Well, it is certainly about time you got around to buying your first Ukulele (aka Ukai). & now, pretty soon, “this” will be you.
We here at the Chronicle understand you are not all apt to be collectors (yet -_-); however that does not mean one should stint on their initial purchase. If you are stinting before you pick it up, you ain’t gonna play it. That’s science.
But you are correct to seek assistance in your initial purchase. Well done, just for being here; you’re obviously serious this time. Below is a whirlwind tour through the world of the Ukai & answers to some common questions.
Please do not abuse this information – we’ll know.
1) If Ukulele’s Are Just Tiny Guitars – Why Do They Keep Getting Bigger?
Oh dear, you make me laugh. They are growing up silly.
Like anything else: they start out small; get a little rambunctious; their voice deepens; eventually they learn a bit about guitar for their highschool band; never follow it past a few basic sounds to impress the flutes (usually about equivalent to the bottom 4 strings of the guitar); & finally they become guitars themselves.
But did you know, not all Ukai grow to be guitars? It is true: I’ve seen some become brass, keys, drums. Heck, one even turned into a shark with a sword – I seen it! (*I haven’t).
But of the 4 key maturation’s (Soprano, Concert, Tenner & Baritone); it is most likely the Soprano that you are seeking.
2) Why? Wait…No it Isn’t, Is It?
3) Hang on…Well can it be Pretty?
You’re pretty <3.
I’m Just kidding. Alright. We can discuss it. The reason you are likely to be thinking of the Soprano, is as this is the traditional incarnation that you were most likely picturing on making this decision.
[Above: Okami is a famous Ukulele manufacturer. & part time anime wolf of some kind, apparently . Look, I don’t have all the answers.]
And their are some brands you can trust who, not only still craft Ukai in the traditional birthplace of one President Barack Obama to this very day; but they also make them in Hawaii.
“Kamaka”, the oldest Ukai manufacturer whose founder was trained by THE Manuel Nunes – one of the original Ukai makers- & “KoAloha” a brand which, according to rumor, are so named due to the Samurai trained Alvin Okami’s penchant for making the instrument from the skulls of the Australian Koala Bear, are two such examples.
Still, brand is important. The kind of solid design & wood used, such as Mahogany or the classic Koa of Hawaii, will impact your sound both tonally & volume wise: but without experience with each kind it is difficult to interpret this data.
However, if you go straight with a reputable company, & are prepared to pay a moderate price, these considerations are taken care of for you.
The companies mentioned above represent two brands who offer well priced Ukai, with well respected craftsmanship, such that the beginner need not fret about their newly purchased tiny frets being in any way substandard such that would be frettening to their ability to perform.
4) But they sound Too Fancy – I said Pretty!! Pretty?
Wow, you really are a spoiled first world gaping capital a’hole aren’t you? Your parents should have told you sooner.
As to if it can be pretty, well, I could blow smoke at you, & up you. Tell you beauty is in the beholder, climate change is real, your child isn’t really gay – it is just a phase – & that I have black friends: but we are all adult-y here.
The truth is none of those things are real in any meaningful sense, & the only reason you want a “fun one” is probably because you don’t play an instrument. The small size has deluded you into thinking the Ukai is easier than learning a “real instrument”. Thus, having no self respect, you now want one with pink skulls or lightning bolts or maybe a skate brand or your favorite cartoon on it, something like this – in short, you are an unholy a’hole.
& you certainly do not deserve a Ukulele carved from a Koala Bear’s skull.
5) Yeah, But Am I Right Though?
None the less, yes, the small size will likely be an advantage. The neck will be easier to traverse, the finger strength required will be less of a strain and yes; you may have a pretty one.
Most people would probably tell you that you can not. They are evil, do not listen. I was just playing around, I’m one of the good guys. You can trust me: I’m not like the others. >>
Of course you may have a pretty one, & there are two reasons for this:
1) Because if you haven’t learned an instrument yet, you need any excuse to pick it up. I’m half tempted to dust it in coke & coat it with nicotine. Your mother & I worry about you. ❤
2) There are enough decent brands that you can get away with it (*though you may benefit in changing strings).
6) They Grow Up So Fast – How Do I Choose?
Yes, but you can’t play anything yet!
Look, you can pick up a decent (&/or “pretty”) one for between $50-$350 if you shop around. So the main four considerations at this point are Soprano, Concert, Tenner & Baritone.
I would advise against the larger-tiny guitars though, unless you play another string instrument. This is as the larger necks require a bit more awkward-breeching, reach-twist-wrist, forbidden Latin promiscuous finger dancing across the fret board. Just something to consider.
Certainly the baritone is a waste of everyone’s time. Literally the bottom 4 strings on the guitar – bring a book.
Professionals do however use all of the other 3. But I would never say you can’t have the baritone, just that it is stupid & so are you for getting one.
Unless you have some kind of medical condition, like, say, if you are a sausage fingered freak with mitts not even a mother who owned a butcher could love; you may find the Soprano a bit cumbersome in such a case.
Given that the great teachers & masters all speak of a middle path; if you are tossing up betwixt the remainders: you too take the middle path. Since there are 4 main options, the middle one would be a, oh f…
There is no middle of 4, love your mother as Jesus wept.
Man, music is hard work.
Well, I guess, it would be a comma? If they were listed side by side. Maybe a semicolon. Since “coma” sounds like “coma”, the decision you could make in your sleep is informed by the “semicolon” = S/C (Soprano/Concert).
Since the reinforcing marker is the “comma”, the additional weighting goes towards the Concert.
There are other options, such as the 16 inch, that is what she said, sub-soprano or sopranissimo. However, to go smaller than the 50cm (20 inch) soprano would just be embarrassing. Besides, you can rearrange the letters to spell “Mr/Miss Poor Sissi”! &”No ‘omo” without using letters twice…(much).
Also “Pram & Sin”! & “Mission: Mop Ian’s Piss, Moron!” & “Prison Nap”! ” ‘ow Soon Is Now”? “Moss Is Primo”? “I Miss Iran’s Pain”? I mean, Come on, is that normal?
& I avoided the really racist ones. Also, “Simon”, “Prism”, “Promo”, “Pianos” – & with an “H” “isomorp[h]”, “Opra[h]”, “O[h]m”, “No [H]ope”!
Need I go on.
Look mate, this isn’t some arbitrary decision, it could effect the rest of your life, or whatever. It effected the last five minutes of mine, & that was just the word! What if I was in the room with one?
One shudders to think. Don’t get the sopranissimo.
& the Tenner is already starting to get a bit try hard-y guitar-d-y.
Plus 2666 (ie 26 inch/66cm). That is why in ukai circles it is known as “The Demon Paddle”. Now, I’m not saying this is the one Satan would get, I’m not saying that. But he so would.
& playing it probably summons him too, by accident, & he hates the notes of the “Demon Paddle” so much he is always in a fury. Up to you. But he comes whether you believe in him or not so *shrugs*.
Given that the 30 inch/76cm in your bass-face Baritone has already been shown to be flawed by means of the “Tries Too Hard-y Guitardy” rule & the “It’s Just Dumb Aw’rite” 2nd Theorem; there is only one tiny guitar that remains.
“Operation Ukai” was a whirlwind tour through the fascinating world of Ukulele shopping & contemporary tiny instrument decision theory.
Much has been considered, & many purchase options ruled out, through a careful process of elimination that weighed the strengths & weaknesses of the entire spectrum of the tiny guitar family.
Thus, though each have their benefits, utilizing the unassailable middle path of the Masters & the ancient art of modern glyphination (*The author may be the last living practitioner, so don’t look that up) – pending any additional pertinent information, you have selected the (Pretty) Concert Ukulele – Codename: Ukai.
Congratulations, & happy playing.
Jaii is the Chronicle corespondent for issues that fall under the purview of psychiatry, military/intelligence, & philosophy of mind. Also sometimes we just make him write stuff for the blog.
JJR (2014). Operation Ukai: I Am The Ukai, Chronicle of Letters. June (5), 03, Ed 3.