aNueNue Lani II Concert Ukulele Review

anuenue ukuleleBefore you read this review, you should know that aNueNue sent me this ukulele to review for free. I’m anyone’s for a bag of Wine Gums, so feel free to take this review with whatever degree of salt you see fit. They asked me which of their ukuleles I’d like to review. My initial reaction, of course, was, “The most expensive one.” But I realised that you can tell a lot more about a ukulele maker’s prioritise by their less expensive ukuleles. So I opted for one of their ‘beginner grade’ ukuleles (yes, I really am that stupid).

So after giving the aNueNue Lani II a good going over (and many hours spent singing ‘a-nu-way-nu-way oh baby’ to the tune of Louie, Louie) here are my impressions.


Size: Concert
Construction: Laminated Koa
Fretboard: Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Frets: 20 (14 to the body)
Tuners: Open, geared Grover 9N STA-TITE
Finish: Matte
List Price: $278

The Sound Tests

Strumming Test

Strumming Test (MP3) – Sister Kate

Picking Test

Picking Test (MP3) – Larry O’Gaff

Intonation Test

Intonation Test (MP3) (12th fret harmonics followed by fretted notes)

The Good Stuff

Construction: It’s a very nicely put together piece of kit. They obviously take a great deal of care with the construction because it’s faultless. The usual areas where things get a bit messy (when the fretboard meets the body, inside, around the soundhole) are perfect.

Playability: It’s a very easy uke to play. Well set up. The feel of it is very slick and the action is very low (lower than I prefer but right for most people’s preference).

It plays well all the way up the neck, there are no dead frets, the sustain is impressive and the intonation is spot on.

The Look: The wood looks beautiful and the design is appealing. I love the shape of the headstock and the little petroglyphs are cute.

The Not So Good Stuff

It’s Laminated: Compared to solid wood ukueles in the same price range, the sound of it is a little disappointing; slightly muddy. It doesn’t have the punch I like from my ukuleles. I do get a better sound from my Kala and Ohana than I do from the aNueNue. But neither of them are made with anything like the care and attention to detail that the aNueNue is (the Ohana looks positively slap-dash in comparison).

It’s an inevitable trade-off and you’ll have your own priorities.


The aNueNue Lani II is massively ahead of the usual laminated, beginner ukuleles. Easily the best I’ve ever tried. There’s absolutely no compromise on the quality of the construction and it plays beautifully. They’re obviously not willing to cut corners in quality for the sake of a lower price. It’s just a matter of whether you want to make that same judgement.

Indiana Jones Theme (Simplified Tab)

Indiana Jones Theme (Simplified Tab)


Blog Problems: You might have noticed that they blog looks bloody awful. I’ve been having major problems with it and have spent all day desperately trying to fix it whilst holding back the tears. So things might look and act a little strange (or not work at all) for a while. In fact, posting this might break all the internets. But let’s give it a go. If anyone is giving out hugs, I could really use one. Or, failing that, a bucket full of diazepam might do the trick.

I always like the challenge of trying to get everything that’s going on in a piece into a uke arrangement. Which means most of my arrangements end up being trickier than they need to be. So this week I’ll be taking some of the theme tunes I’ve tabbed before and simplifying them down to make them more accessible. Starting off with the Indiana Jones Theme.

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain: Will Grove-White Interview

It’s been quite a year for the ukulele, but nothing so far has signalled the uke’s arrival quite like its acceptance into the The Proms (the UK’s most famous annual series of classical music concerts). Who could have imagined that the Proms would include a performance of Teenage Dirtbag on the ukulele? The only group that could pull that off are the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

The Ukes have a well deserved place at the forefront of the current uke revival and quarter of a century of playing has slowed them down. As well as the Prom (with a DVD due out before Christmas), this year has seen them providing music for silent films with Ukulelescope and for wartime dreams with Dreamspiel and releasing two live albums. The most recent is Live in London #2 displays their humour and talent perfectly. It features my UOGB favourites Shaft and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. If you don’t have any UOBG CDs in your collection, get the two live albums without delay.

I caught up with UOGB’s Will Grove-White to discuss this year and what’s ahead.

The live CDs seem to convey much more of what the UOGB are. What’s at the heart of what the UOGB are all about?

I agree, the live CDs do capture some of the real energy of a Ukes concert, with the roar of the crowd, the exuberant vim and the authentic bum notes that you get when we play to a live audience. The people that come to our concerts really do seem to have a good time, and I’d say that’s much of what lies at the heart of the Ukulele Orchestra ­ making different kinds of music fun, interesting, accessible, and moving, through the lens of a ukulele. When we walk on a stage armed only with our ukuleles an audience can feel anything from baffled, sympathetic or amused, to totally horrified. It’s only once we start playing that they can relax and understand what it is we’re doing.

Which are your favourite songs to play live?

I’m really enjoying playing Danse Macabre, which we performed first at the Proms, partly because it’s a new one, but also because we’re just wrestling it into shape at the moment. As a rule I think we all enjoy playing new stuff, but there is a great comfort in playing the old set, Anarchy in the UK, Wuthering etc, and an audience can hoot along with it – some tunes have become people’s personal anthems, people feel very close to them.

How do you build up the arrangements?

Rehearsals these days have become a bit of a luxury as we’ve become busier and busier, but we are still managing to get new tunes together – as a group we’ve learnt how to develop new arrangements quite quickly. I think we all know when something isn’t going to work (the ukulele often does that by itself ­ exposing a badly constructed tune within seconds), and we doggedly plug away with songs that have potential. As a rule one of us will bring a song in and the rest of us will pull it apart and play it again and again until it begins to work. Each person brings a particular element to the arrangements ­ Dave’s tremelo, Peter’s fingerpicking etc etc. George is the musical director and is a real virtuoso musician – he has the uncanny ability to reduce a huge symphony (or pop epic) to a bunch of chords, melody and countermelody. Once you start with something like that, then the rest of us can bring our particular skills to bear on it. Playing as a group is very different to playing a tune on your own. In Miserlou, for example, I play only one note for most of the piece. This sounds great when we all play together but rubbish when I want to play it on my own around the campfire! Undoubtedly the best way to get a tune working properly is to play it in front of an audience, and not getting put off if it doesn’t work first time. America, for example, took a while to get right, but is working really well now.

How on earth did the idea of a ukulele prom come about?

It’s funny because it’s something we’ve always talked about but wondered if it would ever be possible to pull off. If anyone is really responsible it’s Roger Wright, the head of Radio 3 – so any complaints on a postcard to himŠ He saw us playing at a festival a few years ago, really liked us, and thought it would be a bit of wheeze to get us on at the Proms. He gave us a very open brief ­ do your thing ­ and we got some new tunes together to give it all a Proms flavour.

What sort of reaction did you get from the traditional Proms audience?

It was hard to see where the traditional Proms audience were amongst all the ukulele players, but the response was so overwhelmingly positive that they must have enjoyed themselves. Apparently we were the first ever late-night Prom to sell out, and I hear we sold out before even the Last Night of Proms (a great example of the growing power of the humble ukulele)! We were all really overwhelmed by the experience ­ something like 7000 people came, and about 1000 brought their ukuleles with them for the Beethoven play-along which was a great moment. I think any Doubting Thomases there were touched by that moment, even if they didn’t appreciate Danse Macabre being reduced to nylon and plywood.

Ukulelescope and Dreamspiel both contain original material. Are we going to see more original tunes from the Ukes?

That’s the plan. I think I can say there’ll be an ‘originals’ album out within the next year or so. We’ve always had a few original pieces on the studio albums, but we’d all like to do a dedicated album ­ there are plenty of ideas around. But that’s not to say we’ve finished playing other people’s music,­ we’re an Orchestra after all.

Are there any plans for a DVD of Dreamspiel?

Not at the moment, but we’re talking about doing a CD, hopefully we can start recording that later this year. It’s a ukulele opera written by George with Michelle Carter, an American playwright, which we’ve only performed once at the Grimebourne alternative opera festival in London. It’s a fantastic piece, about people’s dreams in Germany during WWII, with beautiful music. And when we’ve cleared our desks we can get on with thinking about the DVD! At present most of our energy is going into planning 2010, which is the 25th (!) anniversary of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. We’ll be doing our ‘Silver Jubilee’ tour across Britain all next year, as well as releasing some new DVDs, re-releasing some of the old back catalogue, and I’m busy starting to assemble Live in London #3 at the moment.

Visit the UOGB website and listen to and buy Live in London #2.

Related Posts
Live in London #1
Will Grove White and the Others
How to set up a ukulele group, club or orchestra

Cory McAbee (Stingray Sam) – Lullaby Song (Chords)

Cory McAbee – Lullaby Song (Chords)

Here’s a thing. I detest musicals. I would rather have my testicles violently assaulted with a rusty hacksaw than sit through five minutes of Mamma Mia, or Sound of Music or Grease (and everyone who says I enjoy having my testicles violently assaulted with a rusty hacksaw is lying). Yet three of my all time favourite films are musicals (American Astronaut, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and now Stingray Sam).

Stingray Sam is the follow-up to American Astronaut but only in the sense that they share the same space-cowboy musical setting. You don’t need to know the story of American Astronaut to watch Stingray Sam. And Stingray Sam is probably the better starting point. It’s not quite so idiosyncratic.

Not that it’s without idiosyncrasies. For starters, it’s made to be watched on computers, iphones, toasters etc. It’s divided into six short parts each with its own song. And two of those songs are uke songs (which gives me an excuse to blather on about it). You can Episode 1 on the site. And I recommend you do so. Partly because it’s brilliant and partly so you know what I’m talking about when I say, “You got olive juice on my asking stick.”

You can also listen to the first of the ukulele tracks, Lullaby Song. The song is played in D-tuning and, befitting of a lullaby, it’s pretty simple. The only chords are D, D7 and G. The only exception is a discordant part in the loud, unlullaby-like instrumental section.

Suggested Strumming

For the verses you do half strums. So you strum the G and C strings together. Then you strum the E and A strings (all down strums). In between verses, he’s doing all full down strums.

Buy Stingray Sam

Saturday UkeTube

Before we get down to business, two bits of news.

1) Jimmy from The Bobby McGee’s has recorded a jingle for the blog and here it is:

Uke Hunt Theme Tune (MP3)

Just don’t visit

2) If you visited the London Uke Fest and enjoyed it, vote for it in the UK Festival Awards.

This week’s videos include L’Uke and GUGUG trying desperately not to smile, Pilar Diaz, Susie Asado, a rollocking version of the Benny Hill Theme on a Tahitian ukulele and plenty more. Read the rest of this entry »

Kala U-Tar Guitarlele, Cheap Ponos: Ukulele Window Shopping

When Yamaha’s guitarlele became a bit of a hit I expected a few other makers to jump on them. But since then, guitarleles have been very hard to find. Now Kala have come out with their own version: the Kala U-Tar. Thus resurrecting the whole keytar vs guitboard debate.

MGM is practically giving away some Pono ukuleles. He has the Pono Mango at $260. And the Ebony Pono at $599 (you’ll have to move fast on that one). Must admit, quite tempted by the mango.

When it comes to weird instruments, the phono fiddle ukulele takes some beating.

Ukulele kitsch: salt and pepper shakers.

Might Uke Documentary: Friday Links

The Might Uke documentary will be premiering at the Woodstock Film Festival. If you need ukumentary action right now, you can watch a documentary on the ukulele in New York on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2.

Lost Sound Tapes is looking for contributions for their next ukulele compilation.

The Corner Laughers have a new album out Ultraviolet Garden

Tim Harries has more ukulele cartoons.

Some useful advice for uke groups from Gerald Ross, “If all you are doing is striving for volume, your rhythm and tone will suffer. As the band size increases the overall volume level should decrease.”

Lancaster online talks ukulele with Phredd and other local ukers.

The finished Day of the Dead ukulele.

Marilyn on uke: she sure knew how to be in a photo.

MP plays ukulele with Billy Bragg at the Lib Dem conference. And here’s a very short clip of it.

A week late, pirate ukulele.

Nellie McKay – Mother of Pearl (Feminists) (Chords)

Nellie McKay – Mother of Pearl (Chords)

In honour of this song (and in honour of her being so obviously right), I’m going to try to get through this post without making any stupid jokes. It’s not going to be easy.

TED is easily the best thing about the internet. I could bang on about for months. But I just recommend a few of my favourites instead: Dan Ariely, Larry Lessig, Ken Robinson and Elizabeth Gilbert. They also had Nellie McKay along to sing a few songs including this one on her uke.

There are some very nice chord moves in the song (I am NOT going to that joke). It modulates between G and Bb a few times. And it uses the best trick for getting between two keys: lead in with the V chord. So before the section in Bb there’s an F chord. And before the section in G there’s a D7 chord. (If none of that makes any sense to you, How to Play Ukulele Chord Progressions has more info on it).

aNueNue Ukuleles: Meet Your Maker

anngoalsI often look at the ukulele scene in Japan with envy. Shigeto is kind enough to send me copies of Japan’s Ukulele Magazine. My Japanese isn’t great so I spend my time gawping at the strange and unknown ukuleles on its pages. They’re made by companies that are a complete mystery to me: ‘I’Iwi, Tsubame, Shiihara.

So when one of the companies aNueNue (based in Taiwan) got in touch with me (via Bosko and Honey) to tell me they were going international I took the opportunity to find out more about them.

Full disclosure: aNueNue have sent me one of their ukes to test out which I’ll be reviewing before too long.

How long have aNueNue been making ukuleles and how did you get started?

It all started in summer of 2007, we got into the idea of building a ukulele brand. We spent months of research in designing the brand. We finally agree to use Rainbow Man, a well known Hawaiian petroglyph. The rainbow arc above the man’s head shows that he radiates wisdom or power and shoulder to responsibility. He is the keeper of the land and its people. We are all responsible of protecting Mother Earth.

aNueNue means rainbow in Hawaiian. Pronounced as “”Ahh nu way nu way.”

“The philosophy of aNueNue Ukulele is Life, Music, and Play.” This little instrument has changed many people life entirely, in both music people listen to and music people play with.

We have years of experience in building good classical, acoustic guitars, and ukuleles.

a-lani-rWe bought solid koa and mango wood from our friend in Hawaii. We handmade the first ukulele in tenor size by chisel and scrapers. We then build the next 12 samples in all ukulele sizes in mango, mahogany, and koa wood.

We then design the Lani Series (meaning Heaven) and Papa Series (meaning Earth).

What sort of players are your ukuleles aimed at?

Whether you are a beginner, a hobbyist, or a professional musician, we have designed various models to fit your needs. If you like rhythm playing, you can consider our soprano models. If you are a fingerstyle artist, you can look into our tenor cutaway model. We use Fishman USA pickups exclusively for amplification.

What separates aNueNue from other ukuleles?

oahu-koa-iiiOur passion for quality ukulele has provoked a strong focus on customer experience, brand building and the impact that customer service, artist relations and music has on people. With our expertise and years of experience in the musical instrument industry, we have focused our passion to bring you the World’s best ukulele.

What do you think makes a great ukulele?

Good season wood, brace system, volume, light weight, string, stable tuners make a good ukulele. It’s all part of equation. There’s a fine tune between over-built and under-built. We are still learning something new every day on how to make great ukulele. I can tell you we are experimenting a lot inside this little box.

Visit aNueNue’s website

Rocky and Balls – Gaysong (Chords)

Rocky and Balls – Gaysong (Chords)

I think this song wins the award for shortest time between being put up and me getting requests. And it’s a pretty good one for beginners – no fancy jazz chords to worry about in this one.

Suggested Strumming


d – d u d u d –

Buy it on Bandcamp

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