Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ukulele Orchestra: Helpful Links

So I realize that I just posted yesterday and this may be a bit too soon for the folks who prefer my current bi-monthly schedule, but you see, the Eliot Church Ukulele Orchestra is having its first meeting and I need to furnish them with some links.  Therefore, if you aren't into this project, feel free to ignore me and go about other business...

OK, so the goal I think is to have a group of people who will play in church with some reasonable instrumental competency but may be called upon to lead hymns and perhaps attempt a sung piece at some point (not everyone, I realize, is planning on singing and that is cool).  Because of this we need to give some thought to the kind of ukulele's to purchase for those who do not have them.  what follows is, I hope, a useful set of links to get a sense of the landscape...

Getting a Uke

First, I must admit that I have learned more about cheap ukuleles over the last couple days than I thought there was to learn on the subject.  As regular readers may recall, I have in the past touted the virtues of the very cheap ukulele.  I even gave the Makala "Dolphin Uke" my "Uke of the Year" award.  I still like the Makala but I have to say that a) the intonation isn't very good and b) it doesn't age well.  Mostly the problem is the tuners.  I have been trying to tune it up for our meeting and it just won't hold for more than a few minutes.  So if your goal is simple chords on the beach or at the campsite, I say "go for it".  For anything else, expect to replace it within a year.  Also, new players may find it frustrating to learn on.

Here, though, is my review of the Dolphin Uke (around $40) during happier times.

One might want to pay twice this (still under $100) for a soprano Kala ukulele.  Kala makes the Makala but the actual "Kala" instruments seem to hold up fairly well.  I am currently road-testing the long-neck soprano (KA-SLNG for around $80, no case) and will give a fuller report in early July.  So far the sound is much better and it looks quite a bit nicer, too.  Durability seems OK so far (again...I don't have a case).  Here is a link to Kala's web site.  They have a lot of nicer instruments as well that are sadly out of my price range but may not be for you!

Another good source is the Flea Market Music Company.  For those of us in Southern New England, this is the chance to support a local business!  They make three excellent and unique instruments, the Flea (a soprano) the Fluke (a concert) and the Firefly Banjo Uke (which is just plain cool).  They make their instruments to order and they are a bit more pricey than the others listed (around $200-$300 with the Firefly a bit less than $200).  However, they do age well and have a great sound.  I wrote a review of the Fluke (the uke I usually play) here.  It is also worth checking out thanks to its brief digression on the various ukulele sizes.  Here is the web page of the company as well...

Here is the link to the Kamaka Ukulele company.  This is the most storied company of ukulele makers.  They are also expensive.  I know coveting is wrong but...man...these are nice instruments...

Also, here is a link to Pono, a line of very good instruments in the $400 line.  They have a great reputation but--while I have heard them and seen them--I haven't had a chance to play them.  I hope to some day.

Also, Also, here is a link to an article about the difference between Kala ukes and Lanikai (basically there aren't many differences) and it features a chord chart!

Online Resources for Learning:

One of the great things about the ukulele is that you can learn how to play by searching Youtube.  However, there are a couple of web sites that are particularly helpful.

One is Ukulele Underground.  I enjoy this page very much.

Also, there is Ukulele Hunt, which features a rather large catalogue of songs.

...and Ukulele Review...which reviews ukuleles...

That is all for now!  If you have any questions let me know!

No comments:

Post a Comment