Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Uke of the Year!

I am sooo glad 2011 is over.  I am looking forward to 2012 and  new pages to be turned.  Of course, there is some unfinished business to attend to here at Burbania Posts.  I got sick before, during, and after Christmas so have been silent in the virtual sense for some time.  This means I missed the holidays, end-of-year meditations, and such that were better handled by other clergy-bloggers anyway.  What they cannot handle, though, are football predictions and...the ukulele....

So today I wanted to lift up my "Uke of the Year".  It is not the best I have played nor is it my "main instrument".  It is, however, the best value and--as a New Englander--I like that.  I was given this particular uke as a reward for spending a lot of money at a local used instrument store.  My plan was to give it to my five-year-old.  The ungrateful wretch was so pleased, he threw it in the trash!  It is mine now.  Finders keepers...

If you are not given one, the Makala MK-SD (because that is its name) is easily purchased for under $40.  Most folks would look at such a low price and deem it a toy.  In a good way it is!  However, in another way it is not.  The sound is classic soprano uke.  It is durable (it is also part-plastic which is a good thing in this case) so it can be tossed around.  It is cute.  It comes in bright sparkly colors and features a bridge in the shape of a dolphin.  The paint seems to be somewhat thicker than one might expect, but that is in part to hide the plastic and the no-doubt close-to-cardboard front. 

Here at the parsonage we have left it sitting on the couch in the living room.  Most of us cannot help but pick it up and give it a strum when we pass by.  I have found myself playing around with it as I try to think of the right word for a prayer or sermon.  It really is that charming.  It makes us happy.

So, for the record, I have played a lot of ukes this year.  In the soprano category there has been my Johnson UK-100, the "Flea" (and also its cousin the Firefly banjo-uke), a poorly tuned Lanikai, an unamed uke for sale at Best Buy, and multiple varieties with the word "Aloha" printed on them.  This little Makala held its own and was far and away the best one for under $40.  Everyone should own a ukulele.  However, few people should spend more than this.  You should be comfortable getting sand in it or hitting it with a soccer ball.  More expensive ukes are for people with performance requirements or who want a larger size.   Ukes that are both bigger than a soprano and cheaper than $100 are usually not very good.

That said, I will probably buy it some Aquila strings to improve the sound.  In fact, the soprano uke is such a small instrument, much of the sound quality comes from strings.  This may be a useful tip for those of you who don't want it to be too jangly.

Here is a comparison picture to see what you are dealing with.  The smallest one is--yes--the Makala.  The Fluke is one size up (concert) and the instrument I play in church.  The other is a guitar just to show you how small the uke really is...

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