James Hill, Ukulele Masters, Emilyn Brodsky on Video

In this week’s videos: James Hill breaks out some hip hop beats and a pair a chopsticks, Byron Yasui, Lyle Ritz, Ledward Kaapana, Bob Brozman, Joel Eckhaus and Jim Beloff play together, while Craig Robertson and Phredd participate in Take Your Daughter to YouTube Day. Read the rest of this entry »

Mahalo and K Wave Telecasters, Bass Ukes on eBay

I caused a bit of a run on the Mahalo Les Paul copies when I mentioned them last week. eBay are now all sold out. You can listen to krabbers on his here. Obviously, I couldn’t resist. Mine arrived this morning and I’m very happy with it. It has some of the failings you’d expect from a cheap uke (the intonation is off further up the neck and the paint job is a bit shoddy in places) but the action is great and it plays very easily. I’ll have to get some Aquila strings on it and give it a real test.

Andy pointed out that Mahalo are also making Telecaster copies. I’m not so keen on them. Without the scratchplate on them, they look quite misshapen. But I am tempted by the Kiwaya K Wave Telecasters, and there’s this one currently for sale at £99. It’s a butterscotch (my favourite colour of telecaster) which, according to the Kiwaya website, is now discontinued.

UPDATE: Ambient Doughnut has put up a video demo of the Mahalo Telecaster:

Heather found this very nicely decorated Dresden Dolls themed uke.

MGM has a Bass ukulele up for sale at the moment – it’s the size of a baritone ukulele but, apparently, it’s in the range of a double bass. You can find out more and listen to it here.

I wish Weissenborn had made more ukes. There’s a nice early one here, but what the hell was that guy thinking with that description?

Jen Kwok, Uke Hunt Happenings and Other Ukulelinks

Gosh, it’s been quite a week for Uke Hunt. Probably one of my favourite blogging weeks ever. To stop this post being too self obsessed, I’ll keep it brief. This week I’ve: been mentioned in the New York Times, been asked if I want to work on a real life ukulele book by a real life publisher, been banned from ezFolk, and found out I had a world exclusive on the review of Clone Wars which had unwittingly meant the BBC was breaking the Clone Wars review embargo (a guy from the BBC emailed me telling me they’ve temporarily taken the video down and wanted to know how I found the Kermode uke post two weeks before they published it). I haven’t stopped laughing all week.

You might not have realised it from my previous references to it, but the NY Times article wasn’t entirely about me. It was mostly about Jen Kwok. Congrats, Jen. Now she’s a big star, we can say we knew her back when she was making uke playing, pipe cleaner dolls fellate Rabbi Bob L. Mensch.

I have to take umbrage at Jim Beloff’s quote in the article: “If you were a poor guitar player, you suddenly become a pretty good uke player.” If you’re a lousy musician, you’re a lousy musician on any instrument. Perhaps the ukulele will suit you more, but the idea that you automatically become better when you play the ukulele is bullshit.

Speaking of which, Gawker calls bullshit on the ukulele trend.

James Hill graphs out a new track.

Aldrine Guerrero ditches his talking cock in favour of Jake Shimabukuro.

Ian Chadwick has in depth reviews of a whole bunch of ukuleles.

Ukulele Tonya visits the Windy City Uke Fest.

Ladybugs Picnic on Uker Tabs.

Photos from the first Irish Ukahuli.

Stop Okay Go has an mp3 of Robin Gray’s These Days and an interview with the man.

Buy your own bobble headed Bob L Mensch. “Watch Him Bob at the Waist as he Davens.”

Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra – It’s A Heartache

Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra – It’s a Heartache (Chords)

You can hear this track on their MySpace.

I thought I hated this song. What I actually hated was Bonnie Tyler’s voice because I love the version by WIUO, everyone’s favourite ukulele orchestra (well, everyone who matters).

The best part is the intro with one uke playing the melody and one uke providing fingerpicked backing.

It’s A Heartache Intro (Tab)

If you have no friends, you can still fill in your own chord accompaniment if you move the melody around a little. For example, you can play bars five and six like this:

Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra Ukulele Tab

Buy their EP on the WIUO website.

Requested by Andrew

10 Reasons You NEED to Buy a New Ukulele

I’m currently trying to convince myself that buying another ukulele wouldn’t be a huge waste of money. There are far too many people in the world that can’t understand the need for one more ukulele. So here’s a list of reason you can trot out whenever you need to justify another uke purchase to yourself, your spouse, your parents or your debt counselor.

1. Size: Sopranino, Soprano, Concert, Super-Concert, Tenor, Super-Tenor, Baritone.
Tuning: C, D, Low-G, Low-A, Slack Key.
Construction: Mahogany, Koa, Banjolele, Resonator, Electric, Plastic, Sapele, Mango, Spruce, Cedar
Strings: 4, 6, 8.

That’s 1,050 combinations (koa concert ukulele etc). Bare minimum.

2. The value of the dollar is falling like a drunken gymnast. Buying a ukulele from Hawaii is basically currency arbitrage. Technically, I’d be making money (this one doesn’t work if you live in the US).

3. In the age of mass production and synthetic materials, it’s our duty to support skilled craftsman working with wood.

4. I have a tie that would go perfectly with that uke.

5. The strings on this uke need changing, and I really can’t be bothered.

6. A new ukulele will expand my sonic palette and inspire me to previously impossible artistic achievements. Buy a ukulele that isn’t at least twice as expensive as all my current ukes put together is a false economy.

7. I have a spare humidifier.

8. MGM is offering free international shipping on that one.

9. I need to buy one now to avoid getting caught in the Christmas rush.

10. The kids can go without school shoes. It’ll toughen them up.

We need all the help we can get. So add your reasons/excuses here.

Sam and Dave – Soul Man

Most of the obituaries of Isaac Hayes focus on the three S’s: Scientology, Shaft and South Park. But his biggest contribution was being half of the best song writing duo (along with David Porter) at the greatest record label of all time (Stax). He wrote the most underrated song in history The Soul Children’s The Sweeter He Is and the legendary Soul Man as recorded by Sam and Dave. With Hayes’s death, Sam Moore of Sam and Dave is one of the few remaining soul legends.

Soul Man works very well on the ukulele – the syncopated rhythms certainly help – but there are a lot of parts to it, so pay attention.

The intro goes like this:

Then it’s into the main riff.

The basic chords for the chorus are just G and F. The brass break is:

But you could play it strummed like this:

The high guitar part can be played like this:

And the low guitar part at the end of the chorus:

For the ‘Grab the rope…’ section, the chords are Eb – Bb – C – C# – Eb. That provides a key change, so now you have to play the intro one fret higher:

And the riff, which is quite tricky:

Monday Exposure: Foreign Loren

Winter Coats via their website

It’s seems I’m a little late writing about Foreign Loren, they split up at the end of April. Nevertheless, they made a bunch of excellent uke tunes that are well worth checking out.

With plenty of waltzes played on ukulele, accordion and trumpet, there was always a danger they’d end up sounding like Beirut. A danger, I’m happy to report, they haven’t bothered avoiding at all. They even covered Postcards from Italy. They might have been Beirut copyists, but they were very good Beirut copyists. Songs like Seaside, We Collide (which you can download on Foggy Ruins of Time) and Winter Coats are better than a few Beirut songs I could name.

You can buy Foreign Loren tracks on their MySpace

John Williams – Olympic Fanfare

John Williams – Olympic Fanfare (Tab)


How fantastic were those drummers at the start of the Opening Ceremony? It certainly topped a bunch of flag girls strolling around at the LA opening ceremony in 1984 (although no change in the commentators blabbering all over the music). But the LA opening ceremony did have the first performance of the Olympic Fanfare written by John Williams for the games.

Jeff had requested tab for the Olympic Anthem/Hymn and I gave it a go but couldn’t really get it to work on the uke. I don’t think it really has a strong enough tune. Which is something you certainly couldn’t say about the Olympic Fanfare. By the time of the games, Williams had plenty of practice making grand, instantly memorable tunes for films like Star Wars, Superman and Indiana Jones.

I’ve written up the first, and most recognizable, part of the tune. The trickiest part is the triplet notes. I started out trying a few triplet strums while blocking the other strings but couldn’t get it to work. I ended up picking with my index, middle and ring fingers in succession.

I was going to record an mp3 of this, but I’m far too busy watching the batmitten, so you’ll have to put up with a midi.

Max the Ukulele Punk Rocker, Seeso and More Videos

Look, Mum, I’m in the New York Times. I do feel a little slighted that they didn’t include a link to me (FMM and MUD got one), but now you can expect to see a big, “As Featured in the New York Times,” sticker every time I mention the National Anthems ebook*.

Anyhoo, you came for ukulele videos, and that’s what you’ll get. Particularly good this week are Max the Ukulele Punk Rocker with an original song, and Seeso and Jason Arimoto (together and apart).

*As featured in the New York Times. Read the rest of this entry »

eBay UK Ukes, Mahalo Les Paul

There are quite a few interesting ukes for sale on eBay UK right now. Hank’s Guitar Shop has a bunch of interesting ukuleles including Martins, Kamakas, KoAlohas, Fleas and Flukes.

Mahalo have been making Gibson Flying V style ukes for a while and now they’ve moved on to Les Pauls. You can buy them in Cherry and Black .

Also on eBay UK is this Gibson which has been attacked with a drill, but might still be worth watching.

Still in the UK, but confusingly on ebay US, is this strange “Trad Jazz Special” plastic ukulele.

There seems to be even more photos of topless ukulele girls than usual this week, but the photo that really caught my attention was this photo of a German boy from 1866. As well as the distractions of the hat and thrown, that’s a very interesting instrument he has there.

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