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So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....

Joe Offer 11 Mar 17 - 08:05 PM
JennieG 12 Mar 17 - 12:00 AM
Will Fly 12 Mar 17 - 03:34 AM
Helen 12 Mar 17 - 03:50 AM
Helen 12 Mar 17 - 03:55 AM
Will Fly 12 Mar 17 - 03:57 AM
Will Fly 12 Mar 17 - 04:01 AM
Susan of DT 12 Mar 17 - 09:22 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 12 Mar 17 - 09:48 PM
Joe Offer 12 Mar 17 - 11:18 PM
JennieG 12 Mar 17 - 11:24 PM
Ernest 13 Mar 17 - 03:55 AM
Andy7 13 Mar 17 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,Ed 13 Mar 17 - 05:07 AM
Johnny J 13 Mar 17 - 05:57 AM
Susan of DT 13 Mar 17 - 06:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Mar 17 - 10:41 AM
leeneia 13 Mar 17 - 01:49 PM
Jack Campin 13 Mar 17 - 01:59 PM
Helen 13 Mar 17 - 02:21 PM
Joe Offer 15 Mar 17 - 03:06 AM
Rusty Dobro 15 Mar 17 - 04:53 AM
Helen 30 May 17 - 04:33 PM
gillymor 30 May 17 - 08:22 PM
Joe Offer 30 May 17 - 08:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 31 May 17 - 04:01 AM
Helen 31 May 17 - 04:08 PM
Helen 31 May 17 - 04:25 PM
Helen 31 May 17 - 04:27 PM
gillymor 31 May 17 - 07:10 PM
Helen 31 May 17 - 08:37 PM
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Subject: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Mar 17 - 08:05 PM

I keep thinking I should be able to play some instrument. I fool around with harmonicas and I've dabbled with guitars, but I've never found an instrument (other than voice) that I feel comfortable with.

But I've been thinking for a long time about getting a ukulele. I went to a "Ukulele Kindergarten" workshop led by Kathryn LaMar at San Francisco's Camp New Harmony, and I really enjoyed it. I tried several ukes that Kathryn had at the class, and I found that I liked ukes that didn't take much finger pressure on the neck. I found a Kala uke and another from Makala which appears to be the same company. I like both.

Any suggestions for a good uke for a beginner?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: JennieG
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 12:00 AM

What size did you try, Joe?

I started with a soprano (a little cheapie but it has a reasonable sound and is a good beginner level instrument) when injuries to my left wrist and hand made it easier to play uke than guitar. Being used to the large reach of a guitar meant the small soprano size kept bugging me......my fingers kept over-reaching - so one day I tried a tenor and loved it so much that I ended up buying one made by Doug Eaton - which I love. Two years later I bought a baritone uke from Doug, and last year played a gorgeous bass uke he made......I was very tempted but didn't succumb, however if he is at the National Folk Festival at Easter (bought my two Eaton ukes there) I may try it again. And again.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 03:34 AM

I had a tenor uke which was very nice, but which was rarely played when I commissioned my tenor guitar. I now have a fairly expensive soprano, by Kala I think, made from Koa wood and with a Fishman pickup in it. Probably in the region of $150 US.

Tip 1: Always buy the best you can afford - usually easier to play and will sell for a better price than a cheap one should you want to quit playing it.

Tip 2: Always check the intonation up the fretboard and on the octave. These little instruments can often go out of tune the further up the neck you go - very noticeable on a very short-scale instrument.

Come over to my place when you've got one and we'll play some duets. It's around 5,000 miles of course, but there you go...


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Helen
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 03:50 AM

Hi Joe,

My problem with the soprano ukes is that I'm all fingers and thumbs on that narrow neck.

I tried a few of the larger uke sizes at the music shop and the sales assistant also told me that she owns a concert size Lanikai, which is almost as big as a tenor size. I bought it and it has a beautiful sound. I also upgraded to some better strings (Aquila) using the low G string rather than the strange, mind-bending high, low, high, higher GCEA arrangement which most ukes have.

I have discovered that I can now pick out tunes on the uke - unlike most other instruments I have tried, and I can also remember the tunes which is a breakthrough for me. I'm still very much in the absolute beginner stage but I am happy that I decided to jump on the uke bandwagon.

I very rarely play the soprano (plinky-plunky) uke now because I like the sound of the concert uke better.

Mudcatter gillymor recommended Mike Lynch for uke tutorials. My current project is to perfect the Travis picking styles as shown in his video tutorials.

My best advice is: Just Do It!

Helen


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Helen
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 03:55 AM

Will, my Lanikai has a simple but clever system for solving the tuning issue. It has easily movable thingummy-bobs - which I know have a technical name - and that adjusts the string lengths.

Lanikai TunaUke

Helen


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 03:57 AM

Joe - here's some inspiration for you - my good friend Richard Durrant playing Bach...

RICHARD DURRANT - BACH'S CELLO SUITE NO. 1 ON UKULELE

The music kicks in around 0.55"


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 04:01 AM

And here's the great Phil Beer on tenor...

Phil Beer "The Ukulele Orchestrator of Great Britain"

A classic!


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Susan of DT
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 09:22 PM

Joe - We have a ukulele group at our retirement community, which Dick and I inherited after the woman running it did not want to do that any more. She encouraged the soprano size, but now most of the group are playing concert size (why isn't it called alto?). There are many decent ukes for around $60 on ebay. I have an Oscar Schmidt. Kala/Malaka seem to be okay. Lanikai and Cordoba are also decent. I don't trust the $30-$45 ukes. The concert size sticks out of my backpack, but I do generally carry it that way to also tote music and a music stand.

I have lots of music set up for ukulele with simple chords, mostly not folk since we are trying to get maximum sing along from the 80 to 105 year old set in the medical wing. I can send you a list of what we have.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 09:48 PM

Joe....
do not discount voice.....
            "the only instrument made by God"

Sincerly,
Gargoyle

I am also ready to try Uke .... bet you are near an OLLIE


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 11:18 PM

Hi, Susan -
Yes, send me a list of what you have. I'd be interested. I'm glad for the general recommendation not to look only at soprano ukes. My fingers are short and stubby, and it sounds like I should look at ukes with more substantial necks. I'm doing my weekly Trader Joe shopping tomorrow. I'll stop at the uke shop near TJ's tomorrow.

In researching the Rise Again Songbook, I came across two Hal Leonard publications, The Daily Ukulele and The Daily Ukulele, Leap Year Edition. The first book has 365 songs, and the second has (you guessed it) 366. They're both fun collections of a wide variety of songs, with melody notation and ukulele chords. I think the books should give me a good start.

Gargoyle, I certainly don't discount voice. I've sung mostly a cappella since the fifth grade, and I sing every day. Some complain that I sing "constantly."

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: JennieG
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 11:24 PM

Both useful books, and both in my collection, Joe!


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Ernest
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 03:55 AM

Hey Joe,

I know a few professional musicians who play the Kala Travel models, they have a good sound and the concert and tenor models are available with electronics.

I also liked the Gretsch concert I gave away as a present.

Arched backs usually have a better sound projection.

Also resonator ukuleles and banjo-ukuleles are a often a bit louder than those with wooden bodies.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Andy7
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 04:20 AM

Out of sheer laziness, I play a baritone uke, as the standard tuning, and therefore the fingering, is the same as the DGBE strings on the guitar; so no need to learn a whole new set of fingering or to 'transpose' songs.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 05:07 AM

Why not just play a guitar then, Andy7? Surely the different sound given by re-entrant tuning is the whole point.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Johnny J
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 05:57 AM

Of course, if you already have a guitar, you can "Capo" the fifth fret and just play the four higher strings which will give you the same tuning as a soprano or concert ukulele.
;-)

However, the sound will be different unless you are using gut strings.

There is actually a lot of interesting things you can do with a UKE and it's not all just communal strumming and sing songs.
There is a lot of scope for finger picking patterns, Campanela effect, melody playing and much more. Being able to play guitar helps a great deal both with theory and the actual playing. And vice versa....after all the ukulele is very portable... and you can also transfer what you have learned to the guitar later.

Playing other melody instruments such as mandolin or fiddle also helps although you have to remember that the tuning intervals are different.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Susan of DT
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 06:55 AM

Those Daily Uke books are excellent. Fake books are also a good source.
Joe - I will email you the list.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 10:41 AM

it was my new years resolution to learn the uke.
so far i've just done the easy bit. i've bought baritone, one, an electric soprano one - i already had the tenor one.

i paid around thirty quid for the two new entrants.

i've got a couple of dvd lessons, but the dvd player is on the blink.

i feel i am going to put this one together this year.

you an me Joe, we'll get there!


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: leeneia
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 01:49 PM

Joe, it's a very good sign that you tried ukes at the workshop and liked them. I think people can tell quite soon if an instrument's for them, but they have to pick it up and try it. Mere looking or listening are not enough.

You might also try out a mountain (lap, fretted) dulcimer. Few instruments are as easy as the dulcimer.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 01:59 PM

The only one I've tried that I liked was the iUke, which is tiny with an oval body and a bright sparkly tone - my other stringed instruments are far larger and deeper (latest project: the Turkish tanbur), so it complements those. Give it a try.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Helen
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 02:21 PM

Will Fly,

Those two videos by Richard Durrant and Phil Beer are amazing. And daunting. Something to aspire to and be inspired by.

Joe, I forgot to say that the new strings I put on my ukes are also softer to play, so easier on the fingers. Also I took the soprano back to the music shop not long after I bought it to get a strap installed, and happened to ask if there was a way to make it easier on the fingers and they adjusted the action on it, i.e. changed the height of the strings in relation to the fret board.

Big Al Whittle, I can highly recommend the Mike Lynch online videos which I linked to above, while you are waiting for your DVD player to be fixed. No excuses! Just do it! :-)

James Hill - something else to aspire to The music starts at about 2 mins into the track, but also check out the foot percussion when he starts playing St Anne's Reel at about 3:30 into the track. He then discusses how to do it from about 4:00 mins.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Mar 17 - 03:06 AM

Helen - I wish I'd seen your post earlier. I went to the uke shop today and nearly bought a concert uke. I asked about making the action easier, and they said they did it by filing down the bridge a bit - at no extra charge.
I could get a uke cheaper at Amazon, but I think I'll do better paying more for the same instrument close to home. If I get going early on Thursday, I'll be near the shop again Thursday.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 15 Mar 17 - 04:53 AM

Joe: I have a lot of fun with a Kala uke, but have to say that after half a century of the guitar, I tried a mandolin and found the tuning intervals very natural, the chords straightforward (effectively four strings) and tunes easy to get started with. Plenty of Will Fly videos online for inspiration.Just a thought.

Oh, and check out Joe Brown at the 'Concert for George' - it's on Youtube.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Helen
Date: 30 May 17 - 04:33 PM

Hi Joe,

I can recommend this book, but I suggest shopping around for it because the Amazon price of the book with CD's and DVD'd is grossly overinflated:

Progressive Beginner Ukulele - Book/CD/DVD by Peter Gelling

There also appears to be another version with online access to the CD & DVD content

One of the easiest sets of chords to learn is C, F, G, Am, G7. The C & Am chords have only one finger on the fret, F has two, G & G7 have three but you can just play around with those chords and make some good chord progressions.

When you progress a bit and learn some of the basic chords, I can highly recommend learning House of the Rising Sun, song #48 in the book. The chord progression is great, even if you just strum once for each bar.

Also, did you put the softer, mellower strings on your uke? I have Aquila strings on mine, and I chose to put the low G so that I can pick out melodies on it.

Another trick I have is to watch something on TV and just play around on the uke. Luckily I watch TV in a different room to hubby, otherwise my uke & I would be out the back door. The good thing about doing that is your conscious mind can be distracted by the TV show while your fingers get on with learning the muscle memory of playing.

Stick with it! And maybe you could find a local group where you can learn the basics and have fun at the same time, or do what I did. I wheedled and cajoled our session group into dusting off their ukes every now and then and having a uke session.

Helen

Helen


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: gillymor
Date: 30 May 17 - 08:22 PM

Helen, Here's a book that might be of interest to you, From Lute To Uke: Early Music For Ukulele (Book/CD Package).
It seems to be fingerstyle playing and has some Dowland lute pieces in it. It starts out easy and progresses in difficulty. A friend mastered the first few pieces in about a week. You can find a number of homemade videos on youtube of folks playing arrangements from the book.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 May 17 - 08:26 PM

There's a ukulele class at the local senior center. Don't know that I want to admit that I'm old enough for the senior center, though. My friend who's 100 goes there, and he likes it....


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 May 17 - 04:01 AM

Go there. arrive dressed in leather with your uke wired up to a fuzz box and big heavy metal amp!

Wild Thing!


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Helen
Date: 31 May 17 - 04:08 PM

Thanks for nothing, gillymor!

Now I've gone and bought three new uke books: From Lute to Uke, The Baroque Ukulele, Fingerstyle Ukulele [With CD (Audio)]. (Explanation: as a fumbling, bumbling, never-quite-got-there Celtic harper, I'd rather do fingerpicking style on the uke than use a pick, or strum. I'll probably still fumble & bumble on the uke, but it's a lot quicker to tune than a harp, and a lot less back-breaking to carry to sessions. Also, I'll be another year closer to retirement next week, so I bought myself a present.)

Joe, my sis runs a uke group for a seniors' learning organisation U3A, i.e. University of the Third Age in her local town. They are a nice bunch of people, they have a lot of fun, and they are learning an instrument. What more could you want?

And, as I've commented before on different threads, when we all get into the old folkies home we won't be listening to "We'll Meet Again" or "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do". We'll be listening to "Stairway to Heaven" or "Rock Around the Clock" so you might be pleasantly surprised if you do toddle along to the old fogeys' uke group.

Helen


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Helen
Date: 31 May 17 - 04:25 PM

I forgot to add this link to a long, long list of great uke songs with lyrics, chords and midi files to play along with.

Richard G's Ukulele Songbook

An Aussie favourite is Aeroplane Jelly, which is a boppy TV jingle from the 60's.

Helen


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Helen
Date: 31 May 17 - 04:27 PM

Wrong again: it looks like the play along link is to videos.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: gillymor
Date: 31 May 17 - 07:10 PM

Glad to be of service, Miss Helen.


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Subject: RE: So, if I were to buy a Ukulele....
From: Helen
Date: 31 May 17 - 08:37 PM

Well, it looks like they are exactly what I was looking for, so I'll forgive you this time.

By the way Joe, the chord sequence for House of the Rising Sun, in the key of A minor is:

Am, C, D, F
A, C, E7, E7
Am, C, D, F
A, E7, Am, Am


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