Nov 26 2009

What’s the ukulele song on the Trainline advert?

Tag: Ukulele CommercialsUkuOnline @ 6:57 pm

There are a whole heap of adverts on the TV that feature ukuleles at the moment and this one for has a very pleasing ukulele tune. The tune was written and recorded by Paul Frith specifically for the advert. As far as I’m aware, it’s not available to buy anywhere.

Nov 24 2009

What brand/make of ukulele does Amanda Palmer play?

Tag: BrandsUkuOnline @ 6:13 pm

Amanda Palmer has become one of the biggest converters to the ukulele around since she started playing one at her solo gigs and arranging various ninja ukulele gigs via Twitter. She’s had a few ukuleles along the way – most of them fairly cheap and easy for newbies to get hold of.

The first ukulele I noticed her with was a bright pink, sparkly, soprano Mahalo ukulele in this video. You can see it more clearly in this photo.

Since then she’s regularly been seen with a soprano Hilo ukulele with a playing card and various bits of black tape on it as in this picture.

More recently, AFP has splashed out on a rather higher quality ukulele for her gigs: a tenor Pono ukulele as seen in this photo.

Nov 24 2009

Electric Ukulele: Which is the best buy?

Tag: Buying a UkuleleUkuOnline @ 1:36 pm

The ukulele isn’t the loudest instrument around so if you’re looking to go gigging, you’re going to need some form of amplification. There are a few ways to amp up your uke. You could get a transducer pickup – which attaches to the body of your ukulele and picks up the vibrations. Or you could get a semi-acoustic ukulele i.e. a traditional acoustic ukulele with a pickup already installed.

However, doing it those ways can create a problem with feedback if you’re not very careful. So a great way to go is to get a solid body electric ukulele. The choice of solid ukuleles isn’t anywhere near as wide as it is for standard ukuleles, but there’s still a good choice. So which is best?

Solid Electric Ukuleles

I have two solid body electric ukuleles: the RISA Uke Solid and the BugsGear Eleuke. You can read my reviews of them here:

RISA ukulele review
Eleuke review

As you can see, I do have some gripes with both ukes. Overall, I’d say the RISA was the clear winner. It’s very easy to play. And a lot of fun. As you can tell of this video I made to demonstrate it.

I’m told the RISA’s Uke’Ellie fixes all the grumbles I had with the Uke Solid. However, it is quite a bit more expensive. So if you can afford, definitely take a look at that one as well.

Nov 23 2009

Tips for Ukulele Improvement

Tag: Ukulele ThoughtsUkuOnline @ 6:27 pm

I was recently asked this question: “I’ve been playing uke for 2 months now. Got better quite quick but plateau’d. Any tips for improvement?”

I’d say the best way to improve is to play with and for other people. A great way to do this is to join a local ukulele group. You’ll never be short of new songs to learn, friendly encouragement or the motivation to get practicing. If you don’t have a local group, start a band. Playing with non-ukulele players can be even more instructive than playing with ukulele players.

Alternatively, you could volunteer your ukulele services to friends and family. Offer to provide musical accompaniment for a Christmas singalong, a camp-fire gathering or take a leaf out of KaraUke‘s book and become a ukulele karaoke machine.

Another method I find useful for busting out of a rut is to try to play new genres of music. Or tackling something that’s way outside my comfort zone. If you’re bored of playing chords, you could move on to playing solo stuff.

Nov 22 2009

What brand/make of ukulele does Dent May play?

Tag: BrandsUkuOnline @ 6:12 pm

Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele have caused a stir in the indie scene in the past year. But what exactly is this magnificent ukulele of his?

Dent seems to have a few ukuleles he uses regularly. The most recognisable is his Fluke ukulele with a cowboy design which can be seen in this performance of Love Song 2009.

He also regularly plays a Bushman Jenny as can be seen in the Oh, Paris! video.

He also plays a tenor Pono ukulele as can be seen in this photo.

Nov 22 2009

Buy a Ukulele: What’s Best for a Beginner?

Tag: Buying a UkuleleUkuOnline @ 3:42 pm

It seems like more and more people are buying ukuleles these days -the New York Times certainly seems to think so – and there are sure to be plenty of ukuleles on Christmas lists this year. But buying your first ukulele can be a tricky task. Unlike buying a guitar, your local music shop isn’t likely to have a big range of ukuleles for you to try. You will get a much better selection online – particularly on eBay. But that does mean you won’t be able to try before you buy. So here are a few pointers to help you decide which ukulele to buy.

Visit Buy a Ukulele

On my other site, I have buy a ukulele section on my other site with reviews, descriptions and videos of all the most common ukuleles around (both new and vintage). There’s are also plenty of ukuleles for sale listed here. Continue reading “Buy a Ukulele: What’s Best for a Beginner?”

Apr 28 2009

What Ukulele Does Christofer Drew Ingle of nevershoutnever! Play?

Tag: UncategorizedUkuOnline @ 5:24 pm

I’ve seen Christofer Drew Ingle of nevershoutnever! (I always want to write Never Shout Never) playing a few different ukuleles, most of them seem to be tenor ukuleles.

His most common brand seems to be Kala ukuleles. He’s using one in the photo in this video and in the video above he’s using a rather fetching Kala Archtop ukulele.

Mar 11 2009

Why is the ukulele popular and other Guardian Questions

Tag: Ukulele ThoughtsUkuOnline @ 7:44 pm

I got interviewed for a piece on the Guardian Music Blog recently. Only two sentences made it into the final piece. So, rather than let it go to waste, I’ve stuck it up here.

What is it you love about the ukulele?

I love how the ukulele forces you to be creative. It’s very restricted when it comes to range, so you have to be more inventive with rhythm and harmony.

And it’s a very handy instrument. You can carry it and play it anywhere.

Have you seen its popularity growing recently? If so, why do you think that is?

It’s grown massively in the last twelve months or so. It seems to be everywhere at the moment. There are ukulele clubs springing up all over the country. It’s been used by acts from Portishead to Van Morrison to Florence and the Machine. Frank Skinner and Lee Evans both close their acts with a ukulele song. From my own experience, my website is getting four times the traffic it was getting this time last year.

I think there are two main reasons behind it. The first is the internet. Niche interests spread much faster on the internet – so many more people are hearing the ukulele being played. Before the net it was hard to find learning materials for the ukulele, now there’s a wealth of information online.

The other reason is the availability. China has been pumping out playable, entry-level ukuleles by the boatload. They’re cheap enough for people to buy on a whim and it makes them a viable option for teaching in schools.

Do you think it can evoke all the emotion of a guitar, or do you find it a bit limiting ultimately?

Every instrument has its limitations. If you try to play the ukulele like a guitar, you will be limited.

It has a sound and feel of its own. When you play the ukulele on its own terms you’ll have ideas that you’d never have on any other instrument.

Do you have any particular favourite ukulele-based songs?

Loads. Here are a few that come to mind:

Rod Thomas’s Same Old Lines which was voted last year’s ukulele video of the year.

James Hill – Down Rideau Canal

Sophie Madeleine – The Stars

The Bobby McGee’s – A Dog at All Things

Mar 10 2009

What Ukulele Do Noah and the Whale Play?

Tag: BrandsUkuOnline @ 9:21 am

There’s no doubt that the biggest ukulele hit of last year was Noah and the Whale’s 5 Years Time. So it’s not surprising I’ve had a few people asking which ukulele Charlie from the band plays.

In that video he’s playing a soprano ukulele made by Vintage.

I’ve also, more recently, seen him playing a spruce top concert ukulele (such as in this picture). My first thought was that it was a Kala. But if that was the case you’d expect to see the Kala logo at the top. So I’m stumped on that one.

Mar 03 2009

Ukulele Sizes: What Type of Ukulele Do I Have?

Tag: Ukulele Set UpUkuOnline @ 10:05 pm

There are four main ukulele sizes: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. These can be loosely catagorised by their scale length (i.e. the distance between the nut and the bridge – the part of the strings that you play).

Soprano Size: 33 cm / 13 inches
Concert Size: 38 cm / 15 inches
Tenor Size: 43 cm / 17 inches
Baritone Size: 48 com / 19 inches

The total length of the ukulele varies depending on the construction.

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