If you are interested in learning about the history of the ukulele and C.F. Martin Company’s role in it, you might want to check out a new book from Hal Leonard Books. The Martin Ukulele details how the famous Nazareth, PA guitar company started producing ukulele’s back in 1907 though the 4-stringed instrument’s roller coaster ride of popularity in the 20’s and 50’s, the drop to almost obscurity in the 1990’s and now the current rejuvenation in the last several years.
Written by Tom Walsh who is co-founder and board member of the non-profit Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum, this book features many photos including some of the company’s rarest ukuleles and also provides a list of the model numbers of each style of ukulele ever made by the company. It’s a history book and a ukulele reference book all rolled into one 214 page color illustrated volume.
The Martin Ukulele by Tom Walsh is available now for $30.00 from book stores and online through Hal Leonard Books.
MONO Cases offer protective gear for keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars / basses. Now they are introducing a ukulele case. The M80 features their patented headlock protection that suspends the headstock of the uke in the case. This adds extra protection from impact in the event of a drop. The M80 also features an ABS inner shell that offers hardcase protection in a fraction of the weight. The outer case covering is called Sharkskin and provides a waterproof barrier between the outside and the padded inside of the case. A shoulder strap allows you to wear your uke on your back for those quick dashes through the airport or a leisurely walk to your next gig. Protection doesn’t come cheap, MONO’s M80 is priced at $140 and is available in soprano and concert sizes. I’m surprised that they don’t also offer a tenor size, but hopefully they are coming soon.
If you ever find yourself getting bored playing your ukulele, just watch this video of James Hill from a concert in 2011. He takes one ukulele + 2 chopsticks + plastic hair comb + rubber thimble + non-slip pad and a piece of tape and turns the whole shabang into something crazy and fun. Watching it makes me hungry for Chinese food. Weird 😉
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 »