What’s your ukulele “hot take”?

Uke with Smitty

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Do you have a perhaps controversial or uncommon opinion on a ukulele topic?

I’ll start:

I think it’s better to save up for a nice, quality intermediate or higher tier uke than buy 7+ entry level Makalas, Lunas, Kalas, etc. of various sizes and varieties. Having a lot of different ukes is fun, and I get that they’re so much less expensive than guitars and many other instruments so collecting is fun and relatively cheap. But I’ve seen SO many people with collections who don’t seem to have a really quality mid-tier or higher uke in there (not really on this forum, but in a lot of the uke facebook groups) and once you get one it makes SUCH a difference. The sound and playability of a solid, well built instrument is such a huge motivation to practice and improve.

To boil it down, I’d rather have one Kamaka and play it all the time than 25 entry level ukes of all sizes, configurations, etc. (Coming from someone who can’t afford a Kamaka at the moment, btw…lol). But hey, no knock on people who wanna collect to their hearts content…!
 

ripock

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I don't think my takes are hot, they're just off the beaten track. I approach learning the ukulele as I was taught to approach any other instrument: with learning scales, exploiting the entire fret board, and learning more about the instrument through musical theory. I admit I haven't met any kindred spirits but no one is really antagonistic to me, just apathetic, just as I am rather unmotivated to play other people's music. So...no controversy--just different paths.
 

KohanMike

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I can afford to indulge in collecting ukes. In 2013, my first year, I collected about 16. Then a year later I culled them down to 4, and slowly got up to 8 since then. Last month I decided to go back to 4, and I have a feeling that's where I'm going to stay.

Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
4 tenor thinline cutaway ukes, 3 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
 

Graham Greenbag

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Do you have a perhaps controversial or uncommon opinion on a ukulele topic?

I’ll start:

I think it’s better to save up for a nice, quality intermediate or higher tier uke than buy 7+ entry level Makalas, Lunas, Kalas, etc. of various sizes and varieties. Having a lot of different ukes is fun, and I get that they’re so much less expensive than guitars and many other instruments so collecting is fun and relatively cheap. But I’ve seen SO many people with collections who don’t seem to have a really quality mid-tier or higher uke in there (not really on this forum, but in a lot of the uke facebook groups) and once you get one it makes SUCH a difference. The sound and playability of a solid, well built instrument is such a huge motivation to practice and improve.

To boil it down, I’d rather have one Kamaka and play it all the time than 25 entry level ukes of all sizes, configurations, etc. (Coming from someone who can’t afford a Kamaka at the moment, btw…lol). But hey, no knock on people who wanna collect to their hearts content…!

My observation and personal experience is that whilst one good instrument can be better to have than several cheaper ones it’s also possible, indeed usual, to spend a lot of money on that special Uke and then find that it doesn’t live up to or match expectations. If you can have an extended trial before you buy and if you’re an experienced player who has well established preferences then one perfect Uke might be right for you, but otherwise I’d advise against it. YMMV
 
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Musically, I think you should buy an instrument that is a little above what you need - something you can develop with. As I came late into the world of ukuleles, I have only two instruments, both professional quality - a Martin (soprano) and a Kanile'a (tenor). (But I've got maybe 10 mandolins, from three centuries). My impression is that collectors of cheap instruments mostly don't care so much about the sound quality - it's like collecting anything else. And maybe they don't take the instrument as seriously as they should? An instrument needs care, to be played, loved.

Controversial opinion - no, I don't have that, I guess. But maybe my journey into the ukulele world was a little bit uncommon - as I went there (here) as a lute player and composer, starting to play and explore the instrument as a small lute. Not controversial, but a bit uncommon.
 
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merlin666

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I have contrarian views on many topics. And yeah having multiple cheap ukes is pointless. But if they are different enough in terms of size and tuning then the player with limited and small funds who needs the variety does not have other option.
 

Dohle

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Definitely agree on the cheap vs. quality uke argument. But here's a twist for you. What if you have several high-end ukes worth, say, around a grand. Would it be better to have only one uke worth a lot more, e.g., two or three grand? ;)

My hot take:
Quality friction pegs on soprano and concert scale ukes work better than any other kind of tuner. Change my mind.
 

SurferJay

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Do you have a perhaps controversial or uncommon opinion on a ukulele topic?

I’ll start:

I think it’s better to save up for a nice, quality intermediate or higher tier uke than buy 7+ entry level Makalas, Lunas, Kalas, etc. of various sizes and varieties. Having a lot of different ukes is fun, and I get that they’re so much less expensive than guitars and many other instruments so collecting is fun and relatively cheap. But I’ve seen SO many people with collections who don’t seem to have a really quality mid-tier or higher uke in there (not really on this forum, but in a lot of the uke facebook groups) and once you get one it makes SUCH a difference. The sound and playability of a solid, well built instrument is such a huge motivation to practice and improve.

To boil it down, I’d rather have one Kamaka and play it all the time than 25 entry level ukes of all sizes, configurations, etc. (Coming from someone who can’t afford a Kamaka at the moment, btw…lol). But hey, no knock on people who wanna collect to their hearts content…!

Agreed. I have a Kala Soprano, Kala concert, Makala Soprano, Cordoba Tenor. They are all laminate apart from the Cordoba which has a solid top.

I only play the Cordoba. If I pooled send the money together probably could of got something like the AnueAnue AMM3 which is the Uke I’d ever need.
 

rustydusty

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Some of us don't have $1000+ to spend on a ukulele. I have a couple of guitars I spent that much on, but that was 25-30 years ago when I was single. Now the family comes first (I have 12 and 14 year old boys) plus other interests like boating and classic cars. My "hot take" is that I prefer steel strings. I recently restrung a baritone ukulele with steel, and about a month ago bought a "tenor" guitar...
Different strokes...
 

PeteyHoudini

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I came over from the guitar in 2006 and bought a $30 uke for travelling by train to visit my parents. I considered it a novelty instrument and started learning that song HENRY THE EIGHTH. I had no idea of the significance of the Portuguese/Hawaiian origins. I only knew Tiny Tim and Don Ho.

The cheap quality instrument made me think all ukes are cheap sounding and untuneable with the worst intonation on the planet. Luckily, I spent the next 5 years constantly buying better ukes until I found a new Martin S0. My uke life and attitude changed towards the instrument at that moment forever. I then broke the mental barrier and spent $1100 in 2012 on a Martin S2 soprano. I have never looked back.

My hot take: I am not fond of guitar players who take up the uke and play this lazy chunk strumming style without learning better strumming techniques with the thumb and two fingers and rasgueado, etc. Lil Rev and Jake have great vids on these. Guitar players should aim higher!!! That’s my hot take…it or leave it. haha

Petey from his hospital bed
 
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CPG

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I came over from the guitar in 2006 and bought a $30 uke for travelling by train to my visit my parents. I considered it a novelty instrument and started learning that song HENRY THE EIGHTH. I had no idea of the significance of the Portuguese/Hawaiian origins. I only knew Tiny Tim and Don Ho.

The cheap quality instrument made me think all ukes are cheap sounding and untuneable with the worst intonation on the planet. Luckily, I spent the next 5 years constantly buying better ukes until I found a new Msrtin S0. My uke life and attitude changed towards the instrument at that moment forever. I then broke the mental barrier and spent $1100 in 2012 on a Martin S2 soprano. I have never looked back.

My hot take: I am not found of guitar players who take up the uke and play this lazy chunk strumming style without learning better strumming techniques with the thumb and two fingers and rasgueado, etc. Lil Rev and Jake have great vids on these. Guitar players should aim higher!!! That’s my hot take…it or leave it. haha

Petey from his hospital bed
Also Lil’ Rev’s Strokes and Strums book is excellent. It’s essentially an entire book on right hand ornamentation and flourishes (not simply rhythmic patterns). Every technique is very well explained and includes great practice recommendations. I may be remembering this next part incorrectly as I haven’t pulled the book out in a while but I think it includes a video playlist as well with demos of each technique.
 

Uke with Smitty

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Definitely agree on the cheap vs. quality uke argument. But here's a twist for you. What if you have several high-end ukes worth, say, around a grand. Would it be better to have only one uke worth a lot more, e.g., two or three grand? ;)

I think the law of diminishing returns comes into effect at that point. Paying $400 instead of $200 might very well get you double the quality but the difference between the $1500 and $3000 models are probably 10-20% or so “better.” That would be my guess.

I haven’t payed ukuleles that nice but with guitars I’m not usually blown away that the custom $10,000 martins sound and play soooo much better than a standard D-28. They just look flashier and have nicer appointments.
 

hendulele

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Do you have a perhaps controversial or uncommon opinion on a ukulele topic?

I’ll start:

I think it’s better to save up for a nice, quality intermediate or higher tier uke than buy 7+ entry level Makalas, Lunas, Kalas, etc. of various sizes and varieties. Having a lot of different ukes is fun, and I get that they’re so much less expensive than guitars and many other instruments so collecting is fun and relatively cheap. But I’ve seen SO many people with collections who don’t seem to have a really quality mid-tier or higher uke in there (not really on this forum, but in a lot of the uke facebook groups) and once you get one it makes SUCH a difference. The sound and playability of a solid, well built instrument is such a huge motivation to practice and improve.

To boil it down, I’d rather have one Kamaka and play it all the time than 25 entry level ukes of all sizes, configurations, etc. (Coming from someone who can’t afford a Kamaka at the moment, btw…lol). But hey, no knock on people who wanna collect to their hearts content…!
If I knew then (when I started) what I know now, I would agree with your hot take. When I started, though, I was awful and had no idea what rested well in my hands, what was comfortable to play, etc. I set a decent amount of money on fire sampling low- to mid-level ukes until I found what worked for me (sopranos, concerts, flat necks).

I owned a Pete Howlett tenor that was gorgeous but it was impossible for me to handle the stretches in second-position up the neck. I wound up rehoming it for a lot less than I paid for it.

To each his own, YMMV, &c.
 

Jim in Oregon

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I have one major beef with the "get one great uke" theory. You can't have a high G and a low G if you have just one uke.

So my lukewarm take is: If you don't have a high G and a low G, you're missing half the fun.

Among the songs, ditties and etudes I play, at least, many sound better one way or the other.

An example is Stand By Me in C. When the night has come (bum, bum, bum -- C, B, A on the low G). It just sounds silly on a high G uke.

Jim
 

PeteyHoudini

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Also Lil’ Rev’s Strokes and Strums book is excellent. It’s essentially an entire book on right hand ornamentation and flourishes (not simply rhythmic patterns). Every technique is very well explained and includes great practice recommendations. I may be remembering this next part incorrectly as I haven’t pulled the book out in a while but I think it includes a video playlist as well with demos of each technique.
i have several of Lil’ Rev’s books (including the one mentioned with videos) and most have audio or video. Ralph Shaw has two great DVDs showing different strumming rhythmic patterns. Tons of resources out there for uke wannabe’s from the geets.

In 2006, I floundered for years wondering which fingers to use when strumming and no clue about rhythmic patterns. YouTube wasn’t even a factor then and I could only find Jumpin’ Jim books. It was only in 2015 that I discovered the 3 volume Alfred ukulele series with Daniel Ho that explained everything I had learned piecemeal from 2006 to present. Damn, wish I had those books back in 2006!!!!
 
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Cadia

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Do you have a perhaps controversial or uncommon opinion on a ukulele topic?

I’ll start:

I think it’s better to save up for a nice, quality intermediate or higher tier uke than buy 7+ entry level Makalas, Lunas, Kalas, etc. of various sizes and varieties. Having a lot of different ukes is fun, and I get that they’re so much less expensive than guitars and many other instruments so collecting is fun and relatively cheap. But I’ve seen SO many people with collections who don’t seem to have a really quality mid-tier or higher uke in there (not really on this forum, but in a lot of the uke facebook groups) and once you get one it makes SUCH a difference. The sound and playability of a solid, well built instrument is such a huge motivation to practice and improve.

To boil it down, I’d rather have one Kamaka and play it all the time than 25 entry level ukes of all sizes, configurations, etc. (Coming from someone who can’t afford a Kamaka at the moment, btw…lol). But hey, no knock on people who wanna collect to their hearts content…!
I agree, I think it's way more satisfying to have nice quality ukes than a bunch of inexpensive entry level ones. But one can have quality mid-tier ukes like Pono, Romero, some aNueNues, etc, which will sound good and be satisfying to play even if you have some higher end Hawaiians, aNueNues, and customs in your collection. This can be controversial for those who think that anything over $300 is too much for a uke, or to those who only want the best customs made by top luthiers (lucky them!), but it works for me. I tend to reach more for my mid-tier ukes than my higher ones, so as such I don't think I would want all upper-tier ukes in my collection.
 

Uke with Smitty

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i have several of Lil’ Rev’s books (including the one mentioned with videos) and most have audio or video. Ralph Shaw has two great DVDs showing different strumming rhythmic patterns. Tons of resources out there for uke wannabe’s from the geets.

In 2006, I floundered for years wondering which fingers to use when strumming and no clue about rhythmic patterns. YouTube wasn’t even a factor then and I could only find Jumpin’ Jim books. It was only in 2015 that I discovered the 3 volume Alfred ukulele series with Daniel Ho that explained everything I had learned piecemeal from 2006 to present. Damn, wish I had those books back in 2006!!!!
Is this the Daniel Ho book series you’re talking about?