The `Ukulele

The new social instrument for this millennium and here to stay this go around.

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 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 not find a more excepting and helpful group of people that you local ukulele gathering. You'll make life long friends and have a great time.

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.

The Ukulele Timeline

Current

Virtuoso musicians such as Jake Shimabukuro and James Hill are altering traditional perceptions of ukulele music. As well as singer / songwriters such as Victoria Vox touring the world.

The third wave of the ukulele corresponding the influence of YouTube and the Internet.

Check out all the famous people and musicians associated with the ukulele on the ukulele musicians page .

1950s

Weekly TV host Arthur Godfrey keeps ukuleles in the spotlight.

A shift from the popularity of radio to most households have access to a TV and the second wave of the ukulele craze.

1940s

Ukulele craze revived by the solders and sailor returning home from South Pacific after World War II.

1920s

Ukuleles all the rage. This corresponds to the popularity and availability of radio in the decade of the 20s to 40s.

1915

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.

1879

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.

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.

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.

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.

Good Trade!

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."

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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 bestGlen 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

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Original Curtie Animation - 1987 for my first web site
31 years ago years ago.

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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!!!