Freakonomics was a best selling book from a few years ago that explored the hidden side of everything. Interesting book, but it neglected an important subject – ukuleles! Miles Ramsay has created a new uke blog called Ukeonomics and it offers some tips, tricks and tools to help you elevate your ukulele knowledge and skill. The site is a fun resource for links to how-to projects that range from building a uke wall hanger, to making your own hard shell case. Miles also provides links to some popular tab files and he also has his own Esty shop that sells a variety of felt picks. Ukeonomics is pretty new, so there isn’t a lot of content available yet. But from the looks of things, he’s off to a good start.
Last fall Carl of Uke of Carl asked if I’d feature his site in a news post on Ukulele Review. I said I’d be happy to and then promptly forgot to do so. Oops… Today while cleaning out my email inbox, I found that message to Carl and decided not to put it off any longer.
Uke of Carl has a unique collection of TV, Movie and Game theme songs that have been tabbed for the ukulele. Most of songs include a video of Carl playing the tune. You can watch the video for free and the tabs are also free – with one caveat. You have to email Carl and ask for each tab file to be sent to you. They aren’t available for download directly from his site. He also asks for Paypal donations, but says they are not required.
In addition to tabs, Carl offers instructional eBooks of various topics such as Jewish Ukulele, Group Ukulele vol 1&2, Christmas Duets and more. Unlike the tabs, the eBooks are not free and range in price from £5 – £8.
Have you ever purchased a Ukulele eBook or tab file online?
Notecrackers are pocket-sized quick reference flash cards. They are available in topics such has Music Theory, Keyboard Chords, Blues Chords, Music Trivia and now there’s a Ukulele Chords version. Each Notecracker pack contains 70 cards that are printed on both sides with easy to read clear fingering diagrams. They are priced at $4.70 and are available now.
Did you find a shiny new ukulele under your Christmas tree yesterday and now don’t know how to get started playing? Here are 5 great resources to give you a jump start on having fun with your new instrument without spending any (much) money.
1. Ukulele Underground is the best and most active community for ukulele fans, players and enthusiasts on the net. Aldrine and his crew offer up free high quality instructional videos every couple of week and the online forums are the best place to ask questions songs, instruments, etc. You can even sign up for virtual classes.
2. YouTube should be an obvious destination, but I’m going to mention it anyway just to emphasize that you can find video tutorials for almost any tune you can think of. Want to learn to play Smoke on the Water on your uke? No problem!
3. Uke Hunt is another favorite destination of mine. Al Woodshed offers a great selection free TABs and chords for popular songs. He also has a growing library of How-to eBooks for beginners and advanced players. The songs are offered in TAB and include an MP3 and a video demonstrating the tune as well.
4. Dominator tabs is a site for intermediate players and beginners that need some inspiration. Dominator offers TABs for quite a few Jake Shimabukuro and James Hill tunes. If you don’t know who either of these guys are, you need to go to YouTube right now and search on their names. Do it. Now!
5. Curt Sheller’s All Things Ukulele page is the place to go for ukulele history and links to all sorts of interesting ukulele related sites including clubs, festivals, TAB sites, and free eBooks.
Now that you have all this good info, go play that new instrument!
The other night while watching TV, I caught a new iPad mini commercial from Apple. This one features a little girl playing a ukulele and singing a song to her grandpa. The little girl is using Facetime on her full sized iPad while her grandpa is watching at the other end with his mini. Cute right? Then this morning I get an email from someone who decided to take it to the next level and make a sequel to that commercial. You can can enjoy that video after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
I received the latest catalog from Flea Market Music the other day and this non-instrument product caught my eye. It’s a Mele Hawaiian Shirt by Kahala, which has been handcrafting shirts in Hawaii since 1936. If they’ve been around that long, you know they have to be producing quality shirts. Avaliable in Small through XXL sizes, this shirt features a black and white pattern on a combination Rayon, Cotton and Linen fabric. If you want to wear a ukulele on your sleeve, you can order one for $59.95. I wish they came in other colors too.
I’ve tried all kinds of iPad apps that can turn the tablet into a musical instrument. There are piano apps, drum apps, guitar apps, etc. They are all fun to play with, but this is the first time I’ve actually been thoroughly impressed with one. I told you about the Futulele app a few months ago, but I was just able to try it today. Futulele turns your iPad into a digital ukulele. Don’t laugh, it really does and it is easier to play than any other pseudo stringed instrument app that I’ve used. Holding the iPad like you would a uke, there’s a chord board in the lower left corner. Press the chord you want to play and strum the strings. You’ll be amazed at how real it sounds and how addicting it is to play. You can customize the chord board to just hold the chord sets you need for a song. The app even has a dozen or so popular song chord sets to choose from with songs like I’m Yours, Hotel California and Over the Rainbow. By itself, the Futulele app is cool and well worth the $4.99 price. But it may get even more exciting when you can pair your iPad with your iPhone and use the iPhone as a separate fretting pad. Apparently the remote app for the iPhone isn’t available yet though. I’m keeping my eyes open for it.
What Do Ukulele Players Eat? #2 is a cute little cook book filled with recipes from 22 uke players from all around the world. Each contributor also sent a song that is on the audio CD that is included with the book.
Recipes and songs from: Armelle Europe, Yan Yalego (France), Mr Jaynickel, Herman Vandecauter (Belgium), Lou Armer AKA Bossa Rocker (UK), Pequeno Formato (Spain), Dominyka Kriščiūnaitė (Lithuania), Alexander Wandrowsky AKA Der Mit Der Ukulele (Germany), Rodrigo Lemos (Brazil), Maitake, Gensblue (Japan), Uke Box (Netherlands), The Nukes (New Zealand), Alan Soo (Singapore), Uni & her Ukulele, Jim D’Ville, Brittni Paiva, Skylaar Amann (USA), Shelley O’Brien (Canada) and Betty’s Driving Force, Seaman Dan, Rose Turtle Ertler (Australia).
It’s only April, but the weather is warming up and before we know it, it will be summer time. Popular past times during the summer are camping and traveling. Although I’ve never been camping in my life (sad isn’t it?), I do enjoy traveling and this year will be the first year in a very long time where I’ll be traveling by car instead of a plane. At the end of next month, I’m planning a trip to the Lake Michigan Saugatuck area. I’ve never been that far north and am really looking forward to it. We’re going to be renting a cabin right on the lake, and since we’re driving, it will be easy to bring a ukulele along for the trip. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t paid any attention to my ukuleles in well over a year or longer, but I’m ready to start over learning to play it again. This trip will hopefully be the catalast. But, which ukulele will be the right traveling companion and which song books to bring along? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Read the rest of this entry »