I get into a habit of looking for used ukes on eBay every now & again,when I spied this Donner uke up for bid. Listed as concert size,missing 2 strings,and for under $35 the seller said it worked,had a couple of minor dings,and had tags. So- I won it at opening bid,and when it arrived,did I get a surprise. The tags were for Donner bass uke. Obviously someone just stuck tags on it to make it look more new,I guess. The real surprise was this wasn't a concert size at all. It's a tenor. Amazing what deals you can get when a seller doesn't do their research! Anyway,all it needed was 2 batteries and the built in tuner & electronics work great. The body and neck are mahogany,and I haven't a clue as to what wood the fingerboard is made with. However the glow of the mahogany is simply beautiful. The sound hole decor looks to be a decal. I never heard of Donner before,and it made me think of Santa's reindeer. I must say the quality of this uke is surprisingly good. Action is wonderful,intonation is spot on,and one of the cooler things is the see thru closed tuners shown below:
And the tuners are very smooth and decent quality. I strung it with La Bella strings,which I like the feel of. The control panel for the electronics has a treble,mid,and bass control so when you're playing thru an amp,you do have some tone control without having to go to your amp.
Another plus I wish more uke companies did is there are 2 strap pins- one on the heel of the neck,and the other at the bottom of the body. This makes it possible to use mandolin or guitar straps. The model of this particular uke is the DUT-4E. Do check one out if you get a chance!
One of my hobbies is taking photos with musical instruments in them-I took the one above when I couldn't find any patriotic ones with ukuleles in them. I thought the clear Waterman uke was fitting for Memorial Day.to represent those who served and are no longer with us,yet they all leave a lasting impression. And to those still with us serving,or who have served,thank you! So how are you spending the weekend? At home? Away? Whatever you're up to,,I hope you have a ukulele with you. Travelling with a uke can bring up a lot of questions- esp air travel. Number one tip I hear is to have your ukulele in a hardshell case,not a gig bag. This way.if it winds up in the overhead compartment,folks can pile on it wirhout damaging your instrument. Travelling by car? Don't leave your uke in there! The heat will ruin it. Take your uke with you when you stop at a roadside cafe. If you've rented a hotel room,be sure to leave your uke there when sight seeing. If you're worried about staff messing with it when you're out,hide the uke in the back of the closet or under the bed. Playing outdoors? Attending a uke fest with instrument in hand? Be sure to take sunscreen and wear it,along with lip balm w/sunscreen. Take plenty of water as well. Try to spend as much time in the shade as you can,and wear a straw hat with a wide enough brim to cover your earlobes. Gig bags and cases can start to look alike when with other players. Spice yours up a bit- for cases,add a decal or two. (ones of states you're visiting is an idea!) and for those with gig bags,get patches of the states and glue them on with fabric glue once you're back home. Look up uke clubs in the area you're traveling to and see if you can drop in on one when they're having a jam. Drive safely,if going by car and remember to spread joy along the way!
I've been eyeballing these on & off ever since Ukulele Magazine reviewed one awhile back-and as fate (and eBay) would have it,I wound up with two! First one (clear) was an auction I won at opening bid. The green one here was a BIN,MIB. Guessing someone was gifted this and wasn't too thrilled with it. Obviously,the looks are what initially draws you. No denying the see thru color is just absolutely beyond cool. But- looks aside,how is it? Surprisingly enough,I was amazed that it's made of a very sturdy plastic. It's heavier than I guessed it would be. No flimsy construction here! The assembly is very smooth- no mismatched edges or anything like that. It sports silver dots on the side of the neck-which I was delighted with! The tone is really good- I wasn't expecting that out of a plastic ukulele. Neck is very comfortable as well. It's a great easy to play uke not only for places like the beach,but anywhere you may go that you don't want to take one of your higher quality ukes. And this is great in the sense that if a kid or friend wants to try it,it's absolutely no problem- no worries they may ding it or something like that. I attend different shows that I've been selling some of my Dad's stuff at,and this uke is perfect for that. It came with a decent drawstring bag to put it in that you can carry like a backpack. The only drawback is the intonation is slightly off high up the neck. Now I would make a bigger deal of that if this were a wooden ukulele. Considering this particular one is a more "casual" model,I'm not holding that against it. And for the most part I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been testing it out with my Snark tuner. Lord knows anyone hearing me play at these events isn't going to notice either. So- in closing,I recommend this model for those of you who want to leave your higher quality ukes at home. And I think this is a fine starter uke for kids & adults alike!
Added Footnote-Important! I got the clear one I mentioned,and sadly,somebody must've left it in the car as it's warped enough to deem it unplayable. (I got most of my $ back from the seller) So- buy your Waterman new,and if you buy used,do so only if you can try it out in person to be sure it's playable. And.....never leave it in the car or attic,just as you would any ukulele. If you have your uke and are stopping somewhere to eat,take the uke in with you! The clear Waterman will now be a wall hanger in my bathroom.
At long last,for those of us in the southwestern part of the country,the temps are once again warm enough to sit on the porch,in the backyard,or go to the beach and play our ukes! If you're blessed enough to have a porch,this is the perfect time to make it a paradise to play on. Take a look at your porch and see what could use sprucing up. Sweep it,plant new flowers in those pots that have been sitting and growing weeds,add some yard decor. Get a new armless chair or two. Add solar lights. Consider this area your stage to the neighborhood. I also suggest you get a uke stand in case you have to set your uke down for a moment or two. Get one that folds up for easy carrying. don't leave your uke in the sun,tho! (I usually porch pick once the direct sun isn't shining on my porch.) And other outdoor essentials:sunblock,lip balm with sunscreen,sunglasses,a hat that covers your ears (I have a straw Stetson) bottled water,and if you play into the early evening, citronella candles for keeping mosquitos at bay. (have a lighter on you for the candle!) And as you're playing outdoors,this is also the time to start memorizing tunes so you won't have to hassle songbooks and the like while outside. So get ready,and go have fun playing!
I'd been wanting to get a ukulele amp for awhile,reading reviews and not really being able to make up my mind. Then this gem appeared and after watching and listening to UTube videos of ukulele and guitar being played thru one,I was sold. Picked it up new on sale for $99 and free shipping! It's my first Fender amp as far as purchases go,and this one is a beauty. It has 2 separate channels-one for an external microphone and one for an instrument. The sound is beautiful- rich,clear,and don't be fooled by 15 watts- This baby has a whole lotta volue! It includes a headphone jack,and a chorus knob that adds a beautiful overtone to guitar as well as ukulele- and for what it's worth- electric violins sound good thru this too! You have a ton of tonal control with this amp- it has bass,treble,and mid controls. Powerful enough to play small gigs with,and of course it comes with a headphone jack. It also features a velcro holder on the back to hold the cord to make transportation easy- and did I mention it's light? Each channel has it's own volume control as well. This is handy for my banjo playing as well,because my banjo drowns out my voice- with this I can just use a mic to sing and of course,banjos never need amplifying! I play my Luna acoustic electric ukulele thru this,and it sounds so clear and sweet. You can't get this sound out f an electric guitar amp. I used to think acoustic amps were just made by companies to make more money. Not so. This amp taught me acoustic amps are a totally different breed. So before you go buy a "ukulele amp",go try one of these out. They have bigger amps in the acoustasonic line too,so if you're wanting more wattage,they have them!
It's time to celebrate our love of the ukulele in all it's forms! And with the weather much of the US is experiencing right now,the petite but powerful uke can help us journey thru our day when going outside is not a good idea. The rain is back in California,and I'm staying put today,appreciating that my yard is being watered,and hoping those in mudslide or flood zones will be safe. This actually brings back memories of being a kid on a rainy day when my tomboyish self had to keep myself occupied with reading,hobbies,and whatnot instead of playing outside. So- if you're wondering what to do today,here's a few ideas:
1. learn that song you've been wanting to get to know.
2. video yourself playing and share it online,or with friends and family.
3. If you just got a looper pedal,and have an acoustic/electric uke,try working with that and see what happens.
4. If you have neighbors who play,and going outside isn't too bad,consider having a uke get together with them.
5. Use the day to put that new set of strings on,write in your ukulele blog,or start one if you don't have one.
6. Put some of your musical creations on TAB or post some of your recordings for the world to hear.
Above all,stay dry,stay warm,stay safe,and enjoy the day!
As far as guitalele books go,this is a real classic. And as a music teacher,I gotta take my hat off to the author,Benjamin M. Taylor. A ton of work went into this volume! I've been a lover of guitalele for a few years now,(much to the dismay of some 4 string purists) and see it as an extension of the uke,much like you see 5 and 6 string bass guitars,5 string violins,and so forth. However there isn't a lot of books out there about them. This book is a goldmine. Personally speaking,I never really understood the importance of scales till I taught myself fiddle. Then it became crystal clear: to know where all the notes are going to be in a given key,to make learning a song a whole lot easier. Why? because it gives you the neighborhood map of where each note is going to be,and prevents you having to wander parts of town you really don't need to explore for any given scale. In this sense Benjamin has mapped the world. Not only do we have the most common,such as major,but the book covers exotic flavors like Hindu,Spanish Gypsy,Egyptian,Enigmatic,Bebop,pentatonic and much much more. There are 8 scale diagrams given per page,showing the full fretboard and,and if that weren't enough,the back of this tome has 7 pages of numerous moveable patterns.The author thought of everything! For both the 4 and 6 string ukulele player,get this and you'll never,ever need another uke scale book. The only improvements I would make would be to have this be spiral bound for ease of use (which can be done inexpensively at places like Staples) and perhaps bigger diagrams for more mature eyes. He does include the scale in standard notation above each fretboard diagram but they are dinky. This book opens up galaxies of new sounds and melodies to be explored,and belongs in every ukulele player's library! Order your copy below thru my Amazon link:
The past few instrument purchases I've made weren't intentional-in fact,this ukulele I seriously tried to say no to. But then the Universe said I must buy it. (Yes,you can use that one next time UAS strikes!) I was bored,home alone,so I was on eBay,,,,,,just looking,mind you,at ukuleles. Then- a music store had a Luna pineapple uke with tribal face up for a $32 buy it now and free shipping. I stayed strong and said no,until the Universe popped in by having a $5 off coupon pop up for eBay at the top of my screen. So......I went and got that baby,with tags,brand new,for $27!!!! With the price discounted heavily to begin with,I wondered if there would be a hidden blemish,a flaw,perhaps not set up right? I had nothing to worry about. This baby was not only brand new,but the mahogany wood was flawless,the intonation spot on,and the action absolutely delightful. The sound is very sweet,full,and it packs volume for a soprano size! And let's not forget-it has dots on the side of the neck as well. This is a true beach/surfer ukulele. And the tribal face is a real attention getter! The body,sides,and neck are mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. The neck is set with a 13" scale. Any soprano gigbag should work with this uke- I got an Hola! brand for mine. Only suggestion I would make to the Luna company would be if they could start using the lunar phase dots on the fret board as that would look really cool. Want one? you can check out the link below,which helps cover the expenses of running this blog when you buy one.
Since I got my Stella banjo uke refurbished,I'd been wanting to get a case or gigbag for it. Imagine my surprise when I spotted the Hola! gigbag for a mere $14.95 on Amazon. In fact,I liked the first one so well I got another one for my Luna tribal pineapple soprano- in a different color,of course! I was amazed at the plush padding-15 mm. Stiff enough to have the bag retain it's shape when a uke isn't inside it. On the inside of the gigbag,where the headstock and string ends hit,there is an additional layer of material there so that part of the bag won't get snagged by the string ends. The outside is made of what looks and feels to be a water resistant material- Oxford nylon fabric. And you can get this in plain black or different designs and colors. A blast from the past is this sports metal zippers instead of plastic. Hearing th zipper brings back a lot of childhood memories of wearing different jackets I had! And this has a decent sized accessory pocket for a tuner,capo,small book,etc. The handle is well padded and there is a slender adjustable strap for carrying it over your shoulder. While I would ideally have a slightly heavier duty strap,I had to remind myself soprano ukuleles don't hardly weigh anything,and a light strap is all that's needed. I don't know how long Amazon will have them at this price- so if you're needing a decent gigbag for your uke,or just want to see what it looks like,I've included a link below!
I was recently in a meeting with a consultant,and of course music came up,and I mentioned I play a few instruments. After a few more moments in this meeting,the woman mentioned how she and a friend had taken a ukulele class last year,and now she has no time to play it. She was not happy with the false belief that she had no time for it. So,as I usually do,I made a suggestion.
"Why not take your ukulele to work with you?"
She was delighted with the idea,and towards the end of our meeting,she told me how excited she was to start taking her uke with her. I mentioned she could play on break or during lunchtime. I know this because it's what I did at the last day job I had. I was just starting my uke journey, and I would sit outside and strum chords or pluck out tunes. Back then my phone wasn't saavy enough to have a uke tuning app on it- the phone I have now has one so I never have to worry about taking my clip on tuner. I also mentioned she could "steal" 15 min or so at home to play as well. during commercials on TV,while relaxing with a hot cocoa,anytime you have those inbetween moments. Waiting for a friend to stop by? Play your uke while waiting. Doing holiday baking? Play your uke while the goodies are baking in the oven. Start looking at finding time to play like a treasure hunt.....it's usually those "inbetween times".