Please help me match Ends with Means

Inner Prop

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Hi, I'm new and this is my first post. I've looked at quite a few "what to get" threads and I thought it might be best to describe my situation and desired Ends so it might be easier to help me find my ukulele Means to get there.

I played sax from 2nd grade through High School, and I still own one. I played bassoon all through High School. High School was a LONG time ago.

I picked up a "How to Play Harmonica for the Complete Klutz" book years ago and fiddled around with that, but I didn't have too much success with it. I've tried off and on several times, but there is just something I can't seem to get about it.

I picked up one of my daughter's recorders a few years ago, and that I get and can hammer out a tune on, but it really isn't that fun an instrument (people look at you kind of funny when you're an adult with a recorder), and I can't sing along with it.

I'd love to be able to be at a party or campfire and pull out my instrument and lead a song.

I really don't have the time or patience to really focus on something so some early success and some simple basic ability nearly out of the box would go a long way to keep me working at it and have fun socially with it as well.

So I'm looking at learning a few chords just to get along with a song or two to start.

I like the idea of a soprano because I think my best bet for practicing is to keep it with me as much as possible (EDC (Every Day Carry) if you will).

I like fast and bright music. I'm actually not too keen on Hawaiian music; it's just a bit to emotional for me. I do like rock covers on uke. I like blues and slide too. I know quite a few Tin Pan Alley songs (they have quite often been adopted as Scout songs and I'm a Unit Commissioner now). I also love surf music and just the idea of surf music.

I want to be able to have my uke with me everywhere and I'm really kind of a klutz so replaceable or indestructible are my choices.

I went to Uke Hunt and grabbed their "So You've Got Your First Ukulele" pdf. They give you 5 songs you should learn. I love them all (Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Ring of Fire, Hallelujah, Blitzkrieg Bop, I Wanna Be Like You) and have been known to break into singing them too often for my daughters' liking. I sing baritone btw.

I like quirky looking instruments. The little guitar look isn't very appealing to me, but I don't want it to look like a toy either. Think, will my daughter's friends say, "Wow that instrument is so cute and you're Dad is so cool," not, "Yeah, that's my Dad, don't look at him or encourage his latest crazy fad. Yeah Dad, you look SOOO cool with your Hawaiian shirt and black socks with sandals. Byeeee." Although, in the end the look is the least of my concerns.

The kicker is this, I want to ask Santa for one, but she recently suggested that we don't buy each other any gifts this year. SO, I have to keep it on the very lowest level price-wise as possible. Also, considering the fact that I've never played a string instrument and the harmonica seems difficult for me makes the idea of spending a lot on something that just isn't going to work out possibly.

If I do get it, it will be as a Christmas present from my wife to me, but she will want me to figure out what I want and just tell her so she can get it (I'm thinking musicguymic from eBay might be best).

To recap:
Large-ish adult male
Can read music, not chords or tabs
Never played a string instrument
Intend to be a casual, party, social player
Like strumming and singing
Little time
Want EDC
Like: rock, blues, Tin Pan Alley, surf
Quirky look, not dorky look

The bottom line - money. <$50 would be best, >$100 is far too much at this point

Thank you very much.
 

mm stan

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Aloha Inner Prop,
Welcome to the UU forums and the Ukulele ....I think if the other instruments didn't really make it fun for you, this one will...check out MusicTeacher2010 and Keonepax for awesome video ukulele tutorials..
and Dr.Uke for songs, chords, and instruction....As for an best bang for the buck soprano ukulele, which sounds really decent....and inexpensive I'd go with a Rogue soprano from Musician's friend...It's only
24.99 plus free shipping...it is their exclusive line...also their sister company Music 123...got them too, but I'd stick with Musicians Friend, though....just google them and the above learning links..Good Luck!!
and let us know how it turns out....Have fun and enjoy!! Happy Strummings....by the way the rogue soprano was my first uke over 3 1/2 years ago and I still play it daily....one fo my favorites....MM Stan
 

bobj

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MGM is a good way to go.
Get the Makala Dolphin. If you don't like the bright colors, go with black and learn a Johny Cash song.
Make sure you get the electronic tuner.
Dolphins are selling out, though. So don't procrastinate too much

By the way, you could learn a million songs on the uke, and never even look at a Hawaiian song. There's a bazillion cool songs to choose from.
 

molokinirum

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Aloha and welcome to the UU!! You can also mcheck out Misicguymic on ebay (known as MGM). He is located in Hawaii and sells tons of ukes, good prices, no "toy" ukes. He sets them up so when you get the uke it is ready to play. Plus, he is a member here at UU.
 

cletus

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If you get the uke bug, and you more than likely WILL, you are going to wish that you had a better instrument real quickly. You might get more 'bang for your buck' if you can buy a used ukulele.
From what I get from your list of qualifications, you need a Flea soprano in your life. Check ebay and Flea Market Music in addition to this forum. There are some good deals popping up lately.

Otherwise, mmstan is a big fan of the Rogues, and the Dolphins are very popular, as well. You might want to try out a soprano first to be sure it's a good size for your large-ish hands.
 

kenikas

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I agree with MM Stan the Rogue is pretty much unbeatable for the price.....but. The strings they come with are awfull so be prepared to change them out for a set of Aquila's or Worth's, Also the set up seems rather hit or miss with them. I would definetly recommend going with musicguymic (MGM) for your first uke since he sets them up perfectly with good strings so it will play well right out of the box. He has great beginner ukes from Makala, Kala, Makai, Lanikai and other good brands and his service can't be beat.
 
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808boy

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Aloha Innerprop,
Welcome to UU and its forum. I'd go with mmStan's advice as you said $50.00 budget. As far as learning quickly, there's a ton of rock and roll songs that uses the same 3 or 4 easy chords ( C, Am, F, G7 ). You CAN BE the ROCKSTAR at the campfire!! Good luck and have fun.............BO...........
 

DAPuke

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10 years of saxaphone
4 years of bassoon.
And the rest Ukulele.
Welcome, you're in the right place for the right instrument. I agree: MGM, Dolphin. With your background you'll be playing and singing with in minutes!
DAP
 

Inner Prop

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Wow, I forgot that it really is the WORLDWIDE web. I didn't' expect so many responses so quickly.

I am leaning toward MGM simply because I KNOW that if there is a bad setup out there I will be the one to get it, and I'll think it is my fault. I wish I had a dollar every time someone said, "I've never seen that before." If it's hit or miss, then it will miss with me.

Speaking of which, it is very easy to get caught up in the euphoria at these sites (I've been looking at Uke Hunt a lot too). Of course the sites are the choir, with people who love the instrument so much the first time they even saw it in the store than they had it surgically attached and named their first two kids Uke and Lele.

Is there anybody who tried the Ukulele and didn't like it, or didn't/couldn't get it? I don't mean the people who prefer other things, I mean they became frustrated with it and/or their ability to learn it that they just quit.

Those people won't respond to this thread of course because they aren't here anymore, but do any of you guys know someone like that?

Sorry if I'm verbose, but I just finished NaNoWriMo and I got a bit of Uke itch about a week ago and couldn't do much about it.
 

Chap

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It does happen, in the starting Uke 1 class I took, a good 1/4 of the class dropped out during the first four lessons. Of course, I can't tell you exactly why they did, cause they left without saying, but I *think* a lot of it has to do with simply expecting too much. Yes, the uke is classified as a "simple" instrument, but it still needs time to learn, you've got to have patience with yourself.

I felt really sad for one of the guys who left....he had found his fathers well-worn ukulele that he used to play in parades and such in the 50s...obviously his dad had played the heck out of it from the wear. He wanted to learn to play it, because his father did, but after three lessons, he never came back.

Also, really, I think a lot of it has to do with community. I might have given up if I was struggling along on my own, but I find the group classes, while probably not the quickest way to learn, are a lot of fun and keep my enthusiasm up. Ditto for the wonderful folks here at UU.
 

GreatGazukes

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I had uke itch...no musical background....ummed for days about it.....at work one saturday....rushed to local music centre...bought the best looking uke...twas a concert....got home....found lots of internet sites...banged away...slow progress...thought mmm get a soprano (ohana cheapie)...will make playing the concert easier...hooked on soprano cos twas easier to play...'nother soprano (ohana vita uke)..'nother soprano...(ohana zebrawood)...

3 Ohanas and can't fault em, (and I think the zebra wood have a great sound, come with aquilas, they play out of the box)
 

Inner Prop

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Funny story...I actually have a dog named Lele. Although, we had the dog before we had an ukulele!

You sound to me like a perfect candidate for a Surf Fluke...

http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/store/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=160
I'm actually thinking that if this thing really is a go, then that will be my next step. >$200 is like buying a new car at this point, but I do like a lot about the Flukes and Fleas.

I think one of the biggest things may be the collectability.
 

Chap

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Hey Prop, you're not too far away from me. If you want to make the trip, the Different Strummer music store inside the Old Town School has 25+ ukes to browse through, including some Flukes and Fleas.
 

PoisonDart

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Hey! Nice to see another chicagolander.

Advice so far is pretty spot on about ukes to purchase, but as to your question about staying with the uke...

Of course you can quit anything if you're of a mind to quit.

You say you want to be able lead sing alongs. Uke can do that. The genres you've said work wonderfully with the uke. I especially like tin pan alley songs on the ukulele.

Learning uke is non-trivial. You'll see a lot of threads here where people talk about their inability to strum at first.

There are two challenges: The manual challenge of making this wooden box make sounds, and the musical challenge of making those sounds expressive.

Ukulele is particularly kind in the manual challenge aspect. Forgiving strings, one and two finger chords if you're in C and a chearful sound make things pretty swell.

You sound like you already have a big of the musical challenge taken care of, especially if you already can sing the songs you want to play.

If strumming accompaniment to your singing (and sing alongs) is really what you're looking for, then do it, ukulele excels in this arena.

My great grandmother was a professional pianist, but her favorite musical thing to do was to bring her uke out to parties.

If you don't get there with uke, you're probably either severely mistaken about what you're looking for, or should basically give up the dream until you can find the time and focus.
 

Inner Prop

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PoisonDart" said:
If you don't get there with uke, you're probably either severely mistaken about what you're looking for, or should basically give up the dream until you can find the time and focus.
This is very encouraging.

I've asked my wife for a Makala blue dolphin from MGM for Christmas (actually I printed off the eBay page and left it in her computer case) because I don't want to ask too late.

How should I prepare myself?

Should I read instruction books? Toughen my fingers on my daughter's mini-guitar (which I can't fit my fingers on, so I'm hoping the neck on the Makala soprano is the same width at least)? Read UU? Worry?

I had borrowed a bass from my sister (I decided a ukulele would probably be better since it could be mine and it's smaller, and easier to lead songs on etc). Should I toughen my fingers on that? If I do learn bass it wouldn't preclude me from wanting to learn ukulele too, since they fill different musical niches.

Should I take another crack at my harmonica to get used to dedicating the time to practice? Again, this could be useful even if I do learn ukulele because of the niche thing and I kind of like the idea of playing an harmonica on a neck thingie AND playing ukulele.

Should I practice my sax (actually my daughter's now)? For the same reasons as the harmonica (surf music with sax just ROCKS).
 
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Chap

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Prop:

If you want to start right off, I'm willing to loan you a Dolphin till you get yours. I have a purple one that doesn't see a whole lot of use, and I'd be glad to loan it out if you want something to practice on till you get yours.
 

Chris Tarman

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If you get the uke bug, and you more than likely WILL, you are going to wish that you had a better instrument real quickly. You might get more 'bang for your buck' if you can buy a used ukulele.
From what I get from your list of qualifications, you need a Flea soprano in your life. Check ebay and Flea Market Music in addition to this forum. There are some good deals popping up lately.

Otherwise, mmstan is a big fan of the Rogues, and the Dolphins are very popular, as well. You might want to try out a soprano first to be sure it's a good size for your large-ish hands.

My initial thought was "Dolphin", but now I'm going to say "Flea" if you can afford it. Oh hell, just get both! You're going to get more than one ukulele eventually anyway!