Welcoming the Uke

Posted on December 16, 2019 by Aywren

It has arrived – my blue ukulele!

This was an unplanned sort of thing, but the way that it sounds, uke is a far more casual instrument to plink around with. So I don’t see it competing with fiddle for real hardcore practice time.

Even though this wasn’t a planned thing, I think it was something I was working up to without knowing it. Back in high school, I used to mess around on my acoustic guitar – which I still have! – and really enjoyed playing what little I did learn of it.

However, the stopping point for me was when chords became a thing because my fingers were frustratingly short to reach the notes. It’s the same sort of problem I have playing a full sized violin.

I’ve wanted to pick up my guitar again, and even bought some new strings for it, but then I remembered the troubles I had, and the pain of working up the callouses on my fingers for the metal strings. For some reason, I’ve not had that issue with violin like I did on guitar.

I don’t remember how I got around to looking at ukes this past weekend. But it almost feels like the energy and expectations around ukes are the exact opposite of someone new to violin. It’s easy to play from the start, inexpensive to pick up a decent starter kit, and the attitude for learning is – just have fun, even if it’s just 5-10 mins a day! As long as the uke is tuned, you make a nice sound out of the box.

That’s much different than some of the violin folks I’ve seen online (fiddle folks are a bit more laid back) who tell you to get a teacher before you even buy an instrument, spend at least $300+ on your starter kit to get something playable, and put in a good chunk of time practicing every day. Only to struggle to make a good sound.

Now that doesn’t make me love my fiddle any less. It’s just a very different instrument with different demands.

Anyhow, the resources for learning and play alongs for Ukes are all over the place, and it just seems like something I could dive into and make good progress with. I already got my uke tuned up and have been strumming that C chord that seems to be the first thing you learn.

I’m pleased with the style and design of the instrument. Unlike violins, where you’re warned away from using painted on or colored woods (effects sound?), Ukes come in a variety of colors and styles. I immediately went for this Blue Hola! Concert Uke, which actually has a bit of a teal undertone overall.

The concert uke is apparently the mid size instrument, with a soprano being smaller. So I could have went even smaller than this, but to be honest, seeing it in person, I think this is the right size.

Testing my fingers on the fretboard, I can already tell this is much smaller than a guitar, and more feasible for me to play. Not only that, but it’s comfortable for me to hold even without a strap.

And most importantly, it doesn’t send my cats into a fit when I play (violin does – even a good violinist playing solo on a video does). Which means I can keep it in the front room and plink around on it at my main desk.