Category Archives: Instruments

This is Definitely Not a Good Way to Use a Ukulele

Don't try this at home kids!

Don’t try this at home kids!

 

I’m not sure if this video is real, but it sure seems to be. The guy probably thinks it’s way too real. Ouch!

This is definitely not a good way to treat a Ukulele–or a boyfriend for that matter.

I feel sorry for the guy. And the Ukulele.

 

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So, Does it Hibernate in the Winter?

Bear_Head5_preview_featured

From the Department of the Strange and Unusual comes the Bear-u-lele/The Ukulele with a Bear Head! Made of plastic (I assume) and printed with a 3D printer, the Bear-u-lele, according to its maker, is playable.

I guess playable is debatable, but you can strum it and get a sound out of it. Check it out in action Here.

If you’re into 3D printing, you can download the files to make your very own Bear-u-lele. It’s an 8mb Zip file.

And while we’re on the subject of 3D printing, if the Bear-u-lele is not your thing, how about a Les Paul Ukulele?

You can download the files for printing the LP Uke Here. This one is a 274kb Zip file.

Somehow I don’t think the makers of plastic Ukes have anything to worry about from 3D printers just yet.

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New, Handmade Uke on the Way from Kala

Kala Brand Music Co.plans to add a Ukulele handmade in the USA to its lineup next year.

Kala Brand Music Co.plans to add a Ukulele handmade in the USA to its lineup next year.

 

The Kala Brand Music Co., well known and highly respected for producing well-constructed and playable Asian-built Ukuleles for little money, plans to add USA-made models to its lineup next year.

Mike Upton, the founder of Petaluma-Ca.-based Kala, told Musical Merchandise Review magazine that the company plans to introduce at least one Made in America model soon.

Kala will introduce a ukulele handmade in the U.S. at our Petaluma, California shop at the 2015 NAMM Show.

He did not say if it will be introduced at Winter NAMM or Summer NAMM, though.

Kala already produces a line of Acoustic/Electric Ukulele Bass models in California, so adding a USA-made model Uke makes sense. No word on how much it will cost or what woods will be available, however.

 

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Meet Clara

Blackbird Guitars Clara Ukulele

Blackbird Guitars Clara Ukulele

 

Ukuleles come in many shapes and types of materials. There’s Koa wood, Mango, Maple, Spruce, Cocobolo, Mahogany, to name a few. They even come in plastic and composite materials like carbon fiber. Now you can add Ekoa to the list of materials used to make a Ukulele.

Meet Clara. A new Concert-sized Ukulele from Blackbird Guitars that uses composite materials–Ekoa to be exact–and claims to have a tone just like vintage wood.

According to the company that produces Ekoa:

Ekoa natural composites are even lighter than carbon fiber yet offer superior tensile strength and vibration dampening.

Sounds good, but I’m not too sure about the vibration dampening part. I would think you would want a Ukulele to vibrate freely, to get a good, loud sound from it. But that’s just me.

Blackbird says its Clara Ukulele is the result of years of research using the eco-friendly composite. It features a proprietary hollow neck and unibody construction.

Clara is the loudest concert ukulele with the widest frequency range available yet compact enough to fit in a backpack— the perfect instrument to have around in all circumstances. With the tone of vintage wood and the durability of cutting-edge sustainable composite construction, musicians get what was previously unobtainable: the experience of a vintage old-growth wood instrument in a lightweight, durable package, notes Blackbird Guitars founder Joe Luttwak.

You can check out the Clara in action in this video.

Here are the detailed specs for the Clara:

Construction: Ekoa natural composite
Top: Ekoa natural composite
Neck Material: Ekoa natural composite
Neck Shape: C shape
Neck Reinforcement: Composite assembly
Nut Material: Graphtech Tusq
Headstock: Ekoa natural composite
Headplate: Ekoa natural composite
Fretboard Material: Richlite
Scale Length: 15″
Fretwire: Nickel silver
Number of Frets Clear: 12
Number of Frets Total: 17
Fretboard Width at Nut: 1.4″
Fretboard Width 12th Fret: 1 3/4″
Fretboard Side Markers: 5,7,10,12
Bridge Material: Richlite
Bridge String Spacing: 1.6″
Saddle: Graphtech
Tuning Machines: Gotoh
Recommended Strings: High G/Low G
Case: Heavily padded soft case
Electronics: Optional Mi-Si Pickup
Finish: Natural
Dimensions: 24″ x 7.75″ x 3″
Weight: 1.2 Lbs

The Blackbird Clara Concert Ukulele starts at $1,150.00. With the optional electronics, the price is $1,350.

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New Plastic Ukes on the Way

Kics Ukuleles

Kics Plastic Ukuleles

 

Coming this Fall is a new line of plastic Ukuleles called Kics, from the people who brought you the Kanaloa Ukulele and the Diamond Head Ukulele. Their marketing tag line for the Kics Uke is “Play one just for kicks.”

According to the guys at Kanaloa:

Kics Ukuleles are a high-tech design of injection molded plastic instruments that recreate the tonal qualities of wood.

Each Kics Uke will be supplied with a gig bag and comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Kanaloa are debuting their Kics line at Summer NAMM. They are expected to be available sometime in the fall. No word on pricing yet though.

Since the Kanaloa Ukes are made in Indonesia, is suspect the Kics line will be produced there as well.

 

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I Bet it Sounds Huge

Michael Jones and his 12' Ukulele

Michael Jones and his 12′ Ukulele

 

All the way from Australia comes this tale of one very large Ukulele.

According to the Fraser Coast Chronicle:

The proud owner of a 3.6m-long ukulele, Mr Jones stopped at the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery on Tuesday for a get-together with members of the local ukulele club before heading off to the Cairns Ukulele Festival which starts on July 1.

For those of us living in the States and elsewhere, 3.6 meters works out to about 11.8 feet! Now that’s a big Uke.

Jones, known as The Living Poet, told the paper that he built the Uke in two nights and taught himself how to play in three weeks.

So what size would that Uke be considered, an Uber-Baritone?

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Here’s Your Chance to Own the ‘Holy Grail’ of Ukes

Circa 1926 Gibson Poinsettia Ukulele

Circa 1926 Gibson Poinsettia Ukulele

 

From the “Rare as Hen’s Teeth” Department comes this little tidbit: The Holy Grail of Ukes is for sale! That’s right, now you too can own the Holy Grail of the Ukulele world.

Up for sale on various auction sites like eBay and GBase is one 1926 Gibson Poinsettia Ukulele. And for a mere $11,579.00 it can be all yours.

Granted, these are pretty rare Ukuleles. There just aren’t a whole lot of them available anymore. I’m not sure how many exactly were made and how many survived, but I know of at least one other in existence, which is owned by a Ukulele Underground member, who posted about it here a few years ago.

The one being sold now is owned by Distinctive Guitar of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The condition is listed in various places as “Fair” and in others as “VG/EXC,” so take that as you will. The seller does acknowledge that this model has had some cracks repaired.

“This ukulele is in VG/EXC Vintage condition, there were some cracks on the back that were professionally sealed by Third Coast Guitar Service in Chicago, IL a couple weeks ago,” he notes.

According to the seller:

The headstock has “The Gibson” which puts is pre-1928 so this is one of the earliest ones made. Post 1928 you see just “Gibson” on the headstock logo and the fingerboard markers are often painted poinsettia’s instead of hand inlaid designs on the real vintage bakelite.

I’ve often wondered why Gibson made these Ukuleles with Mahogany bodies and plastic fretboards. Bakelite, as you probably know, is  a form of plastic, which was used for lots of things in the 1920s. Whole Ukuleles were made of plastic in those days. The fretboards on these Ukes are not Bakelite, however, they are another form of plastic called Ivoroid. Why Gibson chose to make a hybrid wood-plastic Uke is interesting.

According to Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars, the Gibson Poinsettia was available from 1927-1928 and featured “custom floral ornamentation with red poinsettia flowers on body and fingerboard, ivoroid fingerboard and peghead veneer, pearl logo.” They also were available as custom models from 1929 until the early 1930s.

I have to admit, it’s a very pretty Uke. Gibson spent a lot of time and care preparing these models. And with its original case, it’s a pretty cool find. But I’m not sure it’s worth the asking price. Possibly half the asking price is more appropriate, considering this one has been repaired and has wear from use. But it certainly would look nice in anyone’s collection.

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Cool Uke Tweet of the Day

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 8.03.57 PM

 

Me too. It’s not a f*&#ing guitar. Get it straight.

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You Don’t Look a Day Over 75!

1918 Martin Style 3 Ukulele

1918 Martin Style 3 Ukulele

 

This is allegedly a 96 year old Martin Ukulele. Apparently it’s been in its case under the bed for the past 96 years.

It looks brand new and never played. Even the case looks brand new. But I guess it’s possible that it was purchased new and shoved under the bed and never taken out again.

No matter, it’s still a pretty cool Uke. Probably sounds really nice too, seeing as how the wood has aged all these years.

This one looks to be a Martin Style 3 Soprano from 1918, which has these features:

  • Introduced in 1918.
  • Mahogany body.
  • 7 layer top binding.
  • 3 layer back binding.
  • 5 layer soundhole ring.
  • Celluloid ornament on top, behind bridge (known as the “parend”).
  • 17 fret ebony fingerboard extents to the soundhole.
  • Bar frets.
  • Small pearl paired-diamond inlays at fret 5, 7, 9.
  • 3 lines inlaid down center of fingerboard.
  • Nut of 3 ply plastic.
  • C.F.Martin & Co. on back of headstock.
  • Kite-shaped celluloid peghead ornament.
  • Friction pegs.

In the late 1940s the diamond inlays were changed to dots. Friction pegs were used between 1918 and 1922. They sold for $25 when new.

These Martin Style 3 was discontinued in the 1977.

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