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Thread: Your story: how ukulele found you?

  1. #131
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    2

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    Well here I am with my first Uke. A couple of friends were hound dogging me about getting a Uke and playing for fun. Nothing serious, just to have some fun they said. Well I never considered a Uke to be a serious instrument except around grass skirts. After overcoming terminal stage 4 cancer which left me paralyzed from the waste on down, after having major surgery on my back, filling it with balls wires and fusion cages, suffering from Cemo brain, regrowing nerves so I could walk and regain feeling in my legs and fingers, having my thyroid removed, I thought maybe something light and fun might get me out and about. So I went down to one of my favorite music stores, and bought a Gretsch roots tenor. I got it home and it tuned out that one of the tuners kept slipping, so looking at it closely I discovered one tuning peg broken, the rest were misaligned and the bridge plate angled I/8 of an inch with one end thicker then the other, the frets sharper then razors and other finish defects. So I brought it back but the fun became serious and I needed to find a quality Uke. I started investigating heavily, but saw some nice looking ones on eBay, foreign ones, and tried to bid on them, bloody private bidders. Now this fun became challenging my exercise consisted of bidding and over bidding and never winning. So I watched and watched and watched. Finally I figure out a grand snip plan and at the last 6 sec on the clock placed a final bid, knowing eBay's software could not work fast enough in that time frame. I won it to my surprise, paid for it and am now waiting for it in the mail.
    It is a bit blingy for my personal tastes but the the art work is amazing. This had not been fun and it rapidly became serious once I saw the poor quality of the Gretsch. So part 2 of this saga begins when I get it in the mail.

  2. #132
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Ruislip, UK
    Posts
    231

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    Quote Originally Posted by ukeccc View Post
    Well here I am with my first Uke. A couple of friends were hound dogging me about getting a Uke and playing for fun. Nothing serious, just to have some fun they said. Well I never considered a Uke to be a serious instrument except around grass skirts. After overcoming terminal stage 4 cancer which left me paralyzed from the waste on down, after having major surgery on my back, filling it with balls wires and fusion cages, suffering from Cemo brain, regrowing nerves so I could walk and regain feeling in my legs and fingers, having my thyroid removed, I thought maybe something light and fun might get me out and about. So I went down to one of my favorite music stores, and bought a Gretsch roots tenor. I got it home and it tuned out that one of the tuners kept slipping, so looking at it closely I discovered one tuning peg broken, the rest were misaligned and the bridge plate angled I/8 of an inch with one end thicker then the other, the frets sharper then razors and other finish defects. So I brought it back but the fun became serious and I needed to find a quality Uke. I started investigating heavily, but saw some nice looking ones on eBay, foreign ones, and tried to bid on them, bloody private bidders. Now this fun became challenging my exercise consisted of bidding and over bidding and never winning. So I watched and watched and watched. Finally I figure out a grand snip plan and at the last 6 sec on the clock placed a final bid, knowing eBay's software could not work fast enough in that time frame. I won it to my surprise, paid for it and am now waiting for it in the mail.
    It is a bit blingy for my personal tastes but the the art work is amazing. This had not been fun and it rapidly became serious once I saw the poor quality of the Gretsch. So part 2 of this saga begins when I get it in the mail.
    You can't post this and not tell us what it was and welcome

  3. #133
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    part two:
    Well since I have to wait for my uke I decided to start understanding them and am totally floored at all the small handmade ukes being made. The Asian market is going crazy with them. The worlds relationship with ukes has matured and I decided that this indeed could be fun and rewarding. Researching compliments my ocd nature about quality but in the mist of my craziness and frustrations about pickups, woods and pricing the person I made an offer to for a Kala changed his mind and accepted my offer. So now I have two and this one should get here in about a week. So I am having fun and look forward to making music. This instrument is communal people play together this indeed will be fun.

  4. #134
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Herts, UK
    Posts
    3,584

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    Oddly, I don't remember. Well, not reliably.

    I think it may have been Jake Shimabukuro's cover of 'While MyGuitar Gently Weeps'. I definitely recall seeing that and thinking WTF is that guy playing? I knew about ukuleles but was only aware of the soprano size. The existence of the tenor uke was a revelation and most of the 'ukuleles I've owned have been tenors.

    But I'm not 100% sure that I didn't get my first Dolphin even before that... I really don't recall clearly. It was 10 years ago and I've bought and sold so many of so many different kinds of instruments that it's all a bit of a blur.

    I've drifted away from 'ukelele occasionally as band roles have demanded that I focus on other instruments, but modding at UU has kept me in touch with my uke side and in my current band it's once again one of the things I play.
    And whether the blood be highland, lowland or no,
    And whether the skin be black or white as the snow,
    Of kith and of kin we are one, be it right, be it wrong,
    As long as our hearts beat true to the lilt of a song.

  5. #135
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    7,228

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    My, my. I have just spent the last 2.5 hours reading ALL of the posts here.
    It's really encouraging to see this thread resurrected.
    I can't name all of you, but a lot of you have posted some very inspiring stories. I'm having trouble reading what I type.
    Geez.
    My story is pretty lame by comparison. I didn't share but just a tiny bit of it, the rest is kinda boring, really.
    I've made some friends here. Some I've met already, and more that I hope to meet.
    One of them has actually helped me over some humps. You know who you are. I appreciate you all to pieces, my friend.
    After about 8 years of fumbling around, I'm on uke #15 + a banjouke.
    I still think I stink at it, but compared to the other things I've tried to play, I think I'm a goddess of the uke. (haha)
    I'm even in an ensemble now, playing ALFs and parties, and am beginning to train myself to help kids with the Ukulele Kids Club, along with whoever will come along.
    And I've written 2 songs, one is really silly.
    I hope I play ukulele right up till the instant I bite the dust. And I hope I don't fall on it when I do, so someone else can play it.
    What a cool thread.
    Who's next?
    "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.

  6. #136
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Posts
    23

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    My mom gave me an Ukulele for my birthday a couple of years ago. It was a $30 non tunable Soprano Uke and It was not playable. I asked myself, how involved do Ukuleles get? For the most part, I thought that you could only play a few songs like Somewhere over the Rainbow... I really was pretty ignorant. So I looked into it and got a concert Kala. I have been struggling with the guitar for 15 years and when I realized how light and easy it is to hold and play an Ukulele I was hooked.

    Hi, Underground! I've decided to start writing a blog about my prediction and prophecy of Biblical End Times! I believe they will reach their total fulfillment in two years, 2020! Come read my entries over at http://neverfatal2020.over-blog.com

  7. #137
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Moku Manu, Hawai'i
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    4,518

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    Family Tradition. Dad played a ʻukulele, I think I first heard his Kamaka Pineapple from inside the womb. It got stolen when I was 16, and I got distracted with life. 2o year later listening to Bruddah Iz inspired me to come back to the ʻukulele. My dadʻs llove of the Pineapple has rubbed off so now I own 8 of them (used to be closer to 20 but thinned the herd).
    Illegitimus Non Carborundum

    I ʻike lākou, ʻo ʻoe, ka mea wale nō nona ka inoa ʻo IĒHOVA;
    ʻO ʻoe nō ka Mea kiʻekiʻe loa ma luna o ka honua a pau.
    Nā Halelū 83:18

  8. #138
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Sarasota FL
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    I lived in Hawaii for 15 years in the 70s and 80s and while I certainly appreciated the ukulele as an integral part of Hawaii music I was never really focused on it. I was certainly aware of Peter Moon's virtuosity and of the joy of Iz's playing. During that time I had never touched a ukulele.

    During the past several years I followed the worldwide voyage of the Hokulea (Hawaiians, you know. Others, see www.hokulea.com). I had been looking forward to Hokulea's first stop on the American mainland, which was down the road from me at Everglades National Park. Perhaps something was incubating subconsciously, but several months prior to Hokulea's arrival I impulsively purchased a $35 Hola HM 21 uke on Amazon and learned a few chords, but didn't get hooked.

    Hokulea's landfall in Everglades National Park was quite the Hawaiian extravaganza. In addition to the crew and dignitaries from the Seminole nation, a delegation of Hawaiian people and Polynesian Voyaging Society VIPs were there, all flown in from Hawaii. A local hula halau was there as well ( there are a surprising number of Hawaii people in Florida). One of the visitors from Hawaii was the music director of Kamehameha Schools, Randy Fong, who was there with what I know now was a Kamaka HF3 koa tenor.

    I thought that uke was beautiful to listen to and to look at. I resolved to try to learn to play that day. The next day, at home, I Googled ukulele lessons, and damned if a class was not starting that very night in what turned out to be a terrific ukulele store, also down the street from me.

    Now I seldom am more than a room away from a uke. I have graduated to a Ohana CK-35L longneck concert and a Kala KA-SRT-CTG-CE tenor. My goal to to become worthy of a Kamaka.

    Thanks to Mike and Jeff at Rhythm Inlet in Nokomis, Florida, and to Ukulenny who gave me an awesome lesson one afternoon poolside on the Space Coast, and to Harry Kojima, whose Youtube tutorials of Hawaiian song are the best, and to Jake Shimabukuro who expects me to be able to play a 4-4-3-7 Em without requiring physical therapy afterward, and to this forum where I've learned so much.

  9. #139
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    PHX, AZ
    Posts
    2,155

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    Great thread. Thank you Choirguy for starting it.

    A few years ago, I had reached my mid-30's and was super-stressed out from work and was looking for a more productive use of my downtime than video games/watching tv/cruising youtube for hours. I'd always wanted to play a musical instrument - any type of musical instrument really. My family is fairly musical but I had literally zero musical experience. I believe I played the harpsichord in 3rd grade one time. No recorders. No music theory. No choir/singing/literally nothing.

    My uncle is a trumpet player who also a music teacher in schools until he retired a few years ago. My brother played drums in the marching band. My uncles were big into jazz music, and my dad has a fairly diverse taste in music, so I had a fair appreciation for all kinds of music growing up, covering many decades too - which turned out to be a blessing with ukulele songbooks, as I'm familiar with quite a lot of older songs.

    So finally in my mid-30's, I searched for "easy to learn" instruments and the ukulele came up on a lot of those searches. Plus, it was only four strings, small, and non-intimidating vs. the unwieldy guitar. So I decided I was going to take part of my tax refund and get one. I was so scared and intimidated going into Sam Ash to look at their ukes. I'd never really been in a music store before.

    But having done a little research online, my initial thought was either a Flea or a Fluke.... but for some reason (sheer panic/confusion?) I wound up walking out with... a Kala Travel Tenor. I still don't know why I changed my mind. At the time, it felt easy to hold, due to its thin body, and it was loud!

    I played that Kala Travel Tenor for a few months at night after my wife had gone to bed, but I never felt very comfortable with fretting it. My fingers hurt and I almost gave up. Eventually though, I bought a lava black soprano Flea online through Elderly Instruments, and quickly realized that the action on my Kala Travel Tenor was too high. Also I have smaller hands so the soprano/concert sizes work better for me, as does the lower tension. So down the UAS blackhole I went... and I haven't came out yet!

    A couple years ago, I met Nancy, who runs the Sun Lakes Ukulele Group SLUG http://www.sunlakesukes.com/ at a Kimo Hussey class at Arizona State University for Tempe's Hawaiian Festival. So I've been going out to Sun Lakes, a retirement community in the southeast Valley, every-other-Sunday. It is a very different experience playing and singing at the same time! It is also a completely different experience playing with others at the same time. But all in all, something I really love.

    But playing the ukulele is one hobby that I have kept with it over the last 5(?) years. I can make music that kind of actually sounds like what it's supposed to. I'm still just an OK-Player but I'm still proud of that!
    Last edited by igorthebarbarian; 02-04-2018 at 08:00 PM.
    "If a lot of people play the ukulele, the world would be a better place to live."

  10. #140
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    12

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    Four years before my parents 40th anniversary they warned us to start saving. They wanted everyone to go to Maui together. So I setup some of my paycheck to be funneled into a separate savings account. My wife and I had gone a couple of time before but this time we had kids to take with us. So three and a half years go by and we are into planning what we want to do. We were clueless what to do with kids there other than snorkeling and ice cream. So we started searching every tourist website we could find to find stuff for them to do. The common item on all of them was; take an ukulele lesson. That sounded fun, but what if we really liked it? So I started looking locally for ukulele lessons.

    In our search we turned up a local ukulele group that met weekly. As a bonus they were starting year 2 of a kids program. Great, so went for a visit. The people were awesome, they had a couple of spare ukulele's to try out, and even better was the pot luck. We had so much fun that night. In talking with everyone our plans for Maui came out, and we were told to visit Mele Ukulele. (We found out later that they weren't serious about that.)

    So we get to Maui, and we have grand plans; helicopter ride, snorkeling trips, sail boat trips, etc. (We had been saving for four years, so we could do just about anything we wanted.) So the first day we simply went to the beach and snorkeled. Day two and we ask the kids what do you want to do? Their answer was go back to the beach. So we went to a craft sale (I knew there was homemade jelly there), came back and went to the beach. This continued for the next couple of days; something small in the morning, beach all afternoon, and sometimes dinner out. I have to admit that is a great way to spend a vacation. I had scheduled kite boarding lessons, so I was called in every day to see if the conditions were favorable. Finally I was told to head over. Just before we got to that beach I got the call saying don't bother the winds aren't good. So we decided to find Mele Ukulele.

    That is where we met Cheryl and Uncle Peter. Cheryl would pull an ukulele off the wall, explain what made it different and hand it over to us. Uncle Peter was showing us how to hold it, strum, and a couple of chords. When we got to hear what that one sounded like Cheryl would pull down another one, and the process continued. About 4 uke's in we have down a simple chord progression and Uncle Peter starts singing The Beatles. All I could think was this was really cool. This continued for another instrument or two, and when Cheryl tried to hand me the next one, I politely refused and went back to playing. The same thing happened with my wife. At that point Cheryl just stood next the cash register smiling. It was then that we looked at the price tags. It really was a case of our instruments finding us. We had saved for so long, and we weren't going to force the kids away from the beach, so we went for it.

    We did join the ukulele group and the kids earned their instruments by practicing for a year, then performing at a Hawaiian festival.

    A fun side story to this was our trip home. The Sky Cap at the airport saw the hard cases, and said that without seeing them he knew we bought good instruments. He then told me "don't listen to the teachers/books/websites out there. Instead find a song you already know, and learn the chords for that song." He explained you already know the words and the flow, all you need to learn is where to put our fingers. This was the second week of December, so the first song I learned was "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."
    Last edited by estill; 02-08-2018 at 12:30 PM. Reason: spelling

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