Friday Links

Daddystovepipe has released his follow-up to Fingerpicking Blues ebook. You can pick up a copy on his website. I’ve been working my way through it and, just like volume one, there’s a tone of stuff to cut your teeth on.

An interesting article looking at ukulele sales. It includes chats with Mike ‘Kala’ Upton and Joe ‘Kanilea’ Souza and some interesting sales charts.

Mark Nelson – he of Fingerstyle Solos for ‘Ukulele fame has started putting up slack key ukulele video lessons (you can watch the first installment here) to accompany the release of his new slack key ukulele album.

James May doesn’t know anything about ukuleles either.

Amanda Palmer and Stephin Merritt hook up for some halloween fun on The Late Late Show.

Pictures: Dent May when he still played ukulele, girl group.

Yuval has dug up some amusing (now, perhaps not at the time) court cases involving ukuleles:

Thomason v Thomason – a cautionary tale where buying a cheap ukulele leads to divorce: “At another time he made a present of a ukulele to his daughter and this evoked from his wife a letter which was in evidence and starts: “Cheap Cheap Cheap Scrooge—Humbug If you can’t buy a uke that will hold strings in tune—why don’t you let some one who knows how buy one—* * * ” It continues in the same tone to its conclusion.”
State v. Haili – is carrying a ukulele probable cause for a search? The police pull over a car, see a ukulele case, search it (without a warrant) and find a gun. They find that, “In the case at bar, we conclude that once the officers saw the.22-caliber casing on the front floor of the car and the ukulele case, a known repository for firearms, there was probable cause to search,” but conclude, “In granting the motion to suppress the contents of the ukulele case, the trial court ruled that the warrantless search of the ukulele case was unconstitutional.[1] We affirm.”
Tex Smith, the Harmonica Man,v, Arthur Godfrey et al., Defendants. – Arthur Godfrey was discussing which ukulele to buy on his TV show (those were the days) and says of Tex Smith’s $2.99 uke (those were the days), “to sell the instrument as a ukelele might not be contrary to law but that people who did it should be jailed.” You’ve got to think Godfrey had a point. The ukulele had painted on frets.
French American Reeds v. Park Plastics – the makers of plastic Islander ukuleles sue the makers of Flamingo ukuleles claiming they’re so similar customers will confuse the two. They decided, “The “Islander” sales volume of 136,000 before the “Flamingo” appeared is not such as to indicate that plaintiff’s plastic ukelele had captured the musical imagination of the country.” Zing! Judge for yourself.

View Comments


  1. Marc November 11th, 2011 4:57 pm

    The article on uke sales is fascinating. Such astonishing growth. Can it be sustained, or is it just a fad?

    It’s amusing how Joe Souza presents the term UAS as if he’s the only one who has ever said it. I’m surprised the reporter didn’t find more instances of it.

    The article also contained lots of speculation on what inspires players to take up the instrument. For me it was neither an affection for Hawaii nor an admiration of popular musicians. It was seeing my five-year-old nephew pounding away on one of these:

  2. Kyle Frazer November 11th, 2011 5:56 pm

    Uke sales are booming, but so is the 2nd hand market. So many people are buying ukes and then selling them on a few months later, are they replacing the uke’s that they’re selling for better made, more expensive instruments? Or are they deciding that the uke isn’t for them?

  3. Marc November 11th, 2011 6:53 pm

    I would guess the second-hand market is mostly failed players.

    After all, if you enjoy playing why would you sell your inexpensive beginner’s model to get a (relatively) paltry sum of money towards a new model?

    Wouldn’t most enthusiasts tend to keep the cheaper instrument as a backup or travel instrument?

  4. Ron Hale November 12th, 2011 1:10 am

    The recent Daddystovepipe videos of songs from his new book feature some of the best fingerpicking I’ve ever come across, Al. And his voice seems to fit the songs perfectly.

    Once economic matters straighten themselves out do you think more new money will be siphoned off to guitar sales? Or will the uke have established itself by then so that people will buy one even when they aren’t hurting so much? I don’t know. Always rooting for the little 4-string though.

    Mark’s slack key video is nice. Of course.

    Dad bought daughter a uke. He gets custody. Daughter gets support for strings, etc. Mom can suck lemons. Stick her head in a slops bucket.

    Remember Nellie McKay saying that when people see her uke case they ask if she’s packing a violin or a machine gun? A shell casing and a uke case do indeed add up to probable cause. Decision overruled.

    People who sell ukes for thousands of dollars should be jailed, as well. For crimes against the ukulele spirit. Those who buy them should be committed.

    What ukes don’t look similar to other ukes? The Sceptre, I suppose. But most ukes look just like most ukes look just like most other ukes look just like…

    Now, what’s confusing is the label “concert” as
    applied to ukes. I’ve been ranting about this for as long as I’ve been playing. When you’re looking at ukes for the first time and you see ukes labeled as “concert” what do you think?

    I’ve seen some ukes called “alto”. Makes more sense than “concert”. Well, doesn’t it?

  5. Woodshed November 12th, 2011 6:15 am

    Marc: I noticed that with the UAS reference as well.

    Kyle: It’s inevitable there’s some churn. It happens with every instrument.

    Ron: I think the recession-ukulele link is overplayed. Warren Buffett hasn’t felt the need to trade in his ukulele for a guitar.

    I think concert makes total sense. It’s soprano and tenor that don’t make sense. Those are supposed to refer to different ranges rather than different sizes.

  6. Marc November 12th, 2011 4:30 pm

    From a semantic standpoint, I agree with Al regarding naming conventions for ukes. From a practical standpoint, I agree with Ron. The use of “concert” is not consistent with the labels of other sizes (though I’m taking a leap of faith as I am not familiar with the origins of the various labels).

  7. Woodshed November 13th, 2011 11:06 am

    Marc: Yeah, I think it’s too late to be changing the names now. But what we’ve got doesn’t make any sense at all.

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