Six-string ukuleles are getting quite hard to find, and it’s a shame because they sound particularly ukulele-like, at least to my ears. In this recent article, I tell you how to convert a regular 4-string ukulele into a six-stringer with conventional tuning, but I found that there are a lot more tunings you could use, and some sound just as sweet as the standard. In this article, I go through the math and give you some samples. Read More
If you do a web search for “6 string ukulele,” you will find that a majority of links lead to the “guitalele,” an instrument the size of a tenor ukulele with 6 independent strings, which is played rather like a guitar. But a few of them will lead to the true 6-string ukulele, where two of its four strings are doubled up in octaves. This one is played like a regular 4-string ukulele, but sounds richer, more uke-like if that were possible (see this video, for instance). True 6-string ukuleles are hard to find, and those that you do find tend to be pricey, but in this article I show you how to convert a regular ukulele into a 6-string uke with a minimum of hassle and expense.
My latest ukulele is an exercise in versatility: short enough to go inside a suitcase, long enough to be remain playable under heavy capo and, of course, both acoustic and electric. And not just merely electric, but featuring both a passive piezo pickup and a magnetic pickup, which can be mixed in any ratio. I looked for a wiring diagram that could do this, and found nothing simple. They all required a switch to select the main pickup, with perhaps the ability to add a bit of the other, or had something weird about them. Since the two pickups are very different electrically, there was no assurance that they would mix well. I took a guess, and it worked, though theory predicted that it shouldn’t have. Read on for the solution.
First, an awful disclosure: I use a pick to play the ukulele. Now if you still haven’t canceled me, you may be interested to hear that I may have stumbled into the best combination of strength and softness for a ukulele pick. Kind of like a Japanese sword in reverse. Read More
A what? . . . A pan-jo, dummy! That is, a banjo that is made from a pan. It turns out that you can make beautiful music from a humble pizza pan, plus a stick, a doggy bowl, and a limited number of special parts. And it’s quite a looker, as you can see from the picture, showing a G6 (guitar tuning) panjo with metal strings next to a C6 (uke tuning) panjo with plastic strings. Recipe and sound samples inside. Read More
I gave my students the job of building string instruments, for which they need to select the materials, calculate the appropriate string gauges and tensions, and pay attention to the energy flow from strings to air. After spending half a day putting the relevant equations in one sheet to make their work easier, it dawned on me that others might enjoy having them as well. So here they are. Read More
If you have been following this blog, you certainly know that I’ve been kind of crazy about the ukulele for the last three years (though perhaps not as much as George Harrison, in the picture). Now, locked up at home because of the coronavirus pandemic and with more ukuleles within reach than cats in the home of a British spinster (no relation to George), I’ve finally sort of put it together, perhaps for your enjoyment and even moderate edification. The result is no less than what I believe to be the fastest route to learning to play an instrument at a mature age. It may come in handy for the many folks who, perhaps because they comb white hairs already, are in no hurry to leave their hiding holes and breathe the (arguably pathogen-laden) fresh air. Read More
Well-known fact: the standard-tuned ukulele is pitched higher than a guitar. In fact, one of the ways you can get a ukulele of sorts from a guitar is by putting a capo on the 5th fret (and avoiding strings 5 and 6). But did you know that there are other ukulele tunings, some of which are higher, while others are lower? In this article, I try to put some order in this mess, coming along the way with a number that might help you decide how to tune your ukulele. Read More
Those of us who have attempted (rather unsuccessfully) to learn guitar and ended up learning the ukulele sometimes miss the “fuller” sound of the guitar, which makes it appropriate for sadder songs, just to mention one possibility. The re-entrant high-G tuning of most ukuleles doesn’t help much in this regard, but if you are, say, in a gig situation where you are going to amp the instrument anyway, there’s an inexpensive solution that will supply the “missing strings” without having to change your uke or your playing style at all. It’s called an “octaver pedal.” Read More