Tools of the Trade

I’ve had a few people ask me what I use in my playing and in putting together the site. So I thought I’d list everything I’ve been asked about (and a few I haven’t). And I’d be interested to know what you use: to record audio, make videos and, of course, what your favourite ukulele is. So do leave a comment.


What size/make ukulele do you play?

I’m a fully paid up tenor-man these days. My favourite at the moment (by some distance) is my KoAloha Sceptre. But I still have a soft spot for my Ohana which I use regularly.

For quiet and electric playing I use my RISA. My EleUke sucks giant monkey-balls.


What tuner do you use?

Mostly my ears but sometimes a Kala KC-02 clip-on tuner

What strings do you use?


What capo do you use?

Shubb mandolin capo. But be warned, it’s not suitable for smaller ukes.

Do you use a loop pedal/effects pedal?

I have a Boss GT-10 which does a whole mess of crap.

Tabs and Chords

What do you use to make your ukulele tabs?

Guitar Pro 6. I’m also using Sibelius (for the top secret Operation Exploding Carrats) which is massively over-priced and complicated for ukulele tabs. I’m beginning to loath it with every fibre of my being.

What do you use to make your chord charts?

I make chord diagrams in Guitar Pro. Then I put together the chord sheets in OpenOffice. I also use OpenOffice for the ebooks but I’m thinking of switching to iWork for both.


What mic do you use?

The most recent ones have been done with a sE Electronics USB2200a. I’m not a big audio guy so I want something I can just plug into the computer and have it work. This mic is great for me. Pricey but it sounds good and is very easy to use.

Before that I was using a Zoom H2 which is handy for away from the computer recording, equally suitable for use by idiots and much cheaper.

What software do you use to record?

GarageBand. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best book/place to learn this (and iMovie)? I’m still a Mac noob. Before that I was using Audacity.

What do you use to make videos?

I’m not qualified to offer anyone advice on this. I just use the camera in my iMac and iMovie.

Blogging and Site

What software do you use for blogging?

The site is powered by WordPress. It’s hard to think of a reason why anyone would blog using anything else.

Who designed the site?

The site and logo were designed by Ben Lew. Who did a great job. The theme before that was one of the Revolution themes. If you’re really hard core, the theme before that was Cutline.

What do you use to sell your ebooks?

I use eJunkie to sell my ebooks. They’ve been really great. Cheap, monthly flat fee and I’ve never had a serious problem (I can’t even think of a minor one). I started out with ClickBank and they really sucked. It was expensive and I didn’t want to be associated with the junk products that mostly use it.


Things that no one has asked about and don’t have an obvious effect on the site but without them the site would suck or possibly not exist.

Online Storage

DropBox A must for anyone who uses more than one computer and finds themselves endlessly uploading to thumb drives. And free (up to a point).


I reread these regularly to make sure I never do something stupid like getting a job.

Seth Godin The Dip
Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance
Anneli Rufus Party of One
Steve Pavlina 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job


This American Life


Ira Glass on Storytelling Part 3 is essential for anyone who makes anything they care about (and dovetails with The Dip

View Comments


  1. Armelle August 4th, 2010 7:03 pm

    Note to self : read the last book in your list and ponder about it. Shite, it’s too late already.

    Ukulele :

    I mostly play on concert size ukes.
    I have recently acquired a Koaloha concert Pikake which has an incredible sound and which I really enjoy playing now that Herman has adjusted it to my taste.
    But this one is for home playing only. For trips and playing in the middle of nature, I choose my faithful concert hibiscus Fluke.

    I use Clear Medium Worth strings on both ukes.

    Recording Audio (and video) :
    I use Audacity and lately, a Q3 Handy Video Recorder. A description is available here:
    It’s great and portable.

    I entirely agree about using WordPress.

  2. Cunningham August 4th, 2010 7:46 pm

    Do you have/use a loop pedal?

  3. Woodshed August 4th, 2010 7:57 pm

    Armelle: The last one is actually a blog post – but the site seems to be down at the moment. I think I may well be extending my KoAloha collection (currently one) at some point.

    Cunningham: Excellent question, I’ve added it to the post. I use a Boss GT-10 which has a loop and a ton of other effects.

  4. Ron Hale August 4th, 2010 10:52 pm

    Toiling away on a Lanikai LU-11 soprano (a scruffy little bugger not nearly as photogenic as a certain hibiscus Fluke) with Ko’olau
    Gold strings (not required, just what I have on at the moment).

    Use a Pono P5 clip-on tuner, but can’t
    see any point in advocating for it, it’s just one
    of many similar ones.

    Listening to audiobook poetry passes for reading with me. Two favorite 2-cd sets are both put out by Naxos Audiobooks –

    Great Poets of the Romantic Age, read by Michael Sheen, and

    Classic Erotic Verse, with different readers.

  5. Vincent August 5th, 2010 3:01 am

    I’ve been writing all of my songs in the key of E recently. So if it makes the radio it would make you mad and say something like, “It was probably written for guitar.” Then I would go on this site and say, “Nope, ukulele all the way.” But I mess up every chord change to and from E, so I cant play anything I write. So you win, Woodshed. This time. To get to the topic my favorite ukes are my Oscar Schmidt ou-15 and some unmarked soprano I got for 10 bucks. Aquila on both.

  6. Bossarocker August 5th, 2010 9:38 am

    I know it’s not that high spec, but I love my Lanikai LU21CE. The pick up saves me no end of problems when I’m playing with the band. And I’ll always have a soft spot for my Blue Moon pear-shaped bari (even if Hobgoblin do advertise them as tenors…).

    Do people really ask you about tuners? Surely a tuner is a tuner?

    Aquila strings all the way.

    For looping, I use a Boss RC-20XL.

    For recording, I use Cubase SX, although I’m currently considering a change (probably Pro Tools as I can’t be arsed to go all Mac now). For the podcast, I also use Soundforge. I was never a fan of Garageband until fairly recently – I run an after school club working solely on Garageband & the kids love it. As a first step, it’s pretty powerful. I just wish there was a pc equivalent, although I’m watching with interest.

    My mic is a Rode NT1-A. If you need a mixing desk, you can’t go wrong with a cheap Behringer (mine has lasted years now). My monitors are active Tannoy Reveals.

    The Zooms are good recorders. I also recommend the Edirol R-09 or R-09HR. My one complaint about all these recorders though is that if you want to do location recording, you need a shedload of batteries. Why can’t they have a chargeable battery like minidiscs had?

    For blogging, I love Tumblr although it wouldn’t be suitable for a site like this. It’s perfect for keeping a scrapbook though & the Tumblr community is amazing. I do like WordPress though & my next proper site will probably be based on that.

  7. Mike Woodhouse August 5th, 2010 10:42 am

    I’ve a Lanikai tenor uke and a Mahalo ‘flying V’ I entirly agree with you about the flying v terrible instrument, but it did come with a free kazoo. As for online selling I’m with groovycart free for small volumes reasonable for large and they upload to google so you’re always high up the rankings. I have a tuner too couldn’t tell you which one but having no musical ear it’s a neccesity for me.

  8. Cunningham August 5th, 2010 1:20 pm

    Cheers for the answer Woodshed, that one’s possibly a bit on the pricey side as I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with it yet… currently looking at the Boss RC2 or the Line 6 DL4.

    On topic- I started out with a black Mahalo, currently play an Cavalho soprano (in a touring uke orchestra) and have also splashed out on a lovely looking vintage banjo uke with an engraved silver back. Not quite sure how to play that one yet…

    Next on the shopping list is a Flea Tiki King concert and then will look at Tenor/Baritones. This stuff is addictive!

  9. Humble Jeff August 5th, 2010 5:48 pm

    Al — thanks for the info. I am a bit more schitzo about my ukes. These are my frequent players:

    Ohana Concert CK-35G which is my traveler
    DaSilva Koa Concert #197 for home fingerstyle
    (tuners are cool violin-type internal gearing)
    1960’s Harmony Baritone

    Also have:
    1950’s Harmony Soprano (was my Dads)
    1960’s Maxwell Baritone
    Oldish Balalaika (tuned C-E-A)

    I have put Aguila’s on my ukes. But I have bought some other sets for some experimentation.

    Google blogger suits my humble needs.

    I had a Risa solid soprano but sold it saving up for a DaSilva custom uke. I heard pedro DaSilva on the Eleuke and thought it was awesome — sad to hear it has monkey balls.

    Music Writing:
    Using TABLEDIT. Still learning but I think it has plenty for me. Actually more than I’ll ever use and can use and modify tabs posted by others.


    Jeff / HU / HB

  10. Ukulele Bartt August 5th, 2010 6:26 pm

    I’ll put my two cents in …
    1. My best uke is by Candelas, but I also looooove my Oceana.
    2. Oceana is lesser-known, but I think they’re one of the finest ukes.
    3. Mele is great – I have two.
    4. Also, I love my tiny Ohana sopranino. And Al may not like his, but my Eleuke is really fun and I can play it on airplanes.

    Strings: Worth are the warmest & richest. White is brighter, Brown is smoother.

    Chord Charts: is my FAVORITE!!!! So easy, yet so fancy. And it’s free.

  11. Jim D'Ville August 6th, 2010 2:26 am

    The best place I’ve found to learn new software applications is $25 flat fee per month for very detailed (and unlimited) lessons. You can’t get one ukulele lesson for that price!

  12. Rob NY August 6th, 2010 3:01 am

    My confession: This sickness I have has caused me to purchase far to many good ukes[mostly concerts] for my skill level. Vintage Martin Tenor & soprano, National concert, Loprinzi concert, MP concert, Kanilea super concert. Plus other lesser ukes. My favorite ukulele is a Ukebrand Mainland Mahogany Concert By Kenny Hill[no longer made], light as a feather with great sound, action, and playability.If I could only keep one, this would be it. I think I would jump off a bridge if something happened to it. For my car uke upgraded from a Mahalo to a Sprucehouse soprano {great uke only weighs 10 oz] that, and a harmonica, keeps me sane for my bumper to bumper NYC commute. I also have an electric Risa Ukelle which is nice. I don’t know why I feel the need to have so many ukuleles. I seem to always be looking for my next fix.I really don’t deserve such ukes considering I can’t play worth a nickel. I have a terrible affliction. Strings,I have used Aquilas, then Worths, Now use Black Freemont flourocarbons {great strings] from MusicGuy. I do think the Kala clip on tuner is the best tuner. Got a capo from Fleamarket music which is very good. Don’t know much else about oomputers ,blogs and such. Ukehunt is be my favorite blog or site whichever it is.

  13. Rob NY August 6th, 2010 3:10 am

    Al how come we can’t preview our comments anymore?That last line sounded ebonic, it should be: Ukehunt is my favorite blog or site whichever it is. My typing skills are lacking. Don’t know how to space properly, and typos abound. Please bring back the preview function.

  14. Ukulele Bartt August 6th, 2010 6:06 am

    Hey, Rob –
    I like that line the way it is. Uke Hunt is be my favorite, too.

  15. Rob NY August 6th, 2010 12:43 pm

    Thanks Bartt

  16. Alec August 7th, 2010 5:40 am

    This American Life!

  17. Morgan T D August 9th, 2010 8:06 pm

    Do you realise the the logo “uke hunt” sounds rude when you say it out loud? Just curious if that was deliberate…

  18. Woodshed August 10th, 2010 7:29 pm

    Ron: Thanks for the audiobook suggestions. I’ll check those out (particularly the second one).

    Vincent: Not just this time. Every time.

    Bossa: Looking forward to seeing your proper site.

    Mike: You can’t beat a free kazoo.

    Jeff: I used Blogger for a couple of sites before this one – very glad I switched for this one.

    Bartt: It’s going to take a lot to convert me to Eleuke – no matter how plane-friendly ;)

    Jim: Thanks for the link. I wasn’t familiar with that.

    Rob: I’ll bear that in mind. But I wouldn’t worry about the odd typo on here.

    Alec: I love that show.

    Morgan: No, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  19. Marie August 11th, 2010 7:43 pm

    ukes: an ancient banjolele with no make known (found in the wall of a house being renovated) sounds like CRAP, but that might be my skill level.
    a cheap mahalo for lending purposes… green with sparkles!
    a classroom uke(stolen by a neighbour in her youth) from the Chalmers years in Canada… (the days of bulk Uke orders.. resulting in thousands of children hating terrible unplayable instruments.
    but the two I use most often are my Kala Pineapple- and my concert Ohana CK-60.

    Aquila strings on each

    just say NO to capos.

    no looping here

    my pencil and I do all my chart/tabs… if it’s something worth keeping I scan it.

    garage band, imovie and my imac are my techie bits..but I’m very blessed to have a recording studio at my disposal whenever I want something to sound good. I just realized reciently that I haven’t uploaded anything new in nearly a year… err, and that was BAD stuff that I did upload.

    blogging- I’ve stuck with blogger thru thick and thin. But I don’t have much traffic to deal with.

    reading: whatever I can find at the church rummage sales. but return to “I heard the owl call my name” and “Haron and the sea of stories” at every opportunity.

    listening (this week)- mumford and sons, Jim Bryson, Dan Mangan, the mountains and the trees.

    non-uke time- gardenin, eating the stuff out of the garden, x-files, grey’s anatomy,and building a festival… oh festival season….

    how about you? other non-uke things?

  20. Marie August 11th, 2010 7:44 pm

    whoa. that was longer than I intended.

  21. Woodshed August 15th, 2010 7:15 pm

    Marie: Non-uke things? Sorry, I don’t understand the question.

  22. belle August 15th, 2010 10:56 pm

    How long have you been playing the ukulele for? You’re amazing!

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