View Full Version : 'Ukulele as a Gateway Drug

04-12-2012, 08:28 AM
Just thought I'd toss this out here, and wondered if anyone else has experienced the same thing.

About three weeks back I got myself a beat up, old, no-name 12 fret guitar and have been starting to put some attention into learning how to play it because I've always loved the blues and want to be able to play songs like "Killing Floor" or "Catfish Blues". Little by little I find that I'm getting the hang of things like the wide spacing between the frets, the extra two strings, and the whole thing about sometimes strumming four strings, sometimes five, sometimes six. The basic chord shapes are getting to be comfortable, and the entire process has just been quite unexpectedly nice. Especially since I never thought I would ever be able to do it.

Mahalo, 'ukulele.

Seriously, I mean Big Mahaloz to da uke. I tried picking up a guitar twice before in my life. The first time was as a freshman in college, and it was a disaster. The second was about a year ago, maybe two months after seriously starting the uke, with similarly horrible results. But now, it's just falling into place. Not coincidentally, I've become very comfy with the uke, and find that I can play it without much harm. Even moving between chords like Bb, Eb, G, B7, and Em are smooth.

So here I am, now getting into six strings and just having a blast. My daily routine now consists of playing the uke for a bit, moving into guitar for a while, then going back to the uke to finish things off. Anywhere from 45 min to over three hours total (depending on how many things I have to do, etc). And it's all because the uke gave me the confidence in myself to believe I could actually learn and play an instrument.

In fact, I now find myself sending a wandering eye toward the violin, wondering just how much more difficult it would be to add a bow and no frets. Who knows, maybe even one day moving from strings to keyboards.

They say that pot is a gateway drug. I never found that to be true, because it never made me want to try smack or speed. But the 'ukulele is a totally different story.

Again, mahalo plenny, 'ukulele.

04-12-2012, 08:43 AM
Cool. Maybe fretless bass instead of a violin? I also ended up with three guitars now plus a guitalele, after selling the three I had and couldn't play 12 years ago. I also love the blues. Still can't play them but they are fun.

04-12-2012, 08:44 AM
Yup, the Uke is the greatest gateway drug into making music! Enjoy!

04-12-2012, 10:15 AM

You are on a similar path as I. I had started on Harmonica as my gateway and couldn't play guitar or piano so Uke is my strings and music theory gateway as I slowly delve into the same learnng curve you describe on the guitar - blues inpired as well.

I have even ordered a set of customized blues diatonic harps and am working my way to using the neck rack and mics to meld harp and uke (and then guitar).

04-12-2012, 01:50 PM
Oh totally. First I played ukulele, then I got into 5-string banjo and guitar. Now I don't even own a single uke, lol. I plan on getting a Pono or something later on down the road...but for now I'm content with what I have.

mm stan
04-12-2012, 03:55 PM
yes I heard from my friends the uke improves your guitar playing skills.....

04-13-2012, 12:41 AM
A couple years ago my husband suggested I might try guitar again. Up until guitar, I never realized that an instrument could kick your butt in a way that wasn't fun. It's not like I'm some great musician, but whatever I picked up, I made reasonable progress equal to the time I put into it. With guitar I tried for a year and couldn't switch between easy chords even.

After uke, it's true that fingers moving on strings wasn't really an issue anymore, but it just felt huge and awkward and really not something I was ever meant to play. For me, if I play something other than a uke, it's going to be a wind instrument. I'd really love to get an alto clarinet to experiment with. It's an unsung hero and does everything a sax can do while sounding better.... but tough to find for a decent price. For the cost of one of those, I could get a Holy Grail Uke(tm). :)

I think any instrument can be a gateway drug. How sad for your wallet that you found yours! :D

04-13-2012, 01:20 AM
Since playing the uke I've now started finger picking guitar.

His Sinfulness
04-13-2012, 01:27 AM
This thread makes me chuckle - I named my first uke "Gateway Drug". In addition to making me want other ukes - my wish list is extensive - it is also opening my eyes to other instruments; now I kind of want to take a shot at the mandola/mandolin/mandocello family.

04-13-2012, 05:27 AM
Hmm...I went the other way, started with steel string guitars and always thought of ukes as toys or kind of a joke instrument (thank you Tiny Tim!!). But since I've developed problems with my hands have really gotten in to ukes, and now am working back in to classical guitar. I've always wanted to try a fiddle too.

04-13-2012, 06:18 AM
I think it can be, but not to be limited to a "beginer" instrument. It stands on it's own merit. It was a gateway of sorts for me, kinda. I started many years ago with bass and guitar (back in the 1970s). Played for many years, but, there was a point in my life where other things came in, and my music phased out. There was about a 10 year hiatus from making music, and only listening to it. Then an accident that caused my disability. I fell back to music to make me feel better, but found the disability greatly hampered my playing which depressed me. A few years pass after I gave it up all together when I discovered the uke. Always wanted one, and so I thought, "why not?". I found the uke was easier for me with my limitations from my accident, and I took it from there, and even started playing guitar again, even though I couldn't play at the standard I used to, or wanted. At that point, it didn't matter because the uke fired the coals up in my for music again. So, it was a re-entry gateway for me.

Chris Tarman
04-13-2012, 11:59 AM
I started out on bass guitar, then gradually learned a bit of guitar. In college, I sold all my bass gear and ONLY played acoustic guitar for about 8 years. Once I got a bass again, I rarely touched my guitar. Once I started playing ukulele, I almost NEVER touch my guitar anymore. When I do, it feels huge and ungainly (although, strangely, a bass feels perfectly natural!).
For me, the ukulele was only a gateway to more ukuleles.

04-13-2012, 12:27 PM
I just started playing ukulele about a month or two ago. I've been a guitarist for nearly 20 years and have had tons of gear through the years. This year I started selling it off and simplifying due to needing money. I got my first ukulele off of a guitar forum identical to this called thegearpage.net. I traded a guy my last few guitar effect pedals for it and have never been happier. My wife is pregnant with our first child and thought ukulele and baby is a better fit than electric guitar and amp. It's great to comfortably sit around the house playing without it bothering my wife. It was pretty easy to figure out but definately a fun new way to think about songs. There have been many nights doing the math of translating a guitar tune into a uke tune with both instruments sitting next to me as I go. I'm addicted and considering the mandolin next seeing as its totally different way of playing.

04-13-2012, 01:14 PM
I started with Uke and now I am getting into the guitar ALSO. I haven't stopped playing ukes at all, just added guitar to the mix. Honestly though, the guitar is ACTUAL work to learn. 2 more strings isn't just 50% harder. It seems like somewhere closer to 200% harder. But I love them both.

Hopefully the next step isn't heroin!@$@

04-13-2012, 04:26 PM
I started with uke, and then four months later got an upright bass. From there it was a pretty quick descent into addiction and now I also play the 5 string banjo and the guitar p: