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View Full Version : The place of a uke in a band



Andy Chen
07-13-2014, 05:07 PM
I wanted to play my tenor uke instead of my guitar in a band that also included a keyboard player, bass and drummer.

But the others were sceptical it would work.

Anyone else encountered the same kind of resistance?

I'm pretty sure it'd work. The bass would take care of the bottom end, the keyboard would take the central spectrum, leaving the uke to occupy the higher end.


In fact, I find that the acoustic guitar comes closer to overlapping the same sonic space as the keyboard rather often (depending on the player on the keys of course).

iamesperambient
07-13-2014, 05:26 PM
I wanted to play my tenor uke instead of my guitar in a band that also included a keyboard player, bass and drummer.

But the others were sceptical it would work.

Anyone else encountered the same kind of resistance?

I'm pretty sure it'd work. The bass would take care of the bottom end, the keyboard would take the central spectrum, leaving the uke to occupy the higher end.


In fact, I find that the acoustic guitar comes closer to overlapping the same sonic space as the keyboard rather often (depending on the player on the keys of course).

I play a solid body steel string electric baritone uke, its perfectly set up to be used in a band.
I would imagine if you got an electric it would mesh better with a band and you could get a nice
even sound that would not be drowned out by drums/bass etc. There are a lot of brands who make
electric ukes in all four sizes I think thats a great choice if you are playing uke in a full band situation.
Unless you want a more acoustic sound acoustic electric would work too. But i would say if you also
\used a low G it would add a little low end "guitar like" tone to the tenor which should mesh well
i think it can be done perfectly fine bands like beirut and the magnetic fields are good examples
of ukes replacing guitars and working perfectly well and not drowned out over drums/bass/keys/guitars/cello/horns
etc

Andy Chen
07-13-2014, 05:29 PM
Indeed I was going to plug in my acoustic uke. Well, I guess I just have to try to convince my band one day.

Oh, and all my ukes are strung low G anyway - the (bad?) habit and preference of a guitarist-turned-uke lover...

iamesperambient
07-13-2014, 05:33 PM
Indeed I was going to plug in my acoustic uke. Well, I guess I just have to try to convince my band one day.

Oh, and all my ukes are strung low G anyway - the (bad?) habit and preference of a guitarist-turned-uke lover...

I used to use my uke in an old folk band i played in it was a 3 piece me vocals/guitar drummer and bassist
I used my acoustic electric concert uke at the time in one song as i could not get my band members to agree
to let me play it in all the songs. Tenor ukulele has a nice full tone especially with the low g i really don't see it
not sounding amazing and very unique with a full band. I hope your band mates open up to the idea because i think
you could have some great results.

Andy Chen
07-13-2014, 05:36 PM
Tenor ukulele has a nice full tone especially with the low g i really don't see it
not sounding amazing and very unique with a full band.

I cannot agree more.

Perhaps I will just have to bring along both instruments until I convince them.

iamesperambient
07-13-2014, 05:42 PM
I cannot agree more.

Perhaps I will just have to bring along both instruments until I convince them.

yeah a lot of people still have in their minds the uke isn't a 'real' instrument or don't take it serious
i find a lot of musicians find the typical bass drums guitar set up is all their 'supposed' to do and i find
it very limiting. I hope your band mates open up to the idea. If not i guess you could always start a 2nd
band with uke in it :P

Jim Hanks
07-13-2014, 05:46 PM
Perhaps I will just have to bring along both instruments until I convince them.
That's what I was going to say. Frankly, it may *not* work for some songs as well as the guitar, depending on the other instruments and what they're playing. Pick a song where the uke would be almost a direct replacement for your guitar part - perhaps one you are capoed up pretty far? - once they see it works hopefully you can start branching out, maybe changing their parts to accommodate the uke, etc.

iamesperambient
07-13-2014, 05:48 PM
That's what I was going to say. Frankly, it may *not* work for some songs as well as the guitar, depending on the other instruments and what they're playing. Pick a song where the uke would be almost a direct replacement for your guitar part - perhaps one you are capoed up pretty far? - once they see it works hopefully you can start branching out, maybe changing their parts to accommodate the uke, etc.

i think it can be done especially with a low g. Just curious andy what kind of music are you guys playing?

Andy Chen
07-13-2014, 05:53 PM
Pretty much contemporary pop-style worship music at church.

I guess the general impression people have of the uke is that it's fine for fun sing-alongs, but not much beyond, and that might have to do with the sound of the soprano that they are familiar with.

Not that there's anything wrong with the soprano, just that the soprano might be more suitable for songs with specialised arrangements.

iamesperambient
07-13-2014, 05:58 PM
Pretty much contemporary pop-style worship music at church.

I guess the general impression people have of the uke is that it's fine for fun sing-alongs, but not much beyond, and that might have to do with the sound of the soprano that they are familiar with.

Not that there's anything wrong with the soprano, just that the soprano might be more suitable for songs with specialised arrangements.


totally agreed i think a tenor especially with low G is getting much closer in sound to a guitar and doesn't have that hollow plink
people think of and very small size with the soprano. I think once they see/hear the tenor with all the instruments they will maybe
open up to it. I like the soprano but agreed its more of a specialized thing for certain kinds of music, the tenor/baritone however i think
can be used in place of guitar for most contemporary style music honestly. I think it may also be refreshing for the people at your church
to see /hear something unique too.

Doug W
07-13-2014, 06:47 PM
I play tenor uke in our band when it works in a tune. There are songs where both my wife and I play ukes. Sometimes I play the mandolin or guitar if one of those is better suited for a particular song. The audience just wants to hear good music and they are pleasantly surprised when it comes out of a goofy looking mini guitar.

Andy Chen
07-13-2014, 07:12 PM
... they are pleasantly surprised when it comes out of a goofy looking mini guitar.

Definitely! Now I just gotta brush up on my skills.

Rick Turner
07-13-2014, 07:22 PM
I got to play uke in a Bluegrass jam with my old pal, Peter Rowan a while back, and the uke worked out great. In my regular band, Uke Ellington, it's me on tenor, Sandor Nagyszalancszy on tenor, reso tenor, or baritone, upright bass, and vocals. Sometime augmented with melodica. Love to have an accordion player.

Andy Chen
07-13-2014, 07:35 PM
I got to play uke in a Bluegrass jam with my old pal, Peter Rowan a while back, and the uke worked out great. In my regular band, Uke Ellington, it's me on tenor, Sandor Nagyszalancszy on tenor, reso tenor, or baritone, upright bass, and vocals. Sometime augmented with melodica. Love to have an accordion player.

I love the name of your band!

Rick Turner
07-13-2014, 07:41 PM
Thanks, Andy. It's been a real journey learning more jazz-like arrangements for two ukes. We cover some of Duke's tunes, also Benny Goodman/Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Wardell Gray/Annie Ross (Twisted) and some contemporary material, too, from the likes of Madeleine Peyroux, Nora Jones, and even Adele, Steely Dan, and the Police. What's interesting is stacking up more advanced chord voicings using two ukes. On some stuff, one of us will add the 9th or a 13th while the other doesn't. In some cases, neither uke part can stand very well on its own, but put them together, and it's great fun.

gyosh
07-13-2014, 07:58 PM
These guys always sound good!

http://youtu.be/vjtZi8JXIvE

ricdoug
07-13-2014, 09:15 PM
Yes, Gary!

Andy Chen
07-14-2014, 01:24 AM
If it is a church band the music played during the service is to be part of a worship activity, not straight out entertainment. Maybe, you could talk to the padre or elder or prayer leader and get their opinion, perhaps do a few demo tunes. Whatever you do, maybe it is best to keep the focus on the music and the reason for the music, not what instruments are being played in a worship scenario.

Thanks for the advice, Bill. Yes, the focus is on what serves the congregation.