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Ukelele Players?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Diesel Kilgore, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. I've been thinking about getting into playing Ukelele. Seems like a cool instrument and something different then bass, without going into guitar. And i've got a stack of old Hawaiian music records my grandparents had. I don't know what they're fetish with that genre was, but it's cool that I have them now. :D

    I was thinking of getting something bottom of the barrel and a Hal Leonard book to get me going.

    The bottom of the barrel Ukes that my music store had were about $40 and the build quality seemed terrible. Bad finish and frayed wood around the base of the neck, dot inlays with gouges in the fretboard, and the frets and fretboards seemed flimsy and shoddy too. They would play and sound good, but they look horrible.

    The store also had Johnson Ukes which were about $75 and were much, much nicer. But I don't wanna spend that kind of cash. GC's website has Ukes for about $30, and they look nice in photos, but i'm worried they will be like the ones I saw at my local store.

    Anyone have any suggestions? Advice? Best way to start out?
  2. landau roof

    landau roof Reupholstered User

    Jul 29, 2010
    Downstate CA
    I play uke a bit. Check out the different sizes. As a bass player you might want a longer scale. I started out on concert, but switched to tenor because it was affecting my guitar playing (but not my bass playing interestingly enough). I still keep the concert around to take to the beach and all that stuff, but I might let it go soon.

    You should be able to find one on Craigslist in your budget. There are lots of folks who bought a uke because they think it's cute but don't have any music in them.
  3. ma4rk


    Jun 28, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Get good on a cheap one then when you're good at it move up to a bigger & better one.
    I bought 2 of ther $40 ones... one for me, one for my 10 month old daughter to muck around on one day (so far she just dribbles & chews on it)
    I also heard George Harrison carried around 2 at all times so anyone could jam with him.
  4. Corbeau


    Dec 14, 2011
    I have one of those $40 ukes and while it's not great, it's serviceable. The neck and the fret boards are not as bad as they seem. You can get ukes from about $30 on ebay, so it's worth looking at those.

    The uke is a lot of fun - it's a very happy instrument. I can't help but smile whenever I play mine.
  5. I play uke too. If you buy a cheap one do yourself a favor and put good strings on it. The plastic ones that come on them will not stay in tune. Other than that have fun! I love mine.
  6. I've been playing and building ukes (mostly cigar box ukes) for the past 3 years, they've always been sopranos. I've never had a big problem with the adjustment either. I like playing it as a means of relaxation, and even a method of songwriting and musicmaking on the go. I've managed to bus downtown with a uke and a shoebox and make a few bucks while busking over a couple hours.

    My own recommendation would be to spend the extra few bucks on a nicer instrument. If you get a nicer one that looks, feels, and sounds better, then it's not going to feel like you're punishing yourself every time you play. That being said, staying within your budget is ultimately a bonus as well. Perhaps look for a used one, usually you can get a good deal on something if you know what you're getting.

    This is also important, good strings will make a great uke sound great, and a mediocre uke sound good.
  7. landau roof

    landau roof Reupholstered User

    Jul 29, 2010
    Downstate CA
    That's a big X2. IIRC, Lanikai was started by someone in Hohner who noticed that there was a huge gap between cheap, novelty gift shop ukes and highend, boutique instruments with not much in between. But with the risen popularity of these things, that gap has been filled.
  8. The singer in my band plays uke a lot (a Lanikai soprano), but none of the Hawaiian music.
  9. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    I once almost ran down Ray Charles...
    I gig from time to time with Chalmers Doane who's sort of the godfather of ukelele programs in schools all across Canada. Interestingly, he started out as an upright bassist and still plays--along with about 15 other instruments. But he's a killer jazz uke player.

    James Hill, who's a world-class uke virtuoso is a direct product of those educational programs via the Langley Ukelele ensemble. You can read more about these two and their Ukelele In The Classroom thing here. A lot of Canadian students got their first exposure to playing music and playing in an ensemble via Chalmers. One time he had a hockey rink with a few hundred students all playing at once. Have a listen to this as an example.

    So...when I asked Chalmers about buying a good, relatively inexpensive uke, he recommended the Flea and Fluke ukuleles. You can get them at regular music stores or via the Flea Market Music site. There's lots of videos on YouTube to hear what they offer. Some crazy designs and colors. Bette Midler plays one. Not really cheap, but sehr cool.
  10. I would take the time you're willing to invest in playing the uke and instead spend that time practising on bass. If you're dead set on taking up another instrument, I'd say either guitar or piano (or drums, if you have the space for a kit), simply because those skills will serve you better in the future. I'm sure I will offend a lot of people by saying this but I put the ukelele in the same category as the recorder, that of non-serious instruments that are principally for school kids.
  11. I estimate with $50 I could get a cheap Uke, a Hal Leonard book and new strings. Strings should only cost about $3 or $4, from what I researched. That's well within any kind of money I would spend, especially if I get bored with it and it just sits around.
  12. landau roof

    landau roof Reupholstered User

    Jul 29, 2010
    Downstate CA
    Take your small mind and go whistle on a blue tip. :spit:
  13. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    I once almost ran down Ray Charles...
    Ouch! There was a time (renaissance, early baroque) when the recorder was a very serious instrument indeed and there are recorder virtuosos playing with period orchestras all over the world. It has a unique timbre and it's own intrinsic value. It's not just a toy flute for kids. (Have a look at this.) And in the same way, the ukulele is a perfectly serious instrument that has its own unique timbre. It's not a tiny kid's guitar. (Again have a look at this.) And it's a boatload of fun. If the guy wants to learn the uke, then he'll have something that 's a lot more fun with a couple of beers on the veranda than his bass is. I say more power to him.
  14. I play some uke too. I bust it out to open a set in my wacky 80s cover band. Big, open C chords then I stroll out with an uke and begin Every Rose Has It's Thorn. It usually gets a great response.
    It's a fun instrument to play and no one is ever angry to hear an ukelele. Have fun and mahalo!
  15. Oh! And one more thing. I forgot the fellas name but type in "ukelele, Bohemian Rhapsody" in YouTube and prepare to be completely amazed.
  16. Hey, I was just making a suggestion that I figured, if taken heed of, would benefit the OP as a musician overall. There are vitruosos of Gypsy Boards out there (which I'm hoping is the correct term for what is effectively a bow where the string is plucked and adjusted in length to change pitch), and like the recorder I have neither a problem with people playing those instruments nor them spending ample amounts of time practising on them. My point is simply that your time could be better spent on something that will yield more of a return, and yes, the money too could be better spent to that same end. $50 would buy you a book full of cello songs that you could use to practise music-reading, or a couple of sets of strings, or a one-hour lesson with a decent teacher.

    But to answer your question, I'd just get a cheap uke, some Hawaiian song book, and and knock yourself out..
  17. williamk


    Apr 2, 2008
    get a cheap one, they're great fun!
  18. landau roof

    landau roof Reupholstered User

    Jul 29, 2010
    Downstate CA
    I'm not really into the strummy HI kinda stuffs either. I'm mainly do ragtime/blues and jazz where the uke is concerned.

    The syncopation of ragtime is where it's at. Serious funk.

    edit: There are occasional uke deals on Hello Music. I got a solid mahogany tenor Lanikai for a great price, and I've seen a few others pop up as well.
  19. Jeramotion


    Jun 29, 2012
    Check out http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/forum.php

    Everything you want or need to know.

    I just got my wife a Kala soprano ukulele after doings a lot of searching for a good sounding cheap beginner ukulele. Amazon and ebay seem to have the best deals. If you get a really cheap one, you will probably want to replace it pretty quickly with something better. Getting a slightly more expensive one to start with good strings is probably the best option for someone looking to learn to play it.

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