Musical gifts: Real or fake music? Guitar Hero or Ukulele?

by Andi
musical notes

I couldn’t help but notice the success of Guitar Hero, Karaoke games, and the general transition to simulated music. Because such a game becomes rewarding very quickly, many ‘play’ the simulated instruments instead of choosing to make real music. This pains me a lot, even more so because I’ve been playing the guitar for years.

This summer however I discovered a great little instrument, that becomes rewarding in the first day, and even in the first hour. While I was abroad in the summer holidays, I went to a music shop to buy some strings and picks for my guitar, which was home (much to heavy to carry around while traveling). That, day, I discovered the Ukulele.

The Ukulele is a small 4-stringed instrument, often referred to as the ‘Hawaiian Guitar’. 4 strings and a simple tuning mean that chords are easy to finger, and its size and weight allow you to carry it everywhere, and perform with friends or maybe even to the general public, for pure fun. You can read more about the instrument on Wikipedia.

Ever since I’ve got the little thing, I’ve become totally addicted. While at first sight it might seem that you can only strum simple, exotic tunes, its sweet characteristic sound can be used in many musical genres, and it’s truly excellent for blues and jazz.

Even as a real guitar player, it was far easier for me to pick up the uke than to get used to Guitar Hero, and far more rewarding. Can you take a game controller out, to play with friends? Of course not. But this, this does an amazing job.

Soon after I got the basics, I started doing research on the Internet for variations and techniques. The techniques have proven to be too easy to research anything more about them, so I kept on looking for instruments. Then, I found a company that manufactures and delivers lots of sorts of Ukuleles, from the inexpensive and simple (but not bad at all, I spent 30 Euros ($50) for mine and it’s pretty good), to radical designs like the Solid or the electric hollow-body. (both pictured below). No matter what kind of Ukulele you’d choose, you’re guaranteed to have enormous fun. Really now, even just browsing the catalog was a lot of fun for me.

Uke Solid risa electric Uke

I’ll probably get me one of the electric babies for the holidays, and if I do, it will surely hit the stage, together with my guitar.

So, there you go. I’ve made a suggestion. What music or “music” related gift will there be for this year’s winter holidays?.. Will it be Guitar Hero? Will it be Rock Band, or will it be a great Ukulele?

Here’s a video, for your delight. Don’t expect to be that good from the beginning, but this is a great demonstration of what this little instrument can do, and the clear demonstration that it’s not a toy.

6 reviews or comments

rich Says: November 19, 2007 at 11:43 pm

Did you know George Harrison was a uke lover?

rich Says: November 20, 2007 at 11:21 am

OK, I’ve been researching the Risa solid uke and I like what I’ve seen. This thing must be brand new- none on ebay or at musicians friend. Is it really $250???? I want one but sheesh!

Andi Says: November 20, 2007 at 6:04 pm

I’m also interested in those things.. They do, though, cost a lot, and a direct chat with mr Sauer there confirmed the fact that it’s useless without an amp… And I’ve seen some more expensive acoustic ones.

He also told me that the Uke’Electric he manufactures is a hollow-body, and that it is usable without an amp too.. The choice is hard, because I really want one of those two babies

Douglas Says: February 28, 2008 at 4:56 am

you can make an electric uke for not much, if you make everything yourself…
instructables.com has a DIY Electric guitar tutorial, if you minimise the dimensions, Voila! an electric uke…
only problem is, it requires steel strings…
(mandolin strings, maybe?)

Andi Says: January 25, 2010 at 7:53 am

@Rachel – have fun playing it. I am at my third Uke now, and quality really matters. If you’re intent on playing it, get a good one, even if it costs more.

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