Is It Time to Upgrade Your Uke?

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PIDU – time to upgrade?.mp4: Video automatically transcribed by Sonix

PIDU – time to upgrade?.mp4: this mp4 video file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.


There we go. Thank you. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Wherever you may be, whatever time that may be. Welcome to ukulele practice time with Danno. Of course, this is ukulele. This is the time. And here's Danno. Look, I got my gestures mixed up. That's what happens on a Monday. Sometimes things are just a little askew.

Philosophical high-horse

So I do have a little bit of ukulele technique that I want to talk to you about, but I thought I would talk to you philosophically for just a minute before we get started on Hands on Ukuleles.

Not a joke instrument

As you know, I believe that anybody can learn to play the ukulele. It's an easy instrument to get started on. And that's one of the attractions, right? It's four strings, four fingers. It's sure it's friendly. It's accessible. One of the things that I love about this wave of ukulele popularity is that people seem to be really taking the instrument seriously as an instrument, that it's not a joke or a novelty instrument for comedy songs only. It certainly can be that and it's not just sort of a stepping stone on the way to learning guitar, let's say, which is something I heard a lot when I first started teaching ukulele.

Uke is just a starter instrument?

A lot of folks would say, well, is this a good starter instrument if I really want to learn to play guitar? And my answer is no, it's not really. It's certainly similar in many, many ways. But it's different enough that if what you want to learn to play his guitar, get a guitar.

Leave and never darken my doorway again. So I love the ukulele and I love the people that play the ukulele and I love teaching people to play the ukulele. And.

Do I need to spend $$$

Another question that comes up quite often is, do I need to spend a lot of money on a good ukulele so. The short answer is, no, you don't, the slightly longer answer is you'll be a lot happier if you send spend a certain amount of money on a decent ukulele and you almost never need to spend a lot of money on an expensive ukulele.

Danno's Amish belt

So let me tell you my thought process. And I'm just I've got a little bit of show and tell for you here. You know, I always try to keep these casual, but I always have something in mind for what I want to talk about with you or demonstrate for you. And today, as I was cleaning up, singing in the bathtub and getting dressed, I put on my belt. How's that for fascinating, do I know how to tell a story or do I know how to tell a story?

But I was looking at this belt and I realized I've been putting on this belt every day for 20 years. And this is where we do do do do do do fade to little 20 year old younger Danno visiting visiting his father in the countryside of Missouri, where the young lad grew up. And my dad lived way out in the country and many of his neighbors were Amish farmers, and my dad would have these reciprocal deals with the Amish farmers where he would let them do things like use his telephone and they would give him honey and wood and leather belts. So when I'm out at my dad's in the countryside of Missouri and he says, come on, let's go see my neighbors, and we go along, and it turns out that he had some deal going with the Amish farmers and they owed him something and he didn't need anything. And he turns to me and says, What do you need, boy? And I said, I'd love one of those belts. I needed a belt and a handmade Amish belt what's what's not to love.

So end of my little tail. And I still have that belt today.

What's the point? The point is, it's a dang high quality belt that I haven't needed to replace in 20 years. I have some other store bought belts, target belts that I have had to replace. I've got a new one right now that I just bought recently because the old target belt wore out. But my Amish belt keeps, keeps, keeps. What does a belt keep doing? Keeps my pants up is what it does. So I can't demonstrate the belt to you because it is literally keeping my pants up right now. All right. Point being, don't be afraid to spend money — and my belt was free, so you know what I mean — to get good quality.

High-value uke books

And I'm tying that into the ukulele thing, obviously. Right. Let me give you a few more things for show and tell. These are all books. These are books that I bought.

Because they're great. I didn't know they were great when I bought them, but this is my fifth copy of Blues you can use. Twenty dollars, it says, and like I say, it's at least my fifth copy, the first one wore out, the second one I gave away because I thought it was so good. The third one probably got lost. The fourth one,I, living in the modern age, cut the spine off and fed it to a sheet scanner so I could have a copy on my iPad, and so maybe that's for maybe I don't own five of them.

But this is not a ukulele book. But, you know, it was worth spending 100 dollars over the years to have this information available to me when I wanted it.

Here's another one. This Beatles book is this is a 40 dollar book, folks. How many books do you spend forty dollars on? I get enjoyment and pleasure out of it every single time I pick it up and I pick it up, probably four days out of the week.

I love it for the content, of course I love it because it's spiral bound, so it lays flat when you open it up. I'm just saying, you know what I'm saying? You can't go wrong when the product is right.

This is what I'm very proud of and I didn't spend a lot of money on this, but when I bought it. There still has a little sticker tag, I've owned it for so long that it was back in the days of mechanically tagging books in the stores and it probably cost me twenty dollars, but I bought it when I was 18 and I didn't have 20 dollars to spare. Once again, I've gotten so much knowledge, so much use, so much information out of this book that if I lost it today, I'd happily pay a fortune, a king's ransom to get it back again.

And that brings me to ukuleles.

Cheap ukes v. expensive

For those of you who've been part of my little world here for a long time, you've seen me play multiple different ukuleles, including the one that I always bring into my beginner class when I do live real world beginner classes, which is a little thirty dollar blue plastic, the one with the dolphin bridge. Have you seen those? They're very cute. They're very inexpensive. And I bring it in intentionally to demonstrate to a class of beginners that you don't need a big expensive ukulele to play Really OK, sounding ukulele music. Now the trick is I've been playing ukulele for 20 years, so it's not hard for me to make a little cheapy sound, OK? You know, it's like if you handed Keith Richards your guitar, your garage sale guitar, he's still going to be able to play Honky Tonk Women. And you are not.

Why I bought a nice uke

But that said, at some point about five years ago, I decided I was going to buy a nice ukulele and I did a ton of research, this is what I came up with.

I'm not trying to sell you on this instrument. This happens to be a Martin. And I'm not a ukulele snob in the slightest, I can't even tell you what model it is or what it's modeled after. You know what vintage Martin it's modeled after. But I knew a few things. I knew what size I wanted and I knew that I wanted it to be comfortable and sound good. That was my criteria.

And I spent more money on this than I've ever spent on any other instrument, and it's not a super expensive instrument, but again, it makes me happy every single time I pick it up. And here's the key. This is why I'm talking about All this stuff.

Is it time for you to buy a better uke?

There may come a time when your ukulele playing will improve by having a better ukulele, I almost never say that because I don't want to discourage people from getting started and getting going and even. From that struggle that you face when you're working with a suboptimal instrument, you know what I mean? If you don't know the feeling of a good instrument, you don't know what you're missing and you make it work on a less than good instrument. And just like I was saying about Keith Richards, if you can make it work on a not so good instrument, you can definitely make it work on a good instrument. So I'm not telling you to spend a lot of money and I'm not telling you to spend any money to go out and buy another ukulele now. But I am suggesting to you to be aware of your own situation and. Bearing in mind that you may at some point reach a point where it's time to consider upgrading your gear.

It's like my Amish belt, it will make you happy every time you pick it up. Every I'm trying to think of something funny to say about my Amish Belt. I'm not. I'm just proud of it. I'm delighted to own it. I'm delighted that it works and I'm delighted with the joy that it gives me as far as a belt can every time I use it. So food for thought, right? Think about where you are with your ukulele and consider whether or not it's time for an upgrade.

The Flea

But to me, it's always just been a question of Sound and feel, do I like it or not like it? In fact, I'll tell you a quick little side story. This is not the one the first good ukulele I bought was a flea, do you know those? They're the ones made by the Beloff family here in Massachusetts, at least I think they used to be. And they're the plastic body. Plastic body would top, I think, with the flat bottom. And they're like it was like a 200 dollar instrument. When it was when I first decided I wanted to play ukulele, I lived in California and I went to a nice music shop there and ran into some other ukulele players. And they really like the Flea's and recommended it to me. I couldn't decide. I couldn't decide. And it was just a few weeks later I got to go to a music convention. And there for the first time, I was surrounded by ukuleles and ukulele players and I walked around and just tried them.

The Ten Thousand dollar uke

And I got to pick up a ten thousand dollar ukulele, a ten thousand dollar ukulele and strum it and play it now mind you, at that time I really didn't know what I was doing, but I knew what I wasn't doing and what I wasn't doing was dropping that ukulele. But the flea people were just around the corner, and I had held that one in my hands a couple of weeks earlier. And I kept thinking, oh, that was the one I liked. That was the one I like. Now, there was no way I was going to pay 10000 dollars for a ukulele, but I had that as a marker to compare with. And I go over and I'd play the flea that was going to cost me about 200, which still felt like a lot of money. And then I'd go back and think about that 10000 dollar instrument not to play it just did I like it. And to me, there was no way there was nine thousand eight hundred dollars difference between the two ukuleles. I bought the flea and that was the only one I owned for five years. I loved it. I loved it. And, you know, I'd call that a moderately moderately priced ukulele. So you only have to go so far up in price before you kind of reach — As good as it's going to get until you make another huge leap, but I would say that even that huge leap based on having my day playing a 10000 dollar ke is — The differences are more for the very trained and discerning player, and you're also paying for bling, you know, you're playing for mother of pearl inlay and gold tuners and stuff like that.

All right, so for those you know what, folks, I'm going to say today's lesson for tomorrow. Today was a conversation. They were already at 25 past the hour.

I want to check on Bob, so I've got to see Asuna, but we can hang out and talk about committer real quick.

Good to great is hard to detect

Between the laminate version and the solid mahogany, for three times as much, I can hear the difference, but it's not 400 dollars worth of improvement. That's just it, Bob. That's sort of what I was saying to I can detect the difference in a really nice one. Good to great is harder to detect than fair to good. Oh, that's a good way of saying it. All right. Take care. Stay healthy, wealthy and wise. Go off and do something nice for somebody if you can, OK? Bye now.

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