Martin Ukulele History: Friday Links

Germans in Grass Skirts?: A history of Martin ukuleles (Via @UkeTeeCee).

David’s official uke rules. Including:

– Don’t say you play the ukulele if you just own one and don’t touch it.
– Don’t be an overly happy asshole
– Don’t constantly flit around reminding everyone you play the ukulele…
– …Unless you’re James Hill. Then you fucking rock.

I was interviewed by Ukulele and Languages.

Jake interviewed by Fretboard Journal. One revelation:

FJ: Do you prefer slotted headstocks?

You know, it really doesn’t matter to me. However Kamaka prefers to build them, that’s how I take ‘em.

Frank Skinner Plays the banjolele on QI.

Buy the Bigfoot and Tiki collection.

Kickstarting: The Love Leighs.

MP3s: Bosco and Honey on ABC Sydney, Songs Illinois has Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapels, Fluxblog has Tune-Yards.

Middle lead of The Beatles’ Something on Uker Tabs.

Pictures: The situation was deteriorating rapidly, The Magic Ukulele, vintage ukers, O.M.G. A U.K.E. : Ukuleles in Pop Culture.

If I give my ukulele a girl’s name will people think I’m a lesbian?

View Comments


  1. Ron Hale October 1st, 2011 1:33 am

    Glad to see thare isn’t any rule against making
    comments on ukulele blogs solely designed to get under people’s skins, Al.
    Unless that falls under ‘Don’t be an asshole’.
    Probably does. But too late now.

    Starting with that. There’s a video of UOGB out this week in which is posed the question: does one have to be intelligent to play the ukulele?
    Dave tell us – as if we don’t already know – no.
    From this all sorts of embarrassments arise. Which may lead to David’s ruls.

    In this same video, George mentions that a friend of his 0q

  2. Ron Hale October 1st, 2011 2:49 am

    Sorry about that. The cat just walked over the keyboard. So to continue…

    Anyway, George mentions that a friend of his says that every prick has [a ukulele]. Do people agree? I’ve maintained for a while now that for
    many folks, picking up a ukulele is the equivalent
    of putting on Spock ears and a Star Trek costume
    or a big red clown nose with huge clown shoes.
    There’s just something about the instrument itself. Not just the players.

    James rocks? Well, yes. But Jake doesn’t? Which reminds me of something: have the two of them ever played together?
    Or are they like Coke and Pepsi? You can have one or the other, but not both. Certainly they don’t make a point of playing together. Or mentioning each other as far as I know. So, why not?

    For that matter, I don’t recall seeing Taimane and Brittni playing together, and they both live in Hawaii. Why not? Jake lives there, too, so how about a threesome? Am I missing something here?

    ‘…don’t play to impress.’ Thank goodness. When I play, I don’t even impress myself.

    Re- skill-level: The psychic returns you get from the uke, such as having fun, being creative, expressing yourself, are a huge part of your skill-level. How the fleas jump on your uke is another element of your skill-level, not the only one. A player with high psychic returns and limited technique has, in my view, good ukulele
    skills. Much better skills than someone in the reverse situation.

    ‘Germans in Grass Skirts’ reminds me of something:
    I can’t recall the last time I saw a video of Hawaiian music on a ukulele blog. It’s been ages. You’re more likely to see a video of Germans in grass skirts than one of Hawaiians in them.

    More apt to see Germans playing Britney Spears songs than Hawaiians playing Island tunes. What am I missing here? I don’t get it.

  3. alec October 1st, 2011 6:47 am

    Ron: Yes.

    Al, this kind of thing is one reason I’m sad about the week on week off thing:

    “The editing process certainly made me realise how out of touch with mainstream morality I am. I wrote a line that pointed out the similarities between ukulele parts and body parts and listed, “necks, bodies and nuts.” And that was a no-go. On the other hand, a reference to torture techniques used in Guantanamo Bay was waved through with a giggle.”

  4. The Captain October 1st, 2011 9:00 am

    I like the interview on Ukulele and Languages and the ukulele rules are good fun too. But Ron Hale nailed it, saying “When I play, I don’t even impress myself.” I can relate.

  5. Woodshed October 1st, 2011 12:48 pm

    Ron: You’re back! I was starting to get worried.

    I know plenty of pricks who don’t play the ukulele (yet).

    I’d like to feature more traditional Hawaiian players but they’re not easy to find. Most of it is Daniel Ho type stuff with the edges taken off. I have featured Raiatea Helm and Izumi because they do that great Hawaiian yodel.

    alec: Thanks!

    The Captain: I think it’s hard for anyone to impress themselves. No matter what you do you always know the hard work and practice you had to put in to get there.

  6. Judy October 1st, 2011 7:21 pm

    Sigh…since I’m new to the uke and excited (obsessed) about it, I’ve been constantly flitting around reminding eveyone that I play the ukulele AND I even posted “Keeping Your Poops” on Facebook, in case they forgot when I wasn’t around. But then, I’ve always been a rule breaker…

    Love this blog, love it, love it.

  7. pepamahina October 1st, 2011 8:15 pm

    Ron Hale, you are just what the doctor ordered today. Here’s wishing all of you guys very many “psychic returns”! Al, you really should consider giving Ron a little corner somewhere on your site as some kind of official correspondent, sort of a Stephen Colbert to your John Stewart, if you know what I mean?

  8. Woodshed October 2nd, 2011 1:49 pm

    Judy: Well, I write a blog about how I play the ukulele, so you can comfort yourself with the thought that I break that rule a lot harder than you.

    pepamahina: I think that’s what the comments are for.

  9. Iain October 5th, 2011 12:13 am

    Reading your interview made me realise that I’ve been playing and reading your blog for almost two years now and never said thank you. Or actually I’m sure I have, but I haven’t said it enough. Shame on me, parasite that I am. I have learned shitloads from this site and the various exploratory journeys it has launched me on and while I’m sure everyone’s with you on the whole fortnightly thing you should know that people like me miss you when you’re gone.

    Ahem. That’s enough for now of being embarrassingly unBritish.

    (Of course if anyone is spending more time reading this than playing the bloody thing then I’m pretty sure they’re breaking some rule or other. Maybe that deserves a rule of its own).

    And mainstream morality is sadly overrated.

  10. Woodshed October 9th, 2011 10:17 am

    Iain: Thanks very much!

  11. Amanda October 11th, 2011 9:21 pm

    I’m lesbian and I call my uke Capt. Kirk. Does that mean people assume I’m straight? Ewwww.

  12. Kevin August 31st, 2016 9:47 pm

    I read the “Germans in Grass Skirts” a long time ago and wanted to reread it but… it’s not on the web any longer.

    Does anyone have a PDF of the article that they can send me?

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