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nighthunte29
02-13-2013, 05:53 AM
Hey guys!

I was interested in finding out about the smallest change you have made on the ukulele which had the biggest difference, be it in sound or skill.

Smallest change could be cost-wise or size-wise!

First off I will go for the obvious and say a chromatic tuner, don't have a clue where I would be without it!

Maluhia!
Sam

OldePhart
02-13-2013, 06:03 AM
Strings. (ten characters)

mm stan
02-13-2013, 06:06 AM
tuning....

peace
Stan....happy strummings..

cantsing
02-13-2013, 06:16 AM
Uke Leash. I cannot overstate what a difference it made for me when I first started.

hoosierhiver
02-13-2013, 06:19 AM
Good strings can make a huge difference.

morvenkoh
02-13-2013, 06:26 AM
Getting an instrument that you enjoy playing and LOOKING at :) it doesn't matter how expensive it is, but an instrument that you truly could connect and feel with each and every note you play on it!

bazmaz
02-13-2013, 07:49 AM
Strings

Play many, settle on ones you like, not on ones others tell you to like

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-13-2013, 08:33 AM
Better strings are a given.
The next would be a side sound port. The best thing you can do for an uke by taking something away.

Tootler
02-13-2013, 09:04 AM
+1 for strings. Especially with a beater.

Lori
02-13-2013, 09:10 AM
left hand finger placement

Brad Bordessa
02-13-2013, 10:44 AM
left hand finger placement

Ditto. Where you put your finger inside the fret makes a huge difference in your tone. It also helps you play cleaner.

Nicko
02-13-2013, 12:10 PM
Smallest change cost-wise that will make a big difference in sound or skill:

If you're a beginner-to-intermediate player, don't buy the next instrument yet. Instead, save your money and practice until you are better at playing your current uke than your uke is at being one.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
02-13-2013, 01:34 PM
For me, it was finding a great book: May Singhi Breen's New Ukulele Method for Beginners and Advanced Students

d-mace
02-13-2013, 01:38 PM
Set-up. Poor intonation, high action or buzzing strings takes the fun out of a uke at any price.

Hippie Dribble
02-13-2013, 01:40 PM
discovering Cliff Edwards. Inspirational. Motivated me to learn new styles and chords and has helped me improve as a player and overall lover of the instrument, it's subtleties and amazing complexity.

Nicko
02-13-2013, 02:29 PM
discovering Cliff Edwards. Inspirational. Motivated me to learn new styles and chords and has helped me improve as a player and overall lover of the instrument, it's subtleties and amazing complexity.

:agree: :agree: :agree:

Amen! And what is really impressive to me is Edwards' singing! What a performer!!!

Rick Turner
02-13-2013, 02:54 PM
Practice, particularly with tunes just out of your comfort zone. If you do that, then your comfort zone will keep expanding and musically you'll be moving forward, and then, frankly, the rest of the stuff will mean less and less. Your musicianship is by far the most important factor in how you sound. I'd rather play well on a crappy uke than play poorly on a great one.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-13-2013, 02:55 PM
Set-up. Poor intonation, high action or buzzing strings takes the fun out of a uke at any price.

Best suggestion yet IMO.

Dan Uke
02-13-2013, 03:18 PM
Youtube!! There are so many tutorials and you can copy songs you like by watching them gazillion times!!

nighthunte29
02-13-2013, 03:23 PM
I am enjoying reading this thread!

A lot of them seem to sway towards playability, strings and set-up etc, which inspires me to save for a better ukulele! (Currently an 'Argos' one branded 'Herald', which is more of a toy, I have fitted better strings mind!).

Some of these suggestions are great, although one I have just thought of that we have missed is that while you play, always always always smile! Haha!

Maluhia!
Sam

Nickie
02-13-2013, 03:31 PM
adjusting my strap to the right length so i now hold it right...

Dave-0
02-13-2013, 05:47 PM
Smallest change cost-wise that will make a big difference in sound or skill:

If you're a beginner-to-intermediate player, don't buy the next instrument yet. Instead, save your money and practice until you are better at playing your current uke than your uke is at being one.

I really REALLY appreciate this advice. "UAS" gets thrown around alot, and I appreciate the desire to get a nice instrument - Lord knows I drool over the Devines and K brands and Moore Bettahs.......but I just need to become a better player until I can even begin to justify a "better" ukulele. And like Rick Turner said earlier - "I'd rather play a crappy ukulele well then play poorly on a great one."

pdxuke
02-13-2013, 06:41 PM
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?


(Practice...)

pdxuke
02-13-2013, 06:50 PM
I really REALLY appreciate this advice. "UAS" gets thrown around alot, and I appreciate the desire to get a nice instrument - Lord knows I drool over the Devines and K brands and Moore Bettahs.......but I just need to become a better player until I can even begin to justify a "better" ukulele. And like Rick Turner said earlier - "I'd rather play a crappy ukulele well then play poorly on a great one."

I'd rather play crappy on a beautiful instrument. Or several. I don't subscribe to the "I'm not worth a good uke because I don't play like Krouk" theory. I subscribe to this theory:

I buy beautiful instruments because I can afford them
In and of themselves they are works of art, and therefore worth owning
They inspire me to want to get better, so
I play them.
Whether or not I'm any good doesn't enter into it for me.
What matters is that playing and collecting fine instruments raises the level of joy in my life :-)

You have to do what works best for you! Above all--have fun!

Dan Uke
02-13-2013, 08:40 PM
I really REALLY appreciate this advice. "UAS" gets thrown around alot, and I appreciate the desire to get a nice instrument - Lord knows I drool over the Devines and K brands and Moore Bettahs.......but I just need to become a better player until I can even begin to justify a "better" ukulele. And like Rick Turner said earlier - "I'd rather play a crappy ukulele well then play poorly on a great one."

Agree w/ Thom...It sounds noble but its full of crap. If you want to get a nice instrument and CAN afford it, buy it!! Who cares how you play as long as you are enjoying any instrument you have.

Ken Middleton
02-13-2013, 09:16 PM
I wish I could say that the smallest change that makes the biggest difference was good quality strings, but I really can't. These would come quite a way down my list.

I would put smooth finger nails at the top. Get a good nail file and something to buff them absolutely smooth on the inside and the edge. The tone you get on a uke is largely down to the player. The quality of the instrument, the type of strings, the the action not being too low, all make some difference. But the biggest difference you can make to tone (the quality of sound produced) is made by the player.

Learn to do vibrato. That's even cheaper.

barefootgypsy
02-13-2013, 10:25 PM
I wish I could say that the smallest change that makes the biggest difference was good quality strings, but I really can't. These would come quite a way down my list.

I would put smooth finger nails at the top. Get a good nail file and something to buff them absolutely smooth on the inside and the edge. The tone you get on a uke is largely down to the player. The quality of the instrument, the type of strings, the the action not being too low, all make some difference. But the biggest difference you can make to tone (the quality of sound produced) is made by the player.

Learn to do vibrato. That's even cheaper.

Nice one, Ken...... now how to go about learning to do vibrato?........:)

buddhuu
02-13-2013, 10:38 PM
The three biggest differences in my experience come from:

* Changing strings
* Setting action - especially at the nut. Affects playability and intonation to a huge degree.
* Decent tuners

Ken Middleton
02-13-2013, 11:03 PM
Nice one, Ken...... now how to go about learning to do vibrato?........:)

Most uke players don't use it, I'm afraid. Look at a close up of James Hill or any violinist. Listen, as well as look.

Dave-0
02-14-2013, 02:46 AM
Agree w/ Thom...It sounds noble but its full of crap. If you want to get a nice instrument and CAN afford it, buy it!! Who cares how you play as long as you are enjoying any instrument you have.

To each his own! While there's no way I'd buy a Devine just to hang on the wall to look at as a work of art, I certainly do not begrudge anyone that wants to buy several fine ukuleles to look at, it's just not my style. Can I afford them? .... as a senior Army officer without any kids, of course. Maybe the Army has beaten practicality and frugality into my little brain. But it's the same with any hobby or pasttime that people become passionate about. I'm a fairly serious 6,000 mile per year road bicycle rider and I know people that don't blink an eye at spending $4,000 just for a pair of wheels for their $10,000+ bicycle, but ride at a snail's pace. They can afford it, so who's to say anything to them.....and I certainly don't! But again, that's not my style!

teruterubouzu
02-14-2013, 02:49 AM
Smallest change cost-wise that will make a big difference in sound or skill:

If you're a beginner-to-intermediate player, don't buy the next instrument yet. Instead, save your money and practice until you are better at playing your current uke than your uke is at being one.

I'm interpreting this as save longer, learn to play better and then get an even nicer one than you would have.

This is my plan. My dream is a vintage Martin, but that seems out of reach so I'm focusing on the Kiwaya KTS-4 right now. Unfortunately house upgrades have to take priority over my ukulele dreams.

And to answer the original question. For me it was buying a decent enough for a beginner instrument that was set-up correctly. There was a tremendous difference between the uke I bought from Amazon and the Kala KA-CEM from HMS.

Nicko
02-14-2013, 04:50 AM
My dream is a vintage Martin, but that seems out of reach so I'm focusing on the Kiwaya KTS-4 right now.

KTS-4 looks like a sweetheart of an instrument. But not altogether that much less expensive than a vintage Martin, depending upon the deal you might be able to get. About $525 for the Kiwaya vs. $600 and up for the Martin. Not sure that's enough difference to lead me to think of the KTS-4 as a stepping stone price-point on the way up to a vintage Martin uke. Or maybe you're thinking of a vintage Martin 3 or (gulp!) 5?

teruterubouzu
02-14-2013, 04:54 AM
KTS-4 looks like a sweetheart of an instrument. But not altogether that much less expensive than a vintage Martin, depending upon the deal you might be able to get. About $525 for the Kiwaya vs. $600 and up for the Martin. Not sure that's enough difference to lead me to think of the KTS-4 as a stepping stone price-point on the way up to a vintage Martin uke. Or maybe you're thinking of a vintage Martin 3 or (gulp!) 5?

That's good to know. I'm new to this so thought I was looking more at the $1k plus range for a decent Martin. Thank you!

tonet
02-14-2013, 07:37 AM
A small change and big difference could be to cut your nails properly...

lennymac
02-14-2013, 08:01 AM
Some will say this is sacrilege but for gigging I have to say pegheds. Brilliant!

lakesideglenn
02-14-2013, 08:46 AM
I second the advice from Rick Turner and Eugene...practice and Cliff Edwards

Nicko
02-14-2013, 09:01 AM
If you want to get a nice instrument and CAN afford it, buy it!!

Reflected upon in the context of this thread, it doesn't seem that purchasing a premium uke will be a "smallest change" that makes a "biggest difference."

CasanovaGuy
02-14-2013, 10:01 PM
For me, it was the triple strum. It'll make your playing more dynamic and improve your sense of rhythm to a whole new level.

Nipper
02-14-2013, 11:04 PM
For me, it was the triple strum. It'll make your playing more dynamic and improve your sense of rhythm to a whole new level.

While reading this thread I was just thinking the same.

Ken M has it right, it is all in the fingers. With Ohana and Kala there are plenty of great sounding and playing ukes at a reasonable price, if you want to play seriously you will have already got one and put good strings on it.

So that leaves fingers. When teaching people to move on from beginner playing to the next level, I think the most important thing is developing an independence in strumming with thumb and first finger. I get people to practice strumming down with finger and up with thumb and then down with thumb and up with finger. This exercise is simple but begins the process of learning more complex strums, like the triple.

Barbablanca
02-14-2013, 11:33 PM
With my deteriorating memory, the smallest thing that has made the biggest difference to my playing and performing in recent times has been gigging using a music stand with the lyrics and chords of each song I play. I don't always look at them, but having them there provides the security that if my brain does find a lagoon of Zen-like nothingness just as I'm about to open my mouth for the third verse, then a brief glance is enough to put me back on track.

At 20, I would have thought using a "crib sheet" was not being professional - now, at 58, I just know it is essential for survival... the alternative would be to abandon performing and I love it too much for that.

buddhuu
02-14-2013, 11:44 PM
With my deteriorating memory, the smallest thing that has made the biggest difference to my playing and performing in recent times has been gigging using a music stand with the lyrics and chords of each song I play. I don't always look at them, but having them there provides the security that if my brain does find a lagoon of Zen-like nothingness just as I'm about to open my mouth for the third verse, then a brief glance is enough to put me back on track.

At 20, I would have thought using a "crib sheet" was not being professional - now, at 58, I just know it is essential for survival... the alternative would be to abandon performing and I love it too much for that.

It's not ideal, but you use what you need.

I used to play in a band full of forgetful old geezers. We nearly all used sheets all the time. No one complained.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZsN2qMlcP8

wickedwahine11
02-15-2013, 03:07 AM
For me, it is fingerpicking with nails instead of just the tip of my finger - it seems to sound louder and clearer.

Freeda
02-15-2013, 03:09 AM
Dynamics. Meaning some soft, some loud, pausing your strumming to let your voice ring out...

If you can use dynamics effectively you will be a lot more interesting to listen to.

Nicko
02-15-2013, 03:42 AM
Dynamics. Meaning some soft, some loud, pausing your strumming to let your voice ring out...

If you can use dynamics effectively you will be a lot more interesting to listen to.

:agree:

Stop the madness! No more FORTISSIMO from beginning to end. Some folks (just about all of them men, though not ALL men) approach music like it's an athletic event.

Barbablanca
02-15-2013, 05:17 AM
Wow "The Legend of Xanadu" - now there's a song I haven't heard since I wore flares! :)

I take it that's you Buddhuu on Uke. What a fun band. I'd love to lay with an outfit like that. I absolutely love the minimalist drum kit. My former rock-band had a drum kit that took nearly two hours to just set up, mike up and sound check :rolleyes: