Being a Ukulele bad-ass, or how I discovered a love for messing about with a teeny guitar like object.

So my adopted lil sister, the Pyxie, went to Spain for a few weeks.  Along with the nagging worry I always have when she’s out of the country, she also left me with her ukulele.  A really sweet lil Ohana SK-10S.  So out of curiosity and large dose of chronic insomnia I picked it up one night, and a Google search led me to website Ukulele Hunt.  After about 2 hours of learning to tune it, and pluck a few simple exercises I had come to four surprising realisations.

1. The Ohana SK-10s comes pre-strung with what I can only assume is knicker elastic.  That first 2 hours session I found myself tuning it again every ten minutes.  Though it did improve with time, I believe the C string is still an inspiration for serious swear word creation.

2. I really like the ukulele as an instrument. It’s very light and easy to handle, which makes it an ideal instrument if you, like I, suffer from a lot of physical pain and weakness.  What’s more, you can pick it up and 2 hours later with some serious effort be picking out a couple of nice little tunes.  Or put another way, it’s an instrument that’s fun and easy to play, but I suspect will prove a right bugger to master.

3. You don’t have to strum the lil bugger.  When you see a ukulele played on telly, it’s usually strummed, rarely do you see it plucked.  But this instrument can sound almost harplike if you pluck it just right.  And it’s a wonderful thing to learn to play melodies on.

4. And finally, it’s spelt “Ukulele”, not “ukelele”.  Yeah I know!  I was kinda shocked too.

Anyway, after a couple of weeks of some semi-serious messing about on the Pyxies ukulele I was hooked.  I say semi-serious because it’s hard to take yourself too seriously when your best two pieces to play on it are “Popeye the Sailorman” and “It had to be you.”

Then the Pyxie came home and bought me my own one.  I was kinda stunned.  I mean ukuleles aren’t crazily expensive instruments, but if you want even a vaguely good sounding one they are defiitely not cheap either.  She got me a gorgeous Mahalo Les Paul electro-acoustic model.  Very pretty, kind of sexy in a bad ass sort of way and a little larger than her own.  The latter a very good thing as Mother Nature did not bless me with petite fingertips, and on her Ohana I had serious problems not hitting a second string by accident.

Isn't it so pretty? And it even sounds as good as it looks.

So after a couple of practice sessions I am now even more hooked on my own ukulele than I ever was on hers.  And I learned another important lesson.

5. Aquila strings are the shit.  Seriously, they sound so much better I simply can’t get over it.

So yes, this is meant to be a review.  Well here it is.  The ukulele is not a toy instrument, it is a serious piece of musical kit.  It can be strummed, plucked, made to sound almost like a harp and even tapped with a finger to make a reasonable lap-drum if you feel like it.  I would definitely recommend one as a first instrument for a young child or even a young hearted adult, simply because you feel that you’re making progress the whole time you practice, from the very first minute.  They make a great instrument for someone who is physically a little frailer than average, because they simply don’t take much physical strength to use.  They come in several sizes, meaning even the Incredible Hulk could probably find one to suit his oversized hands.  Aquila strings as I have already mentioned are quite simply, the shit.

Oh and The Uke Bad-ass as far as I’m concerned is Alistair Wood, owner and writer of  For creating probably the best online source for ukulele knowledge and being the author of Ukulele for Dummies.

P.S. Thanks for the mini-axe Pyx.

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