A `Ukulele is:
- Light Weight, Affordable and Portable
- Easy on the Fingers ( Four Strings, Four Fingers )
- Less Need for Strumming Accuracy
- and a low level of expectation - so we can get away with a lot.
And where else in the musical world can you go, sing poorly, play simply and have a blast with your peers.
The music you play can be as simple or complex as you want. The ukulele is a powerful musical instrument for communication in its own right. And, did I mention it's a blast and a lot of fun to play and explore?
It's the new social instrument for this millennium and here to stay this go around — the craze is over.
You'll not find a more accepting and helpful group of people that your local ukulele gathering. You'll make lifelong friends and have a great time.
Parts of the Ukulele
So what's stopping you? Go get Yourself a `Ukulele and get going.
The Ukulele History
In 1879, a Braguinha arrived in Hawaii on a Portuguese ship loaded with laborers destined for the sugar cane fields with a Portuguese instrument called a Machete . Hawaiians made the instrument their own and calling it "ukulele" which translates to "jumping flea," It's believed to have originated because of the way a performer's fingers jump around on the strings.
Three immigrants in particular, Madeiran cabinet makers Manuel Nunes, José do Espírito Santo, and Augusto Dias, are generally credited as the first ukulele makers.
Here is a link to a great article, with a lot more information on the History of the `Ukulele by Dagan B.
( from WikipediA ) - best known of several similarly named ships, the Ravenscrag (spelled without the "i") is a British sailing vessel commanded by Capt. Biggam that on 23 August 1879 brought 419 Portuguese immigrants from the Madeira Islands to the Hawaiian Islands to work as contract laborers in the sugarcane plantations. The ship left the Madeiran port of Funchal on 23 April 1879 and took exactly four months to cross the Atlantic Ocean, round Cape Horn, and then sail across the Pacific to Honolulu, Hawaii. Among the passengers were Manuel Nunes, Augusto Dias, Jose do Espirito Santo, and Joao Fernandes, who are credited with introducing the ukulele to Hawaii. This was the second ship of Portuguese immigrants to reach the Islands, having been preceded on 30 September 1878 by the German bark SS Priscilla.
So we can count our blessings that the Hawai'ian's weren't introducted to the Accordion or Tuba, the traditional, popular German instruments at the time. Or the Bladder Fiddle, Dudelsack, Hackbrett, Nyckelharpa.
The Ukulele Timeline
The current Third Wave of the ukulele corresponds to the influence of YouTube and the Internet®.
Check out all the famous people and musicians associated with the ukulele on the Ukulele Musicians Page .
Weekly TV host Arthur Godfrey keeps ukuleles in the spotlight.
A shift from the popularity of radio to most households having access to a TV and the second wave of the ukulele craze.
Arthur Godfrey is responsible for selling 9,000,000 Mario Maccaferri plastic ukuleles during the 50s
Ukulele craze revived by the solders and sailor returning home from South Pacific after World War II.
After the Panama Pacific International Exposition Ukuleles all the rage. This corresponds to the popularity and availability of radio in the decade of the 20s to 40s. The First truly fast way of disseminating news, entertainment, and information to a mass audience. This was a big shift in the technology for communication around the world.
Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California USA unveils ukulele to the world. The Panama–Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was a world's fair held in San Francisco, in the United States, between February 20 and December 4 in 1915. Its ostensible purpose was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it was widely seen in the city as an opportunity to showcase its recovery from the 1906 earthquake.
Portuguese sailors introduce Hawaiians to small four-stringed instrument that gave rise to the ukulele. King David Kalakaua was influential in the initial rise of popularity of the ukulele.
Should You Study Music With A Teacher or Should You "Wing" It On You Own?
This question always comes up in this type of discussion about music.
An objective assessment of the two alternative approaches leads me (Chuck Anderson) invariably towards the formal route. Why? Because without guidance, there is a tendency to go in circles, What do you practice, when do you move to the next topic? When are you doing something wrong? How do you practice what doesn't exist to you? - Chuck Anderson
Here are links to some great resources on Learning Ukulele with Curt for answering the questions to "What Do I Study?" when going it alone or with a teacher.
Common Ukulele Sizes
The ukulele comes in four (4) common sizes: Soprano (sometimes called Standard), Concert, Tenor and Baritone.
A ukulele can can be tuned to any tuning as long a s there is a string available and the construction supports it. With that in mind here are the common tunes for the four common sized ukulele.
The Baritone ukulele is tuned (D G B E), just like the thin 4 strings of a standard guitar. This is called "G" Tuning. String can be a low D or a high G.
The Soprano, Concert and Tenor ukuleles typically uses "C" Tuning G C E A or "D" tuning (A D F# B). The Tenor can also be tuned like the Baritone ukulele, typically with a high "G".
A ukulele can have a mellow-mainland or bright-island sound.
Comparing the Four Different Sizes of Ukulele that are in common use today.
Simulating Various Ukulele Scale Lengths
If you don't have any concert size instruments nearby to try in a store you can create the scale length on your tenor with an inexpensive capo. A capo on the second or third frets of a tenor leaves you with a scale length (and fret spacing) similar to a concert and the neck width at that level should be very close to that found on most concerts. And if you want to get an idea of what a soprano scale would feel like put the capo at the 4th fret and you'll be almost exactly at the standard 13 5/8 inch length. However the width at that point on a tenor will in most cases be greater than at the nut of a soprano.
Comparing the Four Different Sizes of Ukulele that are in common use today.
Woman is at a uke festival with a lovely soprano ukulele under her arm. Another woman walks up and gazes admiringly at the first woman's uke, at which point the woman holding the uke looks over and says with a smile; "I got it for my husband." Second woman nods and says, "good trade."
Immediate Downloads of PDF Books and Hard Copies available for select books.
Most, if not all of the above books are available for FREE download as part of a Premium LearningUkulele.com Site Access.
Hard copy books are available at , Funky Frets and a few select ukulele dealers. Retailers wishing to carry books by Curt Sheller can contact me, Curt directly here on LearningUkulele.com for more info and to get setup. However, I'm pretty much going all digital and make the content viewable online - just like you can preview a book at a books store.
Site Access Plans for LearningUkulele.com
Forever Access - With Forever Premium Access, you get Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources, related assets, and ALL books by Curt as FREE downloads. Pretty much everything on the site and NEVER worry about a subscription or surprise payment again. And jump the queue for responding to any questions.
If your anything like me (Curt) and getting Subscription overload with everything on-line wanting money from you once a month — I'm with you. For like-minded individuals, this forever plan is a pay once and your done.
The price for Unlimited Forever access is right around the cost of a few months of private lessons. I can guarantee that is more material on-line to keep you busy for a long, long time. And, you get all of my books for FREE. That along is more than the cost of this plan.
Basic Access - A limited selection of basic lessons — ( currently over 140 ) and 100+ songs for ukulele as well as basic general music reference material — Completely FREE — Simply Register/Signup. HOWEVER - I've been doing ukulele and LearningUkulele.com since 2003 and probably have given too much away already - as reflected in my income from the site in relationship to the time spent on the site. So help support this site and its continued development by signing up for one of the below Premium Access Plans or buy a few of my books. - Thanks, Curt
NOTE: Each higher access level includes ALL the benefits of the lower levels. Private Lessons include all the benefits of a Premium Access Plans as long as you remain a student on the schedule.
Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee
Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys
Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too. — Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg
I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent. — fatveg — Portland
Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!
Original Curtie Animation from 1987 for my first web site on a Macintosh II.
34 years ago.
“Built for myself (Curt), and sharing with the `Ukulele community!”
LearningUkulele.com has one of the largest collections of lessons, songs, and TABS, luthiers, ukulele builders, ukulele festival and club information, and, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!
Content is added and updated almost daily - so check back often.