Mahalo Les Paul Ukulele Review

Mahalo UkuleleI felt like a Burmese monk that hadn’t been through Poy Sang Long, I really did. It’s a rite of passage for any UK uke player to own a Mahalo ukulele and I never did. Back in my day, there was no useful website to tell you which ukulele to buy, so I ended up with a real piece of junk.

But my Mahalo deficiency was set to change when I saw their Les Paul copies.

Mahalo don’t have a great track record when it comes to Gibson copies. Their version of the Flying V looks awful and sounds worse. But when I saw their Les Paul copies, I just couldn’t resist.

The Good Stuff

The Look – The uke looks great. It’s available in tobacco sunburst, cherry and black (I went with the black – to match my heart). They all look great. From a distance at least. As you’d expect from a cheap, Chinese made uke, the attention to detail isn’t quite there. There are a couple of areas that are a little messy up close. But they’re nowhere near bad enough to spoil how it looks.

The Price – Not as cheap as the cheapest Mahalos, but at £35 it’s irresistible.

Plays Easy – The action is low and it feels right.

Good sound – Even with the strings it comes fitted with, the uke sounds great for the price. These mp3s were recorded without any adjustments other than tuning up.

Strumming test:

Strum Test – Sister Kate (MP3)

Picking test:

Picking Test – Staten Island Slide (MP3) (written by Craig Robertson)

The Less Good Stuff

Intonation The intonation leaves a bit to be desired. I don’t know why they’ve bothered with a compensated bridge if they’re not going to take care with setting up the intonation. Having said that, the problem doesn’t rear its head in the first seven frets. So it’s fine for basic chord strumming.

In this example, I’m playing a harmonic at the 12th fret then playing the note at 12th fret itself.

Mahalo Intonation Test (MP3)


While there’s no danger of the Mahalo becoming my No. 1 uke, I’m very happy with it. It’s perfect little strummer to have lying around. And it looks like a Les Paul for chuffs sake.

More Mahalo reviews on buy a ukulele.

It’s obviously a very popular uke as it’s pretty tricky to find one right now. They’re few and far between on eBay and ‘Out of Stock’ signs are appearing on websites.

Search eBay UK

Search eBay US

Search eBay Germany (as I write, they have an electric ukulele version of the Les Paul Mahalo which I haven’t seen anywhere else).

Search eBay Australia (oooh, their Mahalos have solid cases)

Search eBay Canada

Also, for those who’ve asked about my tabbing software: Guitar Pro Review.

UPDATE: The little lick I throw into Sister Kate goes like this:

ukulele tab sister kate

The Burning Hell – Last Will and Testament

The Burning Hell – Last Will and Testament (Chords)

If you find yourself in Canada with nothing to do on 11th September (and I’m told that’s the default setting for Canada), you might want to make your way to Edmonton for the Ukulele Fest. The bill includes Uke Hunt favourites Switchblade Death Derby and The Be Arthurs. The bill will be headed by The Burning Hell. That’s only fitting since, Burning Hell frontman, Mathias Kom has declared he wants to be buried naked with a ukulele (a thought Ukulelezo found worryingly arousing). The event is in aid of Ukuleles for Peace, so get there if you can.

Last Will and Testament is played with DGBE tuning, but I’ve written up the chords for GCEA (coz that’s how I roll). To avoid big gaps in the middle section, you might want to imitate the cello part thusly:

And the second lick:

Suggested by Ukulelezo

Monday Exposure: Ukebucket

Ukebucket – Take On Me (MP3)
Ukebucket – No Rain (MP3) via Covered

Amber Nash’s uke videos are a regular UkeTube highlight. She’s now put together two albums with her band Ukebucket: an album of covers, Covered, which you can download for free and an album of originals, Bad Ukulele, which you can buy on CD Baby. Amber was good enough to allow me to subject her to some routine enquiries.

Ukebucket are a geographically scattered band. How did you get together?

Well, I’ve known Rikk since we were kids. He and my brother were in the same preschool class and were best buds growing up, so he was always around. When I was about 16 or 17, I was in a community theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar in Rushville, Indiana, and I enlisted Rikk to play lead guitar for the pit. I drove us back and forth so we got to know each other and we started jamming. We’ve been great friends since then. I met Barry…well…honestly, I can’t remember really how I met Barry. Sometime in college, which might explain why I don’t remember. I think he knew one of my roommates and we just kind of came together and started playing. Barry, Rikk, myself, and countless other random individuals have been jamming since we were all in the early years of college. Talk of an album has been bounced back and forth for several years, but we’ve only been really serious about it for the past year or so.

Why’s the album called ‘Bad Ukulele’ when it’s obviously very good ukulele?

Why, thank you! The name of the album is good proof that all three of us are pretty ridiculous. We really had fun making the music, recording, making the art, and just hanging around. I think I was just doodling and ended up with a rough idea of what the cover art is now. I remember that the phrase, “bad ukulele”, at the time, was kind of a running joke. I would say it often as a way to make excuses for my amateur playing:) I’m a second grade teacher, so I thought the ukulele in the corner was pretty cute. In all honestly, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s just a combination of randomness, quirkiness, and a hearty passion for self-deprecation.

Do you ever get the chance to break out the uke at school [as a teacher rather than student]?

Yes! I do! The kids really like it. It’s a chance for me to get more comfortable making things up off the top of my head and a chance for the kids to be around live music. Last year we wrote a couple songs together. It was pretty cute.

How come everyone’s favourite Ukebucket song, Pig Latin, didn’t make it onto the album?

It’s so crazy how the songs that folks seem to like are the songs that I wrote in ten minutes. I should work with that. The songs on “Bad Ukulele” are pretty old, with the exception of a few. Most have been around for as much as 3 or 4 years, we just never really did anything with them. We wanted to finish this thing because we had been talking about it for so long. I think the only really new song on the album is “Who Are We” which was a part of Project 52. I’m currently working on more of a “solo” CD. “Pig Latin” will definitely be included on that, as well as other Project 52 songs. It’ll be more of a simple sound, mostly just me and a ukulele, and some harmonies.

What can we expect from Ukebucket in the future?

Well, because of the physical space between band members it’s difficult to perform together. We’re going to continue to send music back and forth, visit each other, jam, record, and so on. I’m going to work on a solo album which I had mentioned in the previous question. We are currently really focused on purchasing better recording equipment (for me, anyway) so that what we send back and forth can be more easily edited. Once those ducks are in a row, the Project 52 songs will be more collaborative. I did want to mention that Project 52 has dwindled as of late. Life happens, but it started out and remains a mostly personal project, to kick my butt into gear when it comes down to composing music. I’ve got several songs to hammer out, and they’ll make an appearance when the time is right. So, in the future, expect better quality and more frequent updates on the MySpace and YouTube site, a solo album, and, if everything goes well, a winter album consisting of mostly original tunes.

You can download Covered for free here and buy Bad Ukulele here and listen to more Ukebucket tunes on their MySpace.

Whose Line Is It Anyway? – Hoedown

Hoedown (Chords)

The song at the end of Whose Line Is It Anyway? is always the best part. Particularly the people who are heroically bad at it (Colin Mochrie). The Irish Drinking songs are always hilarious and chaotic. Unfortunately, that makes the funniest song ever useless for fitting chords around. So, I had to go with a Chip Esten verse for the song sheet.

I was debating whether to go with Hoedown or Irish Drinking Song until I realised they had exactly the same chorder* with the addition of the extra ‘ai-dee-die-de’ section. The Irish Drinking Song is in the key of D as opposed to G for Hoedown.

You can play the little intro part either as chords or, my preferred method, with a little finger picking:

whose line is it anyway ukulele tabs

*I’m changing Ukulala’s definition. I’m using it to mean a chord progression which is the same but in a different key. Since, if there’s a word for it, I can’t remember what it is.

Peter Madcat Ruth, Snake Suspenderz and other Uke Vids

Peter Madcat Ruth – Spikedriver Blues

Snake Suspenderz – Wanna Be Like You

Changsoo Kim – Hungarian Dance

Honeybody Moonbee

Aldrine Guerrero and puremarkska – Billie Jean

Shannel Pabalan – I Wanna Know

Eric Saxby & Natashia Mitchell – Guilty

MrGWillikers – F-uck Me or Kill Me

Leonardo Nunes, Ko’olau Electric – Wallet Tempters

I go one week without talking about ukuleles on eBay and look what happens. A Leonardo Nunes goes begging for $200. Granted, it’s fairly ugly for a Nunes, but still. Perhaps with everyone on their holibobs, it’s a good time to be watching the auctions. The uke has been listed again and already has a bid with a week left.

The budding Poirots amongst you may notice that this Nunes-styled vintage ukulele has had some serious attention from me already. I’ve officially banned myself from buying a new uke until my blues ebook is finished (it’s on it’s way and it’ll be worth the wait). I’ve already broken that rule once, but I’m still tempted.

Ko’olau have a pretty fearsome reputation for the exacting standards of their ukuleles (and a price tag to match) so it’s interesting to see their electric ukulele. They put me in mind of the Pete Howlett uklectics (another ukulele that is seriously threatening my uke embargo).

The Mahalo Les Paul copies have disappeared from eBay UK, but you can still find a boatload of them on eBay Germany. Not only that, they also have an electric Mahalo Les Paul for sale. It makes you wonder who won the war.

Ukuleles for Peace, Nicolas Acosta and other Ukulinklinks

Anyone who knows me knows there’s nothing I hate more than kids and peace. But watching Siwar and Hillai playing of the Ukuleles for Peace project might just be enough to change my war-mongering, child-kicking ways. You can find out more about Ukuleles for Peace in these videos: Part One, Part Two and on the Ukuleles for Peace website.

Nicolas Acosta: Roy Sakuma student and one armed uker.

Ken Middleton’s Irish airs for ukulele on Uker Tabs.

NZ Ukulele Festival.

Develop your uke skillz and pick up chicks.

Zippy the Pinhead picks up the uke again.

ABBA – Dancing Queen

ABBA – Dancing Queen (Chords)

I can’t think of any fictional character less likely to take up the ukulele than James Bond. He takes himself far too seriously. Former Bond, Pierce Brosnan though is a ukulele player. I think it might be part of his long standing attempt to get away from being Bond. His latest stab at it is appearing in the ABBA based musical Mamma Mia (even though his singing leaves a little to be desired). I’m pretty sure there’s no uke content in the film, but it seems as good an excuse as any for a bit of ABBA ukulele.

Dancing Queen has a really great chord progression – although a bit of a nightmare on the uke (thanks to plenty of E majors). The best part has to be the, “See that girl…” section where there’s a move between Ab and A on the G-string for each of the chords.

Rag Bag Additions

The Rag Bag page is where I keep all the stuff that’s half finished, bit parts and stuff I don’t plan on ever putting on the blog itself. The most recent additions to it are:

Laura Marling – New Romantic Intro (pdf)

Dropkick Murphys – I’m Shipping Up to Boston (pdf)

Concerning Hobbits/The Shire (pdf) from Lord of the Rings

Radiohead – Big Boots (GIF) in D tuning. MIDI

Slayer – Raining Blood (PDF)

Flobots – Handlebars (Tab) (intended for low-G ukulele and two frets higher than the original).

On a related note, I’m probably going to be switching my request policy to friends of the blog only (commenters, emailers etc.). If I don’t recognise your name, there’s a good chance I’ll just delete your email. Partly it’s because I get too many requests, but mostly it’s because of how few people bother to email me back after I’ve done their request. All six of those were requests and I only heard thanks from one of them (Raining Blood which was requested by friends of the blog). It sounds a bit churlish, I know, and it is a shame because I do get some really good requests. But tabbing isn’t easy, it takes work, and it’s really annoying when people can’t even be bothered with a quick email in response. The lesson is clear: if you want politeness and good manners, hang out with Slayer fans.

Last Shadow Puppets – Standing Next to Me

Last Shadow Puppets – Standing Next to You (Chords)

As I was saying on ezFolk before I was so rudely expunged, my once a year gambling habit has raised its head with this year’s Mercury Music Prize. It’s a tricky choice this year. Loyalty demands that I root for Laura Marling, being the only nominee I’ve seen playing the uke (in Noah and the Whale’s Five Years Time). And there are some great songs on the album. Rachel Unthank’s album is also damn fine but has no chance of winning.

I think Last Shadow Puppets probably deserve to win just for the hilarity of shouting, “the age of the understantment,” backed by a full orchestra and military drums whilst riding a tank across a Russian minefield. The video for Standing Next to Me is not so epic, but it was directed by Richard Ayoade. He must have a thing for one take videos as he also directed Vampire Weekend’s Oxford Comma.

The chord progression for Standing Next to You is simple enough without anything that’ll trip you up too much.

If you want to get a little fancy, you can play the first section like this:

ukulele chords last shadow puppets

Older Entries
Newer Entries