up my uke. I did not want my anger to ruin the experience. I picked it up anyway. About 5 minutes into my practice I suddenly realized that I had forgotten my anger. That was a powerful moment.

Playing the Uke puts things in perspective for me. I can let go of the BS when I'm playing. When I've played for a bit, I can take another look at my day and let go of the stuff that really does not matter. I can also refocus on the stuff that does.

Well, you did ask.

Valerie
09-12-2008, 04:03 PM
-I love the sound, and was impressed with players like Jake and John King.

-I had been playing the guitar but had to cut way back because playing would make my hands go numb. Uke didn't do that.

-It's difficult to make it sound nice. Guitar was almost too easy, too forgivable. I like that the uke isn't. I have to pay attention, to concentrate, and that takes my mind off of other things- which is a great feeling.

-It feels like it was made for me. I've played lots of instruments (each for a year or two), cornet, piano, violin, flute, clarinet, melodica, and guitar- but none of those really seemed to fit me. I wasn't bad at any of them, but I quickly grew bored with them and practicing was painful. I've been playing uke for almost 6 months- so still in my first year, but I doubt I'll grow bored with the uke. With all other instruments six months was when I started looking for a new instrument to give a try.

thesoobz
09-12-2008, 04:19 PM
i agree it makes me HAPPY!.

hahah but then yeah i got into it because i was riding my koa longboard down the street where i work and one dude was like thats tight. and he was on an ukulele so we ended up like trading haha. yesssh true story he taught me some stuff. then i met others and yeah

the story unfolds.

Aldrine Guerrero
09-12-2008, 04:24 PM
Because Rayan already plays the guitar :(

freedive135
09-12-2008, 05:37 PM
Because I can....

I tried guitar a few times... to many strings...not enough fun...

I was on my way to a music store to pick up a set of Conga drums for the house, I listen to alot of latin and caribbean/island music and figured I could beat on them to some songs.
On the way there a song I was listening to featured the Uke Humuhumunukukupua' by a guy Eric Stone, he plays Troprock (JimmyBuffett) style.

To walk to the drums I had to go past the strings and hanging there all by its self was a Johnson Soprano, I didn't know the difference between junk and a G-string so I grabed it and strummed alittle. A guy that works there asked if I could play, I told him no.
He asked if I wanted to I said I don't think I can so he showed me the C, Am, F and G7 and I was playin a Uke!!! I latter found out it was the song "Surf" he showed me.

The drums are still at the store and I now have 6 Uke's and the 7th is on the way!!!!

menehunenyc
09-12-2008, 05:47 PM
My grandpa used to play ukulele and sing for the family. We ended up with his old baritone, and I picked it up for fun when I wasn't playing guitar. Didn't get too serious about it at first. On a very long trip to Kaua'i a few years ago, I went into Bounty Music hoping to find a cheap guitar or uke to mess around on, and ended up splurging on a Kamaka soprano. Since then it's been my constant travel companion, and it's so relaxing to play. :D


Eh haole, how far out on the Island are you? Im in brooklyn and Im struggling to get people form the TriState area together to jam. Are you down?

SinisterDom
09-12-2008, 05:50 PM
First, and foremost, I like everyone else play it because it makes me happy.

I also play it because, although I love guitar too, you can never get the same sound a wonderful little ukulele makes.

Another reason that I play and will never stop, is because it introduced a whole new world of possibilities to me. It helped me realize that, if you really work to achieve something, your efforts will be rewarded.

menehunenyc
09-12-2008, 05:55 PM
I picked up my daughter Hilo soprano after my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago, and I haven't put it down yet. In fact I know possess a very find Kamaka tenor, and a Kala soprano courtesy UU first uke giveaway.
I play because it soothes the savage beast in me, it transports me, it makes me happy, and I absolutely think it sounds so beautiful. Thankfully my wife is cancer free and I still have my ukes!!

Dane
09-12-2008, 06:12 PM
I play because it calms me down, and I can actually focus on something... like learning a song.. or I can just get lost in a song that I've already mastered.

I have always wished that my parents had made me play SOME kind of instrument at a young age, even if I hated the instrument and everything, at least I would have a better understanding of music in general. I really wanted something to make myself stand out more, and after watching Jake play gently weeps, I started researching and then later bought my own cheapie concert uke.

I was terribly afraid at first because I couldn't even tune my uke, so I was playing these chords that I was learning in a uke that was WAYYYYY out of tune. But I knew I could only get better, so I kept playing.

I stopped during a dark spot of my life, for about 8 months, and then I found UU and was rejuvenated, now I play every single day, and take it everywhere with me. I play it in my truck before classes, I play it in my house, under a palm tree, up on top of the mountain. Sometimes I just grab a chair and take it out to the front yard, sit down by the edge of the cliff and play with the view of the whole entire city of Santa Barbara below me. It's very relaxing and it's definitely a part of me now.

jsigone
09-12-2008, 06:51 PM
inlaws went to Hawaii few weeks ago, I asked them to get me a uke so I can try it out. They came back with my LU21C and loved it since. Though I'm feeling the UAS coming.....

tad
09-12-2008, 07:56 PM
I don't have enough fingers to play guitar.

Dane
09-12-2008, 09:00 PM
inlaws went to Hawaii few weeks ago, I asked them to get me a uke so I can try it out. They came back with my LU21C and loved it since. Though I'm feeling the UAS coming.....
Mine didn't kick in until I got my second, not I just want to get more and more.

DigableKid
09-12-2008, 10:25 PM
I play the uke because it's the only instrument I can consider myself pretty decent at. Plus, it suits my life.

redsedge
09-13-2008, 12:42 AM
I started because I wanted to join in with family members and my niece's uke looked so adorable. After that, it just gripped me. I was showing a friend a few chords and she was concentrating fiercely, then she suddenly stopped and looked up, face beaming. "Wow," she said. "It makes you smile!"

And so it does.

yELLOCaKE
09-13-2008, 05:06 AM
I play the ukulele cause no one else even knows what a ukulele is in my town. People usually think it's a mini-guitar or a violin haha. Also, it's smaller than a guitar so I can always take it to school. And dude, it's a chick magnet. :]

4strings707
09-13-2008, 05:41 AM
I love to play instruments with 4 strings. So far bass and ukulele.

plus, it makes me feel all fuzzy inside.

jsigone
09-13-2008, 05:48 AM
Mine didn't kick in until I got my second, not I just want to get more and more.

well my main reason is some of the notes don't sound right even after I changed strings. And harder working on the upper frets so I feel a tenor coming soon. I could get a Kala uke, like a spruce top or something for around 200 right now or pluck the one I got for another month and get a PONO solid something:music:


these things are addictive. I love playing it, and UU lessons. Just learn Red and Silky yesturday:rofl:

haole
09-13-2008, 07:15 AM
Eh haole, how far out on the Island are you? Im in brooklyn and Im struggling to get people form the TriState area together to jam. Are you down?

I'm in Nassau, not too far from the Queens border. I am totally down with this. :D

Howlin Hobbit
09-13-2008, 07:54 AM
This thread (or its variant, "How long have you played ukulele?") crops up about 3 or 4 times a year somewhere. I got tired of typing my long story over and over so I put it here (http://howlinhobbit.com/blog/pivot/entry.php?id=247&t=staticpage_template.html).

And yeah, because it makes me happy, I can more easily play the jazzy stuff I like and it just fits me.


...I didn't know the difference between junk and a G-string...

Generally you use a g-string to cover your junk.

nikolo727
09-13-2008, 08:12 AM
Its a lot of fun to play. I strive to be different and I love the sound of the uke itself. Iz inspired me. I would someday like to play beautifully like him. RIP.<3

Tonya
09-13-2008, 04:38 PM
In my BU (“before ukulele”) days, I was a total musical flop. At various points, I’d tried choir, guitar and the Tonette (a black plastic flute device, required in fourth grade). With no success (my choir teacher actually told me to just do all the mimeocopies for for the class and not sing), I gave up on creating music. I figured it just wasn’t for me.

…Until an ukulele was placed in my arms during a trip to Hawaii.

I cradled that sweet little soprano uke and looked down at it with more than a bit of fear. David Nitta, now a concierge at one of those expensive Wailea resorts on Maui, showed me a C chord. I strummed. Hey, not too bad; I could do that. Smiling, David added an F and a G7 chord—and I was hooked. I discovered that I, too, could make music. Nothing CD-worthy, of course, but the joy of playing, singing and sharing the musical experience with others opened a whole new door to me—one that I’d long thought was nailed shut.

How could I not love the ukulele with all those smiles and fun it brings?

menehunenyc
09-13-2008, 05:49 PM
T


Generally you use a g-string to cover your junk.

Oh geez Hobbit....did you have to go there?:rolleyes:

Uke_Windu
09-13-2008, 10:29 PM
the uke is one of those things for me that calms me down...stress during the day completely disappears once i hit that first note...hahaha, sounds kinda emo huh?...lmao

Lanark
09-14-2008, 02:59 AM
My wife's from Hawaii. Played guitar for thirty years. Went to Hawaii, came back with a cheap uke. Play daily. Have a couple of nice ones.

Now the thing for me is that the more I play the thing the more I find in it. It's something to do with the scale length, only four strings and how they're tuned and how many different ways you can voice a cord or part of a chord at any point on the neck in a way that I never could with the guitar to nearly this degree.

Last week I was tabbing out "It's Only a Paper Moon" for myself and hit up the EZFolk chord deal for alternate chord positions and was really struck at how much the texture of each chord voicing subtly changed the song.

I'm just finding it rife with subtle sonic possibilities and textures that intrigue me. Obscure chords are easily found and played without making pretzels of my fingers. I'm looking into getting a new multi-track recorder. It fills my head.

And if I may quote one James Harvey from a recent group email exchange with a friend who can't disassociate the ukulele from novelty songs and a certain character with a Dickens inspired moniker and was tending to behavior not dissimilar from the guy who always yells "Free Bird!" at rock shows and still thinks it hilarious.

"...That said, playing the uke rules, precisely because there haven't
been 50 years of Berklee dudes out there twiddling away in spandex
and headbands on Mozart-inspired arpeggia..."

I couldn't agree more. It's open territory I can make entirely my own.

Tsani
09-14-2008, 09:52 AM
I grew up in New Guinea - actually the Indonesian side of the island - Papua. The ukulele was instrument of choice. They were usually home-made and strung with fish line. There were no frets. These were the first instruments I played.

I moved back to the U.S. as a teenager and I picked up the guitar. I was not very good. My fingers are too short. I continued to play off and on, but never really got too much better at it.

My son - who is a good guitar player - wanted an ukulele to get an "island" sound into his music. We got a couple of inexpensive ukes and started playing. I was much more interested than he was. His main thing will always be guitar, but he reawakened my interest in the ukulele.

I got an incredible deal on a Favilla baritone and fell in love with the instrument. I also discovered John King's classical technique for ukulele. I love the sound of classical and baroque music on the uke. I am working on classical pieces on both my ukes.

The ukulele seems closer to natural music making. Playing it seems more instinctive and less complicated than the guitar.

I just like it.

Pete Howlett
09-14-2008, 11:37 AM
4 strings, 4 fingers and a thumb. A lot easier to play but more challenging to compose on.:rock:

hawaiianmusiclover06
09-15-2008, 03:00 PM
Just like everyone else said, its fun and easy to learn and to play. The 'ukulele is also portable and I can take it anywhere.

drjond56
09-15-2008, 03:19 PM
My wife went to Hawaii for a professional convention and I jokingly harrassed her about buying me a uke since I could not go on the trip. She brought back a $50 Lanikai soprano. Normally I play fingerstyle guitar--both steel string and classical--but I started messing with the uke, but I could not get the soprano to work for fingerstyle.

My interest whetted, I took a small guitar capoed at the 5th fret and started playing from some "Easy Guitar" fingerstyle books, which I had realized had very few notes on the bottom 2 strings. Things got interesting. I measured off the scale of the capoed guitar and figured it was the same as a tenor uke. Thereafter, a KoAloha tenor arrived and I've been off to the races.

I enjoy the unique sound--fingerstyle uke is a small club. Nice to play a decent jazz arrangement on a uke and watch how people react. I enjoy the portability. If you think about it, what are the portable instruments that allow you to play chord/melody (without access to electricity)? Guitar, Ukulele, and Accordion come to mind. The ukulele is definitely the most portable of these. Also, you don't have to spend an absolute fortune, even for a custom instrument.

That said, where am I headed with this? I might go for a baritone. I might go for an electric.

As a side note, I have participated in numerous musical forums--guitar, trumpet, ukulele--and find this to be the most well done of any.

Jon

UkEdman90
09-15-2008, 03:39 PM
I play my uke to get away from everything!! its a great little escape method to relaxation! its so addicting and fun how can you not play it? haha i also play it to make a quick buck in L.A. ya no...da whole street performer thing! haha :nana:

leaveit2jane
09-16-2008, 08:40 AM
I play it because I found I actually could make something resembling music on it. And it is portable.

I come from a musical family and my children, all very musical, have married and moved. My "thing" for years has been West African percussion ensembles, but as I no longer drive, that went south. I've also found that people are much more receptive to a lady of my age with a ukulele then they are to a lady of my age with 600 lbs of drummage.

It's a wonderful thing and I expect I'll enjoy it for many years.

dhkane
09-16-2008, 09:38 AM
I always had someone who played the ukulele around me my whole life. My tutu's, my parents, my brothers and sisters. They all played guitar and/or the ukulele. Sang a lot of songs with them but I never played the ukulele.

We had some good times. Then I moved away. Missed it a lot.

Three years ago, my mom passed away. And I inherited all her music instruments. Her prized possession was a Martin ukulele. That's when I started my quest, to master the ukulele. Still trying.

It's the memories that keeps me going, great times. That's when you sing and play from the heart.:)

lovemissheather
09-17-2008, 01:07 PM
because it makes me smile even when nothing else can.

TheDonEffect
09-17-2008, 08:29 PM
To reconnect myself to a simpler time.

seeso
09-18-2008, 09:24 AM
To woo women. http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/images/smilies/smiles2/eyebrows-new.gif