Ohana Tenor Ukulele TK-35G Review

No need to stretch to outlandish reasons to buy a new ukulele for this one. I needed a tenor (and, no, a Fluke with a tenor neck doesn’t count) particularly for fingerpicking. The Ukulele Shop had a sale on the Ohana TK-35G and after watching Ken Middleton’s review of his tenor Ohana.

Sound: A lovely warm tone to it. The sound is plenty strong enough for single note playing. But when you’re strumming chords, the sound isn’t as sharp and defined as I’d like.

I’m not too sure how useful MP3 examples are once they’ve been through all the equipment, but here are some anyway.

Fingerpicking Test

Strumming Test

Sustain Test (open C string then A string 12th fret) using the Aquila strings it came with.

Construction: Solid mahogany body. Rosewood fretboard. Rosewood binding on body, soundhole and headstock. Chrome geared tuners (MGM lists them as friction tuners – unless there’s some funky mechanism in there, I’m pretty sure that’s not the case). Genuine bone nut and bridge (that’s how it’s listed but they seem quite plastic-y to me – and obviously to Ken too; he refers to them as being plastic in his review). It’s reasonably well put together but not perfect – more on that later.

Playability: Like Ken mentioned in his video, the action is very high. I wouldn’t say it’s ‘unplayably high’ though. I quite like the high action – it means a whole lot less fret buzz and cleaner fretting. But it does mean it’s not an easy instrument to play. I’m tempted to lower the action a little.

A gripe I have with it is the fret marker is at the ninth fret (guitar style) rather than the tenth fret (ukulele style). It has thrown me off on a number of occasions and I’m still not used to it. Looking at the Ohana ukuleles on eBay, it seems like TK-35G is the only model with this. Very annoying.

Intonation: I’ve got no complaints here. It’s playable all the way up the neck.

Intonation Test

Looks: It’s a pretty sexy ukulele. The mahogany and gloss finish look great. But, like most of the girls I go for, it’s pretty on the outside and a complete mess on the inside. There are splashes of glue all over the place and some splintering around the joints. It is the sort of slapdash stuff you’d expect from a Chinese made instrument, but it doesn’t worry me unduly.

Overall: I’m very pleased with it. It is my first choice fingerpicking uke. It was less than £150 for a solid tenor ukulele and a very sturdy case – I’m a happy bunny.

Neal Paisley – Gossip (Tab)

Neal Paisley – Gossip (Tab)

UPDATE: Neal took his version down so here’s ukuleletim’s.

Gossip would have to be my favourite ukulele instrumental from last year and, judging by its strong showing in the Ukulele Video of the Year vote, quite a few other people as well. So, of course, I had to have a go at working it out and it’s as much fun to play as it is to listen to.

The tune is based on a A blues progression (A, D7, E7 with occasional bits of F7) with the single notes from with minor pentatonic scale mixed up with plenty of major notes.

It’s a great tune to play around with. I’m working up my own white-boy funk version. Here’s what I’ve jammed together so far:


Subscribe to Neal’s YouTube Channel

Monday Exposure: The Honey Brothers

The Honey Brothers – Drunkard’s Lament (MP3)
The Honey Brothers – Coney Island Baby (MP3) via thehoneybrothers.com

Allegedly formed at a, “ukulele fantasy camp,” the Honey Brothers have grown to become the undisputed, “masters of Hawaiian-Appalachian Glam Rock.”

Despite the obvious stars of the band being the ukulelists: film maker Ari Gold (who isn’t off of Entourage lest the name confused you) and Andrew Vladeck, most of the attention is inexplicably directed at the bands drummer: actor and professional handsome man Adrian Grenier (who is off of Entourage).

The band started out as an acoustic, ukulele driven trio. But when Grenier joined them on drums, they developed more of a rocky sound. However, the ukuleles are still very much in evidence and it creates an usual and interesting tension between the indie rock moments and the traditional ukulele stylings.

Visit The Honey Brothers’ MySpace
Buy Songs For Your Sister

Kate Micucci/The Gooch – Mr Moon (Chords)

Kate Micucci – Mr Moon (Chords)

Hmm, not so keen on Kate Micucci’s Scrubs song this week (and Zach Braff literally phoned in his performance) but she does a very funny angry. So back to the cute/beautiful Mr Moon which made an appearance on the last episode.

Strumming Pattern Suggestion

Nothing taxing in the chords, but some of the changes come in unexpected places.

On the C Dm F G parts:

d – d u for each chord (but I like to do d u d u for the G chord)

On the C Dm F C parts, the F chord is half a best shorter. So you play d u d on the F chord then u on the C chord. Like this:

For the chorus d – d u will see you through the G and C chords. For the Dm chord, she gets a bit funky with it and doesn’t strum until the second beat. For example, the bar starts on the word ‘smiled’ but she doesn’t strum until the word ‘while. So you get this sort of strum pattern:

– – d – – u d u

On other parts of the song, she does play the first beat (with a down strum).

Phew! Let me know if this stuff is helpful to those of you wanting strum patterns – I’m still feeling my way around describing strum patterns.

Buy on CD Baby

UkeTube: Erin Lang, Dent May, The Half Sisters

This favourite new find of the week is The Half Sisters who make up for a load of girly jaw-flapping and squeeing with a couple of great songs and plenty of Peggy Sue style shounting (shouting + counting = shounting).

And, of course, there’s love in the air for Ukulele Ike’s dogs and Ukulelezo’s insect people while Erin Lang gets the best Valentines gift ever. Read the rest of this entry »

Ukulele Window Shopping

Jeff the Humble Uker is thinning out his ukulele collection to make way for a Da Silva. You can check out the booty – including a RISA solid, Gretsch, Hamano and Vintage ukuleles along with some uke DVDs – on his seller’s page.

A couple of ultra-sweet vintage ukuleles with hefty price tags: Gibson Style 4 and Lyon and Healy 3K.

This electric ukulele is seriously METAL. You can watch it being built and played here.

I love the art deco decal on this Regal ukulele.

Ukulelinks: Ukulele MP3s

Lots of ukulele MP3s: Pitchfork has a track from the tUnE-YaRdS (you can pick up the album on a ‘pay what you like’ basis here – it’s very good) and Dent May’s new video. A new instrumental from Bosco and Honey with Gensblue. New EP from Existential Hero (aka Steven Ray Morris of Foggy Ruins of Time). The Obama ukulele songs keep coming, this time from Jon Braman. Masters of Song Fu #3 features uke songs from Molly ‘sweetafton23’ Lewis, Mike Bordet and Jutze Schult (and a non-uke track from Garfunkel and Oates). If the thought of four years worth of Beatles covers on the ukulele doesn’t make you want to punch your ears into your brain, check out this blog.

Bette Midler strums out on Loose Women (Warning: may contain traces of Leslie Garrett). And, no, I wasn’t watching this live. And anyone who tells you that I was because Loose Women is my favourite show and I’ve been in the audience three times is lying.

Send your valentine a ukulele ecard and subtly hint they should be more loose with their wallet and less loose with their tongue.

Lily Allen’s The Fear on Uker Tabs.

Top notch ukulele poster.

Jake does an informercial for Analysis Plus cables (and he isn’t kidding about them being “pretty pricey”: Holy crap!).

Tripping Lily‘s Monica Rizzio officially uke crush #1

The DEA try to prosecute ukuleles on trumped up charges. “INTELLIGENCE ALERT – COCAINE IN A UKELELE” (about halfway down the page). May I refer the court to Photos 15 and 16 which clearly show a charango. Case dismissed.

Dr J does some interesting audio-nerd analysis on the Grammys. Apparently, Taylor Swift wins at microphones. She obviously knows a thing or two about sound quality; she’s a uker.

The always fiercely contested ukuleles and homemade flower-trousers round of Mr Tahiti.

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – You Can’t Force A Dance Party (Chords)

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – You Can’t Force A Dance Party (Chords)

I’ve been enjoying The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele (despite a bit of demoitis one some of the tracks). Some very welcome straight-faced ukulele pop to pass the time while Stephin Merritt plays other instruments. Particularly good is the album’s standout track is You Can’t Force A Dance Party.

Nothing much to worry about with the chords.

Strumming Pattern Suggestion

Once the song gets going, here’s a strum that will get you through:

d – d – – u d u

More Dent May

Meet Me in the Garden (Chords)
Oh, Paris! (Chords)
Love Song 2009 (Chords)

Blank Ukulele Tab

Here are a couple of PDFs of blank ukulele tabs for you to print out and scribble on.

Blank Ukulele Tab (PDF)

Big Blank Ukulele Tab (PDF)

NeverShoutNever! – Trouble (Chords)

NeverShoutNever! – Trouble (Chords)

I bet the tweenage girls are squealing themselves hoarse over wee Christofer Ingle and his magnificent hair. But in December he took time out from his punishing hair care routine to record an EP of ukulele pop songs Me & My Uke. And he’s currently recording an album with fellow ukulele-EP-releasing runtogetherbandnamefrontman Forrest Kline of Hellogoodbye.

Trouble is a fairly simple three chord affair. The only tricky thing is the chord inversions I think he’s using. You could make it easier by using the more standard chord shapes: 0331 for Eb and 2010 for F.

The strumming for the verses is dead easy as well. They’re all down strums. Just make sure you release the chord right after you’ve strummed it to get that sharp sound.

The strumming in the chorus is much trickier. It’s down, down, up, up, down, up. I’m experimenting with showing strumming patterns, so let me know if either of these make sense to you (top line counting, bottom line strumming):

1 … and … 2 …. and … 3 … and … 4 ….. and
down ……. down up ……….. up ….. down up

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
d .. d u .. u d u

For the first chord in the chorus you just play the Bb on the first strum, then you mute the strings (by resting your hand on them but not playing them) and strum the same pattern.

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