Morelli, Santini, Expensive Tiples

Some dizzyingly expensive instruments from MGM this week: a pair of Lyon and Healy 5k ukuleles $22,000 the pair, and a John D’Angelico Tiple at $30,000.

On the subject of tiples, there’s a Kamaka Tiple up for sale.

The cavalcade of oddly shaped Lyon and Healy ukuleles continues this week with a Lyon and Healy bell shaped uke. As I write, bidding is lower than the price of one of Oscar Schmidt‘s bell ukulele modern copies.

Six Reasons I Wouldn’t Buy a Santini/Morelli Ukulele

1) “Hand Built by a Master Luthier” – really?
3) What the hell happened at the bottom of the fretboard? That’s the picture they use to advertise it? This is the work of a ‘Master Luthier’?
3) I could only find them for sale via one distributor.
4) This looks very photoshopped to me.
5) ‘Teacher Approved’ Thank God for that.
6) They don’t seem to have any ideas of their own.

Ukulele Evangelist, Chord Diagrams and other Ukulelinks

Friend of Uke Hunt, Todd’s new blog Ukulele Evangelist is off to a cracking start with posts on mid-priced ukuleles and an interview with the world’s handsomest ukulele blogger.

Mike debates the graphical representation of ukulele chords.

Langley Ukulele Ensemble visit Hawaii.

Amber ‘Ukebucket‘ Nash was featured in two newspaper articles this week. This is press intrusion of the worst kind. Let her have a life.

Ukulele MP3s: Linguistic Banter on Foggy ruins of Time.

Life on Mars on Uker Tabs.

Get ukulele chords on your Blackberry.

These dolls really are creepy.

Ukulele avatars.

Bishop Allen – Butterfly Nets

Bishop Allen – Butterfly Nets (Chords)

There are a couple of great ukulele tunes on Bishop Allen’s The Broken String album: Click, Click, Click, Click (which you can download on their website) and Butterfly Net.

Of the two, Butterfly Nets is by far the easiest to play – all baby’s first ukulele chords.

The version in the record is slightly different from the one in the video. As well as being longer, the album version is tuned slightly sharp and includes this little fingerpicking bit in the intro:

Bishop Allen ukulele tab


A good, basic strumming pattern for this song would be down, down, up, up, down, up. Like this:


Suggested by Sam

Ukulele Scales: Blues Scale

The Blues Scale is very similar to the minor pentatonic scale. There’s only one new note: the flattened fifth (also known as the devil’s interval).

C Blues Scale

The extra note fits in to the minor pentatonic like this:

C Blues Scale Fretboard

Looks like this in tab:

C blues scale tab

And sounds like this:

C Blues Scale

Here’s me having a little mess around with it.

C Blues Mess Around (MP3)

D Blues Scale

Like the minor pentatonic, you can change the key of the blues scale just by moving the same pattern up the fretboard. The lowest note on the scale is the key that it’s in. For example, the D blues scale starts on the second fret of the C string like this:

D Blues frets

And this in tab:

D Blues Scale Frets

F Blues Scale

The same deal with F. Starting on the fifth fret of the C string.

F Blues Frets

blues ukulele scale tab

If you want tab for the ‘blues mess around’ – and plenty of other ukulele blues – check out my How to Play Blues Ukulele ebook.

The Beatles – Girl

The Beatles – Girl (Chords)

When Amber requested this one, my first thought was, “More Beatles ukulele? There must be chords up for this somewhere.” I had a search around and didn’t much much like what I found. Besides, who could say no to that face?

It might be a little redundant to say, but The Beatles really knew how to write a chord progression. That Ab between the Fm in the middle section and the Eb in the chorus is just perfect. Ab is in the Fm chord (C is in both chords also) and Eb is in the Ab chord, so it creates a bridge between Fm and Eb which don’t have any notes in common at all.

You might notice I’ve used a slightly different version of G7 to the standard one. It really needs that high D note in there and the ‘…going to listen…’ parts. But feel free to use the standard G7 for the ‘…stay‘ bits.

I couldn’t resist tabbing out the little instrumental break for two ukes as well:

Beatles Girl ukulele tab

With the exception of one note, it is possible to play this on one uke with a bit of fiddling around.

Monday Exposure: Madame Pamita

Competition update: The ‘Review Your Ukulele’ contest is now closed. There have been loads of great entries. I’ll be looking over all of them and will announce the result on Friday (probably – it’ll be a tough decision). Everyone who entered should have their Rick tab. If you didn’t get it something must have got lost along the way, send me your entry again and I’ll get it to you.

Madame Pamita – Love Is Good (mp3)
Madame Pamita – Pink Pocketbook (mp3) via Madame Pamita’s Parlor of Wonders

After last week’s post Madame Pamita got back to me with the answers. And it was worth the eleven month wait.

What was your first musical instrument and what made you pick it up?

my first musical instrument was imaginary tambourine in my backyard playing “band” with my neighborhood friends. we also did a lot of lip synching to my mother’s broadway show soundtrack records – “South Pacific” “The Music Man” “The Sound of Music” – we would set up a “curtain” across the clothes line, put on the record and perform an entire two and a half hour musical in 12 minutes. the ultimate broadway experience for those with short attention spans. Very
groundbreaking theatre. we were very avant garde. we had an all-girl cast of 2nd and 3rd graders playing the jets and the sharks in “west side story.” a bold choice, i know, but that’s because there were only girls in my neighborhood.

How did you go from surf music and Cheap Trick to old-time music and spiritualism?

there really is a secret link between all of them. I can see it clearly. anyone who sends me an email naming the mysterious common denominator will get a free CD from me. it might not be a cd of me, but it will be free.

I just got an email from a friend saying, “you’re always reinventing yourself” and I told him, no it’s not that I reinvent myself, it’s that I have M.A.D.D. (musical attention deficit disorder). I am like a very poorly trained dog who chases after a squirrel and then barks at a mailman and then starts running after a passing car. clearly my piano teacher didn’t rap my fingers hard enough with that ruler.

What goes on at a Parlor of Wonders show?

it is a madcap adventure into mysticism and mayhem and not unlike a 12 minute backyard version of “cabaret”. willkommen! bienvenue! I have a set of very large tarot cards. each card has a fortune (of course) and also a song attached to it. audience members come up, and pick a card, get a fortune and then i’ll sing the song that goes along with that card. the audience is, in essence, choosing the set list for the night. it’s always a different show. always unpredictable. the people who come up are often exceptionally drunk, which makes it even more entertaining.

How did you manage to build up such a collection of strange instruments?

by being the worst person ever at saving money. my latest favorite is my marxophone. it’s the people’s instrument, you know.

On a related note, have you ever managed to get a good tune out of your ukelin?

no, but i enjoy the bad tunes very much. it’s the best $15 bucks i ever spent. i bring it out at parties and become one of those insufferable people who forces partygoers to play it and then listen to the legend of the ukelin. do you know the story? they were sold door to door. the price on the inside of the ukelin says “$35″ (which was a huge amount of money in the 1920s) but the sales man would sell it to you for “wholesale cost” which was $17.50, IF you would become a ukelin distributor yourself. If you sold 6 at full price, you would even get your $17.50 refunded. My ukelin came with all the original paperwork for the whole dastardly pyramid scheme transaction. See? now you know what it’s like to go to one of my parties. but you get to hear the ukelin legend from thousands of miles away! that’s the magic of the internet!

How did the idea for The Very Special come about?

My friend sid who invented the swirlygig and i were holed up in a cabin in the woods of wisconsin for a week. we were playing this and that and then we wrote the swirlygig jingle. and then we decided that more things needed jingles. things that we love that don’t get the credit that they deserve such as “foam fingers” and “slotted spoons” and “bobby pins”. have you heard any good bobby pin jingles lately? no, i thought not. now you can see the genius behind that. of course, being jingle writers, we’re not musical snobs who write only because we are “inspired,” so if you have something you want a jingle for, just send us the pertinent information and we’ll write a jingle for you for $1 a word. that’s a total bargain. jingles are short. the shortest one we wrote was a $4 jingle!

What have you written jingles for so far?

we are so prolific, we don’t keep track. well, sid does. she’s the organized twin. we are constantly writing jingles. the latest best one was for bituminous asphalt. our favorite one goes “flag foods – we’ll wave when you come in” – it doesn’t get better than that in the jingle biz. not for $8, it doesn’t.

I was reading your about page on the Dime Box Band site and it said you couldn’t live without ‘vintage jewelry, un-picked-over thriftshops and used bookstores’ and it struck me that there’s a similar vintage/used theme in a lot of the music you’ve made. What is it that appeals to you?

that bio had some very interesting repercussions. there was a time that i was dating around and i had a whole string of dates with different guys and they would take me to thrift stores. i thought, “wow! i’m meeting a lot of guys who are into thrift shopping.” but it turns out there was a question on there that said “what is your dream date” and i had just randomly put down something about thrift shopping. they had been scoping out my band website beforehand and
then planning our first date around that. now, of course, i’ve changed the answer to that question to “driving the getaway car at a bank robbery”

and i didn’t answer your question at all, did i?

I have to ask this one. What do you see in my future?

I pulled three cards for you

the seven of swords, the ace of wands and the moon card.

you are starting a new activity that you are very passionate about – new songs? a new project? but you’re very excited about it. the main thing to do though is to keep your thoughts about it based in realism, it will be easy to get “pie-in-the-sky” about something this new that you’re this excited about. dream big but also keep one foot on the terra firma of practicality. the best news of all though is that this project will involve doing something that is a little crafty – not illegal, but just a little rascally – and that you will get away with it!

Madame Pamita will be recording a new CD in August and touring after that. You can keep up to date with all the news on her website.

The Wire Theme: Way Down in the Hole

For those of you like the me of a few months ago who haven’t seen The Wire, each series has its own version of the Tom Waits song Way Down in the Hole.

Season 1: Blind Boys of Alabama

The first series’ theme was performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama. The album that this song comes from, Spirit of the Century, is absolutely fantastic. The highlight is the blues on the oud number Soldier.

Blind Boys of Alabama – Way Down in the Hole (Chords)

I’ve written up the chords as they appear in the theme tune, but there’s nothing in the full song that isn’t in this version.

At the end of each line there’s little little lick.

With this at the end of the verse.

Wire Ukulele Tab

Season 2: Tom Waits

The original Tom Waits version is one fret higher than the BBoA at Bm.

Season 3: The Neville Brothers

The Neville Brothers’ version is in the key of Am – which makes it the most suitable for the ukulele. My favourite way of playing the song is to use the key of Am and the bass lead in from this version and combine it with the lead parts from the Blind Boys’ version to get this:

Season 4: DoMaJe (Baltimore Boys Choir)

Back to the BBoA key of Bbm. I have to say, this is my least favourite version by a long way. For the fuzzy solo, bust out the Bb minor pentatonic scale.

Season 5: Steve Earle

As well as providing the theme for the final season and appearing in the show, Steve Earle’s Feel Alright was used for the end of season 2 montage (listen here if you don’t want any spoilers). It’s a great song. I was going to write it up for the uke, but it’s one of those rare songs that sounds better on the guitar.

Earle’s version of Way Down in the Hole is in Gm.

UkeTube: Jacob Borshard, Sweetafton23, WS64

Videos this week from Jacob Borshard, Sweetafton23, WS64 and many more.

Jacob Borshard – Rainbow Connection Read the rest of this entry »

eBay: Ukulele Jones, Shrine, Kala Mango, Martin Taropatch

From what I can gather, eBay were giving away pins at their live event in Chicago this year. One of the pins featured a character called Ukulele Jones. They’re currently all over eBay.

After last week’s Camp uke and Venetian ukulele, there’s another one of Lyon and Healy‘s oddly shaped ukuleles up for sale this week a Shrine. Unlike the one MGM has for sale at 26 grand, it’s mahogany and it’s been battered around a bit. Should still fetch a nice price.

Kala are coming up with some very nice looking ukuleles of late. There’s some seriously sexy grain happening on this Mango Concert and the Curly Mango Tenor ukulele.

Martin Taropatches turn up fairly regularly on eBay, but it’s not often you see a Martin Style 3 Taropatch. According to the blurb it’s, “only known 8-string Taro-Patch ukulele to have been crafted by C.F. Martin & Co. with the inlay & keys made of ivory.”

Chantus ukuleles are always worth a look and William King’s blog is packed with ukulele pr0n. At the moment MGM has one of his longscale concert ukuleles up for sale.

Ukulele Links: Irish Uke Gathering, Julia Nunes Inspires Molly Ringwald

Last call for entries to the win a Kala Pineapple competition. It ends on Sunday.

Ireland will be having its first ukulele gathering in Dublin on August 9/10. Guest of honour will be Dan ‘Cool Hand Uke‘ Scanlan. If you’d like more info contact Tony Boland.

Italy’s first ukulele festival kicks off today with appearances by Bosco and Honey and James Hill.

Aldrine Guerrero releases his debut CD.

The Ten Commandments of Uke (via Ukulelia). And now that straps are verbotten, here’s the Catholic solution to a slipping ukulele.

Molly Ringwald was inspired to take up the ukulele by Julia Nunes (Noonz). That might be my favourite bit of news ever. Skip ahead to around 4:20. (Props to Uni for finding it).

Soldier’s Joy on Uker Tabs (Thanks Ken).

The Barnkickers are the deserving winners of ukulele for sale video contest.

You really should be following Ukulele Hero. Half the news here has already been on there.

The Beautiful South’s Paul Heaton writing their next album on ukulele.

Get yourself a free ukulele by having your YouTube videos sponsored. OK, that guy’s not much of a uke player, but I think that’s a pretty good idea for people whose videos get plenty of views. Bushman are the Bentley of ukuleles? I’d say they’re more the Ford Taurus of ukuleles.

The Independent on Sunday‘s style guide favours the MJ Hibbett spelling of ‘ukelele’.

Ukulele greeting card.

Ain’t nothing but a G thing. Who plays the G chord like that?

Re-entrant tuned guitar. I love Soukous, but I never realised some of them replace the D-string on the guitar with a high E-string tuned to D – giving it a ‘my dog has fleas’ style tuning. Diblooooooooooooooo!

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