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Thread: Acoustic Guitar sales taking away from Ukulele sales?

  1. #11
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    Thanks Rich!
    Very enlightening comments. Numbers talk, don't they?
    Seems like a lot of guitar players won't even dream of touching a "baby guitar", or a "toy instrument".
    But I talk to someone almost every week who used to play, or whose parent or grandparent used to play, but have no inclination to pick it up now. Lots of people raise an eyebrow or chuckle when they find out I play, but still others go "Wow, that sounds so cool."
    I recently met a classical guitarist who wants to take up the uke because I showed her how it can rehabilitate her injured hands.
    Our local Sam Ash Music store has moved the ukuleles to a less visible part of the store, from the guitar area to the violin area. The banjos and mandolins still live with the guitars. But they have low end (Makala) to Cordoba to Martin ukes. The only strings they sell are Aquila. They have a few ukulele song books, I think they need more.
    Last year I met a boy, age 8, whose Mom I was taking care of. I showed him the uke, which he showed no interest in, and his grandparents bought him an electric guitar, which he took right to. I think a lot of kids still have no idea what the uke is all about, but will jump right into guitar.
    I wonder if a band like the UOGB could ever become as famous as the Beatles?
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  2. #12
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    It's very interesting to read what others are seeing. I've not found a lot of uke players in my area. I'm like Rlink in this regard.

    *slightly off topic

    I use to think of the uke as a small guitar. But since starting guitar 3 months ago, I have had to change my opinion. The uke is its own unique instrument. I've grown to appreciate the uke even more now and it offers a unique sound and is a very versatile instrument. Unfortunately, people think of Tiny Tim when they hear about a uke.

    Likewise, the guitar offers the bass strings. You can play fuller chords but there's something about the singing voice of a ukulele that a guitar does not match in my opinion.

    I was thinking today that the uke would be a good first instrument for children learning music in elementary school. I remember the recorder but the uke seems like a better instrument. The kids could make chords and do melody. With the recorder, they are only playing the melody.
    Last edited by JustinJ; 12-09-2015 at 08:28 AM.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinJ View Post
    I was thinking today that the uke would be a good first instrument for children learning music in elementary school. I remember the recorder but the uke seems like a better instrument. The kids could make chords and do melody. With the recorder, they are only playing the melody.
    If you're not already familiar with it, you might be interested in reading about the Canadian school ukulele system. I agree completely with you - and even though uke was my first instrument as a child, a couple years before recorder, for the most part all I recall doing with it was picking out melodies - and soon abandoning it for failed attempts at piano, guitar and bass... until I came to my senses and picked up the uke again in my mid-40s!

  4. #14
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    Unfortunately, ukes look a bit too similar to a toy guitar for comfort, in a lot of peoples perception.

    I used to associate the ukulele with George Formby & Alan Randall, neither of whom did anything for my music taste.
    (Corny lyrics & comic performances made the thought of playing one just so naff!)

    Having re evaluated this little instrument, I now know that it can handle serious music, & I am enjoying learning to play mine.

    Regarding guitars, I have always found them to be a handful & rather unweildy, probably why I never got very far with mine.

    (The harmonica was another instrument associated with childrens toys, but is also a serious instrument, & difficult to play well.)
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  5. #15
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    Some peolple may not agree, but the ukulele is the best first instrument and... last instrument. All the reasons previously given make it a great first instrument. And it really is easier to learn and master than a guitar.

    As a last instrument, it fills a potential void when playing the guitar is no longer fun or has become too difficult. Guitar instrumentals require so much more to cover all the strings effectively with more difficult stretches. With the exception of John King's technique, working through a popular ukulele instrumental is not that difficult. Being proficient enough to play it at a high standard may be a different story, but being able to play it "well enough" is possible for a lot of people. This is what leads guitarists who never quite mastered the instrument, or wore out their hands out to where they can't play the way they want, to the ukulele. There comes a time when we realize that not everyone can be Guitar Hero.

    But for a teenager looking a first real instrument with visions of stardom...

    John

  6. #16
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    Interesting thread

    I wonder what the more specialist ukulele sellers are finding as regards a decline in ukulele sales. I bought my first uke from our local music shop, the selection was tiny, nothing bigger than a concert and none of the brands that I'd come across on this forum. And the staff knew nothing about ukes. Every ukulele I've bought since (and there have been a few, obviously!) has either come from the marketplace here, or online from one of the few UK shops that actually know about ukuleles and do proper set ups. I guess I'm just wondering whether people are still buying ukes, but fewer of them are buying from general music shops.

    Here in the UK Southern Ukulele Store now stock Kanile'a, KoAloha, and Kamaka, none of which were available when I started playing, which would at least suggest that there is now a market for the higher end brands (bearing in mind we pay a lot more for them on this side of the pond). Of course that might just be because we're lagging behind the US uke-wise.
    Last edited by TheBathBird; 12-09-2015 at 09:54 AM.

  7. #17
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    It's all about the marketing,especially the indirect marketing.

    When one goes to a concert or views a concert on TV, how often does one see a ukulele played seriously versus how often is the same true for guitar? In fact, other than an occasional beer commercial, I can't recall seeing a uke on TV at all, and that was a humor pitch. The closest I can remember of a uke being viewed seriously among other instruments was when Jake S. used to perform with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band, and Jake was credited and treated as a peer among a bandful of darned good guitarists and others.

    Folk need to see an instrument being used seriously to regard it as a "real" musical instrument. That viewing gets the biggest bang-for-the-buck when the uke player is one (or more) in a group with a bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums and, if possible, a horn or two. A uke played solo or as part of a uke-only group is still seen by many as a novelty. Until that changes, the on-the-shelf market will remain limited since stores usually display what sells the fastest.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Martin T1K (T)*, Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)**
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T)*, Lanikai LB6-S (S)*
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
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    Tuning: *Reentrant C CGDA. **DAEB. ***GDAE. The rest are CGDA

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
    Guitar instrumentals require so much more to cover all the strings effectively with more difficult stretches. With the exception of John King's technique, working through a popular ukulele instrumental is not that difficult. Being proficient enough to play it at a high standard may be a different story, but being able to play it "well enough" is possible for a lot of people. This is what leads guitarists who never quite mastered the instrument, or wore out their hands out to where they can't play the way they want, to the ukulele.

    John
    John, you bring up some great points. I started out as an acoustic guitar player then moved to uke. After almost a year of uke I thought I had the guitar bug so I waited for a good deal on a scratch and dent classical...
    and here it sits.

    More often than not I find myself grabbing one of my ukes instead of working on my classical guitar though, for the very reasons you have stated.
    (and the fact that my 2 year old takes up quite a bit of my 'free' time)

    I am glad I have it and I put some good strings on it but I am honestly more interested in perfecting my uke skills at this moment.
    Perhaps I can start to work in more time for guitar when the new year starts.
    But we all know how that goes.


    BTW, JustinJ, this is an interesting topic and I have enjoyed reading everyone's posts.

  9. #19
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    If the subject comes up, when I tell someone I play the ukulele, I seldom get much of a reaction at all. Most people just don't say anything. Most of my guitar playing friends are studying classical guitar. They like to talk about it a lot. It seems that the studying is as much of the experience as the playing, and it seems to be a solitary activity, as close as I can tell. None of them have every expressed any interest at all in my ukulele. Often times they ask me if I am going to take up the guitar, and I usually say no, and ask them if they are going to take up the ukulele. The rest of my guitar playing friends are into folk music, blues, and bluegrass. They are more into putting their heart into their music and are quite a bit more social with their music. They seem to be less concerned with the technical aspects of the instruments, and tend to just see my ukulele as a different voice. None of them have given my ukulele much more than a passing interest. I do have one friend who plays guitar and ukulele. He plays a baritone. But really, I'm not seeing very many people who are interested in playing the ukulele.
    Last edited by Rllink; 12-09-2015 at 10:56 AM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinJ View Post
    Unfortunately, people think of Tiny Tim when they hear about a uke.
    Why is that a bad thing? While a lot of his music was comedic in nature, the man was amazing.

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