Category Archives for "Ukulele"

Magic Fluke Ukuleles

Why Magic Fluke Ukuleles are in a Class All Their Own

Ukulele

Generally speaking, if you told us a Ukulele was made with a plastic body, neck, and fretboard I wouldn't be excited. Add a laminated wood top and we'd probably assume you were talking about a cheap Chinese knock-off. Unless, of course, you told me it was one of the great little Magic Fluke Ukuleles. 

The Fluke Ukulele started shipping in 1999 with a unique and original take on traditional Ukulele design. ​A few years later the Flea began production with the same materials and style. 

Both the Flea and the Fluke are made with a plastic thermoformed body and a laminated wood top. ​This combination enables the instruments to produce a much more authentic, fuller sound than plastic Ukes can pull off. 

They also share the companies standard molded polycarbonate fingerboard and bridge. While many may feel this is a detractor, it actually ​guarantees perfect intonation!

On most of their models the uniquely shaped headstock and neck are made out of solid maple.​

Magic Fluke Sizes 

The flea and fluke are really only made in one size each, so we'll cover them and quickly touch on the "Firefly" which is their banjo uke. 

The Flea Ukulele

The Flea Ukulele comes in a 14'' soprano or a 15.5'' concert size. The shape of the Flea lends itself to generous string spacing. Thanks to the plastic back both models weigh in right around 1lbs. 

Magic Fluke Flea Ukulele
The Fluke Ukulele
Magic Fluke Ukulele

The ukulele that started the movement. The Fluke comes in the traditional concert size and recently the tenor size. The body size for both is the same, but the concert has a 15.5'' scale length, while the tenor is 17''. Both sizes are able to handle GCEA tuning as well as High D tuning, making it fun and versatile!

Want more options? Check out our other favorite Ukulele Brands!

Now, time for our recommendations! 


Magic Fluke Flea Ukulele

Our Recommendation: Magic Fluke Co Flea Designer Surf Concert Ukulele

The designer series comes with custom designs by Evelyn Drew. You have nearly 30 options to choose from so shop around! One of our favorites is the Surf. The red and wood tone mixture is the perfect balance of style and tradition for us. The Seacliff Beach and Honu Walnut also get two thumbs up! 

Magic Fluke Co Flea Designer Surf

Image courtesy of Amazon

Runner Up: Magic Fluke Co Flea M30 Ukulele Natural

This Ukulele could be mistaken for the early models of the Flea. It's natural finish combined with the signature headstock make this a great choice for new Uke players and experienced pros alike. 


Magic Fluke Ukulele

Our Recommendation: Magic Fluke Co Fluke Designer Floral Mango Tenor Ukulele

Magic Fluke Co Fluke Designer Floral Mango Tenor Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Just like the Flea Designer series, with the Fluke designer you have a wide range of options for colorful patterns, custom artwork, or natural wood looks. As an added bonus, you can now get custom printing or laser engraving if you'd rather go that direction. 

Both the tenor and concert sizes provide amazing sound and years of fun with this durable, great sounding instrument.  

Runner Up:  Magic Fluke M10 Natural Ukulele

It is hard to find a better Ukulele under $200. This instrument sounds great and is everything you'd expect from the Magic Fluke Co. 


Wrap Up

If you are looking for a fun instrument that is extremely durable then the Magic Fluke Company's offerings are right up your ally. 

Luna Ukuleles

Our Favorite Artistically Stunning Luna Ukuleles

Ukulele

In the current world of instrument manufacturing, where so many Ukes look very similar, no one will mistake the Luna Ukuleles. 

Luna was co-founded by an artist, Yvonne ​de Villiers, who not only wanted to make instruments that were pieces of art, but ones that had soul. She set out to create a tribe of people who played Luna, not just a bunch of customers. 

Luna's Ukuleles range from colorful and vibrant to simple. A model like the Luna Honu (to the right) has an elegant but understated design, while something like the Great Wave Concert (pictured with the Concert Ukes) is colorful and will be noticed by everyone who sees it. 

Luna Honu Concert Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

We will start by looking at the different sizes Ukulele that Luna offers, followed by specific recommendations! 

Luna Ukulele Sizes 

Luna has done an amazing job offering selections in each of the normal size ranges for Ukuleles, plus a few extras like their pineapple ukes.

Luna Soprano Ukulele​

The traditional size of the Ukulele, Luna offers multiple models in this size. Not only that, but you'll find it's selection of Pineapple Ukes at this size! 

Luna Great Wave Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Luna Concert Ukulele​

The Concert size is one of the more popular, being slightly bigger than the Soprano but more traditionally sized than the Tenor or Baritone. 

Luna offers a great selection of concert sized Ukuleles, currently offering over 20 different models. ​This includes the "Great Wave", pictured on the left. 

Luna Tenor Ukulele​

This might be the perfect middle ground if you are undecided. The slightly bigger build gives this size group a full sound, but no where near the bulk of a full size guitar. 

Luna Baritone Ukulele​

This is the largest of the standard Ukulele sizes, being close to the size of a travel guitar. If you're transitioning from guitar this might be a perfect option, especially since it can be tuned exactly like the bottom four stings of a guitar!

Want more options? Check out our other favorite Ukulele Brands

Now that you know what you're looking at, lets get to the specific recommendations! 


Luna Soprano Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Luna Aurora Soprano Ukulele

This fun little Ukulele is perfect for kids or those young at heart. You can also pick the "Faerie" art for the face! 

As a bonus many vendors on Amazon offer a gig bag, tuner, or beginner package with this Ukulele to get you equipped with whatever you need! 

Luna Aurora Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Runner Up:  Luna Vintage Mahogany Red Satin

If the graphics on the Aurora are a bit to bright, colorful, and attention grabbing for your tastes we understand. The clean, sharp, and elegant finish of the Vintage Red Satin might be exactly what you're looking for. 


Luna Concert Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Luna Exotic Series Spalt Maple Concert Ukulele

Luna Exotic Series Spalt Maple

Image courtesy of Amazon

The finish touch for this Ukulele is Splat Maple and it is simply stunning. The exotic series also has a Olive Ash Burl and a Maple Burl option that are both beautiful in their own right. The crescent moon sound hole adds the finishing touch of style to this Uke. 

The rare tonewoods used for these Ukes also give them a beautifully light, airy sound that fits perfect with the tropical traditions of the instrument. 

Runner Up: Luna Honu Mahogany Ukulele

Pictured in the introduction to our article, this simple, elegant design is a great first Ukulele. The price is also a bit more appealing than that of the Exotic Series. 


Luna Tenor Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Luna High Tide 8-String Tenor Ukulele

If you've ever heard the distinctive ring of a 12-string guitar you know what an amazingly full sound it produces. The 8-string Ukulele is no less special! A little harder to play than a normal 4-string, but well worth it once it's mastered. 

A full Mahogany body matched with an onboard preamp, rosewood fretboard, and satin finish make this an instrument that is truly enjoyable to play. 

Runner Up:  Luna Tribal Tenor Ukulele

This mahogany bodied Uke is adorned with traditional Pacific carving inspired designs. The Tribal series pays homage to the islands that gave us the Ukulele. 

Luna High Tide 8 String Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon


Luna Baritone Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Luna Bass Ukulele 

Luna Bass Ukulele - Black

Image courtesy of Amazon

Even a brand like Luna can't resist the temptation to make a stylish gloss black instrument. The spruce top, mahogany sides, and Flatwound strings combine for the deep sound this instrument produces. 

Thanks to the built-in Preamp this Ukulele can be played acoustically or plugged in and really amplified. 

Runner Up:  Luna Tattoo 6-string Baritone Ukulele

Is this a guitar or is this a Ukulele? 

We aren't sure. But we do know it's fun to play and has the 'tattoo' design that Luna is known for. Definitely not a traditional instrument which is part of it's charm. 


Wrap Up 

While Luna isn't the most well known Ukulele manufacturer, nor do they compete with some brands on the high-end models, they make truly beautiful, quality instruments. 

We have no doubt Luna will continue to make instruments that inspire, and we will upgrade our choices as they come out with new models! ​

Martin Ukulele

Experience the Sound of a Martin Ukulele

Ukulele

You've heard of Martin Guitars, right? Silly question, we know. 

Did you know Martin also makes some pretty amazing Ukuleles? That might be a surprise. Many people don't know about them, and many people are missing out.

Starting production in 1919, Martin puts 175 years of guitar manufacturing and ​almost a hundred years of Ukulele making experience into all of their instruments, and it shows.

Recommending a Martin Ukulele is actually kinda tough. They don't make a bad instrument, therefor it's almost an embarrassment of riches as we talk about them.  

To decide which Martins we'd recommend we had to look at a lot of factors. Not only did we look at all of the items we normally consider, things like: volume, tone, sound, material, construction, and appearance, with Martin we decided to ​consider the cost too. It would be easy to recommend a bunch of $1000-$2000 Ukes that many in our audience couldn't afford. but we wanted to select some that most of our audience would really enjoy and still be able to afford. 

Before we get into our recommendations, we want to cover the sizes available to you when shopping Martin Ukuleles. ​

Martin Ukulele Sizes

The only major size category that Martin does not currently offer is the Baritone, they have very strong offerings in the Soprano, Concert, and Tenor sizes, though. 

Leaning Ukulele
​Martin Soprano Ukes

Martin's Soprano Ukes carry a traditional size and shape. Most are 20'' long and have 17 frets. Despite their small size, Martin manages to get great, relaxing, light sound out these instruments that makes it easy to imagine you're enjoying the beaches of Hawaii.

Martin Concert Ukulele

Possibly the perfect starter Ukulele, the concert size is easier for many to play then the Soprano but carries more of a traditional sound than some Tenor or Baritone models. Weighing in at 23'' long and equipped with 17 frets, these are some of our favorite Martins. 

Martin Tenor Ukulele

If you're transitioning from a Martin Guitar to the Ukulele this may be the perfect size for you to start with. The Tenor Uke is the largest size that Martin makes and is just a little smaller than a travel guitar. 

Measuring 26'' long and equipped with a standard 20 frets, this instrument will be comfortable for most former guitar players. 

Want more choices? Check out our other favorite Ukulele Brands 


Now, on to the information you came for! Here are our recommendations for Martin Ukes in each of the three size categories they produce Ukuleles in. 

Martin Soprano Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Martin S1 Ukulele

The Martin S1 is everything you'd expect from a Martin without the heavy price tag you may be dreading. This Uke sports a one-piece mahogany top paired with a full solid wood mahogany body. The fretboard is made out of a super playable morado material. 

You can normally find this Uke for under $500, giving you all the quality you'd expect from Martin at a very reasonable price. 

Runner Up:  Martin OXK Soprano Ukulele

The least expensive Martin we could find. This is an amazing value. 

Martin S1 Ukulele

Image courtesy of Amazon

Martin Concert Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Martin 2 Concert Ukulele

A special Uke, the Martin 2 has everything you'd expect from a Ukulele at this price. Genuine one peice mahogany body and neck are coupled with a East Indian Rosewood fingerboard and bridge. 

Martin 2 Concert

Image courtesy of Amazon

The Black Tusq saddle and the grained Ivoroid Binding really shine on this model, adding the extra special touch you'd expect from an instrument in this price range. 

Runner Up:  Martin C1K Concert Uke

This instrument sports the beautiful traditional Uke wood Hawaiian Koa and a price tag that will fit in more budgets than the Martin 2. 

Martin Tenor Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Martin 1T IZ Tenor Ukulele

There may only be one artist who played the Ukulele who is a household name. That man, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (IZ) inspired millions. This instrument is Martins tribute to him. As a finishing touch to a brilliant Uke, this instrument is adorned with an "IZ" inlaid in a hibiscus flower that is pink awabi pearl. 

Simply put, this Ukulele is worth every penny. 

Runner Up: Martin Natural Koa Tenor

This beautiful Hawaiian Koa Ukulele doesn't have the bells and whistles that the "IZ" does, but its an amazing value and one you'll be happy with for years.

Martin 1T IZ Tenor

Image courtesy of Amazon

Wrap Up​

It is obvious if you look at any of the Martin Ukuleles that they've used the lessons they've learned from almost 100 years of manufacturing to guarantee they remain an elite instrument maker. 

Yes, these Ukuleles are expensive. That being said, it's safe to say that if you spend the money you won't need a new instrument for many, many years! ​

Kala Ukulele

Our Favorite Kala Ukulele – In Each Size!

Ukulele

Kala Ukulele is one of the really premier Uke makers that turns its talents to this fun little instrument. Why is this a bad thing, you ask? 

The problem arises from the rather large selection of Ukuleles they produce, leaving more than a few options as to which you should chose.

To make your decision easier, we looked at the Ukes available in each of the different sizes (soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone) and picked out one that we​ are confident you'll love. 

Kala Ukulele Sizes

There are four main sizes that Kala makes their Ukuleles in. The soprano, the concert, the tenor, and the baritone. We'll quickly cover the differences so you  can better choose the right one for you. Want more help? Check out our guide to the different types of Ukulele!

Soprano

This is generally regarded as the "standard" Ukulele size and is the most traditional. This fun little size is between 21 and 23 inches long and will have between 12 and 15 frets. 

Because of it's small size it can be difficult for larger individuals, or former guitar players, to jump right in on this instrument. 

Makala MK-C Concert 

Makala MK-C

image courtesy of Amazon

Concert

Just slightly larger than a Soprano, the Concert size can be easier for many individuals to play than the Soprano without sacrificing the genuine Ukulele sound we all love. 

Tenor

The tenor is the largest ukulele that is tuned in the traditional sense. Tenors are normally around 26'' long and have around 18 frets. 

At this size you'll start to get a little deeper, fuller sound than the soprano and concerts, but don't worry, people will still know instantly that it's a Ukulele! 

Baritone

The baritone Ukulele has become more popular in the recent years as it's a bit of a hybrid instrument. 

This model is similar to size to that of a travel guitar and is often tuned to the bottom (highest) four strings of a guitar - DGBE. 

Our Kala Ukulele Recommendations 

For each of the standard four sizes we've come up with our favorite Kala Ukulele. Many times we've added in a runner-up, thanks for too many good options! 

​Kala Soprano Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Kala KA-15S

This is simply one of our favorite Ukuleles and one we recommend to all beginners. For a very reasonable price you'll get a Uke that you'll be happy with for years. This instrument is made with a mahogany body and neck and comes strung with Aquila Nylgut Strings. 

As a bonus many vendors on Amazon offer a gig bag, tuner, or beginner package with this Ukulele to get you equipped with whatever you need! 

Runner Up:  Makala Dolphin

The perfect Ukulele for a kid, these Ukuleles are a little bit more durable than many. The fun paint jobs are also a hit with the free spirited or younger crowd! 

Kala KA-15S

Image courtesy of Amazon

Kala Concert Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Kala KA-KCG Koa Gloss Concert Ukulele

Kala KA-KCG Koa

Image courtesy of Amazon

The traditional material for the Ukulele is Hawaiian Koa, so anytime you can find a solid Koa instrument it's special. The KCG from Kala is no exception. This is a truly special Ukulele. 

Runner Up:  Kala KA-CEM Exotic Mahogany Concert

​The Hawaiian Koa might be out of your price range, but that doesn't mean you can get a great sounding Uke. The CEM has an amazing tone with a Figured Mahogany body.

Kala Tenor Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Kala KA-TG Gloss Ukulele

This is simply a beautiful Ukulele. ​Crafted with a Spruce top and Mahogany body and sides and a Rosewood fingerboard and bridge, the quality is exactly what you'd expect from Kala. 

With the tenor size you get a great, slightly deeper tone without loosing the warm, bright high notes. ​

The nickel frets, tuners and tie-ins really finish off this look, giving the TG Gloss a high-end feel at a mid range price!​

Runner Up: Kala KA-PWT Tenor Acoustic Ukulele

The Pacific Walnut really gives this Ukulele a unique, focused tone that you won't find often. 

Kala KA-TG

Image courtesy of Amazon

Kala Baritone Ukulele

Our Recommendation:  Kala KA-BG Mahogany Baritone 

Kala KA-BG Baritone

Image courtesy of Amazon

The Spruce top with Mahogany body and neck really produces a bright, warm tone. The gloss finish really gives this Ukulele a stylish finish.

You'll also get a full bodied sound thanks to the Baritone size with this Uke. This instrument finishes with easy playability thanks to low action. 

Runner Up:  Kala MK-B Baritone Ukulele

​Baritone Ukes can be pretty expensive, but this Makala version of the KA-B is an affordable version of Kala's very popular Uke. Great sound at a great price! 

Wrap Up​

Kala is one of our favorite Ukulele manufacturers. They have a reputation for quality in their entire line, from top to bottom.

Do you have a Kala that we didn't list? Please comment below, we'd love to hear from you! 

Best Ukulele Brands

The Best Ukulele Brands for All Skill Levels

Ukulele

We have good news and we have bad news. 

The good news is there are a TON of companies making Ukuleles right now.

The bad news is not all of them make a quality instrument.

We are here to separate the two. ​

We know that you don't want a cheap, poorly made instrument that will be impossible to tune. It's no fun to have an Ukulele that starts to fall apart in your hands after you play it for a month. Lastly, we know that most people don't need a high-end, authentic Koa, $1000 Ukulele that other musicians will be jealous of. 

With that in mind, we picked out six Ukulele makers in all. Several make a quality product without a gigantic price tag. For those of you who want to spend a little extra for a great instrument, we got you covered as well. ​

There are some amazing Uke makers we left off this list to be honest. Either they had to small a selection, were to hard to find, or simply don't ship out of Hawaii, we left them out because our average reader wouldn't have the chance to purchase one if they were interested. ​


Kala Ukulele

Kala is one of the best selling Ukulele brands available currently. Unlike many companies that started with a more popular stringed instrument and transitioned to the Ukulele, Kala has always focused on it. 

For beginners, Kala offers it's Waterman and Makala line. The Waterman is a traveling mans Uke, designed to be durable and water-resistant. The Makala line is a great sounding beginner instrument. 

Kala also makes a rather unique instrument in the Solid body U-bass. The qualities of a bass combined with the size of a Ukulele make for a unique and fun instrument. 

Finally, the Elite line is made with the highest quality standards and is shipped in a slick black alligator hard case. These Ukuleles are made with traditional Hawaiian Koa and are both beautiful and amazing sounding. 

Combine Kala's huge selection with the reputation for quality and you're sure to love the instrument you end up with! 


Luna Ukulele

Simply put, Luna makes some of the most interesting, and artistic instruments you'll ever see. Almost all of their offerings have some sort of design on the top to make them look as good as they sound. 

Much like Kala, the Luna Ukulele line really nails the entry level and intermediate players needs and wants. You can easily get a great sounding, special looking Luna for under $100. 

Luna Tattoo Concert Ukulele

Pictures Courtesy of Amazon

Luna offers a full line of Ukuleles, from Baritone down to Soprano. As a bonus, they offer some of the coolest Pineapple Ukuleles you'll find, including our favorite, the Tattoo


Magic Fluke Ukulele

The Fluke Ukulele was created in 1999 with the goal of creating a great sounding, affordable, USA-made instrument. It is safe to say they succeeded. 

Fluke Ukulele
Fluke Natural Ukulele

Pictures Courtesy of Amazon

The Fluke Ukulele (far left) was first produced in 1999 

The Flea, on the right, was created in 2003.

Both models have been popular from the very start!​

The Fluke and the Flea both had very original, and non-traditional, take on the standard Ukulele shape and construction. The shape is fairly obvious, but the construction is another matter. 

Both Ukuleles use a combination of a solid wood soundboard with a thermoplastic body. This creates a unique, bright, full sounding Ukulele that is more durable than a standard wood model yet produces a much better sound than a cheap plastic model. 

Many Ukulele players now swear by this companies instruments and we understand why. No conversation about great Ukulele makers would be complete without mentioning the Magic Fluke Company. 


Lanikai Ukulele

Lanikai is a brand that does a bit of everything, as long as it has to do with the Ukulele. 

Not only does Lanikai make a full selection of sizes but they have every level of player covered as well. If you're a beginner you'll want to check out the LU series, while the experts in the crowd will be pleased with the Legacy or Makau series. 

Another thing that Lanikai does extremely well is innovate.

The innovation starts somewhat basic. The Kula equipped models come with a three band EQ.

Want something a bit more cutting edge? The UkeSB series actually has a USB output at the tail of the instrument, allowing you to easily record yourself playing!

Finally, the TunaUke allows players an unlimited amount of customization with movable wedge saddles and specific nuts. 

Regardless of what you're looking for with your first (or next) Ukulele, we bet Lanikai will have you covered! 


Martin​ Ukulele

​Martin is known as one of the truly elite guitar manufacturers. Many probably don't know that they also make Ukuleles. They do, and they are pretty good at it. While they have ONLY been at making Ukes since 1916 (They started making guitars in 1833), these are some amazing instruments. 

​Just like the guitars, Martin Ukuleles are all handcrafted using the finest of manufacturing standards. These are possibly the best Ukuleles made today. 

These are probably not going to be in the price range of many beginners, nor will they be able to appreciate the quality. For the intermediate and expert players ​you simply can't beat these Uke, though. 


Wrap Up

There you have it! 

There are hundreds of Ukulele manufacturers out there, but if you stick to these five then you'll be assured a high quality instrument. 

Kala and Luna are great options for your first instrument with some options for the higher end models, Lanikai and Fluke are great intermediate instruments, and Martin simply can't be beat. 

Got a brand you love? We'd love to hear about it! Comment below!

Two Chord Ukulele Songs

Awesome Two Chord Ukulele Songs that are Fun to Play

Ukulele

Learning to play a Ukulele is tough. You have to worry about changing between chords, you have to worry about strumming, all while staying in time. We can help.

This article has eight easy two chord ukulele songs for you to gain confidence with. Several of these songs are extremely famous, or have been covered by legendary artists. 

Why Start with Two Chords

It is a huge advantage to start with simple songs while you learn to play Ukulele. Learning Uke can be frustrating, so it's great to actually play right off the bat. 

Now, some of these chords are a bit more difficult than your normal basic chords many teachers will start with. 

Many of these songs include 7th chords, which are variations of your major chords. 

For instance, Clementine, and several other songs, include a D7 chord, which is the 7th for the D major chord. The 7th chord of D actually requires you to hold down one less fret than the major, so in this case it's slightly easier to play. 

D Major Chord

D Major Ukulele Chord

D7 Chord

D7 Ukulele Chord

Most of the 7th chords won't be taught right away by many Ukulele teachers or in online lessons, but they are easy enough that they can be played from the start. 

If you don't want to learn the 7th chords at first that is fine, it will slightly change the sound but many people won't hear the difference. Or, to spice up the tune a little try playing the major chord during the chorus and the 7th the rest of the time! ​

Two Chord Ukulele Songs

We tried to make this list as easy as possible to play. In fact, five of the eight songs are played using only a G major and the D7 chord​s. 

Want more easy song options? Check out our list of 15 Easy Ukulele Songs

1. Clementine      G,  D7

In this video the teacher uses the C major and G7 chords to play this tune. ​We've seen it played either way but slightly prefer the G and D7 mix. Another interesting piece to this song is that it's in 3/4 time, making it a fun variation from the 4/4 time that so many songs are written in. 


2. Down in the Valley      C, G7

Down in the Valley is another C major and G7 song, and it also just happens to be another in waltz (3/4) time. ​This teacher does a great job with a slow, detailed explanation.


3. Skip to my Lou      C, G 

​Very simple and short explanation of how to play "Skip to my Lou", this can be a fun song to start with because everyone knows it! 


4. Lord of The Dance          C, G

We struggled to find a simple version of this song on instruction, but this video is fairly close. He plays the introduction in a C major, G major arrangement that is perfect to carry through the song. 


5. Streets Of Laredo                         C, F

One of our personal favorites (especially Johnny Cash's cover) The Streets of Laredo is a great beginner song. To keep it simple when the video switches to a B flat chord stay with the F for a bar. Also, keep the strumming simple to start and work up to the finger=picking arrangement you see here!


6. A Horse with No Name by America       D, Em

​This is a song that you can simplify for beginners and make it much tougher as you advance. The video shows a very odd D 6/9 chord (which you'll never use again), sub that out for a standard D chord to start. Another tip is to start with a basic down strum and work into the rhythm he plays. Lastly, add the mute for a great sound with only two chords!


7. Achy Breaky Heart        F, C7

This goofy song by Billy Ray Cyrus translates to Ukulele quite nicely. A fun one for around the campfire, 


8. Banana Boat Song        F, C7

Who doesn't know this song? "Day-Oooooo. Daylight come and me wanna go home". This is a great way to wrap up our list... a simple, fun, and popular song that really shines on the Ukulele. 


Wrap Up

Hope you enjoyed the list and you're already playing a few of the songs! 

If you want to see a great list of beginner tabs for the Ukulele check out the list at UkuleleTabs, and we love the program they've got at ArtistWorks for learning the Ukulele! 

Ukulele Tunes that Inspire you

Ukulele Tunes that Inspire You from UkeofCarl

Ukulele

There may not be a more unique, fun, and at the same time helpful site for learning Ukulele as UkeofCarl. 

While many sites stick to giving out free videos of popular pop songs and tunes we've all seen a hundred times, UkeofCarl focuses on tabs from TV, Movies, and Games. 

We have to admit, we've lost more than a few hours with some our favorite selections of Carl's. Including, but not limited to the Kill Bill Theme, Game of Thrones Theme, Family Guy Tab, and... well, the list goes on. 

With such an original and fun offering of content, we figured we wanted to talk to the man behind the site! Lucky for us, he agreed to this interview. Check out the chat below for the most common mistake beginners make, the worth of a good first Uke, why he chooses to do so many Game/TV/Movie themes, and more! 

Interview with UkeofCarl.com

StringVibe: What is the biggest mistake you see beginners making when learning to play Ukulele? What should they do instead?

Carl:  This is an easy one - picking and strumming using only the thumb. I'm forever encouraging students to use one finger per string and to practise this until it's comfortable. This was one of the reasons why I reworked a lot of the Hanon exercises for ukulele. A lot of the exercises in there will help develop this technique. This can also apply to using only 1 finger on the fretboard. Use all the fingers you've been given. It's worth having a look at my ebook, 'Sagreras for Ukulele' to put some of this into practice.

StringVibe: What bad habits or mistakes do you see most often with very experienced players?

Wearing a hat. It seems to go hand in hand with playing the ukulele. I do like hats but don't think that they should be as prevalent as they are.

StringVibe: Is there a piece of advice that is commonly given to beginners that you feel is bad? What would you say instead?

Gosh I'm unsure of what other people are saying really. I would always advise a beginner to spend as much as they can on a good Uke though. Not a fortune but don't buy a cheap one from Lidl. Also, try to get lessons with an actual teacher. Even if it's only occasional, learning from a human rather than a book or Youtube has so many advantages.

StringVibe: Do you think it's easier to learn by playing TV/Game themes like you've posted on Uke of Carl?

Honestly, I think a lot of my solo arrangements of TV themes can be a little tricky at first but this is why I often include a 'lead' sheet tab too, so you can play the melody alone. The main reason I chose TV themes is because I love them, so practicing playing something you like can really help boost the learning experience. This is also why I made 'The Jewish Ukulele'. I love traditional Jewish music and Klezmer so needed to hear it on the Uke.

StringVibe: At what stage do you think music theory becomes important to a Ukulele player?

Get it in there from day one! I'm a bit peculiar in that I'm a nerd for the theory of how things work. Of course, you can become a gifted musician without theory but having a grasp of the basics can really help.

Regardless of how many of these interviews we do, something always stands out. 

Each teacher, musician, and music lover is different. So learn the basics, learn some theory (see #5.), and then play what makes you happy or is entertaining to you. 

Thanks again to Carl from UkeofCarl! For those of you who haven't checked out his site yet, get going! There is a good reason it's on our "Top 50 Ukulele Sites" list! 

Play Ukulele By Ear

Learn to Play Ukulele by Ear with Jim D’Ville

Ukulele

Today, it's very easy to search on YouTube for popular songs played on Ukulele. Many of them are instructional videos. Some are even pretty good. Learning to play Ukulele by ear, now that's something different. 

It's nice, therefor, to find an instructor who is willing and able to teach this way. In the case of the Ukulele, that instructor is Jim D'Ville. 

Check out our list of 15 easy ukulele songs! 

Jim runs the popular site over at PlayUkuleleByEar when he's not touring the United States doing live workshops. The videos, posts, and information on this site also landed him a spot on the StringVibe "Top 50 Ukulele Sites" list (a well deserved honor in our opinion. Then again, it is our list!). 

We thought Jim would have some very interesting answers for us and so we asked him for an interview. He accepted and we are excited to bring you the results. Check out Jim talk about his "ear based" approach, why beginners spend to much time in songbooks, and more, in the interview below! 

Interview with Jim D'Ville

StringVibe: Why do you prefer an "Ear based" approach to learning Ukulele vs a chord or tab based style?

Jim: Reading from paper while playing a musical instrument, I think, hinders the entire musical process of hearing something in your head and playing it back. That's why most of the ukulele groups I've heard, and I've heard hundreds, all sound the same. They all have their noses stuck in a songbook and robotically play, and I use the word 'play' loosely, one song after another with the same down-up-down-up strum. I call this Incessant Strum Syndrome. Playing without paper frees up the ear to actually listen to what you are hearing. The result of this approach to playing is that the rhythm and spirit of the music is able to be communicated by the player.

StringVibe: What is the biggest mistake you see beginners making when learning to play ukulele? What should they do instead?

Depending too much on the songbooks. I would suggest getting rid of the letters and learning the number system. This way you are learning repeating patterns that occur over and over again in music and the ear will begin to recognize them. Plus, by learning songs using the number system you are immediately able to transpose the song into the key that best fits your voice.

StringVibeWhat bad habits or mistakes do you see most often with professional, or very experienced players?

Poor stage patter. There is no better way to kill the momentum of a set then by talking too much. I'm not saying don't talk to the audience, but let your music do most of the talking.

StringVibe:  Do you have a few songs you like to start new players off with to build fundamentals?

Yes. I-V7-I, I-IV-V7-I and I-V7-IV-I.  Thousands of popular songs we are all familiar with can be played using these three basic chord progressions.

StringVibe: Is there a piece of advice that is commonly given to beginners that you feel is bad? What would you say instead?

It's what the teachers don't tell new students that is the worst. They don't tell them to listen to the sounds they are making. Listening is what it's all about. For instance, strumming sounds better above the sound-hole, not over it. When a student is listening to what they are playing instead of trying to remember how to play the song they are less apt to get lost since they know the chord progression by ear. Finally, there is an unsurpassed enjoyment in playing when the music overtakes the thinking. That's when you are really playing music.

"Finally, there is an unsurpassed enjoyment in playing when the music overtakes the thinking. That's when you are really playing music."  - Jim D'Ville

I hope you read that entire interview. If not, I hope you pay attention to that quote. ​

Everyone who picks up an instrument does so because they enjoy music. For many of us, it's interwoven in the story of our lives. Make sure you enjoy your practice and playing time. Try spending less time buried in a songbook or imitating some face on YouTube, and more listening to the sound of the strings.

Check out more of Jim's teachings, his upcoming events, and his tour schedule at PlayUkuleleByEar.​

From Ukulele to Guitar

The Challenges Transitioning From Ukulele to Guitar

Guitars , Ukulele

So, you want to transition from Ukulele to guitar. We love both instruments, so we get it. In fact, there is a long list of notable guitarist that also play the Uke. Guitarist the caliber of Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend, Brian May, and Jimi Hendrix all played the lighter, brighter sound of the Ukulele.

So, what can you expect when trying to learn the guitar? The good news is that the instruments have a lot in common. The bad news is the two extra strings and larger size of the instrument adds challenges a Ukulele player won't be accustomed to. We'll go over what to expect here!


The Size Difference between Ukulele and Guitar

This is probably the most obvious difference. In fact, when many people think of the Ukulele they think of a miniature guitar. With the average guitar being anywhere between 38 and 41 inches long and a Soprano Ukulele normally only being 21 inches long, this isn't wrong.

Not only will this change how you hold the instrument but it will challenge your posture. Many who switch will tend to lean over the guitar to reach the end of the neck while strumming. This can really crowd your strumming hand, not to mention hurt your back! Sit up straight and move the guitar to the leg of your strumming hand. The size difference will definitely take time to get used to but might be the easiest transition in the end.


Larger Tonal Range

This question depends a lot on the way you tune your Ukulele, especially since that varies much more than guitar tuning normally does. To know the exact tonal range you need three things.

1. Lowest Open Note 
2. Highest Open Note
3. Number of Frets (Scale Length)

So the Tonal Range is the number of steps between the highest and lowest open notes plus the scale length.

Lowest Open Note - Highest Open Note + Scale Range = Tonal Range

What does this mean for the Ukulele and the Guitar? The guitar can often have about four octaves of range, while its normal for the Ukulele to only have two.


Differences in Tuning

Assuming your Ukulele is tuned in the re-entrant style it's normal for the switch to guitar to throw you off. When using re-entrant tuning you'll be used to the second highest, then lowest, second lowest, then highest notes. With a guitar, the notes move from lowest to highest as you move down the neck.

If you don't use re-entrant tuning you can simply capo the guitar at the fifth fret and the open notes of highest four strings will match with your Ukulele.

Single Ukulele

Larger Neck Size

The fact that the neck is more narrow on a Ukulele is no big surprise. For those with small hands, the fingering of the open C chord can be difficult at first, as well as many bar chords.

What may surprise you is that the strings are closer together on the guitar than a standard Uke. This can cause difficulties playing clear, individual notes. The strings are also set at a much higher tension for a guitarist, this leads to discomfort for many Uke players while they learn.


Wrap Up

There you have it! While switching instruments is never easy these two are close enough that you won't be starting from scratch. If you want to know more about the topic we'd recommend this thread on UkuleleUnderground or a guest post from Al Wood of Ukulele Hunt that was published on Guitarkadia.

Keeping Ukulele Fun

The Importance of Keeping Ukulele Fun with Miles Ramsay

Ukulele

Many people pick up the Ukulele because it simply looks like fun to play. They aren't wrong. 

A site that does an amazing job personifying this quality is Ukeonomics. 

We will forgive the site owner, Miles Ramsay, for not keeping the blog active over the last few years. The information that is on the site more than makes up it! 

A great selection of tabs/chords, A beginner section, Interviews, and reviews make this a go-to Ukulele site. (it's also on our Top 50 List!).

We were lucky enough to get Miles to take a few minutes and answer some questions about the Ukulele and learning to play it! Check out his answers and soak up his wisdom!

Interview with Miles Ramsay

1. What is the biggest mistake you see beginners making when learning to play stringed instruments? What should they do instead?

The biggest mistake that I see is a beginner (often times a young child) that wants to learn how to play guitar. His mom and dad get him said guitar for a birthday or Christmas and he now possesses an instrument which is too big for his/her hands. Being a stringed instrument enthusiast, I've often been asked the question "what kind of guitar should I get for my kid". My response is almost always, "Don't get him/her a guitar. Buy that kid a ukulele!". That's one of the reasons I love these little instruments. They can be used to play intricate arrangements, but they are so incredibly versatile that even a child can pick one up and begin to play.

2. What bad habits or mistakes do you see most often with professional, or very experienced players?

Obviously, with players of this caliber (of which I am not, I might add), mistakes are few and far between and bad playing habits are hard to be found. Their worst habit is probably letting the pursuit of perfection overcome their love for playing. Especially on the professional level, when playing an instrument is tied to your livelihood, it can quickly become more of a chore than an activity of enjoyment. It happens. I love my career, but I definitely have days where I don't feel like doing it and get very little satisfaction out of it. Thankfully, on days like that, music can be a form of therapy and escape. I guess I feel bad for people who play music professionally and don't have that particular escape. Maybe they do something else cool instead? Create fake facebook profiles? Try on over sized clothes at department stores? Read? Go on ukulele forums and criticize noobs? Go to an actual therapist?

3. What advice would you give a beginning musician on a budget trying to decide between free materials and spending on paid courses?

I'm pretty frugal, so my advice is DON'T PAY FOR COURSES! There's such a wealth of information on youtube that I don't see courses as being more beneficial. While learning proper techniques is very important, I think that there's something to be said for teaching yourself things too. You're an individual. You're unique. You should feel free to create, explore, and discover the ukulele on your own (with a little direction, of course).Maybe I'm wrong...maybe that's what I still suck.

4. Is there a piece of advice that is commonly given to beginners that you feel is bad? What would you say instead?

Nothing that comes to mind specifically. Probably information overload is the most detrimental. If you're being bombarded with too much advice, I think it can leave you feeling discouraged...like there's too many things you have to learn and you'll never be able to figure it all out. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Worry about what you can do today to get better and don't even think about tomorrow. Just try to enjoy each little step and embrace the feeling of awesomeness each time you figure out something new. Seriously, it's like a high! And remember, even the seasoned professionals are still learning too.

Have fun while playing! 

This seems like a given, but while learning an instrument so many people forget this!

If you enjoyed this interview you can find a huge resource for Ukulele related information at Ukeonomics. Who knows... if enough of us visit we may even get Miles writing again! ​