Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ukulele Basics

 I have been playing the ukulele for about a year and a half now.  I thought I would share with you my 3 ukuleles, as well as some things that I have learned about the ukulele.  I also have some awesome inspirational videos that I will share!  If you have always had a desire to play an instrument, but have anxiety of playing in front of people, or a  nagging fear that you are not musical, let me ease your worries.  I have those exact feelings.  I cannot sing, and am surrounded by family members who are in the music industry.  So I say-so what!  Who cares.  Now lets move on. 

Here is the first ukulele I bought!

It's a solid mahogany concert size ukulele from Ohana with abalone inlay details around the sound hole.  It has aquila strings and goloh friction tuners.  Here is a bit of advice that any professional ukulele player will tell a newby.  Purchase a decent uke!  It doesn't have to be a 600$ uke, but buy something that will stay in tune, and that does not look like a junky toy.  That way you feel like you are playing an instrument-because you are!  Also, I would recommend a newby  purchasing a concert uke, because I think it is a good size to learn on.  When I was researching about what to buy as a newby, I kept reading that you should buy a soprano uke, which is the smaller size.  However, the concert suits me well because I like the tension and spacing on the fret board as you go high on the neck.  A soprano is a bit tighter, and has shorter frets near the top.  There is also more frets on a concert, so you can eventually learn more on it.  But really, if you love the soprano ukes, go for it.  You'll be the one playing it. 

 Here is my second ukulele!  It is my favourite uke, and was given to me by my father for Christmas last year so it is very special.  It is a Kala soprano, with a spalted maple back!  Beautiful wood.  I believe it has a solid sprucewood top, and abalone inlay around the hole.  This one has side tuners, which are definitely easier to use than the friction ones.  Again, it has aquila strings (I think they sound the best!). 

And lastly!! 
My banjolele! The banjolele is just like a ukulele, except it has a banjo body.  So anything you play on the ukulele, can be played on a bangolele.  My banjolele is from Gold Tone.  It is a concert size, and note that these guys are much heavier than your little ukes! I am still searching for a strap that will fit mine.   If you love banjos, I would recommend getting one.  They have a great twang, and are much louder than a uke. 

So, these are my prized little musical possessions.  I tend to use my concert uke to practice on the most right now, but I go through phases where I switch. 

Tips for Someone Interested in Playing a Ukulele
  1. Try a class first and see if you like the ukulele.  I did this, and my teacher even let me borrow one of their beater ukes to take home and practice.  Once I decided I liked it and wanted to continue playing, I searched for one that I really liked but was still affordable.
  2. Go to classes if you can!  I attend weekly group classes, and I am always learning something new.  Playing with a group also helps you to stay on beat, and in key if you are singing (which most of the time I am not).  
  3. Practice!! (obviously)
  4. Buy an electric tuner.  Sure, you think you can tune it by ear, but do yourself and others a favour and buy a tuner, they don't cost a lot.  
  5. I would also recommend buying a case, strap, music stand, and a binder to keep all your music in.  I have all these things, and my music binder has alpha-dividers so I can look things up easily.  
  6. Choose songs that interest you.  Sometimes in music class I get a little discouraged because we play a lot of older music (and by old I mean 20's-not 60's!).  I take it all in, and think of it as a good lesson for learning techniques, but to stay inspired I seek out music that I like!  
  7. Attend jam sessions.  Since ukes are becoming so popular now, most places have weekly jams at pubs.  They are fun, light hearted, entertaining, and informative.  
  8. Youtube does wonders for inspiration.  
  9. It's not a 'hipster' thing. 
  10. If everyone played a ukulele, the earth would be a better place.  :)  But seriously.  It's meant to be fun, and shared! 
Do you play the ukulele?? 

Stay tuned for my next post on ukulele inspiration and educational sources. 

1 comment:

  1. I have been wanting to learn to play the Ukulele and i am also vegan. The animal products used to build the Ukulele is whats stopping me. Are you able to look passed it or are there vegan options?