Category Archives for "Ukulele Interviews"

A New Shell on our Favorite Little Instrument

Interview , Ukulele Interviews

favorite little instrument

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Yes, we said shell... we know the saying is "spin", but we are talking about a shell. literally. 

The Conchalele is truly a new idea and a unique way to make a Ukulele. A combination of the basics of any Ukulele combined with a perfectly sized Melon or Diadema shell to produce a sound completely tropical, light, and fun.

Each instrument is custom made based on the shell's specific geometric shape and reverberation... meaning you have a one of a kind instrument.

So what inspired  the mind behind Conchalele to undertake the rather daunting task of creating this new instrument? What does he compare the playability and sound too? Check out the interview below to find out more! 

Interview with Bobby from Conchalele

StringVibe:  How long have you been playing the Ukulele?

Bobby: Since I was 12 years old... over 55 years!

Where did you get the idea for the Conchalele?

 After playing every string instrument I have found, and having a home full of string instruments, I wanted to hear a new sound.  Finding a very large shell living in south Florida, I decided to put strings on it to hear what sound it would make, if any....   I discovered it has a natural mellow sound and natural reverb created by the fibonacci mathmatical design of all beauty.

How would you describe the sound and playability of the instrument? 

The playability is equal to Martin and Gibson standards.  I mentored in luthier skills from maestro talented mentors. My first mentor is Francis Chilcoat of West Virginia, then with Ukulele builders in the Hawaiian Luthier Guild of Honolulu, Hawaii.  The sound varies from shell to shell but always has a mellow and reverb effect to the tone.  Amplification brings out the tonality very clearly..

Do you need to be an experienced player to appreciate the uniqueness of this instrument?

No!  The Conchalele is a camera magnet and everyone that sees it stops to take pictures.  It even stops traffic when seen in public.  (That's how it became the official string instrument of the Conch Republic)  There is now a petition for it to become the official musical instrument of Florida...  The Florida Governor's office has welcomed the petition.....  Florida does not yet have an official musical instrument.....  Musicians and music lovers are always fascinated to see and hear the sounds it creates.

Anything else you'd like our readers to know about the Conchalele?

The Conchalele is a tropical island sound that blends with steel drums and yet being electric with LR Baggs pre-amp and under the saddle pickup, can jam the blues, jazz, rock, classical, and country.  Great reverb for calypso instrumentals too.

Thanks for checking out our website and Facebook page. Thank you for your interest and please call if you have questions,

Thanks Bob!!!

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There you have it! 

When we first saw this instrument we knew it was something we had to share with our audience... such a unique new idea and one that is made with the highest quality and perfect sound in mind. 

If you like this idea we strongly suggest you jump over to their website and check out more information on these instruments! We'd also love for you to check out the rest of our interviews!

Ukulele Tunes that Inspire you

Ukulele Tunes that Inspire You from UkeofCarl

Interview , Ukulele Interviews

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

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

Interview , Ukulele Interviews

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.​

Keeping Ukulele Fun

The Importance of Keeping Ukulele Fun with Miles Ramsay

Interview , Ukulele Interviews

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 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! ​