How do you determine that your current instrument is holding you back?

Larry Usselman

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First, check the uniformity of the paint. Good manufacturers do not tolerate any streaks, uneven coloring, or visually overlapping layers. The right technology has long been worked out and works like clockwork, so mercilessly discard an instrument that does not fit this parameter. One more important moment is to check the fingerboard. It should be straight and not bent; moreover, the strings should be placed at the same distance from it along its entire length. Bravely refuse a lousy option if you do not want to spend your own time grinding these very thresholds. You better look at the best mandolins under 300
The strings on a proper ukulele (or guitar, or ???) are not the same distance above the fretboard for the entire length. They will be closest at the top (the nut) and gradually increase in height above the fretboard as you move down toward the bridge.
 

donboody

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I feel like the answer to this has to be something like "there is some identifiable physical aspect to the ukulele's construction (coud be a defect or simply too big or small for you) that hinders your ability to operate the instrument the way it was designed to be operated."
 

Graham Greenbag

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I think some are missing one of the points. Nine times out of ten, it isn't about necessity. I am saving up for a baritone that will cost more than a used automobile. Will a cheap Lanikai do the trick? I guess it could. But do I want it? No. Not having my sweet ass baritone is holding me back. Is it all in my head? Certainly. But my head is attached to my fingers which play the arpeggios. It is a package deal. So I have to give the head what it wants. And I do that openly instead of telling my head that the pioneers of blues played guitars from the Sear Roebuck catalog.

That’s a helpful set of comments, it’s worth reading a few times. They also made me smile, and particularly so this bit: “Is it all in my head? Certainly. But my head is attached to my fingers which play the arpeggios. It is a package deal.” . There’s a helpful bit of honesty and cuts nicely to the issue .... or should that be issues?

I’ve always practised but these days the amount of time spent practicing has increased, it’s quite surprising how much better sounding the output of a Uke - and any other instrument - gets if you put in the time practising (and get the anticipated improvement in skill). The video of Jake, in Rick Olsen’s post above, really says it all.

Of course we’re all slightly different and if someone really does need to spend relatively big bucks on an instrument to motivate them to practice then that’s, I think, their misfortune. Personally I find that a well set-up basic instrument allows me to sound reasonable and that my Ukes always sound better again when played by someone more skilled than me. Indeed the classic ‘acid test’ is: what does your instrument sound like when played by someone who is noticeably more skilled than you?

Whatever, enjoy what you play and play what you enjoy. Joy is what it’s all about.
 
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robinboyd

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If your ukulele has 12 frets and you want to play a note on the 14th fret, your instrument is holding you back. You're welcome ;)
 

kerneltime

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When playing a different uke brings more joy and makes me want to play it more..
 

merlin666

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One thing that can hold one back is having only one uke. Having some variety can be very inspiring, I have long neck soprano beach uke, re-entrant concert, fifths concert, linear tenor, and six string tenor. Figuring out which one makes any song sound best is fun.
 

Ukulele Woodshed

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Hi all, lot's of good points being made here. I would just like to add that it's always nice to have an instrument that is pleasurable to look at (so you pick it up more often) and that sounds great even just playing open strings- a good instrument inspires me to be a better player in order to be worthy of it (this is the story I tell myself to assuage UAS guilt anyway). As @ripcock says, it's all in the head and the head informs the hands.