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Thread: Your story: how ukulele found you?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
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    When I was 15 in the mid sixties I started playing guitar influenced by The Beatles and the rest of classic rock and roll. I got reasonably good but never completely devoted myself to it. Almost four years ago I was leafing through a Musicians Friend catalogue and saw a Mahalo T-30 ukulele that looked like a Telecaster guitar. I thought it would look cute hanging next to my actual Telecaster guitar so I bought it for the reasonable price of $60 to strictly be a wall hanger, never intending on playing it.

    A couple of weeks later I received a postcard from the Los Angeles Music Center announcing their summer Play-Along series, which I had attended a couple of times for guitar, but this time it was for ukulele. Hey, I said to myself, I have a ukulele now, I think I'll try it. I got online and discovered how much was going on with the ukulele; Iz, Jake, Ukulele Underground, on and on. So I looked up some chords and started playing, but very quickly found how difficult it was making chords. In researching I discovered that the Mahalo was a soprano, and that a tenor would be better for me. I ran over to Sam Ash and bought a Lanikai quilted ash cutaway with preamp and practiced the three chords the Play-Along required.

    When I got to the Play-Along the first day, there were maybe 300-400 people. I was great fun, and that evening I joined UU, also in the next few days I joined The CC Strummers senior uke group and The Westside Ukulele Ensemble (of which I dropped out a year later, too advanced for me), and took up the bass uke. I haven't touched my guitars and have excelled far more in this time than I ever did with the guitar.


    8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. http://.www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos
    Last edited by kohanmike; 03-11-2018 at 03:12 PM.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Orange county.
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    Booli, amazing write up. I'll be reading it again. You really nailed down the musician's spirit and passion.
    All for sale; pm me:


    Brand new Loprinzi Honduran mahogany soprano w new hardshell case. $350 -> 325

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Debussychopin View Post
    Booli, amazing write up. I'll be reading it again. You really nailed down the musician's spirit and passion.
    Thanks for the kind words brother. I was worried it was too long, but in the end decided to post all of it so as to give the full back-story and motivation and a few of the many reasons why the ukulele is such an important part of my life.

    I hope it's not too much to read. My grandfather was a huge inspiration to me, and the only other person in my family with persistent interest, talent and true passion for music. His legacy lives on in me now.
    Guinea proverb: "A cow that has no tail should not try to chase away flies."

  4. #14
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    Jan 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booli View Post
    Thanks for the kind words brother. I was worried it was too long, but in the end decided to post all of it so as to give the full back-story and motivation and a few of the many reasons why the ukulele is such an important part of my life.

    I hope it's not too much to read. My grandfather was a huge inspiration to me, and the only other person in my family with persistent interest, talent and true passion for music. His legacy lives on in me now.
    Not too much at all. I loved it.

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    When I was 15 in the mid sixties I started playing guitar influenced by The Beatles and the rest of classic rock and roll.... I joined The CC Strummers senior uke group and The Westside Ukulele Ensemble (of which I dropped out a year later, too advanced for me), and took up the bass uke. I haven't touched my guitars and have excelled far more in this time than I ever did with the guitar.
    Mike,

    I just wanted to say that no matter how many times you have told this story, it never gets old to me, and makes me smile. I always enjoy reading it.

    Like so many other folks here, you and I have both come to the ukulele from guitar, and the ukulele has superseded our interest in guitar and also led to the (uke) bass for us both.

    Your passion with the uke bass also inspired me to pick up the bass once again after neglecting it for many years, and your discovery with all your custom modded basses all rings true for me as well. I also love the fact that so many of us keep in touch with these items for sale from Rondo Music and that nobody gets left out of a good deal because of such an open flow of communication.

    So, Mahalo brother. I'm glad you are here.
    Last edited by Booli; 01-12-2017 at 11:08 PM. Reason: typos
    Guinea proverb: "A cow that has no tail should not try to chase away flies."

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by robinboyd View Post
    Not too much at all. I loved it.
    Thanks brother - you're gonna make me blush.
    Guinea proverb: "A cow that has no tail should not try to chase away flies."

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia
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    408

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    TL;DR version: Got old, decided to play guitar, accidentally fell in love with ukulele. That's it; skip to the next post.

    I think Mivo and I might be twins.

    The differences being that I played flute in high school, but never really connected with it, then bought an acoustic guitar when I was at university. Had several flings with that guitar over the years but never made much headway beyond being able to pick up by ear and strum along with whatever was playing on the stereo. It sat almost untouched in the corner of my lounge room for the last seven years. I dabbled with electronic music on and off.

    Then came 40. I wanted to mark the milestone in some significant way and I figured that having an affair would be too much effort and annoy my wife, so instead I determined to knuckle down and learn to play electric guitar. Epic rock skillz by Xmas (last year) seemed a worthy goal. I drilled and played for a couple of hours every day, and finally made some serious progress. I quickly outgrew the beat up old Epiphone Les Paul I'd picked up for pennies and upgraded to a new Yamaha Revstar (seriously, this is a great rock axe) and everything I'd learnt was so much easier. Best of all, I was enjoying music in a way that I never had during the regimented piano/flute lesson years, or during my dabbling since.

    My daily guitar sessions became something I looked forward to. They washed away the stress of work. I thought I'd found my happiest place.

    Soon I discovered that some songs I wanted to learn or play worked better with acoustic guitar, so I dusted off the old dreadnought, gave it some new strings, and was surprised how good it sounded now with my hard won new skills. My play sessions shifted to 50/50 electric/acoustic.

    I got a bit of GAS, and wanted something travel sized. I was travelling between weekday home and the farm most weekends. I bought a cheap small guitar, a Cort Earth Mini, for a couple of hundred bucks, not expecting much from it given the price and size. I was wrong. I instantly fell in love with the tone and playability. (Later I bought a mid priced Taylor, and it still can't hold a candle to the Cort despite costing 3x the price).

    Next was a Vorson Guitarlele. A tenor uke sized stratocaster. I bought it as a novelty, but realised it was... okay. Not great, maybe not even good, but perfectly capable of ripping out a massive rock solo. The most surprising part was that I could play it just fine, despite its diminutive size. Curious.

    I noticed a soprano ukulele I'd bought years ago sitting beside my desk. A Mahalo I'd bought because it was cheap. $15 on special or something. I set to work trying to make it playable. I got it close, but not close enough. No amount of adjustment can fix that monstrosity. I decided ukuleles were a lost cause.

    My sister in law gave me a $100 gift card. I'd been toying with the idea of doing some inlay work on an instrument but couldn't bring myself to cut any that I owned, so instead on a whim I bought a $115 ukulele. Some no-name thing direct from china, a Caramel tenor (whatever that might mean). I was still firmly of the opinion that ukuleles were for kids and hipsters and couldn't make decent music.

    You know where this is heading. It arrived and I was astounded to find not a toy, but a real instrument. I found the sound not merely tolerable, I found it beautiful. I couldn't put it down. Curious and curiouser.

    When I finally set the ukulele aside, I jumped on YouTube and soon found Andie Isalie's F You (amazing) and then Brittni Piava's Safe & Sound (astounding). Ever been moved to tears by a musical performance? Yeah, that. My goals shifted from 'epic rock guitar skillz by Xmas' to 'play Safe & Sound like Brittni by Xmas'.

    Y'know I almost got there too. I could play that song (and a bunch of others) in pretty decent fashion by Xmas, but I'm still trying to polish Safe & Sound to performance level.

    Somewhere along the way I picked up a much better tenor uke, googled "Ukulele forum" and found this place, got sucked into the luthier/builders lounge, discovered Kalei Gamiao, built a ukulele and almost completely lost interest in several longstanding preexisting obsessions.

    Who knows what the future holds, but for me, for now, it's all about the uke.

    Sorry for the long-winded post. Thanks to everybody who has contributed to this forum, whether seasonista, tab sharer, enthusiast or builder. You've all enriched my life in ways I could not have expected a year ago.
    Last edited by Dan Gleibitz; 01-12-2017 at 11:33 PM.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Florida Space Coast
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    It was 1951 and my 10th birthday. My dad had just finished building our house and I suspect he didn't have much money, so he lovingly handed me his pre-war Martin O in it's case as I sat in my bedroom. I suppose he didn't think his old fishing reel and a new rod was enough. He proceeded to teach me how to play "Yes Sir, That's My Baby." I didn't get serious about playing until about 15 years ago.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Pickering, ON, Canada
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    On a cold snowy Sunday afternoon in February I was channel surfing and stumbled upon a documentary titled "The Might Uke". I sat there transfixed by the sounds I was hearing from an instrument I never gave a second thought about. James Hill and Jake could do that to you.

    I had dappled, stumbled, struggled with acoustic guitar 10 years earlier to no avail. I had no musical background, did not take music in school nor played any kind of instrument in my youth. But watching The Might Uke ignited a spark of interest. A week later I bought a uke, attended a group lesson and started going to three regular uke jams. Yes I was hooked and all in with both feet.
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    on a sunny FL beach
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    I've told this before but here's my story. About 15 yrs ago, my husband's birthday was approaching and I was browsing in the mall for a gift (in the days before internet shopping was commonplace). I wandered into a music store, not really thinking of something for him. I had my son with me and he plays piano and bass and always likes to go in and look at instruments and gear. While he was fiddling around, I saw a baritone ukulele. It was a humble Lanakai LU 21-B. I thought it was kid of guitary and yet more portable and though maybe my husband would enjoy noodling around on it. He was always in a band as a teenager, usually on bass, but stopped playing when he went in the service and never picked it back up (life got in the way), but could still grab a guitar and play a tune or two.

    Anyway....long story short, he said he liked it, but never played much. After a few months, it went in the closet and there it sat for 10 yrs. When we retired and got ready to move down south, I uncovered the uke and thought "I'll take it with us, maybe he'll find time to play now."

    When we settled into our retirement home, I broke it out and tried to encourage him to play, but he seemed only slightly interested. I thought if maybe I found him the chords to a song or two to get started, it might spark some interest. Now we were the only family I know who did not have Internet and knew nothing about computers, but when I retired I got a little Mac and was just learning how to use it. I stumbled upon Ultimate guitar and found the chords to two easy songs I had been listening to "Sideways" by Citizen Cope and "Creep" by Radiohead. I meticulously copied them by hand, with chord diagrams (no printer at the time) and presented them to my husband. Result? just "ok, that's cool, I'll check them out"...and then Nothing...no music.

    I thought "What the heck, these chords don't seem that hard. I'm gonna give it a try." And in a couple of hours, I found myself making music. I was hooked! I always loved music. Was in choir, played violin (awful) and then flute (not as bad) but nothing stuck. With the ukulele, though, it was like I flipped a switch, the light came on and it's been shining brightly ever since. I play for hours, nearly every day (wish I had started sooner). I've been playing for about five years, I guess now and loving it more than ever. I'm not a soloist, not ready to take a lead and lay down some wicked riffs but I am a solid rythym player and am comfortable performing. I'm just starting to explore fingerstyle with "The Ukulele Way" and enjoying it but I would also have been fine if I had just stayed a humble strummer of cowboy chords because that's what I find the most enjoyable and relaxing part of playing.

    Anyway...its been a wonderful musical journey. And btw, my son now has that old Lanikai and it still gets played.

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