Uke Club is still bouncing around trying out new locations and last night it happened to be close to The Blue Guitar so I left work a little early and paid them a visit. I’ve been a guitar player / gear enthusiast in San Diego for a long time but for some reason I had never been there before. Well guess what, it’s a great uke shop. The owner, DeForest Thornburgh, is a uke guy and the store is stocked with a decent quantity and wide selection of ukes. This is the first time I’ve seen a variety of high end ukes in one place including the big three Hawaiian Ks – Kamaka, KoAloha and Kanilea.
So of course, kid in a candy store, right. I’m looking at, hearing and playing all these cool brands that I’ve only read about online. For the most part the high end ones are all beautiful and sound great but then I get to this Kanilea K-1 Concert. It’s this beautiful stripey 3D Koa with some cross figuring in the upper bout… I mean it’s beautiful as beautiful as anything in the store but when I played it… it was like angels singing. I mean quality ukes are going to look and sound good, right? There were plenty of ukes in the store that were 9s or 10s on the sound rating scale but this Kanilea was off the chart. It was like it was speaking to me. Directly to my heart.
Welp… unfortunately spending 900 bucks on a uke is not really a reasonable thing for me to do. So I fell in love at first site and lost love the same night. But if I get signed to make an album or tour… or if this blog takes off and I “need one to review”… or if I hit the lottery… going to The Blue Guitar will be the first thing on my todo list.
Okay, I’m pretty excited about this one so… Let me just start by saying “Melodica”? It’s called a Melodica. That name is way too cool. It must have been created in the 60s. We’ve come a long way from instrument names like “Piano” and “Lute”.
The Melodica is a keyboard that’s small enough to be hand held (so also very portable) and is played by blowing into it. The wind moves over reeds to make the sound so it sounds a lot like an accordion.
My current favorite genre of music is what I like to call Sad Electric Cowboy and I think those bands frequently try to layer in extra sadness with long drawn out wailing notes. This is frequently accomplished with fiddle or accordion. (more…)
Tuning is huge. When out of tune, even a little, it’s noticeable and it sounds bad. I’ve seen uke players/singers, that were actually very talented, look way more amateur than they should just because their uke was just a little out of tune.
The topic of tuning may seem a bit basic for a post but.. 1 – New people pick up the uke every day and they might need a little help getting it all figured out, and 2 – tuning relates to a lot of things and it can be more complex than you might think. (more…)
So, one of the things that has been distracting me from posting on this blog is the fact that I found a great ukulele club. I’ve been spending a lot of time attending, preparing and doing other stuff related to the club.
At some point someone brought a cajon to one of the meetings and I couldn’t believe how cool it sounded. It’s a great kick and snare drum sound built into one portable little box. Other than symbols I can’t really understand why anyone would lug a huge drum kit around when this is an option. Of course I had to have one. After a bit of shopping I put them starting at about $120 and like anything, you can go as high as you like on the top end. (more…)
When I first decided to buy a uke it didn’t take long for me to realize I was alone in a big world. I’ve played guitar forever and I’ve always had lots of guitar playing friends and there have always been lots of local resources (guitar stores) for guitar players. I researched and bought my first uke without any mentorship or local test facilities. I was pretty careful, a little lucky and it worked out pretty well but… at the time I vowed to seek out and find like minded others in my area for face to face real time interaction. (more…)
I decided to spend this year’s birthday money on an Outdoor soprano in “natural”. I’ve wanted one since I heard they made a clear uke and I love the idea that it’s built to be extremely robust and durable. I love it. Solid 2 thumbs up from me on the overall. It’s a bit quiet, probably because I’m used to tenors. It’s a bit clicky, which has been the case for all the plastic ukes I play. It does have high frets which will cause it to go out of tune if you’re not gentle but that’s not an issue for me. So I’m really happy with how it plays and sounds and I love the fact that I can just put it in my messenger bag with all my other stuff (so without a case), take it anywhere and not worry about beating it up. I’ll do a more thorough review on the gear page at some point… I promise.
So I know I haven’t posted in a while, and I’m not really posting anything good or substantial now, but I wanted to touch base in hopes that it would help me stay sane. I do have lots of good excuses.
I’ve been all about outsider instruments lately. It may have started with the plastic uke because since then I’ve bought a bunch of shakers and jinglers you put on your fingers and feet while you play. I also found a toy accordion for 17 bucks that sounds killer and I’m making a cajon. Not to mention my back burnered panjolele.
I also finally got off my ass and went to the Hau`oli Strummers (Happy Strummers) ukulele club. It’s really cool. The list of reasons I love the uke is long but going to the last couple uke club meetings has shown me that there are still things to be added. For example, I have now sung Irish drinking songs at the top of my lungs in a bar with 40 other people doing the same. It’s a great club full of great people and Tim (and others I’m sure) do a great job running it. I’ll do a proper post on it at some point and until then you can check out their meetup page – Hau`oli Strummers (Happy Strummers)
And of course there’s the usual stream of honey doos, road trips and socializers that compete for time. One of those was a road trip to LA where I did get a friend hooked on the uke so that’s kind of uke related. It happened at the right time too because she took advantage of the killer ebay deals on Lanikai solid body blems right now. She got a $250 solid body uke for sixty bucks and the blems didn’t look that bad. Thanks to uke hunt for the heads up on this deal.
So I swear I’ll get back to posting songs and lessons soon. See you then.