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Thread: Your story: how ukulele found you?

  1. #201
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Posts
    3

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    From 4th grade through 12th grade I played viola in my school's orchestra. From college onward, I've played it very sporadically, taking it out once in a while for fun. At times I also tried to teach myself guitar and piano, but never got very far.

    In 2014, the last season of How I Met Your Mother, I adored The Mother playing La Vie En Rose on ukulele. Then just a few months later, a web series that I was in love with had a character play ukulele in a really adorable scene. About a week after that, I picked up my first ukulele (a concert Lanikai) on a bit of a whim! My playing and practicing has been pretty sporadic over the past 5 years - I'm sure there have been times I've gone months without playing - but I love how it's so easy to just pick up and play a bit when I'm in the mood. (And I've still been playing ukulele more than my viola.) I'm only at two ukuleles currently (picked up a Kala tenor last year), but I've got my eye on a soprano right now!

  2. #202
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    124

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    Have I got a uke that found me, just weeks ago. It's not often I get to say I have a ukulele before anyone else in the world. But I think that even today it might be true! While visiting Oahu, I planned to take the Big K ukulele factory tours, starting with my fav. Kanile'a. The tour was the first one in 2019 and it was great, and I came away with a feeling of Ohana as everyone there, from owners Joe and Kristen Souza down to their entire team, everyone seemed to love what they were doing. I have built 1 ukulele myself so I had lots of questions for the builders as we went through the tour. Each was happy to explain their process in as much detail as I wanted to hear. While we were in the "finishing room" where the final processes happen to complete the ukes, the tour guide pulled down a tenor pineapple I had never seen before, and proceeded to explain it was the 2019 Platinum Limited Edition prototype, not yet announced, not yet in production. Then she passed it around for everyone to see. It was stunning to look at with it's master grade Koa and glossy UV finish and everyone oooed and ahhed over it's beauty. But when it got to me, and I strummed it I was blown away by it's sound! Clean and VERY full, with tons of volume. I immediately asked if this one was for sale. She said it was the prototype and 1st of it's series built, and it was doubtful but she would check. When continuing the tour I ran into Joe and told him I'd love to take that Pineapple tenor home with me and he said I bet you would. By the time we finished the tour, someone approached me and asked if I was the person interested in the 2019 pineapple, and I said I was. He explained again that it was the prototype and they were not yet in production but if I was interested, Joe said he would sell it. Long story short, I bought that uke right off the shelf in the finishing room, Joe took photos with me holding it and I left with the uke in a used Baritone case as the fitted cases weren't in yet. Even the used case is pretty special because it had blue painters tape on it labeling it 2019 Platinum LE. P. Prototype. And it's dated with 1/2/19 and Joe's signature (he also signed the makers label inside). The uke still hasn't even had the string ends trimmed yet! The new case will come later when they arrive.

    It's killer master grade Koa with mango accents including the rosette, fret markers on the fretboard and fretboard edge, the Kanile'a logo on the headstock AND the cool comfort edge on the body! And to accent the model, the sound port on the top side is a pineapple! Joe has updated their TRU (Total Resonating 'Ukulele) Bracing design for 2019 (seen in photo). There's nothing to compare this to with the same body but at just a few weeks old it has a crazy full but not dark sound. This will be the first tenor Pineapple for the Big K builders I believe.

    What a special event for me on Kanile'a first factory tour of 2019. Talk about a vacation memory! I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and find it was all a great dream. My thanks goes out to Joe, Kristen and the whole team. I know this series is going to be a home-run!

    It got hand carried back home to NC on the plane!

    Sorry for being long winded, if I sound excited, I surely am. Haven't been able to put this down since I left the factory!

    PS. We spent 10 days in Maui and returned to Oahu for 2 days on our way home. During that time the new cases came in and they are as cool as the uke! By now the photos of this new series are on the Kanile'a site even some sound clips. But here's a few from me...

    Happy New Years to ME, 2019 is already a great year! Rick
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by rhiggie; 01-25-2019 at 08:18 AM.

  3. #203
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    1,199

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    Quote Originally Posted by rhiggie View Post
    Have I got a uke that found me, just weeks ago. It's not often I get to say I have a ukulele before anyone else in the world. But I think that even today it might be true! While visiting Oahu, I planned to take the Big K ukulele factory tours, starting with my fav. Kanile'a. The tour was the first one in 2019 and it was great, and I came away with a feeling of Ohana as everyone there, from owners Joe and Kristen Souza down to their entire team, everyone seemed to love what they were doing. I have built 1 ukulele myself so I had lots of questions for the builders as we went through the tour. Each was happy to explain their process in as much detail as I wanted to hear. While we were in the "finishing room" where the final processes happen to complete the ukes, the tour guide pulled down a tenor pineapple I had never seen before, and proceeded to explain it was the 2019 Platinum Limited Edition prototype, not yet announced, not yet in production. Then she passed it around for everyone to see. It was stunning to look at with it's master grade Koa and glossy UV finish and everyone oooed and ahhed over it's beauty. But when it got to me, and I strummed it I was blown away by it's sound! Clean and VERY full, with tons of volume. I immediately asked if this one was for sale. She said it was the prototype and 1st of it's series built, and it was doubtful but she would check. When continuing the tour I ran into Joe and told him I'd love to take that Pineapple tenor home with me and he said I bet you would. By the time we finished the tour, someone approached me and asked if I was the person interested in the 2019 pineapple, and I said I was. He explained again that it was the prototype and they were not yet in production but if I was interested, Joe said he would sell it. Long story short, I bought that uke right off the shelf in the finishing room, Joe took photos with me holding it and I left with the uke in a used Baritone case as the fitted cases weren't in yet. Even the used case is pretty special because it had blue painters tape on it labeling it 2019 Platinum LE. P. Prototype. And it's dated with 1/2/19 and Joe's signature (he also signed the makers label inside). The uke still hasn't even had the string ends trimmed yet! The new case will come later when they arrive.

    It's killer master grade Koa with mango accents including the rosette, fret markers on the fretboard and fretboard edge, the Kanile'a logo on the headstock AND the cool comfort edge on the body! And to accent the model, the sound port on the top side is a pineapple! Joe has updated their TRU (Total Resonating 'Ukulele) Bracing design for 2019 (seen in photo). There's nothing to compare this to with the same body but at just a few weeks old it has a crazy full but not dark sound. This will be the first tenor Pineapple for the Big K builders I believe.

    What a special event for me on Kanile'a first factory tour of 2019. Talk about a vacation memory! I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and find it was all a great dream. My thanks goes out to Joe, Kristen and the whole team. I know this series is going to be a home-run!

    It got hand carried back home to NC on the plane!

    Sorry for being long winded, if I sound excited, I surely am. Haven't been able to put this down since I left the factory!

    PS. We spent 10 days in Maui and returned to Oahu for 2 days on our way home. During that time the new cases came in and they are as cool as the uke! By now the photos of this new series are on the Kanile'a site even some sound clips. But here's a few from me...

    Happy New Years to ME, 2019 is already a great year! Rick
    All I can say is Wow! I think that uke was meant to be yours from the start. Thanks for the pictures.
    My ukulele family.....
    KoAloha Koa concert - circa 2006
    aNueNue Moon Bird concert - Spruce & Rosewood - 2018
    Blackbird Clara - 2019
    Kanilea KCS-SSP super soprano - circa 2016

  4. #204

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    Great story Rick! Beautiful Uke!

  5. #205
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    1,312

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    I toyed with playing guitar in HS & College. I enjoyed folk music and wanted to emulate. Didn't happen.

    I never learned to read music even though I sang in a few choirs. I just sang what the person next to me did (1st tenor).

    Fast forward to 2017. A friend of mine suggested that I come down to the ukulele club he belonged to. The CheezLand Ukulele Band (C.L.U.B.) Sit and listen, or better yet sit at the beginners' table and try a couple of the various-sized ukuleles they have for beginners using the handout they had for the newbies.

    I did. I liked the tenor size. It fit me better than the others. (No baritones.) I enjoyed playing it. It was--fun!

    I bought a Fender Koa Nohea tenor on Amazon because I had a couple of gift cards. I had read that koa was the best wood for ukuleles to made of. So I ponied up for the more expensive all-koa one. It looked beautiful when I got it. Though the fake abalone trim was a bit much, the wood was gorgeous. The Fender headstock is sexy as well. And I didn't have to switch directions on the tuners. Bonus! It cost $250. Came with nylon strings. And there was no setup. (I found out later that "all-koa" meant "laminate.") I bought a Snark tuner as well and an upgraded gigbag.

    I was primed. I played some of the beginner songs and found it sounded good-ish. I had a hard time fretting some of the chords, but I knew I'd get better.

    I stayed at the beginners' table the next meeting. I was doing well. So the following week I sat with the group and attempted to play along. Ouch! But people were kind and non-judgemental and only winced a few times. This is really fun.

    After about 4 months, I went to a music store with a guy I met at the club. He's a very good player and lives in my town. There, I found an Ohana TK-50GS. The owner told me it was just taken off sale, but he'd let me have it for the sale price. I bought it, and a case, and asked him to set it up. He did. And it was so much easier to play than the Fender! Sounded much better too!

    That was the beginning of my UAS.

    I discovered Barry Maz' website I'veGotAUkulele.com It's aimed at beginners, and I learned a lot, so I bought his books. I wish I'd known the buying tips before I bought my two uke.

    I liked Barry's review of a Pono uke. I think it was a tenor. I liked a Pono koa I heard at the club. So, I started looking at them for my next step up. After about 2 months with the Ohana, I wound up wth a Pono MGT mango tenor. I thought the warm sound was lovely. I also discovered Martin fluorocarbon strings! Wow! What a difference from the nylon strings.

    Before long I acquired a Pono Acacia tenor. A different sound, but equally nice. And I was off to the races.

    Perfect segue. I had been saving my money to buy a good used sports car. But that summer, I was zipping around in my 145 hp 1991 RX-7 convertible. The twisty back roads here in Wisconsin are a lot of fun to drive. With rolling hills and beautiful scenery. Well, I went around a blind corner at 60 mph (speed limit was 55). To my horror a huge 6-wheel tractor was coming the opposite way towing an even wider wagon full of hay! It took up at least half of my lane as well as all of his! Fortunately, there was just enough room on the right berm to go past him. No time to think—pure reflex driving. The rear tires slipped a bit on the edge of a sharp drop off of about 4 to 6 feet down to the drainage ditch filled with trees and bushes. I remember vividly seeing the farmer's eyes, which were big as saucers, as I swerved to miss him. I nonchalantly waved as I drove off. But was shaking a bit in reality. I began to reconsider my decision to buy a used Porche, or Mazda, or whatever. My reflexes aren't as good as they used to be. Though I've done performance driving and crewed for a couple of race teams, I was pretty sure I was going to wind up killing myself in a modern 400 hp car.

    Eventually, I decided I would rather purchase some nice, quality ukuleles that I could enjoy playing until the arthritis in my hands got too bad to do so.

    Ko'Aloha, Kamaka, Kinnard, MyaMoe, Martin, Moodyville, Pono, Pereira... Well, fifteen, usually used, ukuleles later, my UAS has been slaked and my bank account is bust.

    Although, there is a nice MoonBird tenor I've been hearing great things about...

    I’ve met some terrific people at the uke club. Then I stumbled across the UU Forums. I've corresponded and posted with many wonderful people on the UU Forums. What friendly and helpful folks are found here. And I discovered some excellent sounding ukuleles to purchase on the Marketplace.

    My playing is way better than it was only a year ago, but that may only be the nice instruments I have to make the music.
    Last edited by Kenn2018; 02-01-2019 at 07:37 PM.

  6. #206
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Saratoga, CA
    Posts
    773

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    I toyed with playing guitar in HS & College. I enjoyed folk music and wanted to emulate. Didn't happen.

    I never learned to read music even though I sang in a few choirs. I just sang what the person next to me did (1st tenor).

    Fast forward to 2017. A friend of mine suggested that I come down to the ukulele club he belonged to. The CheezLand Ukulele Band (C.L.U.B.) Sit and listen, or better yet sit at the beginners' table and try a couple of the various-sized ukuleles they have for beginners using the handout they had for the newbies.

    I did. I liked the tenor size. It fit me better than the others. (No baritones.) I enjoyed playing it. It was--fun!

    I bought a Fender Koa Nohea tenor on Amazon because I had a couple of gift cards. I had read that koa was the best wood for ukuleles to made of. So I ponied up for the more expensive all-koa one. It looked beautiful when I got it. Though the fake abalone trim was a bit much, the wood was gorgeous. The Fender headstock is sexy as well. And I didn't have to switch directions on the tuners. Bonus! It cost $250. Came with nylon strings. And there was no setup. I bought a Snark tuner as well and an upgraded gigbag.

    I was primed. I played some of the beginner songs and found it sounded good-ish. I had a hard time fretting some of the chords, but I knew I'd get better.

    I stayed at the beginners' table the next meeting. I was doing well. So the following week I sat with the group and attempted to play along. Ouch! But people were kind and non-judgemental and only winced a few times. This is really fun.

    After about 4 months, I went to a music store with a guy I met at the club. He's a very good player and lives in my town. There, I found an Ohana TK-50GS. The owner told me it was just taken off sale, but he'd let me have it for the sale price. I bought it, and a case, and asked him to set it up. He did. And it was so much easier to play than the Fender! Sounded much better too!

    That was the beginning of my UAS.

    I discovered Barry Maz' website I'veGotAUkulele.com It's aimed at beginners, and I learned a lot, so I bought his books. I wish I'd known the buying tips before I bought my two uke.

    I liked Barry's review of a Pono uke. I think it was a tenor. I liked a Pono koa I heard at the club. So, I started looking at them for my next step up. After about 2 months with the Ohana, I wound up wth a Pono MGT mango tenor. I thought the warm sound was lovely. I also discovered Martin fluorocarbon strings! Wow! What a difference from the nylon strings.

    Before long I acquired a Pono Acacia tenor. A different sound, but equally nice. And I was off to the races.

    Perfect segue. I had been saving my money to buy a good used sports car. But that summer, I was zipping around in my 145 hp 1991 RX-7 convertible. The twisty back roads here in Wisconsin are a lot of fun to drive. With rolling hills and beautiful scenery. Well, I went around a blind corner at 60 mph (speed limit was 55). To my horror a huge 6-wheel tractor was coming the opposite way towing an even wider wagon full of hay! It took up at least half of my lane as well as all of his! Fortunately, there was just enough room on the right berm to go past him. No time to think—pure reflex driving. The rear tires slipped a bit on the edge of a sharp drop off of about 4 to 6 feet down to the drainage ditch filled with trees and bushes. I remember vividly seeing the farmer's eyes, which were big as saucers, as I swerved to miss him. I nonchalantly waved as I drove off. But shaking a bit in reality. I began to reconsider my decision to buy a used Porche, or Mazda, or whatever. My reflexes aren't as good as they used to be. I was pretty sure I was going to kill myself in a 400 hp car.

    Eventually, I decided I would rather purchase some nice, quality ukuleles that I could enjoy playing until the arthritis in my hands got too bad to do so.

    Ko'Aloha, Kamaka, Kinnard, MyaMoe, Martin, Moodyville, Pono, Pereira... Well, fifteen, usually used, ukuleles later, my UAS has been slaked and my bank account is bust.

    Although, there is a nice MoonBird tenor I've been hearing great things about...

    I’ve met some terrific people at the uke club. Then I stumbled across the UU Forums. I've corresponded and posted with many wonderful people on the UU Forums. What friendly and helpful folks are found here. And I discovered some excellent sounding ukuleles to purchase on the Marketplace.

    My playing is way better than it was only a year ago, but that may only be the nice instruments I have to make the music.
    Good read! A good uke depreciates less than a good car.. and improves with age! Sounds like a good choice to me!

  7. #207
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Nebraska
    Posts
    8

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    The Ukulele found me two weeks ago, but it's been quite a transformation. I've played music since I was 6 years old on the Violin. Since then, I've played Viola, Baritone Horn, Tuba, Valved Trombone, Bass Guitar, Upright Bass, Acoustic Guitar and Banjo. Most of those I've moved on from, however I still play the Upright Bass and Banjo. Back in October, I purchased a new Banjo from a local music store. Since my kids were with me, the music store had a thing they did with the kids, that if a parent bought an instrument, they would give the kid(s) an Amahi Soprano Ukulele. Recently, my kids had been driving me nuts to learn the Ukulele and teach them. Before two weeks ago, I had always thought of the Ukulele as a "kids toy," as most I had seen were so poor quality that they were toy-like. I picked up a lesson book on Ukulele, and learned my first 3 chords: C, G7 & F. From the first strum, my opinion immediately changed from "kids toy" to "beautiful sounding, musical instrument." After clunking along on the kids' Amahi Soprano for the past two weeks, just today I ordered my first Concert Ukulele with safety points from work. I never expected the Ukulele to find me, but it did!

  8. #208
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Wales
    Posts
    132

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    Fascinating thread and a brilliant idea. Good material for a historian / sociologist to summarise. Here is a brief version of my route to the uke.

    My dad was a banjoist so the sound of strumming was always in the house.

    I played the banjo in a trad (Dixieland) band in the 60s, and a bit of guitar too.

    Apart from spasmodic dusting off the instruments, I didn't do much plonking for many years.

    Then a few years ago went to a concert by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain: what an eye-opener.

    Wife bought me a nice little soprano for my birthday. Found it very suitable for stiffening fingers

    Discovered Tony Mizen's From Lute to Uke, and interest in Renaissance music re-kindled.

    Bought a cheap lute, but learning curve very steep. Good fun, but challenging. Loved the music, though, and I really wanted to play it.

    So, about 2 years ago, started arranging lute pieces for the uke. Much more rewarding to play, if not always easy.

    Found I had to buy a tenor and fit it with a low G, to get a lower voice. (Why not use a guitar? I find that it is far too heavy a sound for the music, tho' there are some wonderful guitarists playing the music beautifully.)

    Started blogging my arrangements, even the ones I can't play properly.

    And there you have it!
    Still facing a steep learning curve, and time is running out.
    Stagg S70-S Soprano, Pono ATD-CR Tenor.
    My new blog: https://renaissance-ukukele.blogspot.co.uk

  9. #209
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Maine, USA
    Posts
    3

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    After attending bluegrass festivals, etc. I was jealous that I couldnít participate in picking, particularly with one of my favorite bluegrass bands, Steep Canyon Rangers. I toyed with the idea of learning an instrument that I could have pick session with.

    The dream was a banjo, but the size felt like a major commitment for someone who has never had a string instrument before. I love the sound and find it to be a happy instrument. From there I decided a mandolin would be more portable and sat on that idea for several years. In Dec Ď18 after xmas I decided I was going to commit to the idea and make it a New Years Resolution.

    I found myself intimidated by the 8 strings before even starting, and started looking for alternative instruments to learn that were easier. I figured I would have better sucess if the instrument wasnít so hard starting out. Dulcimer seemed to be an option. Ukulele also was an option. I liked the idea of a ukulele, but as soon as I found out a banjolele existed, I fell in love and knew this was my path. I got my uke (Kala KA-CEMB) from Mim after the New Year.

    I was hooked from day one. I even started teaching lessons to my dad immediately as I had memorized some chords while waiting for the uke to arrive. Right now I am looking at buying a banjolele and an Outdoor uke. It has been a wonderfuly journey. I canít wait for Spring to hit so I can take the uke to the park!

  10. #210

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlishaMisha View Post
    After attending bluegrass festivals, etc. I was jealous that I couldn’t participate in picking, particularly with one of my favorite bluegrass bands, Steep Canyon Rangers. I toyed with the idea of learning an instrument that I could have pick session with.

    The dream was a banjo, but the size felt like a major commitment for someone who has never had a string instrument before. I love the sound and find it to be a happy instrument. From there I decided a mandolin would be more portable and sat on that idea for several years. In Dec ‘18 after xmas I decided I was going to commit to the idea and make it a New Years Resolution.

    I found myself intimidated by the 8 strings before even starting, and started looking for alternative instruments to learn that were easier. I figured I would have better sucess if the instrument wasn’t so hard starting out. Dulcimer seemed to be an option. Ukulele also was an option. I liked the idea of a ukulele, but as soon as I found out a banjolele existed, I fell in love and knew this was my path. I got my uke (Kala KA-CEMB) from Mim after the New Year.

    I was hooked from day one. I even started teaching lessons to my dad immediately as I had memorized some chords while waiting for the uke to arrive. Right now I am looking at buying a banjolele and an Outdoor uke. It has been a wonderfuly journey. I can’t wait for Spring to hit so I can take the uke to the park!

    Playing bluegrass on it and what music are you using? Banjo's way too big for me so I built myself a banjo uke. W
    BTW love Steep Canyon Rangers!

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