Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm not good at April Fool's

Pictured above is my Atomic Ukulele. Click on the picture for a very large detail view. It was built by Peter Hurney, the owner of Pohaku Ukuleles. I bought the Atomic because it is so damn pretty, but it has turned into a favorite player.

Before I discovered the ukulele, I spent years struggling with the guitar. I never seemed to get anywhere with the guitar. When I play one now, it is like wrestling a piece of furniture with strings. The ukulele just seems like a friendlier alternative. I have no desire to be a professional musician. I think that anybody who talks as much about music as I do should be able to play a little bit of music.

Despite my feelings to the contrary, Ukulele Hunt, possibly the world's preeminent ukulele website has published a piece titled "Ten Reasons It's Easier to Learn the Guitar than the Ukulele"

"1) It’s easier to tune: The shorter scale length of the ukulele makes it decidedly tricky to get in tune. A slight tweak of tuner can send it wildly out of tune. Add to that the fact that strings take a couple of weeks to bed down and you’ve got a big problem. If even professional musicians like Amanda Palmer and Stephin Merritt can’t get their ukuleles in tune, what chance has a beginner got?
2) It’s possible to find a teacher: Google results for “guitar teacher” = 316,000. Google results for “ukulele teacher” = 1,480. The best way to learn a new instrument is sitting face to face with someone who is already an expert. It’s much easier to find those people with the guitar.
3) It’s easier to make it sound OK: Guitars naturally have a big sound which is generous to less careful playing. It takes a bit more experience to tease a good sound out of a ukulele. It’s all to easy to smother all the tone out of the poor thing.
4) You don’t have to worry about holding it: Sometimes ukeing standing up is a little like playing whilst juggling a sack of potatoes. And using a strap feels like giving in.
5) They don’t have friction tuners: The friction tuners on beginner level ukuleles are universally awful. I wonder how many people have given up on the ukulele because they couldn’t get the tuners to stick and didn’t realise you could tighten them.
6) It’s easier to find tabs and lessons online: There’s a whole lot more than there used to be. But the uke stuff still doesn’t come close to the amount (and, dare I say, quality) of guitar stuff.
7) You can buy a decent guitar in a shop: Imagine that. Walking into a shop and being able to try a wide range of instruments of playable quality and decide which one you like best. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a shop with more than one ukulele for sale. And I’ve never been in one with more than zero good ukuleles for sale.
8) No one cares what strumming pattern you use on the guitar: In my many years on the dark side, I don’t ever remember anyone discussing any strumming patterns.
9) The strings are in the right order: What the hell kind of sense does re-entrant tuning make anyway?
10) It’s physically possible to play and E chord on the guitar."

So now I'm supposed to post a ukulele song, right? Here's a song featuring the bass instead. It has four strings too.

Luqman - MeShell Ndegéocello


todd said...

Hey Jon,

Nice....i enjoyed your comment over at Ukulele Hunt...true...

i obviously shut down 'uke evangelist' but have re-fired and am posting here:



Jon said...

Wow, Todd, great to hear from you. I liked Uke Evangelist and was disappointed when you got rid of it. Look forward to following your new blog.

melissa said...

Jon - THANK YOU for the recommendation on Uke Hunt to play E7 instead of E!!!!

Jon said...

Thanks Melissa, 7th chords go with a lot of Rockabilly and Country from the '50's and '60's. Also, MJ HIbbett said, "If you can't play a chord, play an easier chord that's close to it. If that doesn't work, stop playing and sing louder until you get to the next chord."

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