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Thread: Your story: how ukulele found you?

  1. #211

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    How did the uke find me? Hmmmm. Well, I have played guitar for over 20 years - mostly strum and sing. I wouldn't consider myself technically proficient on the guitar. A couple of friends had ukes and I was interested, but I couldn't make myself pull the trigger on one. Then my 10 year old wanted to learn the guitar. We grow 'em pretty small and he had trouble reaching across the fretboard so I suggested he start with a uke. That led to me buying a uke for both him and me (he's a righty, and I'm a lefty). I started with a little laminate Ohana CK-10 and have since added a solid wood Ohana TK-50G. I dream about a K-brand tenor, but thus far I haven't been able to pull the trigger on one. I play my ukes everyday, and know a lot more about uke than I ever did guitar. Oh, and I rarely play my guitar anymore except for strumming and singing to lead worship.

  2. #212
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Near Lake Okeechobee, Florida
    Posts
    429

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    The 'ukulele found me one random afternoon while I was visiting a relative....

    I paid a visit to my 5-year-old cousin. My cousin was learning 'ukulele at the time, and her father had bought a couple of Makala ukes so they could practice together.

    Always one to be interested in unfamiliar musical instruments, I roped her father into showing me a a few chords on the 'ukulele then spent the remainder of the afternoon practicing the ice cream changes. The father told me the name of the store where he had purchased the 'ukuleles, and I filed it away for future reference. I didn't know it yet, but I had already caught the uke bug.

    I went home and left those two ukuleles behind, but I had the itch. As the club advisor for a music appreciation club, I was drawn to the ukulele's accessibility. None of my primary instruments was a good fit for accompanying novice musicians, but the 'ukulele could fulfill both rhythm and harmony roles suitably well for my needs. I visited the music store recommended by my cousin's father to try out a few 'ukuleles, and after several hours of A/Bing various models, purchased a Kala KA-ATP-CTG-CE that ticked all the right boxes (decent intonation, good tone separation, crisp attack, broad dynamic range, and reasonably full tone) and a copy of Lil Rev's beginner method.

    Soon enough, learning the notes in open position and stringing together a few chords gave way to monthly trips to 'ukulele circles and playing out of the Yellow Book. As the 'ukulele hive mind absorbed my thoughts, the hobby became an obsession replete with hours of daily practice and regular trips to 'ukulele festivals and uke-centric concerts. I joined an 'ukulele ensemble, applied myself to the instrument, and never looked back.

    It's been almost four years since I first discovered the 'ukulele while sitting on my cousin's couch, and the cycle has come full circle. Now the 'ukulele teacher at the store that sold my cousin's father the Makalas that first caught my eye, I find myself in a position of responsibility as seek to inspire my students and guide them to realize their own musical ambitions.

    I suspect this is but the start of a long, wending journey . . .
    Last edited by bacchettadavid; 03-11-2019 at 05:34 AM.
    "Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once -- for how count heart-beats plain / Unless a company, with hearts which beat, / Come close to the musician, seen or no?" - Robert Browning, "Balaustion's Adventure"

  3. #213
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Maine, USA
    Posts
    3

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    Quote Originally Posted by captain-janeway View Post
    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!
    I keep trying to decipher what you are asking in that first sentence, so I am going to wing it with my first instinct and then correct me if I am wrong. So music can be hard to find, but yeah I have played a little bluegrass on the uke so far. I forget some of them as I didn’t print them out. I play ‘Yellow-Backed Fly” by Steve Martin and SCR a lot. It is quite easy chord-wise, so I have been enjoying getting to close my eyes and imagine I am picking with them in the late hours after the festival ends haha. Anyways, I got the music off amchords, if you are interested. I like lots of music, so I haven’t been as focused on bluegrass since my favorite songs are not as easy to find or are really tough for a beginner. I remember playing a John Prine song at request from my dad. But considering he basically uses the same chords and such in all his songs, I have played them all! I am currently looking for “Little Birdie” by Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck as well as a few others, but they are tough to find. I need to look harder or convert them to uke.

    Yay another SCR fan! I have seen them in concert more than 10 times! Twice with Steve Martin (Another love of mine, which is how I was introduced to them back on their first collab) with one of those times including Edie Brickell. I unfortunately missed the Martin Short one. They are so flawless and smooth live. Have you gotten a chance to see them? They are also really chill to chat with, so if you get a chance to if it is quiet, take the opportunity.

  4. #214
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Near Lake Okeechobee, Florida
    Posts
    429

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    Captain-janeway and AlishaMisha:

    If you don't know Frets Halligan, you should check him out. Frets Halligan is the pseudonym of Charlie Rancke, a guitarist and vocalist who used to be in a few bluegrass combos including a progressive bluegrass quartet called "Cloud Valley" alongside Bill Evans and Missy Elliott. Interestingly, Frets has also made contributions to the 'ukulele community in form of laying much of the groundwork for the 'ukulele community in Maine as well as traveling and conducting workshops.

    You can find a few recordings of Frets here: https://www.wvtf.org/post/frets-halligan#stream/0. Incidentally, he performs a very nice, approachable version of "Yellow-Backed Fly" at that link.
    Last edited by bacchettadavid; 03-12-2019 at 04:41 AM.
    "Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once -- for how count heart-beats plain / Unless a company, with hearts which beat, / Come close to the musician, seen or no?" - Robert Browning, "Balaustion's Adventure"

  5. #215
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    20

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    I play guitar mainly for my own enjoyment. I am an average player at best. The other day my wife bought a bright orange Makala soprano ukulele to use when she visits an old age home. She wanted to bring music to the residents she visits.

    Before this she has always taken a hands-off approach to music but I can see her enthusiasm to learn.

    She also suddenly has a better appreciation and better opinion of my modest skills. Before she used to mainly deride my playing.

    Anyway I tried her uke and was hooked. It's such an easy and happy instrument.

    So I have ordered an Aklot AKC23. Its a strange name but comes highly recommended so lets see.

  6. #216
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Abbotsford British Columbia Canada
    Posts
    41

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    How the Ukulele found me;

    In 2015 brother invited my wife and I on an eight day kayaking trip to the south island of Haida Gwaii. My brother has a musical background and when we get together we find a way to sing a few songs. (Him better then I).

    I wondered what instrument could be carried in a kayak. A ukulele crossed my mind, but I quickly dismissed it as I didn't have one, didn't know how to play and there was not enough time before the trip.

    On our arrival in Haida Gwaii, my sister in law presented my brother with a ukulele as a gift. (They had been to Hawaii the year before). It had no case so we left it behind.

    By this time I was getting a feeling, but could not identify it.

    Our first night out on the trip after dinner our guide pulled a ukulele out of the back of her kayak! I was now amazed and said out loud " This is a message to me, I have always wanted to play an instrument. When I get back home I am going to learn how to play".

    We had sing-a-longs every night of the trip. It was a wonderful shared experience with the whole group.

    Back home, I bought a Kala tenor, took a couple of group lessons and started attending the local group at the library.

    I quickly realized that strumming alone is not great as a melody is required. I took singing lessons and now I am in an excellent community choir (Joyvox).

    Since then I have built three tenors and one baritone.

    I have few songs memorized and am constantly looking for more.

    I am hooked for life. Just yesterday I said to myself, " I am going to sing and play all the way to my grave."

    Not sure if it was a worm hole or a time warp, but the ukulele did find me!

  7. #217

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    The ukulele definitely found me rather than the other way around. I had absolutely no interest in it, nor any other instrument for that matter. I took piano lessons from ages 5-10, not because I wanted to. I also had some really bad guitar lessons when I was 12 for about a month. That was the extent of my musical career.

    My wife thought it would be a fun idea to celebrate my 40th birthday, which happens to fall on Christmas Day, in Hawaii. She also thought it would be cool if Santa brought our 7 year-old son an ukulele for Christmas.

    I went out and bought a cheap, little soprano for him and barely thought about it again until he opened it on Christmas morning.

    He loved it...for about 10 minutes. He’s shown no interest in it in the 3+ months since. I, on the other hand, couldn’t put it down. By the time we left a few days later I was able to strum Iz’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” using a very simplistic strumming pattern.

    The uke was terrible, but it hooked me anyway. A week after getting home, I ordered a Pono ATD from HMS, and I haven’t looked back.

    I can now play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World” using Iz’s actual strumming pattern and quickly learned a few fun songs like “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Rainbow Connection.” I can also now finger pick a few, like “White Sandy Beach,” a simplified version of “Canon in D,” and some other simpler stuff. Currently working on Jake Shimabukuro’s version of “Fields of Gold.” It’ll probably take me a month to get it, but I’ll get there.

    I’m already finding that I lean toward finger picking, but there’s something about strumming that’s just soothing, too.

    So began my love affair with the uke. Who woulda thought? Certainly not me, but here I am plotting my next 3 ukes. It’s crazy how these things can grab hold of you.

    Well, that’s my story. I hope someone enjoys it as much as I’ve enjoyed reading many of yours.

    Keep strummin’!

    Matt
    Last edited by mnb128; 04-06-2019 at 05:41 PM.

  8. #218
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    SE Louisiana
    Posts
    34

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    I think is was 4 years ago, I had a birthday coming up. I know I am hard to buy for so I did some research on the internet for some ideas to tell my wife.
    I saw a soprano ukulele kit from Grizzly.com. That sounded like a lot of fun to build so I asked for it and received it.

    It was very rewarding to build the kit. I think it turned out really well. The uke is beautiful. It doesn't play very well (intonation is poor) and it is heavy, but it is pretty to look at. After that, I decided to get a better uke and purchased a Cordoba 15CM. It was setup nicely and plays well.

    The ukes have grown from there. I got the Kala from HMS for my birthday a year later. I picked up a Pono AT used from someone local and I purchased the Kiwaya from World of Ukes.

    I now have 4 plus original kit uke. I also got yellow Ohana for my wife to use in her music classes.
    Last edited by mswiggins; 04-08-2019 at 03:53 AM.
    My Ukes

    Kiwaya KSU-1L
    Cordoba 15-CM
    Kala KA-ATP-CTG
    Pono AT

  9. #219
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Posts
    11

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    I first discovered the ukulele during a class offered in 2012 onboard the Celebrity "Century" cruise ship. I didn't purchase a ukulele for myself on that trip, but during a trip on the Ruby Princess in March of 2019, I got reacquainted with the Ukulele in a class presented by Tiki Dave. We had 65 beginning ukulele players in that class! Anyways, I purchased an Oscar Schmidt Tenor size in Hilo, and am enjoying it even after the trip. In my teenage years (I'm now retired) I played, and still have, a 6-string guitar, but lost interest. The ukulele is only 4 strings, and so many songs can be played with just 4 chords that I have a renewed interest in playing an instrument once again. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but if those tricks are EASIER, that may not be the case... I find the ukulele is easier on my tired old brain because I only have 4 strings to keep track of, easier on my fingers, because the strings aren't brass or steel, and thanks to the modern smart phone, easier to tune with a "Uke Tune" app, where I once used a tuning fork for the guitar. So... wish me luck!

  10. #220
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    14

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    I had been exposed to the Uke off and on through out my childhood. There was an Uke on the shelf in my brother's bedroom (I have 3 brothers and they shared the room over the years) that I'd strum haphazardly from time to time when I was really young.

    The main inspiration I got was from my brother 'Stench'. He was the most talented musician I know and he could pick up any stringed instrument and play and sing the song after listening to just a few bars. He was most talented on the electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, lute, and Uke. He played electric guitar in a couple bands over the years and self-recorded his own Uke CD of original songs.

    My brother also built instruments. He made a 3/4 scale Gibson Flying V electric guitar and his own Uke looked a lot like the "Fluke" Uke made by Magic Fluke Co. Sadly, Stench passed away from Acute Myeloid Leukemia in July of 2008. I believe his instruments were passed down to his son, who is now also a talented musician in his own right at 14 years old.

    My family lived near Honolulu for a few years (2005 – 2009) and for part of that time my brother Stench and his family also lived on the island. Stench and I would often get together to hang out. His son and my daughter are one month apart from another in age so we'd cruise the Waikiki boardwalk with our babies in their strollers to window shop the cheap tourist 'ukes or hang out at each other's houses and have sing-alongs.

    A few years ago we bought our daughter a Kohala Kine'O Soprano Uke for Christmas becuase she had expressed interest in learning how to play. But after she read the instruction booklet that came with the Uke she seemed to lose interest. I don't recall ever hearing her try to play it. One day I found the Uke on the floor and almost stepped on it! So the Uke got put in it's box in my bedroom for safe keeping.

    Fast forward some years to last week and I was picking up on the happy sound of the Uke sneaking it's way into my Spotify playlists. The sound of the Uke made my heart happy. So I took the Kohala out of her box, dusted her off, and started practicing finger positions for chords. She has barely left my side since then. I take her to work to noodle around on breaks. When I'm at home she's next to me on the sofa and I noodle while watching TV.

    I really hope playing this instrument will 'stick' with me. I have really bad self discipline when it comes to practing though and have been trying off and on to teach myself electric bass for 25 years and only know the TAB for part of a handful of songs.

    This coming Saturday I'm going to check out a local Uke group and really hope a permanent beginner will fit in!

    And that's my story (so far) and I'm sticking to it!

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