Why do you play? What got you started?

cFloor

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I go to Hawaii every winter to surf, been doing that for 25 years or so. I've always been a music lover and played instruments, so it just naturally happened.
 

Farkvam

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Let me count the ways. I play because 1) I love music, 2) I love the feel of the small uke in my hands in comparison to a big guitar on my lap 3) It is a therapeutic, fun, relaxing, productive way to spend one's time. That's a good combo! 4) It improves hand strength and dexterity 5) The uke sounds like a holiday to me 6) You can take the uke on holiday 7) It's frankly addictive :)
 
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I always wanted to learn guitar and had many false starts with it. The learning curve is just so steep. Steel strings are hard on the fingers, switching chords is hard, trying to strum and only hit certain strings is hard, my hands are small and I don't have a lot of reach (which I know shouldn't matter, because children can play guitar, but it's still really difficult when starting).

I'm not really sure how I landed on the ukulele, exactly. Saw some random videos of people playing songs I never previously associated with ukulele, I guess? Anyway, I figured I'd get a cheap one and learn the fundamentals as a gateway to learning guitar. It's a stringed instrument, if I can do chord changes on a uke then I can do chord changes on a guitar, right? Plenty of guitar players pick up uke, why not the other way around?

Anyway, 9 ukes later and my guitar gathering dust; I don't think I'm going back.
 

Billc55

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My trip to the uke was long and winding. I’ll try not to bore. At 12 I was given a cheap electric guitar. Took lessons from the local band director. When I was old enough to join the high school band he suggested bass….

Like a fish to water. Electric, upright, jazz, rock, classical, musical theater (a lot), union gigs for backup tracks. I could sight read anything. My own band in college, etc.

Having an older brother with real talent, I pursued engineering. Home run. Fast forward 40 years, my grandson wants to play guitar. Picked up a GS mini Taylor so I could teach him. Couldn’t stop playing it. Wondered how music ever got away from me. Love it, play every day. Some really nice guitars that amaze me with the sound they produce. So much fun!!! Picked up a uke about a month ago to help with my finger picking on guitar. Thought it would be a way to learn. Like coming home. Love every note. So enjoyable! love the sound of my moon bird, thinking about a Kamaka....
 
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rustydusty

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Been playing harmonica and guitar in bands since the late 60s. The last 10 years or so, arthritis in my hands made playing the guitar harder and harder resulting in hands cramping up in the middle of gigs so I switched to strictly harmonica playing. About a year ago, I bought my 10 year old son a concert ukulele for his birthday and decided to buy one for myself to teach him with. (I playing a little ukulele as a kid, and figured it wouldn't be hard to pick up again.) The bass player in our band suggested a "baritone" ukulele as I played guitar, and I absolutely loved it! Doesn't seem to bother the arthritis, and I've been playing an hour or two every day. We are now incorporating some ukulele into some of our songs...
 

dr_mitch

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I bought a cheap ukulele on a whim about 5 months ago after talking to a friend about musical instruments. It somehow really clicked, which had not quite happened with a musical instrument before, though the uke in question is not very good. I now have several in the house, play every day, and absolutely love it.

I’ve just had my first lesson (online) which has inspired me. A couple of days ago I visited a music shop with a decent ukulele selection for the first time and got to play lots of different ukuleles. A baritone will await me picking it up on Wednesday.
 

ukebebop

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I regretted never learning music as a kid, so we wanted our children to learn. They were all taught different instruments. I bought two clarinets so I could take lessons along with my daughter. I always liked clarinet and saxophone. The kids didn't stick with it, and I got injured and could no longer hold up the clarinet for long because of my shoulder pain.
15 years ago, at age 55, we attended a friend's wedding where a great rock band were playing Bob Dylan music. I spent much of the evening watching the band. I wondered if I could play guitar without aggravating my shoulder. Next day I bought a classical guitar and a Bob Dylan songbook.
I found out how to find the notes from the internet, and picked up enough chords to play Mr Tambourine Man and a few other songs. But my arthritic fingers got in the way. So I bought a steel guitar and played blues on that till I saw the need to damp the strings to stop the overtones, but my arthritis prevented me doing that satisfactorily.
In the course of my job I had previously spoken with an old music teacher when I first got my classical guitar, and I told him about my aging, injured old body. He recommended a baritone ukulele, which I had never heard of. So when I became frustrated with steel guitar I remembered what he had said a few years earlier about the uke.
Now I have two baritones. I bang out melodies by ear, using a pick. I can play quietly while my wife sleeps. It's good fun for this old rock and roller. I'm very grateful that retired music teacher gave me such good advice 15 years ago.
 
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socal16

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I got my first uke, a baritone, when I was about 10 years old as an alternative to a full size guitar (thanks mom) and I loved playing it for several years. I ended up with a couple of guitars, one of which I traded my baritone for (regrets!). I sold that guitar at a yard sale and went without an instrument for a long time.

About six years ago I got the urge to buy a ukulele and five ukes later I am loving it. I have a soprano, a long neck soprano, a concert, a long neck concert and a tenor…. But no baritone.
 
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Picky

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Let me count the ways. I play because 1) I love music, 2) I love the feel of the small uke in my hands in comparison to a big guitar on my lap 3) It is a therapeutic, fun, relaxing, productive way to spend one's time. That's a good combo! 4) It improves hand strength and dexterity 5) The uke sounds like a holiday to me 6) You can take the uke on holiday 7) It's frankly addictive :)

All of the above! :D Plus, it gives me the deep satisfaction that comes from playing an instrument, something I have only marginally succeeded at (with piano) before. With the uke, I can learn to play a recognizable melody fairly quickly, and the instrument has such a beautiful sound that even my first, tortured practice sessions aren't too painful to listen to.
 

Rllink

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One summer our neighbors and good friends put in a fire pit and we started going over to their house on Sunday evenings, sitting around the fire and drinking beer and wine. So of course, after a few drinks and being older folks, we started singing songs from the sixties and seventies. I played the guitar way back in the Navy so I went off one day in search of a guitar so that I could accompany everyone in our little sing alongs. But the ukuleles caught my eye and I though, how hard can it be. But I didn't buy one right a way. About a month later I was looking at them on the internet and bought one, just an impulse buy. I got it, I learned the G-C-F-and Am chords, found a bunch of songs from the sixties and seventies that used those chords and that Sunday I became the accompanist for the bon fires. People started suggesting songs for the next get together, I would learn any new chords to the new songs and my repertoire grew. So that's how I got started. It just grew from there.

I've been playing since 2013, done a bunch of busking, some coffee shop gigs and a few festivals every year. I also belong to a group that is doing the Senior Center circuit. The covid put a damper on it all for a while, but I'm getting back into it now that more opportunities are coming my way. I'm back playing the guitar too, but I will never stop playing the uke for the sheer fun of it.
 
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Kenn2018

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I grew up loving music. All kinds, well maybe not all, but most. I sang in choirs from grade school on. But never learned how to read music.

I enjoyed singing along with folk and folk rock music especially. Doo Wop, pop were good as well. Even some of the 20s to 40s standards.

I tried guitar many times to accompany my singing, but I just couldn't get beyond strumming a handful of chords. Both of my sisters played piano and guitar very well. Mostly, I didn't have the patience for either.

The only thing I knew about ukulele were from old movies showing college kids in racoon coats playing them to woo the coeds. Later it was Tiny Tim, who was not inspirational to me at all. I thought of the ukulele as a plinky toy. Besides, everyone knew that the lead guitar player always got the girls.

Fast forward to three years ago. A friend of mine mentioned that he was part of a ukulele club and that I should come to one of the meetings and see if I might enjoy it. I went and tried out their loaner ukes. I really related to the tenor. I thought about the bari, but all of the instructional books and videos I could find were based upon GCEA tuning. And I didn't want to fight the mainstream.

Three years later, I'm still a beginner. Honing my strumming and learning fingerstyle. My arthritis limits my playing time. But I sure enjoy playing and singing with a group. I soon discovered that I enjoy buying tenors just as much as playing them. Experiencing the differences in woods, construction, designs, strings, etc. Finding that each tenor ukulele has its own voice and playability.

My Washburn acoustic guitar sits alone in the corner. I bought it for $250 thirty years ago. I haven't tried to play it for ten years or more.

I enjoy the friendship, the conviviality and the fun of playing and singing with others. As well as for audiences. I can now accompany myself as I sing my favorite songs. Or at least try...
 

tm3

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My wife and I were on vacation and the place we stayed for a couple of days had various group activities, one being "ukulele night." We thought what the heck let's check it out. About a dozen people showed up, the instructor passed out ukes, showed us a couple chords, and we had a play along -- well, I guess you could loosely call it that. After we got back home I did some online research and learned that a pretty wide variety of music could be played on the uke, not just the corny Tiny Tim stuff, so I decided to give it a try.
 

JackLuis

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I completely failed as a guitar learner in pre-internet days. Before electric tuners too.
Then my granddaughter said she wanted to play Ukulele and I thought, well that could allow me some time with her?
I bought a cheap Rubin Uke and my neighbor helped me get started. Gary even convinced me to sing! Then last year disaster, I had a surgery that completely ruined my left hand/arm! I gave away four of my Ukes to my nephews and felt pretty bad. It took two months of PT before I could even hold a uke in my left hand and form a C chord.
But I stuck with it until I could C-F-G7 again. Then the Radiation started and I was hammered and depressed. For six months I've been down and out.

I recently saw an ad for a Guitarlele and thought, that might get me off the couch. I'm hoping that it will be the thing that gets me playing again. It's supposed to get here tomorrow and I can't wait.
 

Joyful Uke

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I completely failed as a guitar learner in pre-internet days. Before electric tuners too.
Then my granddaughter said she wanted to play Ukulele and I thought, well that could allow me some time with her?
I bought a cheap Rubin Uke and my neighbor helped me get started. Gary even convinced me to sing! Then last year disaster, I had a surgery that completely ruined my left hand/arm! I gave away four of my Ukes to my nephews and felt pretty bad. It took two months of PT before I could even hold a uke in my left hand and form a C chord.
But I stuck with it until I could C-F-G7 again. Then the Radiation started and I was hammered and depressed. For six months I've been down and out.

I recently saw an ad for a Guitarlele and thought, that might get me off the couch. I'm hoping that it will be the thing that gets me playing again. It's supposed to get here tomorrow and I can't wait.

Wishing you a good recovery after a very difficult time. Enjoy your guitarlele!
 

ukudancer

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I had kind of failed at learning guitar during my high school years. I mostly learned through tab books but could never get anything to sound right. I never learned complete songs. Just the famous riffs and moved on to the next song to learn. Anyway, fast forward 15 years, a friend invites me to jam band night and much to my surprise, the lead singer played an electric ukulele! The night was filled with wild solos being traded between the uke, the horns, the bass and the guitar.

After they finished one set, the trombone player hands me his uke and shows me a couple of chords. A few months later, I get my first uke as a Christmas present and was thrilled to learn complete songs from start to finish.

Side note, if you ever tried to learn from guitar tab books 20 years ago, you know they were completely atrocious and highly inaccurate....I wish I knew that then.
 

Kenn2018

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I completely failed as a guitar learner in pre-internet days. Before electric tuners too.
Then my granddaughter said she wanted to play Ukulele and I thought, well that could allow me some time with her?
I bought a cheap Rubin Uke and my neighbor helped me get started. Gary even convinced me to sing! Then last year disaster, I had a surgery that completely ruined my left hand/arm! I gave away four of my Ukes to my nephews and felt pretty bad. It took two months of PT before I could even hold a uke in my left hand and form a C chord.
But I stuck with it until I could C-F-G7 again. Then the Radiation started and I was hammered and depressed. For six months I've been down and out.

I recently saw an ad for a Guitarlele and thought, that might get me off the couch. I'm hoping that it will be the thing that gets me playing again. It's supposed to get here tomorrow and I can't wait.

Best of luck to you on your recovery. I hope your guitarele brings you joy and optimism.

But, if you find it too difficult to use, try a smaller concert with a low action setup that should be easier to fret and play. Then return to the guitarele as your strength returns. Small steps. With achievable goals.
 
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Kenn2018

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Jazz-Man

Wow! Both are excellent. Big Sciota was sublime. Totally blown away by the playing on YardBird Suite. Just terrific.

Thanks for sharing these.
 
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clear

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Thanks for sharing. It's very interesting to read about everybody's uke background. There are so many different paths leading us to the uke. But we are here now, all enjoying playing the ukulele.
 

Felly

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I picked up my guitar after 8 years or not playing, looked at it and wondered how i could play fingerstyle fastest and gave up cause i lost all my music theory, then googled easy finger style and found out Ukuleles exist :)
So i can now play as long as there are tabs (thankfully tabs for ukes are all in numbers and not actual music theory)