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View Full Version : My ukulele addiction - normal, scary, stupid or what?



trippntx
03-10-2012, 03:49 PM
Hello,

My name is trippntx, and I am a uke-aholic. Or am I?

I'll let you decide. Then, please feel free to commiserate, commend, or chastise as you see fit.

Here is my story...

It all started about two weeks ago. A pilot where I work walked in to my work area to show me something new he'd picked up - a new Kala KA-SEM he'd bought a few days earlier. It did indeed look impressive, and I liked the wood grain a good bit. He strummed out a few chords, and then I asked him: "Why the hell did you buy that thing?"

Why did I ask the question? Well, the guy seems to hop from hobby to hobby, has a garage full of crap he doesn't use anymore (or very often at the most) and has too many musical instruments to really get serious on any one of them.

He answered: "Because it's small, and I can take it on the plane with me to fool around with on layovers. It's also pretty cheap, so I won't care too much if I scratch it up." His answers made even better sense when he zipped it up into it's gig bag (complete with pocket holding a small songbook and an electric tuner). I thought to myself what a cool little uke it was.

I've long been interested in learning to play a stringed instrument and always thought the ukulele was rather cool, so over the next day or two, the idea of buying a uke grew on me until I decided I'd do exactly what he did.

On Saturday morning I called Sam Ash, who let me know they were fresh out of Kala Soprano Exquisite Mohoganys and had no idea when they were likely to get more in. The salesman did say they had a Kala "Concert" exquisite mohagany, but I figured that "concert" had to mean it was way over my head. Little did I know the moniker was only in reference to size.

I then decided to visit my local Guitar Center, which I KNOW carries every musical instrument on the planet (with the possible exception of hammer dulcimers and digiridoos) to score the KA-SEM. Much to my surprise they had a piss poor ukulele selection and carried nothing in the Kala line.

Determined to find my uke, I headed home and hopped online where I promptly found the little buggers for sale at austinbazaar.com, complete with gig bag and electronic tuner for only $95 with the (ever-present) "today only" 10 discount promotional code staring me in the face. Of course, I ordered immediately.

Two days later (I live in San Antonio, a mere 90 miles south), the cheerful Fed-Ex Ground man plopped the new prize on my desk at work. I quickly opened the box to find a nice gouge in the ukes top. Too bad, because it looked really nice with a sweet wood pattern and top halves that matched nicely. Plus it sounded really nice as I cluelessly strummed it a few times in the office.

Back in the box it went. As I had a trip planned to Austin the next Friday evening, I decided I'd take it back, exchange it in person, and get a chance to visit Austin Bazaar's brick and mortar store.

What a mistake that was.

So I wander in at precisely 10:00 AM that Saturday morning (opening time) to learn they are out of KA-SEMs and my gouged one (not a really big gouge, but not a welcome flaw on my first ukulele and new little friend) was now the only one in the store. Making up my mind on what to do, I wandered over to the ukulele section (second mistake) to see what all they had to trade or trade up for.

Wow. All sorts of cool ukes!

Well, it only took about 2 minutes of gawking and strumming to know I was definitely trading up. After another hour of "trying out" and hemming and hawing, I walked out with a BEAUTIFUL Kala Golden Acacia Limited Edition Concert uke. (Yes, I had learned what concert referred to by this time).

Once home I strummed the bejesus out of the beauty, doing the best I could following Youtube videos and a few chord charts I found online. I was happy as a clam. I had a new beautiful uke, I was impressed with its quality, it sounded absolutely wonderful and I had actually learned two or three chords!

The Addiction begins.

That Monday I decided it was time to buy an instruction/song book and headed to Sam Ash after work. I walked over to the uke section (had never been there before) and milled about a few minutes until WHAMMO! Like a ray of light from Heaven, it struck me... The vision of a solid acacia Kala tenor sitting a mere 10 feet away on a counter top. I picked it up. It felt good. Real Good. Too good. It sounded even better. Wow.

It was marked $329. I quickly pulled out my smart phone and Googled other sellers. The best price I could find was $349. I really wanted the thing but thought what an idiot I would be to buy uke number two before even knowing four chords on uke number one.

So I asked the guy behind the counter to tell me about this beauty. He said, "Oh, some guy special ordered that ukulele and then decided he didn't want it. Which is a shame, considering we don't normally carry this model and it will take us a while to sell it. Plus, it's the best looking ukulele in the store."

I had to agree, and in a moment of spontaneity (or stupidity, depending on your point of view), I said: "I'll give you $279 for the thing - cash. He replied there was no way the manager would go for that, so of course I asked him to go get the manager. Which he did, and of course the manager said: "No way, $329 is the lowest I'll go, considering it was already lowered from $349)."

As I reminded him it was a special ordered uke they would probably end up sending back, I pulled out my wallet and reminded him it was a cash offer. He then pulled up some mumbo jumbo on a computer screen, looked at my money and said, "Okay."

Yay. I bought the beauty, took it home and strummed the hell out of it (applying my three best, and only, chords to it) for a good thirty minutes. I now had two ukuleles, couldn't play worth a crap, and was for some reason still real happy about the whole situation. The Kala Tenor (KA-ASAC-T) sounded even sweeter than the golden acacia concert and I am extremely happy with that uke as well.


The next Saturday (today), I was back up to Austin to meet a friend for lunch and on the way stopped into Austin Bazaar to buy a hard case for the new tenor. (Next mistake.) After finding out they were out of tenor hard cases, the idea struck me that I now own two pretty nice ukes and I really do need to practice a good deal now, and wouldn't it be nice to have a uke to take with me pretty much everywhere I go, and wouldn't it be nice to keep those really nice ukes in good condition and wouldn't a smaller uke be much more convenient for this and blah blah blah...

Long story short, I had spotted a Kala KA-S on the wall with a surprisingly nice wood grain/pattern, asked the salesman how much it would be with a gig bag and tuner, he replied "$71," I replied "sold" and I promptly walked out with my third ukulele in two weeks.

So there you have it. I have mastered no more than five chords, haven't yet conquered a single song, but now own three ukes. Trust me, I'm going to do my best to avoid uke shops (brick and mortar AND online) and buy nothing more until I'm way into this new pursuit and can at least call myself a decent uker.

So...

Is this a normal case of uke fever? Am I a blithering idiot for owning three ukuleles before I can even play one? Do I need medication? Or, is this a quasi-normal dive into uke-dom that many of you have experienced previously?

Pull out your accolades, criticism, or tomatoes if need be. I'm curious to know what you all think.

I'm now going to practice my uke. Albeit I'm not sure which one. :)

DaveVisi
03-10-2012, 03:59 PM
Absolutely normal! Enjoy the insanity.

AKuker
03-10-2012, 04:05 PM
Welcome to ukuleles, UU & UAS (ukulele acquisition syndrome). There's a good list of custom uke builders here, I know you'll enjoy! Sounds like you'll fit in nicely. Have fun with your new family of ukes. It took me about five months to get where you are now, but I've ordered a new one so you'll need to catch up!

the_dude
03-10-2012, 04:07 PM
LOL, cool story!

Kala's are wonderful, but wait until you cast your eyes on some high-end or custom ukes. You'll really be in trouble then!

itsme
03-10-2012, 04:09 PM
Cool! Welcome to UU. If I read that right, you now have three Kalas... soprano, concert and tenor, right?

Kala makes some nice ukes, but it's time to branch out and consider other brands, ya know? :p

allanr
03-10-2012, 04:21 PM
Don't worry. Completely normal.

After all, you still only have one soprano, one concert, and one tenor. It's a very nice start to your collection.

You do realize that the people you are asking are all very sick though, right?

scason
03-10-2012, 04:24 PM
It took me a month, but I did the same thing. I really wantedone of each size.

Pete Beardsley
03-10-2012, 04:24 PM
So...

Is this a normal case of uke fever? Am I a blithering idiot for owning three ukuleles before I can even play one? Do I need medication? Or, is this a quasi-normal dive into uke-dom that many of you have experienced previously?

Yes to all the above! :D
The little buggers get you like that and before you know it your wallet is empty and your fingers are sore.
Welcome to UU and insanity!

kapahulu50
03-10-2012, 04:28 PM
Two weeks from now you're telling us about #5!

trippntx
03-10-2012, 04:42 PM
Two weeks from now you're telling us about #5!

No kidding! I'm fighting the urge to visit craigslist at the moment. :)

chindog
03-10-2012, 04:48 PM
You're not really addicted until you quit counting as part of your collection the ukes you own that you don't like anymore.

:)

dnewton2
03-10-2012, 04:48 PM
Just wait till you play a higher end uke.

(not that there is anything wrong with Kala, but there are some really nice ukes out there)

Dan Uke
03-10-2012, 04:54 PM
Just wait till you play a higher end uke.

(not that there is anything wrong with Kala, but there are some really nice ukes out there)

Move up to CUSTOMS!!

trippntx
03-10-2012, 04:58 PM
Move up to CUSTOMS!!

Great idea.

But shouldn't I learn to play ukulele first?? :)

dnewton2
03-10-2012, 05:03 PM
Great idea.

But shouldn't I learn to play ukulele first?? :)

Get a spot on someones build list. By the time your uke is done you should be pretty good.:D

Freeda
03-10-2012, 05:12 PM
Get a spot on someones build list. By the time your uke is done you should be pretty good.:D

That may be the most genius advice I have seen here yet.

Olarte
03-10-2012, 05:29 PM
Well let me tell you about my number 18... A backpacker concert being made for me in New Zeland!

Enjoy the Journey! Cause it's a lot of fun.

KimosTherapy
03-10-2012, 05:44 PM
Welcome to the world of U.A.S.!!!:cheers:

itsme
03-10-2012, 06:09 PM
Well let me tell you about my number 18...
Oh my, Olarte! You're already up to 18? :eek:

I'm only up to 7... well, 8 if you count the guitalele. :o

Teek
03-10-2012, 10:16 PM
Welcome to UU!

Coming here to ask if buying ukes is ok is a bit like walking into a bar and asking if it's okay to buy a drink.

That out of the way, so far you only have one of each size, and the tenor is the one you will want to convert to low 4th or low G, so actually you are fine. I figure when you start buying ukes for your significant other if you have one, so that you can play "their" ukes too, is when you sort of have a problem with it. ;)

rasputinsghost
03-10-2012, 10:46 PM
Considering there are members on this board who have spent thousands of $ on ukes (myself included), I really think you're fine. I find it helpful to remember that a good test for whether you really want/need something is to give it time. I always want a new instrument but if I find something else to do/occupy my mind the desire passes.

ukuhippo
03-11-2012, 12:07 AM
Sometimes normal things are scarily stupid.

guitharsis
03-11-2012, 12:19 AM
Actually, you chose wisely. Nice ukes, one of each size . . .

chris667
03-11-2012, 12:29 AM
If you like them and play them, it is not too bad, so long as you're not going into debt to own them. Time to unlock their secrets now!

UkesAreEpic
03-11-2012, 12:34 AM
Ukuleles are addicive. They get stuck to you when you pick them up- enjoy it!
Sometimes I just sit with my uke, strumming away and loving life.

barefootgypsy
03-11-2012, 12:56 AM
The thing about ukuleles is to PLAY the little b***ers! If you're spending more time browsing and buying new ones than you are playing - well........ something to think about! As a "senior" on a tight budget I'm resisting the urge - (and it's there, believe me, after reading so much on this forum about beautiful ukuleles) - to go out to shops and sit playing ukes I can't afford. But I would also be a prime candidate for having a roomful by now, I know it! Your initial post really made me smile, it's such a lovely story - thanks for sharing!

Uke Whisperer
03-11-2012, 01:21 AM
Yes, you have UAS. Your story (symptoms) match those of the syndrome.
Congratulations!

dkcrown
03-11-2012, 01:35 AM
It happens to most of us. Now that you have one of each size, I would suggest playing them all a lot and then settling on one size before buying any more. It will help your playing to get used to one of the scale sizes. For me it was the tenor. And it will also help your wallet!

MadMatt
03-11-2012, 03:42 AM
Sounds like you have been bitten. I believe you are fine as long as you keep the # of Ukes slightly under the # of chords you know ;)

1931jim
03-11-2012, 04:14 AM
I have read all 29 replies (or is it 28), in any event no one has even mentioned the Baritone size. Now you really must get the total experience.
And you learned a good lesson along the way. Always play Before you pay.

Drew Bear
03-11-2012, 07:13 AM
But shouldn't I learn to play ukulele first?? :)
Good idea! The advice below is also good.


Now that you have one of each size, I would suggest playing them all a lot and then settling on one size before buying any more. It will help your playing to get used to one of the scale sizes.
I'm also a beginner and find it a bit confusing to switch between the different sizes. The differences in fretboard width, string height & fret spacing are significant enough to mess with my finger memory. YMMV.

The itch to buy another uke will not go away, so try to channel it by reading up on the sound, aesthetic and playability differences in ukes in different price brackets. The ukes you currently have are more than sufficient for a beginner.

Instead of spending the same amount again for another 3 ukes of similar quality, plan to buy a single uke of higher quality. Maybe set a realistic goal for yourself (play a certain song in 6 months) and then reward yourself with that next uke when you accomplish the goal.

trippntx
03-11-2012, 07:20 AM
Good idea! The advice below is also good.

Maybe set a realistic goal for yourself (play a certain song in 6 months) and then reward yourself with that next uke when you accomplish the goal.

I really like your idea.

The question is just how easy or difficult a song to choose. :)

Lori
03-11-2012, 07:25 AM
Welcome to UU, and you are not crazy at all. You sound like you have a strong natural attraction to the ukulele, and that is good sign that you will enjoy this instrument for awhile. You really needed to try all those sizes so you will know what size to get for the next upgrade down the line. I change sizes of ukuleles all the time, and the more you are able to do that, the easier it becomes to adjust when you switch instruments. I find it a very good wholesome hobby that brings music and new friends into your life.

–Lori

freackykit
03-11-2012, 07:47 AM
I was into guitars for years and only had 3...

Since I came to Ukedom part of the hobby seems as much collecting as playing...

Sure you want to learn how to play them to get the best sound out of them...but you can collect them like hell as well...

That's my piece,

Chris

DaveY
03-11-2012, 09:01 AM
trippntx, get back to us in a month and let us know if you've been playing and learning and getting better, and haven't bought another ukulele. If the answer to all is "Yes," then I'd say you're fine. If you haven't gotten anywhere musically, and have bought one or more new ukes, then I think you might need an intervention. (Unless you have unlimited funds and just want to get the buying rush.) I should add that I've bought "only" six ukuleles in my lifetime / the past 4 1/3 years, and the first one cost $25, I sold another one, and another one was a gift for my daughter; and I obviously have a minority opinion here.

trippntx
03-11-2012, 12:00 PM
trippntx, get back to us in a month and let us know if you've been playing and learning and getting better, and haven't bought another ukulele. If the answer to all is "Yes," then I'd say you're fine. If you haven't gotten anywhere musically, and have bought one or more new ukes, then I think you might need an intervention. (Unless you have unlimited funds and just want to get the buying rush.) I should add that I've bought "only" six ukuleles in my lifetime / the past 4 1/3 years, and the first one cost $25, I sold another one, and another one was a gift for my daughter; and I obviously have a minority opinion here.

Sadly, I do not have unlimited funds and I am planning on improving my playing talent a great deal before scoring another uke, unless of course I find a $20,000 Martin in the pile at a yard sale. Hopefully I'll get somewhere within the next month and I'll dig up this thread to let all those who have responded know just how I'm doing (or not).

I must say, not one person has had anything negative, discouraging or ridiculing to say in response to my story, and for that I am thankful. Even though I am the consumate newb here, I certainly recognize and greatly appreciate the warmness of the membership.Thank you all.

Happy to be a member... AND budding uker. :)

riki55
08-22-2012, 01:23 PM
Your original post made me laugh out loud! It's amazing to me how the ukulele can grab a person! One day I'm browsing eBay for tiki items for entertaining around our pool and there is a posting for a ukulele. I started researching ukuleles and decided I wanted to learn to play one. The only music I've ever had before was three years of organ lessons that my father decided I would take in High School. He finally let me quit and I hadn't thought much about playing an instrument since.

So now, at 64, I've fallen for the ukulele and, after some research, I purchased a concert Kala FMC from Hawaii Music Supply. Mike was very helpful and my uke arrived in just a few days. It's a beautiful instrument and sounds very nice. I've had my uke almost four weeks now, and I'm practicing nearly every day. Although I'm not very quick changing between some of the chords, I actually know thirteen now. E is a killer!
My husband couldn't believe I was getting a ukulele but started reading some books I bought. Next thing I know he purchased a vintage Islander plastic uke with an Arthur Godfrey chord player on eBay. A couple of days ago, again on eBay, I showed him an Oscar Schmidt spalted mango tenor with wood that really caught our eye. It's on it's way to us now. I'm also planning on getting a Luna Great Wave pineapple soprano soon. Then we're done....honest. Probably.

Lalz
08-22-2012, 02:04 PM
Congrats, you're totally normal haha :)

BUT... now is the time to calm down and focus on playing for a while before buying more. Here's why: you've only been playing for a short while and don't really know yet what you like/dislike about ukes, what size/wood/brand/finish/type is best suited for you (like others have pointed out), how to spot build imperfections etc. It's totally fine to buy more ukes (if you can afford it, the sky is the limit!) but make sure to educate yourself first about what makes a good uke, what a quality set-up is, and where to buy quality ukes from, so you don't end up spending lots of money on ukes you might regret getting later when you realise they have imperfections you hadn't noticed before. In short, choose wisely! They might be inexpensive compared to say guitars, but it does add up... and more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better quality...

Luckily, you've come to the right place to find out more about this wonderful little instrument! Ask us anything you want!

Lalz
08-22-2012, 02:09 PM
And... there's also lots of fun to be had trying on different strings on the ukes you already have. Call it Strings Acquisition Syndrome! ;)

1931jim
08-22-2012, 02:20 PM
Lalou,
How about "SASSY"..................... Strings_Acquisition_Syndrome_Society_Yeah.!!

Lalz
08-22-2012, 02:33 PM
Lalou,
How about "SASSY"..................... Strings_Acquisition_Syndrome_Society_Yeah.!!

If there is such a society I must be their most loyal member hehe :-)

Tailgate
08-22-2012, 03:25 PM
Agree about the Austin Bazaar store.. Its great.. Good prices and ahuge warehouse.. Helpful folks

mo9090x
08-22-2012, 05:15 PM
Great story, thanks for sharing! UAS for sure. Hang on to your wallet and enjoy the ride :D

connor013
08-22-2012, 05:46 PM
I have read all 29 replies (or is it 28), in any event no one has even mentioned the Baritone size. Now you really must get the total experience.
And you learned a good lesson along the way. Always play Before you pay.

Whoa, whoa, whoa... what about the oft-forgotten but lovely sopranino!

Whenever I get stuck on something I'm learning I bust that puppy out -- everything I play sounds like it's coming from an old phonograph. Totally different (and awesome!) tone.

As to the original post: totally normal (at least my story is similar). I'll even go one step further an be an enabler: check out Pono for your next uke. It's a small step up in price for a large step up in build and tone.

BassGuyukin'
08-22-2012, 07:08 PM
Great story trippntx! By the way you write in a very entertaining style.

I caught that same bug that you did with ukes. I'm a beginner ukester, at it about 3-4 months now, but long time musician as I've been a bassist for 35 years.

I think your new addiction is great, as long as you stick with it and find playing ukulele to be a fun addition to your life which turns into a passion for you. Assuming you go that route, then all is good and go have fun! However, what I have seen over and over again with many friends who become quickly fascinated with either becoming a musician or finding some other great new hobby, is that after the initial excitement wears off, there is nothing to back it up. In otherwords, one gets so excited and is having so much fun, but then for whatever reason, then loses interest. I have seen this in others and I have experienced it myself with various ideas or hobbies.

I hope for you that this one lasts!

OK, then let's say it lasts. As it has lasted for me. And if I can stay this excited for at least a couple months with no signs of fading, then I know it will last. As you, I bought several inexpensive ukes all within my first month. I think five or six of them. All sizes, some with more than four strings and etc. Wanted some with high G, some with low G, you know, I wanted a variety, I wanted to be "covered". Then I'm realizing I have all these low end to mediocre ukes and since I am getting serious about this, maybe I deserve a really nice one. So here comes an $800 Kamoa Tenor. Yeah, pretty nice, but not REAL nice. So now, still as a relative beginner I'm about to plunk down $1,500 and custom order a 5-string Kanilea Tenor. Yeah, through all that experimentation I found that 5-strings with the doubled up G octaves is the one for me.

So as long as you stick with it, you'll go through stages. Not just as a musician as you build your skill and develop your style, but you'll go through stages with your instruments as well. Dude, I just hope you stick with it!!