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tbeltrans
08-07-2014, 12:15 PM
For the past month, I have been playing ukulele exclusively. Today, I picked up my acoustic guitar for just a little while, and observed some interesting comparisons. First, the guitar seemed, BIG and heavy by comparison, and sounded HUGE (it is a high end acoustic).

However, it does not seem as "friendly" as a ukulele. When playing it, there is the guitar and then there is me. When playing the ukulele, I seem to sort of wrap around it and it becomes almost a part of me - a very comfortable co-existence.

That probably sounds weird, but I don't really know how else to describe it.

Looking at the guitar fretboard, there seem to be an awful lot of strings, after playing on the ukulele's four strings. It just seems easier to get around on the ukulele's four strings, both physically and mentally knowing where I am going and what I am doing.

The guitar is clearly a fine instrument to make music on, and a lot of people do. But the ukulele is something special in a way that the guitar simply can't be.

In the local Craig's List recently I saw a ukulele that had 6 strings for sale. It was a "boutique" instrument that has been mentioned in these forums somewhere and I think either Daniel Ho or Jake Shimabukuro had one made. I wonder if it is as "friendly" as a typical four string ukulele. I think it is sold by now, so I am not thinking of buying it, but it did look really nice and "high end" in the picture with its hard shell case. But if the guitar with its 6 strings looks "busy" for me now, I would think a 6 string ukulele would look that way too. So maybe the simplicity of four strings that help make the ukulele particularly inviting.

Anyway, though I doubt I will ever quit playing guitar altogether, the ukulele really is becoming my "go to" instrument of choice. There is just something about it.

Tony

Nickie
08-07-2014, 12:44 PM
6 string ukes are becoming popular. Uncle Elvis (Mike Hind) plays one.

UkerDanno
08-07-2014, 12:53 PM
I know..I occasionally play with an Acoustic group that is mostly guitars, those things are HUGE!!! Granted there are some very fine guitar players out there!

greenie44
08-07-2014, 01:25 PM
Tony -

Absolutely agree. When I occasionally pick up a guitar these days, it feels like a 2x4. I played guitar (not very well) for decades, but 4 years down the line, I have a relationship with my uke(s) that I never had with any guitar.

PhilUSAFRet
08-07-2014, 02:13 PM
There may be 6 strings, but they're played like 4 since two of them are paired. I have a 6 string Pono tenor refurb I got fairly cheap. A guitalele will still leave you 6 separate strings to deal with, just on a smaller scale than a full size guitar. A lot of finger pickers like the 6 string uke because it is a little more user friendly than the 8 string for pickers. Lots of players pick 8 strings, but in much of the world, they are considered a "strummers" uke.

tbeltrans
08-07-2014, 05:49 PM
The main thing I have noticed over the years with the guitar is that it seems everybody has some sort of "system" of patterns to navigate the fretboard. There is the CAGED system, the triad form system, and a number of other systems that various people have come up with. Each of these systems has its strong points and its drawbacks, and all are limiting in some way. This tells me that few people have really been able to wrap their heads around the guitar fretboard so that it is completely open and natural.

I have only seen one system of this type for the ukulele and it doesn't seem to have gained much traction among players from what I can tell in my google searches on the matter. It doesn't seem that the ukulele needs such a system. People just seem to take to it and create music.

This observation comes from having studied and played the guitar for many years, much as others here have. I have become proficient at playing the guitar, again as have many others here. However, I have never felt completely free to explore on the fretboard as I do on the ukulele. Maybe other people here have a very different experience, but this is how it is for me. I do know that many, many players are actively seeking to break out of the "boxes" they find themselves stuck in as a result of getting too ingrained in one or more of these guitar fretboard systems. Read any of the forums, look at the many guitar products addressing that issue, and it becomes apparent. Compared to this, the ukulele offers a lot of musical freedom.

One other observation about the guitar...walk into any guitar store (Guitar Center for example) and listen to people playing the guitar, trying out instruments or demonstrating instruments. Very few, if any are actually playing anything recognizable, even showing the ability to play a simple melody such as "Happy Birthday". All you hear are memorized licks, which are recognizable from pop tunes, but only small snippets. I have now heard a couple of ukulele players, and I do hear "real" recognizable music being played. There seems to be a closer connection with the ukulele to actual music, and I suspect this is at least in part due to the things I am mentioning here.

I don't mean to completely dismiss the guitar, since so many are deriving pleasure from playing it, but I know from playing and teaching guitar that there seems to be more frustration than not in that musical journey. To me, the ukulele is a wonderful antidote for that problem and I do intend to introduce people I know to this instrument as a guitar player.

Interesting comments here in this thread about the guitalele and the ukulele. It will be interesting to look into these instruments as a matter of musical curiosity, but I am having so much fun with the four strings on my ukuleles that I don't feel the need to make any changes in my collection of two at this point. I have to admit that the instrument I saw on Craig's List did look intriguing.

Here is that Craig's List entry: http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hnp/msg/4531259539.html

It is a Kanilea, which I THINK (not sure) is considered one of the "Hawaiian Ks" (?).

Tony

Andy Chen
08-07-2014, 06:14 PM
For the past month, I have been playing ukulele exclusively. Today, I picked up my acoustic guitar for just a little while, and observed some interesting comparisons. First, the guitar seemed, BIG and heavy by comparison, and sounded HUGE (it is a high end acoustic).

However, it does not seem as "friendly" as a ukulele. When playing it, there is the guitar and then there is me. When playing the ukulele, I seem to sort of wrap around it and it becomes almost a part of me - a very comfortable co-existence.

Hi Tony, thanks for putting my thoughts into words. I feel exactly the same way.

There's another reason I have bonded with the ukulele much better: I don't know music theory and I am not skilled, so I am better able to pick out a tune by ear on the four strings of the ukulele rather than the six of the acoustic guitar.

ericchico
08-07-2014, 07:26 PM
Hi Tony, thanks for putting my thoughts into words. I feel exactly the same way.

There's another reason I have bonded with the ukulele much better: I don't know music theory and I am not skilled, so I am better able to pick out a tune by ear on the four strings of the ukulele rather than the six of the acoustic guitar.

I 2nd 3rd or whatever number I am that agrees. My poor ole lonely guitars. Love playing the Uke, its addicting and so easy to tote around and sit on the couch with.

warndt
08-07-2014, 10:19 PM
I have to admit that the instrument I saw on Craig's List did look intriguing.

Here is that Craig's List entry: http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hnp/msg/4531259539.html

It is a Kanilea, which I THINK (not sure) is considered one of the "Hawaiian Ks" (?).

Tony

Tony...That very same Kanilea is also listed on ebay with more pictures. I too am a guitar/uke player and own the Kanilea GL-6. It is a professional quality instrument that has pretty much replaced my guitars...but not my ukes. :cool:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kanilea-Guitarele-GL6-Made-in-USA-Mint-/201144885887?pt=Guitar_Accessories&hash=item2ed52b627f

VegasGeorge
08-08-2014, 02:12 AM
One thing I like a lot better about my Ukuleles than my guitars is the unobtrusiveness of the instruments. They are small, and can be played very softly, yet still enjoyably. I feel just fine taking my Ukulele with me to a coffee shop, or customer waiting room, or a courtesy table at a shopping mall, and sitting there quietly practicing some tunes. I would never take my steel string guitar with me to such a place. I'd feel as if I were busking or attracting unnecessary attention. And, I do think it would be disturbing to others. But, I've never had anyone complain or even look askance at me while playing my Ukulele in public. I'm very comfortable having it with me.

RAB11
08-08-2014, 02:50 AM
A lot of this is my vast change in approach to learning the instrument but the uke has made me much more keen to look at theory and work out why certain notes and chords sound good with others. I've got tonnes to learn still obviously, but at least my guesswork is slightly educated nowadays. When I got my first guitar at the age of fifteen, I never had any paid lessons, a mate tried to show me a few things but we both wanted me to walk before I run, so in our first little 'jam' he tried to teach me the riffs to Ziggy Stardust and Wish You Were Here (I should have grown up in the 70s really...). I got WYWH down alright (without all the slidey solo stuff, my mate played that over me) but just couldn't get my head around the D chord shape in order to play Ziggy. So we both got frustrated very quickly and I just went straight to grabbing tabs off the internet and trying to play songs way above me. And to avoid playing those pesky chords, I just used power chords for everything. Safe to say I plateau'd very quickly and didn't really stick with it much over the next 7 years or so.

About two years ago I got back into wanting to play guitar after watching a docu-movie starring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White called 'It Might Get Loud'. Completely relit the spark so I started playing again. But I just saw all that theory and proper chord stuff as too hard and something I'd never be able to do so I went back to my normal power chord habits on everything. Six months later I thought I was good enough to play at an open mic. I wasn't, but the people there were supportive and I kept at it. I'd have the odd good set that people really liked but the rest was just polite applause.

Just over a year ago I had a bit of money burning a hole in my pocket, so I went to a local music store and finally got round to having a proper look at a ukulele. But instead of just buying the instrument and cracking on, I bought a beginners book that showed me a decent amount of chords, a song book that had some songs I liked, and combined that with looking up tabs on the net. I took to it straight away, and then I found this site which was another wealth of information. Started participating in the seasons which is a great way to try and learn new things each week, because I had to learn at least one new song a week. And I've stopped shying away from things that look too complicated.

I'm nowhere near being a decent player yet but I'm for more confident in my ability to learn and improve on a uke than I ever was on a guitar.

Just a fan
08-08-2014, 06:28 AM
Great posts and I completely agree with the O/P. In fact, I could have written those exact words. I've gone from being a paid band leader at a church (leading on guitar) to buying a ukulele this February to getting out my last remaining guitar about every three weeks, playing it for about 30 seconds, packing it up and wondering why I keep it. Guitars (mine at least) are big, heavy, loud (too loud to sing over), complicated, uncomfortable and there's a whole lot of space between the frets. I don't want to tear down an instrument I used to get paid to play...but man, I didn't know what I was missing by not having a ukulele.

Andy Chen
08-08-2014, 06:39 AM
I don't get paid but I do enjoy the privilege of playing the guitar in the children's ministry. Now we newly converted uke lovers have to find a way to convince the bands and worship leaders in our churches that the uke can replace the guitar!

janeray1940
08-08-2014, 06:46 AM
I have only seen one system of this type for the ukulele and it doesn't seem to have gained much traction among players from what I can tell in my google searches on the matter. It doesn't seem that the ukulele needs such a system. People just seem to take to it and create music.


I can't remember if we've talked about this before or not - the system I'm familiar with is Fred Sokolow's Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps (http://www.amazon.com/Fretboard-Roadmaps-Ukulele-Essential-Patterns/dp/1423400410/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407516143&sr=8-1&keywords=ukulele+fretboard+roadmaps). I don't have much of a guitar background but I think this is a similar approach to what guitarists use - moveable chord shape patterns, "boxes" and so forth. Fred is one of my teachers here in Santa Monica, and I *sort of* incorporate some of the techniques he uses when I play, especially when not playing from sheet music or tab and just trying to play by ear (which is probably my weakest area).

strumsilly
08-08-2014, 07:14 AM
sold all my guitars. the necks just felt too fat.I sometimes miss the extra strings for some songs though.

Rllink
08-08-2014, 08:47 AM
My friend retired a couple of years ago and started playing guitar. "Classical" guitar. He takes lessons, has some pretty intense practice sessions, and hangs around with other classical guitar players. When he started playing the guitar, I thought about learning as well, and there is two acoustic guitars around my place that belonged to one of my kids, so I already had the instrument. But I just could not get excited about it. I watched what my friend was doing, and it did not look fun. I took the guitars out, messed around with them a little, and I didn't have fun. So I didn't do much with it. This winter, I spent a lot of time with some very talented musicians down in San Juan, PR. They got me inspired to learn to play something musical, sort of daydreaming about being able to play with them while I'm down there for the winter. They actually seem to be a lot less up tight and easy going about it, but they have been musicians since birth, as their parents were musicians, and their grandparents. So toward spring this year, one of them told me that I should check out the ukulele and learn to play that, because he thought it looked fun. So the seed was planted. When I left, I told them that I was going to learn to play the ukulele. They told me to learn some songs, and when I come back they will play them with me. They were genuinely excited about it.

I don't want what I am going to say to be interpreted to mean that I do not think that the ukulele is a serious instrument, nor that I think ukuleles are limited in what you can do with them. I also don't want people to think that I don't think taking lessons are beneficial. That said, in defense of what I am going to say, I am not a "classical" ukulele player if there is such a thing. I'm teaching myself how to play the ukulele, and I'm not going to pay someone else to tell me how to hold the neck, how to fret the notes, how to do this or how to do that, I'll figure it all out myself in my own way. To me, that is what I love about the ukulele. That ukulele is mine. I own it, it does not own me. Learning to play it makes me free. While my friend with the guitar is still practicing scales after two years of classical guitar lessons, I'm playing and singing Ghost Riders in the Sky, Margaritaville, Ring of Fire, You Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog, and another thirty or forty songs out of my Daily Ukulele book, and there ain't nothing classical about what I'm doing.

I feel like I've been able to play the ukulele since I found my first song with two chords in it and learned to play them. I love playing my ukulele. I never feel like I'm "practicing". I'm learning. I'm learning new chords, new songs, new ways of finger picking. I'm making stuff up. I mean, I'm just free to do whatever I want with it. I don't see that kind of freedom with guitar players. I just don't see that in my guitar playing friend. He is still "working on it". I'm a ukulele player. Pure and simple. I don't intend to play anything else.

Daktari
08-08-2014, 09:54 AM
I can identify.

I've had cause to pick up both my guitars recently. The full size Fylde is almost big enough for me to live in! [aged 50 but size 13yrs :rolleyes:] The Baby Taylor M is more manageable but it still feels unnecessarily unwieldy.

After playing for just a few months I've bonded with one of the two ukuleles I've aquired thus far. So much so I want to sell the beautiful Fylde to fund a custom uke and possibly a Koaloha too. I need to do a little more research into which size suits me best before I commit to big bucks (well for me). I've not even played a tenor yet.
I'm a total convert and foresee the rest of my musical days being wholly ukulele based. The uke brings me far more joy than the guitar ever did. There's a symbiosis with the uke that I've not had with any other instrument. Feels like I'm 'home'!

tbeltrans
08-08-2014, 04:30 PM
I can't remember if we've talked about this before or not - the system I'm familiar with is Fred Sokolow's Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps (http://www.amazon.com/Fretboard-Roadmaps-Ukulele-Essential-Patterns/dp/1423400410/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407516143&sr=8-1&keywords=ukulele+fretboard+roadmaps). I don't have much of a guitar background but I think this is a similar approach to what guitarists use - moveable chord shape patterns, "boxes" and so forth. Fred is one of my teachers here in Santa Monica, and I *sort of* incorporate some of the techniques he uses when I play, especially when not playing from sheet music or tab and just trying to play by ear (which is probably my weakest area).

Janeray - No, it is the CAGFD system (presented similar to the CAGED system for guitar. Fretboard Roadmaps has been mentioned in these forums though. I will have to look at that book and see what system Fred Sokolow is promoting. Fred Sokolow has been writing all manner of guitar books for many, many years. I saw a video of him and he seemed like a really laid-back guy, certainly a well rounded musician.

Tony

tbeltrans
08-08-2014, 04:36 PM
My friend retired a couple of years ago and started playing guitar. "Classical" guitar. He takes lessons, has some pretty intense practice sessions, and hangs around with other classical guitar players. When he started playing the guitar, I thought about learning as well, and there is two acoustic guitars around my place that belonged to one of my kids, so I already had the instrument. But I just could not get excited about it. I watched what my friend was doing, and it did not look fun. I took the guitars out, messed around with them a little, and I didn't have fun. So I didn't do much with it. This winter, I spent a lot of time with some very talented musicians down in San Juan, PR. They got me inspired to learn to play something musical, sort of daydreaming about being able to play with them while I'm down there for the winter. They actually seem to be a lot less up tight and easy going about it, but they have been musicians since birth, as their parents were musicians, and their grandparents. So toward spring this year, one of them told me that I should check out the ukulele and learn to play that, because he thought it looked fun. So the seed was planted. When I left, I told them that I was going to learn to play the ukulele. They told me to learn some songs, and when I come back they will play them with me. They were genuinely excited about it.

I don't want what I am going to say to be interpreted to mean that I do not think that the ukulele is a serious instrument, nor that I think ukuleles are limited in what you can do with them. I also don't want people to think that I don't think taking lessons are beneficial. That said, in defense of what I am going to say, I am not a "classical" ukulele player if there is such a thing. I'm teaching myself how to play the ukulele, and I'm not going to pay someone else to tell me how to hold the neck, how to fret the notes, how to do this or how to do that, I'll figure it all out myself in my own way. To me, that is what I love about the ukulele. That ukulele is mine. I own it, it does not own me. Learning to play it makes me free. While my friend with the guitar is still practicing scales after two years of classical guitar lessons, I'm playing and singing Ghost Riders in the Sky, Margaritaville, Ring of Fire, You Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog, and another thirty or forty songs out of my Daily Ukulele book, and there ain't nothing classical about what I'm doing.

I feel like I've been able to play the ukulele since I found my first song with two chords in it and learned to play them. I love playing my ukulele. I never feel like I'm "practicing". I'm learning. I'm learning new chords, new songs, new ways of finger picking. I'm making stuff up. I mean, I'm just free to do whatever I want with it. I don't see that kind of freedom with guitar players. I just don't see that in my guitar playing friend. He is still "working on it". I'm a ukulele player. Pure and simple. I don't intend to play anything else.

I have seen what you are talking about regarding classical guitar in the piano forums too. The classical sub-forum really sounds like its adherents are punishing themselves for the sake of their art. The posts there seem like their writers are going through a lot of pain, rather than enjoying making music. In the non-classical piano sub-forums, the people seem to be enjoying their respective journeys, with the occasional frustration among those who are trying to find their foothold. But once they do, they seem to be off and running and enjoying it. Classical music (and now jazz, since the schools formed around that art form) seems to be very rigid with a very highly disciplined approach. I am sure there are some who enjoy it, but it all seems painful to me, both the books I have seen and listening to the people talk about what they have to go through to learn to play it. To me, music is a natural thing for ALL humans to participate in and enjoy if they want to.

Tony

tbeltrans
08-08-2014, 04:39 PM
Thanks everybody for all the posts here. It does seem as if many others share similar experiences and viewpoints regarding the guitar. It is a wonderful instrument, but just a bit too complex to REALLY wrap our heads around enough to be truly creative with it.

I have been told by a musician I respect who plays both guitar and ukulele, that if I lay off guitar for some months and just enjoy playing ukulele, I will come back to the guitar both refreshed and a far more creative player. It will be interesting to experience that, so I am not going to sell my guitar just yet. :rolleyes:

Tony

warndt
08-08-2014, 05:37 PM
tbeltrans...That is a really good deal on the Ebay Kanilea...You may regret not jumping on that one sometime down the line. It's playing an all solid Koa baritone size uke-guitar tuned ADGCEA from a premium manufacturer, with all the sweet sounds of a premium Taylor, Martin, Froggy Bottom etc....I'm just saying....it's a much better deal than what I've paid for mine. ( With no regrets on mine BTW) It is truly a special instrument in it's own right!

tbeltrans
08-09-2014, 03:33 AM
tbeltrans...That is a really good deal on the Ebay Kanilea...You may regret not jumping on that one sometime down the line. It's playing an all solid Koa baritone size uke-guitar tuned ADGCEA from a premium manufacturer, with all the sweet sounds of a premium Taylor, Martin, Froggy Bottom etc....I'm just saying....it's a much better deal than what I've paid for mine. ( With no regrets on mine BTW) It is truly a special instrument in it's own right!

Thanks warndt! Uh oh, is it time for UAS then? Really, right now I don't really want to spend the cash. I have two very nice 4 string ukuleles (Kamaka and Ko'olau) that I did a lot of trading and very little money for, and I want to see how our budget shakes out before committing to larger expenditures, since we are newly retired.

Tony

wendellfiddler
08-09-2014, 04:31 AM
I played guitar (swing/jazz rhythm styles) for years - especially when my daughter was a teen ager and wanted to sing that music - but since she left home for college, etc., I rarely used the guitar except to work through the changes of tunes I was playing on the fiddle or the chromatic harmonica. Since I started playing tenor uke, that's been my primary instrument for that purpose - so user friendly once you get used to the "new" names of the chord shapes!

Doug

SteveZ
08-09-2014, 05:07 AM
Understand how the OP feels. My dreadnaught now feels titanic since I've morphed into the 4-string world (including mandolins since they are 4 double-strings). I still love the sound of a guitar, and my tenor guitar has filled that need with the six-string dreadnaught now growing old in the back closet.