Kickstarter for a rugged, durable, plastic ukulele

Posted in Ukulele News on August 28th, 2012 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

I've said it before.  Sure, everyone loves a beautiful, handcrafted and high quality ukulele.  But, when you play an instrument as portable as the ukulele, it seems like a shame if you aren't actually taking it anywhere.  In the past, my favorite portable ukuleles were my Mahalo Economy ukuleles.  I mean, if they get crushed or warped or I accidentally drop it in the river, it only cost me like $20 to begin with.  So, it's not the end of the world or anything.  Well, if traveling with a ukulele sounds appealing to you, then you should check out (and FUND) this Kickstarter campaign.  High quality, plastic ukuleles, yo!

The Plastic Ukulele Kickstarter

I'm going to donate $145 because then you get one with geared metal tuners (assuming they reach their funding goal).

 

To Pick or Not To Pick (the Ukulele, that is)

Posted in Ukulele News on July 28th, 2012 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

Now, I don't want to start a big ole flame war with regards to the best way to strum your ukulele.  Especially considering that I definitely don't do it the "Right Way" myself.  As you might have seen from my videos, I play the ukulele by whipping my hand around and having my fingernails strike the strings.  This is actually how I play guitar as well.  The reason for both of these things is that I was originally a bass player who never learned to use a pick.

Many people will argue that the "correct" way to play the ukulele is to hold your hand flat, over the strings (as if you were waving hello to the ukulele or something) then bend your index finger to point it towards the strings.   Now, I guess you are supposed to use that finger to do most of your strumming.  Nuts to that, I'm too old to learn a new thing.

Or so I thought.  You see, I took a little break from ukulele to play bass in a Cure cover band.  And, as it turned out, there were two Cure songs that are picked so fast that I couldn't approximate it correctly using my "hand whipping" method.  Those songs were Primary and Hanging Garden.  You wanna see what I mean?  Check out this live footage of the actual cure.

Good grief!

So, it was settled, I had to teach myself to use a pick and so I did.  Well, now I'm wondering if I can't translate some of this to ukulele?  Especially considering that they only picks I could really make use of were the .50mm versions of the below pick.

I guess I need my picks to be floppy.  So, I was stoked when I found out about these leather ukulele picks!  I'm going to get a few of them and see how they go.  I'm hopeful that the leather pick will translate to a softer picked sound as well.  I'll let y'all know.

HonuPicks Genuine Leather Ukulele Pick Three Packs Premier Leather Ukulele Picks
HonuPicks Genuine Leather Ukulele Pick Three Packs Premier Leather Ukulele Picks $20.00
Time Remaining: 5d 38m
Buy It Now for only: $20.00
S Leather Deigner Plectrum Trio Guitar bass ukulele
S Leather Deigner Plectrum Trio Guitar bass ukulele $3.99
Time Remaining: 5d 15h 54m
Buy It Now for only: $3.99
Leather Ukulele Pick Rawhide Uke Made In USA Real Not Laminated Stiff Play
Leather Ukulele Pick Rawhide Uke Made In USA Real Not Laminated Stiff Play $5.00
Time Remaining: 10d 9h 29m
Buy It Now for only: $5.00
Leather Pick Holder Key Ring + 3 X Ukulele Picks Jumping Cow Gift Pack
Leather Pick Holder Key Ring + 3 X Ukulele Picks Jumping Cow Gift Pack $27.53
Time Remaining: 16d 8h 28m
Buy It Now for only: $27.53
1 X jumping Cow Leather Plectrum pick For Ukulele banjo bass guitar acoustic
1 X jumping Cow Leather Plectrum pick For Ukulele banjo bass guitar acoustic $17.68
Time Remaining: 16d 13h 23m
Buy It Now for only: $17.68
Timber Tones Leather Tones Black Ukulele Pick Single Pick
Timber Tones Leather Tones Black Ukulele Pick Single Pick $5.00
Time Remaining: 18d 1h 5m
Buy It Now for only: $5.00
Timber Tones Leather Tones Brown Ukulele Pick Single Pick
Timber Tones Leather Tones Brown Ukulele Pick Single Pick $5.00
Time Remaining: 18d 1h 6m
Buy It Now for only: $5.00
Timber Tones Leather Tones Tan Ukulele Pick Single Pick
Timber Tones Leather Tones Tan Ukulele Pick Single Pick $5.00
Time Remaining: 18d 1h 8m
Buy It Now for only: $5.00
Timber Tones Leather Tones White Ukulele Pick Single Pick
Timber Tones Leather Tones White Ukulele Pick Single Pick $5.00
Time Remaining: 18d 1h 9m
Buy It Now for only: $5.00
3 x Korala Leather Plectrums Picks for Ukulele Banjo Bass Guitar Acoustic etc
3 x Korala Leather Plectrums Picks for Ukulele Banjo Bass Guitar Acoustic etc $9.60
Time Remaining: 19d 18h 54m
Buy It Now for only: $9.60

Rare breed of the ellusive Swagerty Treholipee (black and red?!)

Posted in Ukulele News on July 27th, 2012 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

So, I got an e-mail from a nice person asking if I had ever seen a Treholipee in black and red.  If they hadn't included pictures then I think I might have misunderstood them to mean the dark orange Treholipee that's one of the common colors.  As far as I knew, Swagerty only made the following colors of Treholipee:  Orange-Red, Yellow, Green and Brown.  With that in mind, I opened the attached pictures and had my mind blown!  Look at how rad this thing is.

Red and Black Swagerty Treholipee - Check out that Fretboard!

Red and Black Swagerty Treholipee - Check out that Fretboard!

Red and Black Swagerty Treholipee - Check out those pegs!

Red and Black Swagerty Treholipee - Check out those pegs!

Red and Black Treholipee - Another Fretboard Shot

Red and Black Treholipee - Another Fretboard Shot

Red and Black Treholipee - The whole package

Red and Black Treholipee - The whole package

 

Have any of you guys ever seen one of these?  What's the deal?  My guess is that it was a custom or limited run that Swagerty did?  I highly doubt that someone did this on their own because the pegs and fretboard look to be plastic (like all of the Treholipees I have ever seen).  Any idea on what these would sell for now?  I would say that Treholipees go for around $150 or so, but I would expect this to fetch more than that.  Anyway, neat!  Let me know if anyone has more information.

If you are looking for Treholipees on eBay, then check out these auctions.

The Singing Treholipee Ukulele By Swagerty Surf Uke
The Singing Treholipee Ukulele By Swagerty Surf Uke $89.00
Time Remaining: 3d 10h 51m
Buy It Now for only: $275.00

Got myself a magical new ukulele

Posted in Ukulele News on July 27th, 2012 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

Alright folks, as you might remember from my post, "Yessir, we got ourselves a real band!", my new project is called "Shane Hickey and his Magical Ukulele.... and Jerry".  Well, to really sell a name like that, my ukulele better be pretty freaking awesome.  Also, I'm going to need something that will take the focus off of my playing.  Cause otherwise folks might wonder why they just shelled out $3 to see a couple of hacks.  Heh.

Well, as luck would have it, I found a fella who makes magical instruments.  There is a local luthier named Ryan Rukavina and he does some pretty magical work.  I got wind that he was making a couple of Teleukes (Solid body electric ukuleles patterned after the Fender Telecaster.  When I heard about them, I asked him to keep me up to date on the projects because I was probably interested.  By "probably interested" of course I mean, insanely interested.

So, I was pretty much on cloud nine yesterday when I dropped by Ryan's shop to pick up my new Teleukulele!  I will post some videos very soon so you can hear how great it sounds but, until then, you can feast your eyes on this baby.

Rukavina Teleuke

Rukavina Teleuke

Here's more good news.  If you are looking for your own custom electric ukulele, then look no further.  Ryan also made a brunette to the blonde that I purchased.  Check out the eBay auctions below and you will see it listed with some more of his creations.

RUKAVINA 3 THREE STRING CIGAR BOX GUITAR AWESOME
RUKAVINA 3 THREE STRING CIGAR BOX GUITAR AWESOME $799.95
Time Remaining: 20d 21h 36m
Buy It Now for only: $799.95

Yessir, we got ourselves a real band!

Posted in Ukulele Videos on June 27th, 2012 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

First off, let me apologize for the total lack of posts for the past few months. It's true, I'm a lazy jerk. But, let's not dwell on it. I've got some exciting news and I want to share it right up in yer face!

See, I was working with some fellas on a Cure cover project (in which I played bass) and we wanted to do a show as a bit of a teaser before our real show. Dave, who was the man behind our Cure cover band, asked if I wanted to do some ukulele stuff to open the show. Now, I've played many a show with different bands (playing either bass or guitar), and I've played ukulele in front of lots of folks around the campfire, but I don't think I'd ever played a ukulele "show" at a bar or venue. So, I was pretty stoked and nervous.

I said yes to Dave but immediately decided that the ukulele project couldn't just be me. I needed a band! So, I turned to my buddy Jerry (who had once accompanied me on drums around a campfire "show" in the recent past) and asked if he wanted to be a part of this here thing. I sent him links to the songs that I wanted to do and also showed him this Weird Al video to give him some ideas for drums.

Next thing I knew, I had both a drummer and also a drummer who used a suitcase as his drumset. Total magic! We practiced a total of two times and decided that was enough preparation. We hadn't really decided on a name for the band, but we are now known as "Shane Hickey and his Magical Ukulele.... and Jerry". I think you can probably see where that is going. Anyway, nameless and flush with two complete practices, we were now ready to rock the Bejeebus out of the VFW.

Apparently, though, Jeebus had something else in mind because our little town was crushed under a mighty blizzard that night. It turned out to be a mixed blessing, though. Sure, many folks didn't come down to the show because they didn't care to spend 2 hours digging their car out of their own driveway. But, the folks who made it to the show certainly didn't want to drive in those conditions again, so we had ourselves a captive audience! Thankfully, my foxy wife was onhand with her camera to record much of the show. Now you can feel like you were actually there!

UPS Girl:

Automobile:

Portland Man:

Santa Claus Needed a Drink:

Trailer Park Moms:

Megan Lannegan:

Moderation Town:

Drank Too Much Today:

Punk rock Friends (are broke):

There was another song or two that evening but I can't post everything because there is still a chance that my Mom will read this and the other songs are pretty offensive. Heh.

Video: Dance Hall Days – a Wang Chung cover

Posted in Ukulele Tabs, Ukulele Videos on December 8th, 2011 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

You know how it is. You have some songs that are just touchstones. Every time you hear them they transport you back to a certain place in time or maybe just trigger your brain to release extra serotonin or something. Well, for me, one of those touchstones is Dance Hall Days by Wang Chung. If you aren't familiar, check out this video. Note, there are two videos for this song, but the following video is better for reasons listed below the video.

1. Gum-chewing violin player looking directly into your soul
2. Sweaters!
3. Sweaters tucked into pleated pants!
4. You can almost hear the video director's instructions to the band. "Ok guys, I need you to look like condescending pricks who are laughing over some hilarious inside joke. Can you do that?"

Sadly, my video has none of that.

Here are my corrected tabs.

 Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days
 tabs by Ukulele Guy

Note: Except for the Chorus, play the F, C and G like so:
F - 2030
C - 0033
G - 0232
 
 F  C  G  F  C  G  F  C  G  F  C  G 

[Verse]
 F              C            G
Take your baby by the hand
 F              C            G
And make her do a high hand stand
 F              C            G
Take your baby by the heel
 F                       C            G
And do the next thing that you feel

[Refrain]:
(play single note)
        F   C G  
We were so in phase
        F    C    G
In our dance hall days
        F    C   G
We were cool on craze
(play chords again)
    F   C        C5       G
When I, you, and everyone we knew
        F     E        A        B     C
Could believe, do, and share in what was true
[Chorus]
             F  C  G                        F  C  G 
Oh, I said             Dance hall days love

[2nd Verse]
F              C      G
Take your baby by the hair
F                      C           G
And pull her close and there there there
F              C      G
Take your baby by the ears
    F             C       G
And play upon her darkest fears

[Refrain]

[Longer Chorus]
             F  C  G                        F  C  G 
Oh, I said              Dance hall days love

                F  C  G                        F  C  G 
Dance hall days            Dance hall days love

[3rd Verse]
   F              C      G
So take your baby by the wrist
    F               C      G
And in her mouth an amethyst
    F               C           G
And in her eyes two sapphires blue
    F                C          G
And you need her and she needs you
    F                C          G
And you need her and she needs you
    F                C          G
And you need her and she needs you
    F                C          G
And you need her and she needs you
    F            C  G
And you need her... and she needs you

[Refrain]

[Chorus]
             F  C  G                        F  C  G 
Oh, I said             Dance hall days love

                F  C  G                        F  C  G 
                         Dance hall days love

                F  C  G                        F  C  G 
dance hall days           Dance hall days love

                F  C  G                        F  C  G 
dance hall days           Dance hall days love 

Origami Folding Ukulele

Posted in Ukulele News on December 2nd, 2011 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

Well, I somehow stumbled upon this little slice of rad pie.  Heh, I say "stumbled" but you know full well that it's more like "obsessively searching".  Anyway, this bird-shirted origami expert designed a kit so that you too can own your own folding Ukulele!  Sure, it's pretty easy to travel with a ukulele, but wouldn't it be easier if the entire neck folded into the body of the ukulele?  Yup, I thought so.  Check out these pictures.

Origami Folding Ukulele

Origami Folding Ukulele

Origami Folding Mini Ukulele

Origami Folding Mini Ukulele

Pardon me while I wipe the drool off of my mouth.  The frustrating thing for me is how the hell am I ever going to be able to own EVERY unique ukulele out there if geniuses like this guy keep making more?!  Anyway, check out this video that explains how you can fold this baby up.

Sadly, if you wanted one of these before Christmas, you needed to have placed your order already.  But, what better thing to spend all that Xmas loot your parents are going to send you, right?

Adventure Time with Swagerty Ukuleles

Posted in Ukulele Videos on December 1st, 2011 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

I can't believe I haven't made a video with my Kookalele or Surfalele yet.  Blasphemy!  In my defense, I think I was waiting for the new strings to come in.  But, I couldn't resist it any longer.  So, here is a quick video that shows you 3 out of the 4 "Kooky Ukes" from Swagerty.  Don't hold your breath for the 4th one (The Lil' Guitar).  I saw one on eBay recently and it was like $600.  Oof.

Oh yeah, I apologize for the crazy noise during parts of the video.  That is what it sounds like when someone (in this case, my foxy wife) runs the vacuum cleaner in the room above my office.

Oh yeah, if you don't recognize that song, then you should check out this madness.  And, if you like the look of these title sequence then you should totally start watching this show.  It rules!

Meet the World’s Largest Playable Ukulele!

Posted in Ukulele News on December 1st, 2011 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

I'm not exactly sure how I found this. Oh wait, yeah I am. So, I setup an automatic eBay search to tell me whenever a Tangi ukulele gets posted. Why would I do that? Hmm.. maybe you haven't heard of the miniature Tangi ukulele? This thing makes the Kala Pocket Ukulele look like an upright bass.

So, I MUST have one, thus the automatic search.

Well, you can imagine my surprise when my eBay search net caught a whale instead of a minnow. Yup, besides making the world's smallest ukulele, Tangi also makes the world's largest playable ukulele. Look at this freaking thing!

Tangi Giant Ukulele

Tangi Giant Ukulele

It makes an upright bass look like... well, I guess it would still look like an upright bass.  But, this thing is HUGE!  What's more, it's for sale on eBay (click the picture).  But, get ready for disappointment, unless you are some sort of debutante or one of the Koch brothers.   A cool five grand is what it's going to take to get your hands on that baby.  Plus, you still need to drive to Hawaii and get it.  Yes, drive.... floating car.  Duh.  Anyway, here's some more details on this monster.

It weighs 40 lbs and is 6 1/2 feet tall.  Tangi made the ukulele in 1996 for Tangi Tully's birthday.  It took 27 Tangi employees a full month to build it.  This giant ukulele is completely tunable and playable.  The tuners were custom machined.  The body of this massive ukulele is mahogany and the fretboard and bridge are ebony.  The white inlay is made of ox bone and the inlay is mother of pearl.  In short, this isn't a cheap decoration.  This is a freaking work of art.  Now, give me money so I can buy it.

Video: When You’re Young and In Love – Stephin Merritt

Posted in Ukulele Tabs, Ukulele Videos on November 2nd, 2011 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

As you probably all know, I'm an unabashed Stephin Merritt groupie. Magnetic Fields, Gothic Archies, you name it. I like it all. I just can't get enough of his gloomy pop melodies. So, of course I was going to buy the new record, Obscurities.

This was right around my birthday, that I went looking.  And, sure enough, when I tried to purchase the CD, Amazon warned me that someone might have already bought it for me.  Eh?!  Huzzah!  Turns out it was my sweet peach of a wife.  Anyway, the whole record is pretty good, but two songs, in particular, really stand out.  The first is the more electronic version of "I don't believe you" (a folkier version having been released on the "I" record).  The second highlight of the record is a previously unreleased song called "When you're young and in love".  And, that's the song I can't get outta my blasted head.  So, I attempted to exorcise it through ukulele video.

Since I couldn't find any chords for this song already posted out there, I came up with the following arrangement.  The only questionable chord in there is Dm7.  But, I didn't have the CD handy when I did this so I couldn't really compare it.  When I listen to it again, I'll update these chords if that Dm7 sounds goofy.

When You're Young and In Love
by Stephin Merritt

Tabs by Ukulele Guy

C   - 0003
G   - 0232
Am  - 2000
Em  - 4432
F   - 0201
Dm7 - 2213 

        C                        G
You can teeter on the brink of a precipice
Am                 Em
Ov'r an infinitely deep abyss
F                    C
And somehow not even notice this
                         G
When you're young and in love

        C                   G
You can grow a little older every day
Am                     Em
Watch your stupid life wasting away
F                     C
Somehow everything is a-ok
                         G
When you're young and in love

                F
But when you're not,
             C
The poisoned fangs of time
   G
Become quite plain
            F
When you're not,
          C
It almost seems a crime
Dm7       G
Not to go insane

You can whirl and twirl on the world's carousel
Hurdle round and round, and feel quite well
Never even knowing you're in hell
When you're young and in love

You can know the world has nothing left to give
Be condemned to die, content to live,
And be happy--if and only if, you're young and in love

But when you're not,
The poisoned fangs of time
Become quite plain
When you're not,
It almost seems a crime
Not to go insane

You can teeter on the brink of a precipice
(A precipice!)
Ov'r an infinitely deep abyss
(A deep abyss!)
And somehow not even notice this
When you're young and in love

You can grow a little older every day
(Old, every day!)
Watch your stupid life wasting away
(Wasting away!)
Somehow everything is a-ok
When you're young and in love