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Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

I regularly get people asking what I use in my playing and in putting together the site. To answer those I did a post back in 2010. Things have changed a bit since then (most notably it makes no mention of apps). So here’s what I’m using these days.

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?

This hasn’t changed much in the last four years. I play mostly tenors. With my favourites being the KoAloha Sceptre and Ohana TK-35G. I use those almost exclusively in videos. And I play the Ohana slightly more practicing even though it picked up a giant crack when I moved house.

When the situation demands I use: Soprano Kala KA-ASLAS, tenor aNueNue Lani II (which I have strung in low-G), aNueNue Harp Ukulele and Ohana baritone.


Tuner: Sometimes my ears and sometimes a Snark Tuner.

Strings: Worth.

Capo: Shubb mandolin capo (take note: it doesn’t work on smaller necked ukes).

Stands: Tanglewood Ultralite ukulele stand.

Tabs and Chords

Tabs: Guitar Pro 6. I’ve been using Guitar Pro 6 since I started the blog nearly seven years ago. I wrote a review of it here (tl;dr: I like it). Although this year it has at least got some worthy competition in the shape of Tabular.

Chords: I make the chord diagrams in Sibelius (I don’t recommend buying Sibelius though – I only bought it because I had to – but it does make attractive chord diagrams). Then I write up the chords in Pages.

Slow Downer: For slowing down songs to make them easier to tab. I use Capo (Capo 2 which I think isn’t available anymore). It does claim it can automatically generate chords and show you the notes being played. I’ve found those to be pretty much useless. But it does what I need it to do well.


These are all for iPhone there are some Android alternatives here.

Metronome: Visual Metronome.

Tempo Finder: Tap/Tempo.

Tuner: Cleartune (although I don’t have cause to use it often).

Tabs: I have all my tabs in PDFs on DropBox. Usually I just open them there. But if I want to do more with it or I’m going to be using it a lot then I import it from Dropbox into forScore.


Mic: sE Electronics USB2200a.

Software: GarageBand.

Camera: A Logitech that I hate so much I’m not even going to link to. If any has any suggestions for this let me know.

Blogging and Site

Software: WordPress.

Hosting: WiredTree. Highly recommend them.

Domains: UkuleleHunt.com is still on GoDaddy. Which I highly advise against you using. It’s a nightmare buying domains and they make it hard to do anything once you’ve bought them. These days I keep my sanity and buy new ones on Hover.

Site Design: The site and logo were designed by Ben Lew. Who is fantastic.

eBook Selling: eJunkie. Easy, cheap and I’ve never had a major problem with them in the six years I’ve been using them.


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

Online Storage: DropBox This is even more essential now. It used to be a pain keeping files in sync across computers. Now it’s impossible to keep them in sync across computers, phones, tablets, glasses, watches… without Dropbox. And it’s free (up to a point).

Password Manager: 1password.

Music: My favourite place to buy music is Bandcamp. Only partly because they put me on their front page. You can find my collection here.


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


Beardsley shampoo and conditioner
Honest Amish Beard Balm

View Comments


  1. Jeff April 10th, 2014 1:07 pm

    You surprised me when you mentioned the “B” word! I am glad you posted this information. I deserves posting now and then as some things change and new people come along.

    I have a much busier work schedule that makes it difficult for me to be as active as I was. I stay focused on the bari as my instrument of choice. I stick with G-tuning, DGBE, which I call DoGBonE tuning.

    I have 3 in low-D tuning and one in high-D. One of them is always at my office for lunchtime or end of the day playing. I still get my daily dose.

  2. Nicholas Abersold April 10th, 2014 5:29 pm

    Hi Al, great read! And since you asked, this is what I use most of the time when recording ukulele parts: Ortega RU11 concert uke, Ko’olau strings, Rode NT4 microphone, RME Ladyface audio interface, Garage Band (an older version that supports AU plugins, the latest version doesn’t seem to have that feature any longer), T-Racks mastering software.

  3. Conor Brown April 11th, 2014 4:02 am

    Pretty good stuff.

    I use a a Blue Yeti USB microphone to record audio,
    and it’s pretty good. Besides general good sound quality, you can record stereo, and have the illusion that there is two different peeple on different sides

    I use aquilas on a Flea, though I haven’t tried Worth strings yet. I like the Flea a bit better than the cheap Makala I used to have and other ukuleles I have tried out.

    The best metronome is a metronome that waves back and forth, though http://www.metronomeonline.com/ will do.

    For video, I’m looking to get some sort of DSLR camera, because I heard that they have good video quality, and they have the benefit of making you look like a pro photographer when you carry them around.

  4. Stephen April 11th, 2014 5:00 am

    Could you share any thoughts on amps for accoustic playing? I had my new uke fit with a MiSi trio pick up, but I don’t have an amp and wonder what would work best for goofing off around the house. This is all in anticipation of quitting my job to start a world famous band…

  5. Woodshed April 11th, 2014 8:24 am

    Jeff: I thought you meant ‘beard’ for a second! Yeah, I do own a baritone and play it occasionally. I’m not allergic or anything!

    Nicholas: Don’t get me started on the new GarageBand. They’ve only just added the ability to export MP3s.

    Conor: Thanks very much!

    Stephen: I don’t have any thoughts on that, I’m afraid. I don’t do any amplified acoustic playing. Good luck with the world conquering band!

  6. AlistairC April 11th, 2014 9:03 pm

    Nice one Al, really interesting with much to think about. I mainly play a Mainland mango tenor but I have my eye on the Ohana tenor and concert but preferably without any cracks! I like the living waters strings as well.

    As you move towards global domination you may want to consider adding Atul Gawande’s ‘Checklist manifesto’ to your book collection.

  7. Woodshed April 11th, 2014 9:47 pm

    AlistairC: Thanks very much for the book recommendation. I’ve just downloaded the preview. Look forward to checking it out.

  8. Shayne April 13th, 2014 10:09 pm

    Love your work, but so much of what you post isn’t available on the ipad…

    Massive Sadface

  9. Sarah Princess O'Power April 18th, 2014 9:06 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your tools! I am especially eager to be inspired by items on your reading list. Rock on fellow loner!

  10. Woodshed April 19th, 2014 7:57 am

    Sarah Princess O’Power: Thanks! I hope you enjoy them.

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