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Ukulele Hunt

Chic – Good Times/Rapper’s Delight (Riff Tab)

goodtimes


MP3

“Hey, they took my riff, made it a whole lot better and introduced it to a new generation. Sue them!”

The picking on this one is quite tricky. I’m playing the first half of it bass-style – alternate picking with index and middle fingers. But switching to using thumb and middle finger for the second half. Also, keep the notes in bars one and three short by muting the strings with your fretting hand shortly after you’ve played them.

Part of the Guitar Riffs for Ukulele series.

Coqui Reca, Helen Arney: Saturday UkeTube

This week’s picks includes Argentine ukulele from Coqui Reca, Max the Ukulele Punk Rocker being his usual calm and restrained self in hospital, Craig Robertson playing with the lights on, Aaron Keim doing a suspiciously complicated “two chord” song, Dr Dre remixed and plenty more. Read the rest of this entry »

Selmer, Loprinzi, SpruceHouse: Ukulele Window Shopping

I love the look of the old Django-endorsed Maccaferri guitars. It’s a shame Maccaferri didn’t use the shape for their ukuleles (other than the baritone). So it’s good to see the influence of the Maccaferri ukulele on Selmer.

For the sake of entertainment, I usually focus on more outlandish ukuleles but I do love beautifully simple ukuleles like this SpruceHouse and this Loprinzi.

If you had your interest piqued by the Mya-Moe interview earlier this week, there’s a fine looking tenor resonator up for sale.

Friend of the blog, Byjimini is selling off his Lanikai LU-21CE.

According to the Southern Ukulele Store, Eleukes are now being made in the Kala factory. Not much of a surprise when you look at the tabacco sunburst and f-holes on this one and compare it to the Kala archtop.

Musician’s Friend are having a sale on accessories. If you’re thinking of buying a case, looks like it might be a good time. They’re advertising this baritone case at 81% off.

Ukulele kitsch: miniature ukulele.

Ukulele photos: Robert Conrad, woman with ukulele and poodle

Molly Lewis CD, Celebrity Ukuleles: Friday Links

Lots of opportunities to do your bit for charity and get a celebrity uke: bid on Warren Buffett’s ukulele, Frank Skinner’s ukulele and a uke signed by the UOGB.

Molly ‘sweetafton23’ Lewis made you a CD (but she eated it). You can buy the downloads here.

The London Uke Festival has made it to the final round of voting for Best New Festival. You can vote for it here.

Mel Bay have put up part 2 of John King’s introduction to Famous Solos and Duets.

The New Zealanders are having a shot at breaking the biggest uke ensemble record (are there even enough people in the country?). Mike Dickison is supposed to be leading and even he might not make it. He needs a ride from Hastings to Gisborne on Sunday morning. If you can help him out send him an email.

The podcast/ukulele love-in has been shattered: “Helen and Olly, Answer Me This. Why are assholes so attracted the the ukulele?” Martin the Soundman: “The ukulele is an instrument only a 5 yr old would get a hard-on about.” (To be fair, they weren’t entirely disparaging about the uke and it’s still my favourite podcast).

James Hill dances even better than he ukes (via Bosko and Honey).

Julia Nunes on College Humor (thanks to Cliff).

Jeff’s compiling a list of ukulele scenes in movies. If you can think of any more, let him know.

MP3s: A couple of rehearsal tapes from Howlin’ Hobbit’s Snake Suspenderz, Bridging the Atlantic has a few MP3s from Merrill ‘tUnE YaRdS/Sister Suvi’ Garbus.

Brittni Paiva is a very slick player but, yikes, those album covers.

A man’s got to have a hobby.

Ukulele pin-up of the week.

Jay-Z – Death of Auto-Tune (Riff Tab)

jay-z ukulele tab


MP3

When Ben Lee’s in trouble he asks himself, “What Would Jay-Z Do?” After seeing how he handled Glastonbury, it’s certainly sage advice. But I prefer Jomes’s suggestion that we ask ‘What would Ken Middleton do?

D.O.A. samples Janko Nilovic & Dave Sucky’s In the Space but this riff isn’t so much a sample as a complete reconstruction. A quick noodle at the beginning of the song is cut up and stapled together to create one of the best riffs around.

When Jay-Z wrote this song he obviously hadn’t heard Carl Sagan’s A Glorious Dawn.

Part of the Guitar Riffs for Ukulele series.

Mya-Moe Ukuleles: Meet Your Maker

Mya-Moe Ukuleles are played by a number of Uke Hunt favourites like James Hill, Lil’ Rev, Mark Nelson and Daddy Stovepipe. But I know very little about them. So what better way to find out more about them than throw a few questions at the husband and wife team behind Mya-Moe, Gordon and Char Mayer.

How long have Mya-Moe been making ukuleles and how did you get started?

Gordon made guitars & mandolins for 7 years. One of his early guitar customers, professional musician Moe Dixon, asked if he’d build him a ukulele. Gordon delivered that instrument in April, 2008 (18 months ago). By the time that instrument was completed, he had so much ukulele interest that he stopped building guitars and Char started helping in the shop. As of now we’ve built 150 ukuleles. Char builds the bodies and Gordon does the necks, fretboards & finish work.

What sort of players are your ukuleles aimed at?

We make a serious instrument that’s played by a number of professional, touring musicians (including the likes of James Hill, Emily Hurd, Lil’ Rev and Moe Dixon). But, we also have instruments starting at $575 which we aim at the player buying their second ukulele. They’ve already bought an inexpensive production uke and their instrument is starting to hold them back.

We work closely with professionals because they give us the input to improve our ukuleles. But, in ways, the amateur is more demanding. It is the beginning player that really appreciates the ease of fretting, fast neck, and perfect intonation.

What separates Mya-Moe from other ukuleles?

Rather than compare to others, we’d rather just highlight our feature set. We think that there are three things that are important to players. In order, they are playability, tone and aesthetics. We try to excel in all 3 areas.

In terms of playability, we have a compensated saddle for perfect intonation & tuning all the way up the neck, a radiused fretboard for ease of fretting (especially bar chords), hand-dressed frets for a very smooth feel, and a hand-shaped neck which is designed to be very “fast”. People comment that once they hold our instrument, they don’t want to put it down. The weight and balance are designed to be very comfortable and effortless.

In terms of tone, we hand-voice every instrument. That’s what Char does, and that’s where the magic is. Every piece of wood is unique and must be treated as such. You can’t build to a blueprint–you have to find the personality of every instrument. We aim for a big, broad voice with long sustain. We go to great lengths and expense to put in features that reduce instrument vibration in order to turn every bit of string energy into sound. While our instruments each have a unique personality that is a function of the individual type & set of wood, they have a consistent “Mya-Moe tone.”

And, for aesthetics, we try to have a unwavering attention-to-detail. We offer the choice of matte (satin, oil-rubbed) or gloss (UV-cured polyester) finishes. They are meticulously applied. Our owners consistently comment on the workmanship of our instruments.

We build about 150 ukuleles a year. That’s a small enough number that we have no employees, and we hand-build and hand-voice every instrument. But, it’s a large enough number (we string 3 per week) that we can constantly experiment, refine and perfect our designs.

What do you think makes a great ukulele?

Well, all the things mentioned above. But, I’ll say that a great ukulele is one that the player/owner just loves. We like to say that the instrument chooses the musician. By that, we mean that when you pick up the right instrument, you just know that it is perfect for you. We want owners that are absolutely fanatical about their Mya-Moe. And, if a person buys one of our instruments and doesn’t love it, we refund their money and pay to have it shipped back.

You’re one of the few companies that makes lap steel ukuleles. What inspired you to make them? And how did you approach designing them?

James Hill asked us if we’d make him a lap steel. We took it on as an engineering & design challenge. Luckily, we already had a successful resonator model, so we were able to use that design as a baseline. The hardest challenge is knowing the required pressure on the resonator cone & figuring out, based on the string tension and “break angle” how to deliver that pressure. The lap steel is probably our most gratifying design, because the first one worked perfectly the first time we strung it up.

Visit Mya-Moe Ukuleles.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Suck My Kiss (Riff Tab)

suck my kiss ukulele tab


MP3

Time for another series of Guitar Riffs for Ukulele. Or riffs for ukulele at least – I’m planning to include a bit of bass and piano. The idea with these isn’t to recreate the entire song but to throw in an unexpected snippet for the sake of entertainment (and to get a, “are you playing AC/DC on the ukulele? type reaction). They’re not complete songs and they’re not necessarily in the same key as the original (so hold the, “wrong key dude EPIC FAIL lolz” comments please).

First off is the Red Hot Chili Peppers; who I really should have featured a long time ago. With its syncopated rhythm and the sliding around, this riff is a whole lot trickier than it looks. If you’re dealing with a paucity of frets, you could play it this way and get away with it.

red hot chili peppers ukulele tab

Part of the Guitar Riffs for Ukulele series.

Arborea: Monday Exposure

Arborea – Beirut (MP3)

arboreaukeOne of the most pleasing aspects of the whole ‘New Weird America’ genre is that it’s made it okay to play instruments that aren’t guitar, bass or drums. It’s still labelled ‘weird’, of course, but there are an increasing number of bands stretching out the instrumentation. One such band is Arborea. They use banjos, dulcimers, a combination of the two, and ukuleles. And they were kind enough to let me share the ukulele track from their new album House of Sticks.

Which is just one reason why you should support their Leaves of Life project which brings together the toppermost alterna-folkies – including Devendra Banhart, Alela Diane and Rio En Medio – to on one album to raise money for the UN’s World Food Programme and Not on Our Watch.

You can buy it on Darla, on iTunes, on eMusic and on Amazon. Essential Tracks: Alela Diane’s Cuckoo, Rio en Medio’s Mary, Denise Dill’s Work, Work, Work.

Visit Arborea on MySpace and buy House Sticks on Amazon

Phill Jupitus – The Perfect Ten Theme & Precious Little (Chords)

There seem to be a few British comedians playing the ukulele: Phill Jupitus, Frank Skinner, Lee Evans, Harry Hill, Michael Legge (more on that below) and Russell Brand. Some of them are more competently than others. Phill Jupitus is definitely one of the more dedicated ones. He’s often seen with his uke and showed up at the London Uke Festival.

He also uses it as backing to Stephen Fry’s cozy Phill and Phil’s The Perfect Ten. But, apparently, he doesn’t know what chords he was playing. Which is why Sean requested it.

The theme is just these four chords over and over:

G Gdim C6 D7
perfect ten ukulele tab

The version on the show is tuned down half a step (f#BEbG#).

Requested by Sean.

Ian Emmerson – Precious Little Theme (Chords)

Ian Emmerson – Precious Little Theme (Chords)

Michael Legge and James Hingley’s Precious Little Podcast features quite a bit of ukulele. Legge uses it as punctuation. He did the show’s original theme tune as well but Ian ‘Re-Entrant‘ Emmerson found it so terrible he recorded a new one (using the 5 Foot 2 chords). Which is a bit harsh. He might not be the world’s greatest uker, but he does shout ‘Uke Hunt’ at regular intervals in the show. So he’s obviously a big fan.

Buy The Re-Entrants’ CDs

WIUO, Brandi Carlile, Hayley Sales: Saturday UkeTube

This week’s selection includes a new video from the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, Rocky and Balls want you to munch on their delicious, moist love cakes, Hayley Sales, Brandi Carlile the long awaited return of Exoticorn and plenty more. Read the rest of this entry »

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