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Chordpoems
11-19-2013, 06:25 PM
Why the Ukulele?

The guitar has a wider range, and 2 more strings for more complex and interesting chords. Bowed instruments like the violin and cello are capable of big, soaring sounds with near-infinite sustain. Exactly what the ukulele can't do. Wind instruments have a talent for tapping into the language centers of or brains by mimicking the human voice, while the uke does a mean impression of raindrops falling onto a tin roof. It seems like whatever corner you put it in, our humble little instrument has the disadvantage.

Wait...portability? Nope. Harmonica.

So, why the Ukulele? What draws you to the instrument? What does it do for you that other instruments cannot?

Maybe this is a tall order, asking you to describe the indescribable. So get esoteric, use weird metaphors, do what you gotta do.

Thanks for your thoughts.

BIGDB
11-19-2013, 06:44 PM
Very cool thread. For me it was the lack of regognision the ukulele had. Also my entire family plays musical instruments we got a drummer, saxophone player, couple bass players, and many guitar player so I liked having an instrument that nobody in my family played. Last thing I really like about the ukulele is how small and nice the ukulele community is. You don't see groups of guitar players sitting in a circle all jamming together like you see with the ukulele

Luke El U
11-19-2013, 07:20 PM
Years ago I remember going up and down stairs to stages carrying my bass guitar and huge amplifier. I thought, someday I'm gonna break my neck schlepping this stuff around, whilst the flute or bongo player are travellin' light.
The uke is incredibly portable. I can practice on a soprano on flights! There is now an amazingly large and diverse repertoire of solo material for the uke. And when you invest in a really good one, the unique tone and feel are as beautiful as any other fretted string instrument. It almost makes me want to sell my guitars and basses for more ukes.

LaurenEleanor
11-19-2013, 07:33 PM
Basically, it's a happy instrument. It sounds happy when you play it, and other people seem to be happy when they hear it. It's capable of serious, heart wrenching songs, or complete and utter light-hearted nonsense. It's pretty much what I look for in a friend, and a great way of channelling my love of music into something that comes close to having a friend in that sense. Plus, I don't have to save for very long to buy a new one, seeming they're cheap enough. Who doesn't like buying new stuff? :P

janeray1940
11-19-2013, 07:42 PM
I'm a small person with small hands who lives in a small house (250 square feet!), so a small instrument just makes sense :)

That's actually all true, but there were a few other things that compelled me to choose uke over any other instrument: the fact that it was my first instrument when I was a little kid, and that my dad had played and he and I had lived in Hawaii for a time, so picking up the uke again just kind of felt like the right thing to do. And there may or may not have been a little George Harrison influence going on...

Skrik
11-19-2013, 08:47 PM
I can play guitar and ukulele. I cannot play bowed string, woodwind, or keyboard instruments, and my skill on brass instruments is severely limited.

I prefer the ukulele because I find it easier to be good on it than on the guitar.

It's all to do with interest and motivation.

kohanmike
11-19-2013, 09:46 PM
The only reason I even thought of a ukulele was five months ago when I saw a Mahalo UT-30 Telecaster looking uke shortly after I bought a real Fender Telecaster. I thought it would be cute to have a similar looking uke for $60 US. In that same week I received a postcard from the Los Angeles Music Center announcing their summer play-along program that included the ukulele. I participated in guitar a few years ago. That prompted me to learn how to play ukulele. I've been playing guitar for over 45 years, so I moved over to the ukulele fairly easily. I've progressed more in the last few months on ukulele than I have in the last 20 years on guitar.

Shady Wilbury
11-19-2013, 10:18 PM
Firstly, I have to say...love the username 'Chordpoems'.

George Harrison was my inspiration to play, and my late grandfather was my 'enabler'. I was drawn to the uke, as others have said, simply because it's such a happy instrument. The ukulele truly can play anything.

Thanks for the thread.

Take care,

chuck in ny
11-19-2013, 11:40 PM
here's one for the old souls out there. the uke is most similar to the old lute you would play for the maidens. there's something compelling about nylon strings as well, good replacements for gut, and just nicer than steel.
my main instrument is trumpet. the uke is for cross training but it winds up holding its own.

Kevin B
11-19-2013, 11:59 PM
My main instrument is the five string banjo. About two years ago I got a ukulele to kind of relate to my grandmother who passed and had played uke since the 1920's. Now five ukuleles later I'm hooked. I love the gentle sound and playing old standards from a bygone era and new and original things too.

ukemunga
11-20-2013, 01:30 AM
Because I can. All those others, I can't. Wanna make music. Pretty simple really.

Don't overthink.

Enjoy!

Olarte
11-20-2013, 02:10 AM
I come from a musical family. My primary instrument is classical guitar.

Yet, the ukulele is a much more personal, simple, and fun instrument. Capable of very simple strums to complex jazz, classical and ethnic music. It has low expectations, and can amaze just about anyone....

Like someone said, it is like a friend. Like my dog who is constantly by my side.

Not only is it a happy instrument, and makes people smile.... It's the only "world" where I have yet to see big egos and politics. I've seen politics in martial arts, music, even Buddhist communities, but I have yet to encounter that in the ukulele communities that I belong to. Now that is amazing.

HBolte
11-20-2013, 02:19 AM
Having played guitar for 15 years, to me the ukulele is just more fun!

And..you can't get a sound like this on guitar, violin or any other instruments that you mention!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmtLfthapgc&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLRFqlc7KSp4ZvlyBYW4ABSvBiW6hXYX0i

bnolsen
11-20-2013, 02:39 AM
Having played guitar for 15 years, to me the ukulele is just more fun!

And..you can't get a sound like this on guitar, violin or any other instruments that you mention!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmtLfthapgc&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLRFqlc7KSp4ZvlyBYW4ABSvBiW6hXYX0i

toe tappin' music!

ukes are truly portable, bright, fun and approachable. I love that any chord can be played using every string with genarally 2-3 fingers. If you just want to sing and add good depth the ukulele is there. The reentrant tuning seems to really bring out chord sounds and transitions clearly and crisply. kids love the size and playability as well.

the uke really seems to be more about making music than just playing the instrument itself.

dnewton2
11-20-2013, 02:46 AM
4 strings 4 fingers makes sense to me.

I as well as many other ukers dabble or play other instruments as well.

Ukulele Eddie
11-20-2013, 03:59 AM
A few months ago while buying my 6 yr old daughter a violin, the ukes caught my attention. Despite no music background (or perhaps because of?), something about their beauty, simplicity and sound all caught my attention. Had you stopped me outside the store and told me this would be the case, I would have laughed at the idea as ridiculous. I went home and researched them. I was amazed at the music some people could make (in particular, Sungha Jung's cover of "I'm Yours" blew me away: http://youtu.be/E2OEuyF_2u8). I decided to get one and my infatuation has only grown.

Captain America
11-20-2013, 04:15 AM
exactly!!!!!

Captain America
11-20-2013, 04:15 AM
Basically, it's a happy instrument. It sounds happy when you play it, and other people seem to be happy when they hear it. It's capable of serious, heart wrenching songs, or complete and utter light-hearted nonsense. It's pretty much what I look for in a friend, and a great way of channelling my love of music into something that comes close to having a friend in that sense. Plus, I don't have to save for very long to buy a new one, seeming they're cheap enough. Who doesn't like buying new stuff? :P


exactly!!!!!!

strumsilly
11-20-2013, 04:18 AM
Having played guitar for 15 years, to me the ukulele is just more fun!

And..you can't get a sound like this on guitar, violin or any other instruments that you mention!
what he said

flyingace
11-20-2013, 04:20 AM
It just feels good in my hands. That's all I know, it's a feel thing.

You're right, I've played guitar for almost 30 years and can do waaaay more on that or the piano, but nothing feels as good in my hands to me. PLUS it's just such a joyous sound, even when I play minor keys, it has a melancholy, slightly happy sound!

I love what LaurenEleanor said too! It's a happy instrument and it's what I also look for in a friend!

vanflynn
11-20-2013, 04:59 AM
You can play it simple or you can play it complex.
I like the spacing of the strings which allows easy picking and rolls.
The non-steel strings are easier on the fingers.
They are one hell of a bargain thus leading to UAS

And they are fun!

ranilus
11-20-2013, 05:04 AM
To me what's special about the ukulele is its bell like tone. Due to the gCEA tuning, you can do a lot of unique things on it that guitars or other instruments cannot, such as the campa@#$% method, and renaissance tunes sound exceptional on it.

This is why I think soprano gCEA is the standard definite ukulele. If you are talking about, say, a baritone/tenor with GCEA, then I truly fail to see the point of playing one, except that it's easy to learn. Not saying I do not want to own one of each size eventually.

peaceweaver3
11-20-2013, 05:47 AM
The usual first: Portable, leaves room to sing (not a wind instrument), small, cuddly, happy sound, 4 strings/uncomplicated and intuitive, blows people away. No one really thinks you can really play a uke. In a way that's good. SO whatever we do, it's more than good enough. There's no classical stigma attached, and so for players, not as much intellectualizing as with, say, piano. Do you know this list of techniques and pieces on the piano? No? Then, sorry, not a "real pianist." But if you know a couple chords on the uke, no one asks if you know more!

FTR I've only met one person who didn't like the uke. And she didn't give it a fair chance, just flat out told me not to play. I played anyway, but so she couldn't hear it. :o

But for most of us, it goes deeper than that. That's the indescribable, something that is ours and our ukes', and something we each need to discover and experience for ourselves. Do I dare say it? There's a connection that happens between head, hands and most important, heart that all the words in the world can't give us. It's our own and everyone who picks up a uke and finds it, has their own connection.

Can other instruments do this? I'm sure they can. But can they do it for you and me and many members of UU? Apparently not so much. :D

There are times when I don't play the uke for a while. Like my recent 3-month stint when piano was my main instrument. During this time I sold my favorite uke. Not a good idea, and I kick myself for it every day! I guess sometimes we have resting periods, but we always come back.

Moral: Don't sell your ukes, especially those you know you love! Keep 'em, for you will be drawn back to them!

peaceweaver3
11-20-2013, 05:51 AM
You can play it simple or you can play it complex.
I like the spacing of the strings which allows easy picking and rolls.
The non-steel strings are easier on the fingers.
They are one hell of a bargain thus leading to UAS

And they are fun!

I didn't even go there, but all true. Also, how many times do you hear, "I don't have room for that," (some large instrument). Or, "The neighbors..." (Some loud instrument). You can't really find excuses not to have at least one uke!

Uncle Rod Higuchi
11-20-2013, 06:18 AM
growing up in Hawaii, I had to learn to play it. It was required by Mrs Wong, 6th grade. My grandmother went with me to Long's Drugs and we bought an orange uke made in Japan for about $7. (I wish I still had it! :( ) Then back to school to learn the songs she wanted us to learn to sing and play. What a Blessing!!! :)

I liked singing to the rock and roll songs of the late 50's and early 60's and learned most of my 'Music Theory' trying to figure out how to accompany myself while listening to the radio.

Being a 'singer' I enjoyed the uke because I could both play and sing (still do).

[ Pause for sad story: When I went off to college (Chicago) I went to Harry's Music to purchase a better uke. I had to choose between a Kamaka and a Martin. I chose the Kamaka because it was cheaper... $28 vs $35. Yeah, yeah, I kick myself everytime I think about it!! ]

Anyway, been singing and accompanying myself on the uke since then, about 53 years ago.

So to answer the question "how to get better?", just keep playing. If you want to call it practice, Ok, but bottom line is playing your uke... continually and constantly. Even if you keep making mistakes, you'll learn and still get better. Speed comes with familiarity. Finger strength and dexterity, comes with playing, and playing, and playing... which is not a bad thing if you enjoy what you're playing :)

So why the uke? Because it permits me to sing and accompany myself with no limitations on the kinds of music I want to play :)

keep uke'in',

Jools1050
11-20-2013, 06:22 AM
It's the fun factor for me. I've played classical for years and at times I've been so frustrated with the guitar and my playing that I've wanted to set fire to the damn thing and bludgeon my fingers with a hammer !!
When I made the decision to buy a Uke, I also decided on a VERY relaxed approach . I refuse to be caught up in the technicalities, I refuse to let myself become frustrated with my ability. I will be happy with what ever sound I make at any given time !!
What fascinates me is the compromise. The lack of strings ( in comparison to a guitar ) leads you to find some beautiful alternatives. So where one would naturally play a low base note when playing a guitar , might result in a chord being played much further up the neck, or missing that note out all together !! The result being some stunningly beautiful tones and colours !!
There's one element that I haven't heard discussed yet, although I'm new to the uke so may not have read it yet, and that is the gentle "thump" that the uke produces when the strings are plucked. I think this may be a result of having a small body ?
I also think that people are less intimidated by it as opposed to the guitar, it's so easy for a novice to produce a pleasing tune.
One thing I'm sure of is that IM HOOKED and haven't put it down since I bought it 3 weeks ago !!

Sporin
11-20-2013, 06:44 AM
I've never had any luck learning to play another instrument.
A musician I've admired for decades (Eddie Vedder) was playing it.
It seemed like a fun, happy instrument.
it was (and still is, actually) pretty unique amongst a sea of guitar players.

I thought it might be something I could finally learn to play (and it was) but was inexpensive enough to take the chance that I might not like it at all.

Chordpoems
11-20-2013, 06:46 AM
It's the fun factor for me. I've played classical for years and at times I've been so frustrated with the guitar and my playing that I've wanted to set fire to the damn thing and bludgeon my fingers with a hammer !!
When I made the decision to buy a Uke, I also decided on a VERY relaxed approach . I refuse to be caught up in the technicalities, I refuse to let myself become frustrated with my ability. I will be happy with what ever sound I make at any given time !!
What fascinates me is the compromise. The lack of strings ( in comparison to a guitar ) leads you to find some beautiful alternatives. So where one would naturally play a low base note when playing a guitar , might result in a chord being played much further up the neck, or missing that note out all together !! The result being some stunningly beautiful tones and colours !!


I've enjoyed reading the responses, and agree with many of them, but this statement really resonates with me. I couldn't agree more, it's the compromise, having to use good problem-solving to make the most of a limited range, and relying on subtlety to make it interesting.

Also, I would add that I don't feel like the ukulele comes with the same kind of baggage that comes with other instruments. It's a fairly young instrument, so there's still an attitude of openness. We're still writing the rules. It's an exciting time for the instrument.

cantsing
11-20-2013, 06:58 AM
Why? Because I can play it!

I kind of flunked piano lessons as a kid. I went for decades without a musical instrument in my life and didn't miss it, and then about 3 years ago, just after I turned 54, I discovered the ukulele. I'll never be an accomplished player, but I love making something that sounds (to me anyway) like music!

Cindy

vetcvm
11-20-2013, 07:12 AM
Simplicity is the main word that comes to mind for me.

it's fun, very portable and inspires me to play a lot of different stuff i would have never played on the guitar.

janeray1940
11-20-2013, 07:43 AM
Why? Because I can play it!

I kind of flunked piano lessons as a kid. I went for decades without a musical instrument in my life and didn't miss it, and then about 3 years ago, just after I turned 54, I discovered the ukulele. I'll never be an accomplished player, but I love making something that sounds (to me anyway) like music!

Cindy

Really similar story here too - total childhood piano failure. When I decided to play an instrument again (age 44) it was down to piano or ukulele - and guess which won, thanks to my aforementioned small living quarters.

And the crazy thing is I've come to understand music theory far better using the ukulele than I ever did on piano.

janeray1940
11-20-2013, 07:46 AM
Because I can. All those others, I can't. Wanna make music. Pretty simple really.


Just wanted to say how much I love this answer. While all of us including myself probably have other reasons as well, the truth is this is what it really comes down to for me.

Nickie
11-20-2013, 09:23 AM
I failed big time at horns. I failed big time with the guitar, the mandolin, and the fiddle. I struggle at the piano. I excell at the uke, by comparison...don't ask me why....maybe it's: 4 fingers, 4 strings.

gitarzan
11-20-2013, 09:33 AM
Happiness.

I've played guitars for decades and all I was ever realy able to was to strum.
And just strumming sounds good on the ukulele.
I was given a souvenir uke and had so much fun I bought about 10 more.
Now I've been playing guitars again, and guess what? My strumming skills from the uke has made my guitar plauing better.

Trivia: Joe Strummer of the Clash, was named John Mellor when born. He became a ryhthm guitarist in an earlier band (than the Clash) and took the name Joe Strummer since he was the bands "strummer".

TG&Y
11-20-2013, 11:58 AM
Chicks dig it.




And so do I.

Preacher
11-20-2013, 12:08 PM
Jake Shimabukuro said something along the lines of: Try to play a trumpet and it will take a month just trying to learn how to blow in the thing to get a decent sound. Try a violin and it will be a long time before it sounds anything but painful. But a ukulele, a couple minutes and you can play a song.

That's pretty much it for me. I've tried guitar, piano, even the harmonica, but I couldn't get even close to playing well enough soon enough to be encouraged to carry on. But the uke, it plays pretty easily pretty quickly. And that makes me want to learn more and more to play it better and better. And it's really cool looking too.

Pippin
11-20-2013, 12:09 PM
One Word: Fun!

JLM
11-20-2013, 01:19 PM
Therapy. I have played guitar most of my life, but had not learned anything new for years. Never learned theory. Bought a cheap uke the week after my 49th birthday in July of this year. After about month, I purchased an excellent Uke (second hand) from a member of this forum in August. I cannot put it down!

I have a stressful job (most of the stress I created myself...), and the Uke is the best therapy! I pick it up and there is an instant attitude adjustment. There is a tactile satisfaction unlike any other instrument I have ever played. It works for me.

peanuts56
11-20-2013, 03:15 PM
Jake says it best. "If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a nicer place".

itsme
11-20-2013, 07:52 PM
I'm a small person with small hands who lives in a small house (250 square feet!), so a small instrument just makes sense :)
Dang, 250sq' would be like living in a doll house. Though I guess I could if I needed to. It would certainly discourage accumulating a lot of unnecessary junk. :p

I like playing uke just because it's fun. I've also found a great camaraderie in getting together with other players at local meetups. We get people from their 20s to their 70s and we all have a good time playing together. :)

CeeJay
11-21-2013, 01:34 AM
Sorry,new here but reading some older threads and crossed this one, so if I may :

For me I think that playing the Ukulele is best summed up in the words of Omar Sharif (The Actor - Dr Zhivago,Lawrence Of Arabia) that he said said of the game Backgammon "A few minutes to learn ,a lifetime to master" and I'll put my own little rider "enjoyable throughout the process"



I have put mine away and taken it out many times(and yes we are talking ukulele here:o,) ignored it, poo-poohed it , dismissed it, neglected and just left it alone for years.....messing with other stuff.....but each time I pick it up and tune it to My Bum Is Green and run a little Z-Cars tune it is like greeting a little old friend and we catch up and renmember fun stuff together ........now the little tartlet wants to run to some newer modern stuff by these new fangled rock combo outfits and wants me to come along .....