Rediscovering the Uke

September 23, 2011

I learned to play the ukulele a long time ago and put it out of my mind until last year, when I bought one for $99 just for the heck of it. I remember learning from the Beatles DVD set, that they took ukes with them while on the road: portable, and great sketch pads for writing songs. “Something” was a uke song.

Our friend Rover stayed with us for a couple of weeks, and he practiced the uke daily. This got me playing mine again. I ended up showing him some useful techniques (always the teacher) and he ended up getting me hooked on playing the ukulele again.

Our new pal, Rob, has picked up the uke and become quite good in a short amount of time. He used to play an instrument (like many of YOU have) and has found it a nice way to get back into music, doing harmony and melody, and it never takes itself TOO seriously.

“Why so serious?” sez the Joker.

But the frets on my inexpensive instrument were not aligned well and all the chords were out of tune––which drove me crazy. So I bought a new one and a better one––a tenor–there are five kinds of ukuleles that I know of: soprano, concert, tenor, baritone and the new fretless bass ukulele.

To try to make four strings do what you want harmonically is quite a challenge, but I’m getting the hang of it. Its tuning is the top four strings of the guitar: G D B E. The soprano and concert have the G string tuned HIGH (“My dog has fleas”); the others, low, like the guitar.

Last night Daniel played a playlist assembled by his Android colleagues of their favorite music. And I played along with it on my uke. What fun.

Go buy a ukulele! You can get them for as little as $29. When you get better, buy a better one and give your old one away. Learn with friends. It’s a marvelous and rewarding hobby. And a funny thing is that everyone who plays ukuleles seems to smile while they play.

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