A Visit to the Dark Side...and Now a Frequent Visitor!

Larry U

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After several years of focusing exclusively on the ukulele, I decided to revisit the guitar. I played acoustic steel-string guitar many years ago, took lessons off and on (more off than on), and practiced sporadically. This continued for 10-15 years until I gave up in disgust at my lack of skill and progress, sold off all my guitars and related stuff, and retired from playing a melodic instrument. I did play West African hand drums (djembe and dunun) and enjoyed that a lot, but lost interest once the pandemic wiped out the opportunity to play in a group (solo djembe is OK for five minutes but it gets old quickly.) I picked up the ukulele a few years ago at the suggestion of a friend and found out that I was able to get reasonably competent and was enjoying myself. I finally decided last month to give the guitar another try. I found an inexpensive used Yahama on FB Marketplace, set it up with a new set of strings, and voila! I discovered I could actually play it and enjoy the results. After many years of ukulele playing, I found the size of the Yamaha to be a bit overwhelming, so I sold it to a friend (for what I paid for) and ordered a new, slightly smaller Martin 000-Jr. It came in last week and it feels and sounds great. I've been sampling some online courses and videos to refresh my knowledge and coordination, but it seems that playing the ukulele has given me a leg-up on playing its much larger cousin.

It looks now like I'm going to be a multi-instrumentalist! I'm not giving up on ukulele, but I've realized that as a retiree, I have time for both! 🥰
 

KohanMike

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After playing guitar for almost 50 years, in mid-2013 right after retiring, I bought a ukulele that looked like my Fender Telecaster just to hang on the wall together. A couple of weeks later I received a post card for the annual summer play along series at the Los Angeles Music Center, which I attended previously for guitar, but this time it was for ukulele. Hey, I have one I thought, so I signed up.

I looked up the three chords they required and discovered the new interest out there in ukuleles, including Jake and also the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, very inspiring. When I got to the Music Center the first day, there were over 300 people waiting. At the end of the 6 hour day of workshops, I was hooked.

When I got home, I joined 2 uke groups and never touched my guitars again, giving them away to my nephew. To this day I'm not interested in the guitar, very satisfied with playing the ukulele, bass uke, and I even resurrected my harmonicas.

Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
4 tenor thinline cutaway ukes, 2 thinline acoustic bass ukes, 5 solid body bass ukes
•Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
•Member Cali Rose & The CC Strummers: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers
 

Wiggy

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....I did play West African hand drums (djembe and dunun) and enjoyed that a lot, but lost interest once the pandemic wiped out the opportunity to play in a group (solo djembe is OK for five minutes but it gets old quickly.) ...
I am an incurable mental wanderer, continually seeking a detour from what's at hand. Focus; what's that?

Oddly enough I was decluttering my music room today and uncovered my bongo set, then tuned up my 14" djembe and gave them all a bunch of good whacks. No one was home. Great fun. A half-hour of cleaning was averted.

Last week, it was setting up a soprano for DGBE at an octave higher than a baritone. It's a sweetie.

Quiet... I think I hear a banjolele in the distance ;)
 
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Rllink

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Welcome to the club Larry. I found the ukulele while looking at guitars and thinking about getting back into it. The uke sent me off on an eight year tangent. I was doing a lot of busking, some coffee shop gigs and belonged to a ukulele group that was playing farmer markets and senior centers. Everything was going fine until it all dried up with the pandemic. With no purpose anymore I went out to the storage shed and got my wife's old guitar off the shelf, brought it into the house and started messing with it. I'm afraid my ukes have been gathering dust since. I did buy a baritone to try to keep some sort of connection but it hasn't worked. I'm afraid that I've become a UPINO, ukulele player in name only.

I come back to UU though for the community. There's nothing like the ukulele community with guitars, at least not where I live.
 

Spicysteve

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After several years of focusing exclusively on the ukulele, I decided to revisit the guitar. I played acoustic steel-string guitar many years ago, took lessons off and on (more off than on), and practiced sporadically. This continued for 10-15 years until I gave up in disgust at my lack of skill and progress, sold off all my guitars and related stuff, and retired from playing a melodic instrument. I did play West African hand drums (djembe and dunun) and enjoyed that a lot, but lost interest once the pandemic wiped out the opportunity to play in a group (solo djembe is OK for five minutes but it gets old quickly.) I picked up the ukulele a few years ago at the suggestion of a friend and found out that I was able to get reasonably competent and was enjoying myself. I finally decided last month to give the guitar another try. I found an inexpensive used Yahama on FB Marketplace, set it up with a new set of strings, and voila! I discovered I could actually play it and enjoy the results. After many years of ukulele playing, I found the size of the Yamaha to be a bit overwhelming, so I sold it to a friend (for what I paid for) and ordered a new, slightly smaller Martin 000-Jr. It came in last week and it feels and sounds great. I've been sampling some online courses and videos to refresh my knowledge and coordination, but it seems that playing the ukulele has given me a leg-up on playing its much larger cousin.

It looks now like I'm going to be a multi-instrumentalist! I'm not giving up on ukulele, but I've realized that as a retiree, I have time for both! 🥰
Welcome to the dark side. I too have just come over from ukulele, not that I will be giving up ukuleles but I am loving the warmth and depth of a guitar.

Cheers,

Steve.
 

clear

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It looks now like I'm going to be a multi-instrumentalist! I'm not giving up on ukulele, but I've realized that as a retiree, I have time for both! 🥰

Awesome! More instruments is always > less; as long as you've got the time for them all.

My journey is very similar. I started out on the guitar but gave up after 2 years (it was just too difficult). During the pandemic, I started playing the ukulele and loving it. Then, by chance, (I wasn't intersted in guitars) I picked up a guitar and it felt so much easier than I remembered; all thanks to playing the uke. Now I play both uke and guitar. Love both instruments.
 

ampeep

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I play guitar, shaker or bass with several UKE groups. Since ukuleles occupy the higher registers, these instruments help to fill out the sound.

Have noticed that UKE groups are more open to folks with a wide range of ability, including beginners. Guitar groups usually have a much higher level of proficiency.
 

rustydusty

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I was introduced to the baritone uke when arthritis issues made playing the guitar difficult for any length of time. I really enjoyed the ukelele for a few years but missed the sound and sustain of the steel strings. A few months ago I acquired a tenor guitar and haven't played much uke since.
Such is the power of the "Dark Side"!!
 

Patty

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I play guitar, shaker or bass with several UKE groups. Since ukuleles occupy the higher registers, these instruments help to fill out the sound.

Have noticed that UKE groups are more open to folks with a wide range of ability, including beginners. Guitar groups usually have a much higher level of proficiency.
Yeah, the guitar is intimidating but the uke is not.
 

clear

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Martin 000-Jr. It came in last week and it feels and sounds great.

Oh, may I ask what strings and pick are you using with your Martin 000jr? Any other modifications?

I have one too, but I can't seem to get a good sound out of it. I replaced its OEM strings with Martin Lifespan 2.0 light and using a Fender medium pick instead of my usual heavy. It's sounding better, but I'd still would like improvement. I purchased it new (Internet) with a free setup, so it plays great, just not sounding very good.
 

Larry U

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Oh, may I ask what strings and pick are you using with your Martin 000jr? Any other modifications?

I have one too, but I can't seem to get a good sound out of it. I replaced its OEM strings with Martin Lifespan 2.0 light and using a Fender medium pick instead of my usual heavy. It's sounding better, but I'd still would like improvement. I purchased it new (Internet) with a free setup, so it plays great, just not sounding very good.
It still has the original factory-installed Martin Retro light gauge strings. I haven't fallen down the string rabbit hole yet. At some point, I'll probably take it to my local guitar shop and have the wizards do a full setup (lower the action a tad to start with) and get their recommendations on strings.

Right now, I'm mostly fingerpicking, but on the few times I've used a flat pick, I used a Dunlop Tortex .73 mm, just because I've always liked the feel of the Tortex picks.
 

ploverwing

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I've recently dipped my toe in the waters of the dark side with an A-A strung requinto guitar. I love the sound. I am not quite convinced yet to try the E-E guitar, but I do love the tonal range afforded by this instrument. After never understanding the guitar for years, and finally wrapping my brain around tuning different than GDAE, I'll take it slowly and just inch gently into that current with the A-A for now.

Funny about the West African drumming: me too! I'd been taking lessons for a couple of years but the lessons petered off and it's not a lot of fun practicing that solo, you're so right! I am getting invited to their monthly practice with the dancers to add my beat to the rhythms, so that's a good enough way to keep in there, for me. Plus it really hurts my thumb tendon injury, I can't quite arch my poor old injured thumb out away from that hardwood rim, and now that I'm using my thumb for fingerstyle playing, I'll keep the drumming to a monthly minimum, lol.
 

Larry U

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Funny about the West African drumming: me too! I'd been taking lessons for a couple of years but the lessons petered off and it's not a lot of fun practicing that solo, you're so right! I am getting invited to their monthly practice with the dancers to add my beat to the rhythms, so that's a good enough way to keep in there, for me. Plus it really hurts my thumb tendon injury, I can't quite arch my poor old injured thumb out away from that hardwood rim, and now that I'm using my thumb for fingerstyle playing, I'll keep the drumming to a monthly minimum, lol.
Playing for the dancers is fun, but the crazy dance instructor I was playing for had only one speed...supersonic! After 20 or 30 minutes of playing the same rhythm at break-neck speed, I was totally wasted. 🥵

I know what you mean about that thumb. When I first started drumming, I didn't know I was supposed to move my thumb out of the way. I soon learned a lesson, the hard way!
 

DownUpDave

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Hey Larry my journey is similar to yours, but I only suffered the initial guitar exposure for about 5 years on and off. I found the ukulele about 8 years ago and immediately joined two local Uke Jams, loved the atmosphere and playing with others.

Fast forward about three years ago I pulled out my big battle ship of a Larrivee L01 guitar and started noddling. Like you I saw how much Uke playing had helped my chording and strumming, so I bought a smaller Taylor GS mini. Now I have a few other guitars and play the full size guitars just fine.

Congratulations in rekindling an old love. Ukuleles are a great gateway drug into other instruments
 

jkib

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Larry, I kinda look at it as the 'bright side'. I picked up a small guitar a few months back and am having a great time playing it. As a bonus it has really helped my uke playing as far as speeding up chord changes.
I'm going through some of the Justin Guitar courses online which are pretty good.
 

Larry U

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Larry, I kinda look at it as the 'bright side'. I picked up a small guitar a few months back and am having a great time playing it. As a bonus it has really helped my uke playing as far as speeding up chord changes.
I'm going through some of the Justin Guitar courses online which are pretty good.
I've been doing a Fingerstyle course on Udemy with Stuart Ryan. It's mostly fundamentals, basic picking patterns, etc., but that's what I need as a refresher. I've found it quite helpful, even if it's stuff I sort of know, but haven't played on a guitar in many years.