Ukulele Video: Lisa Hannigan ‘Knots’ (it’s like skittles bukkake)

Posted in Ukulele Videos on November 1st, 2011 by Uke Guy – 1 Comment

I just randomly stumbled across this video recently.  It looks like it was also featured on NPR, so I'm not sure how I missed it there.  Anyway, it's Lisa Hannigan (who I might need to learn more about).  She has an amazing voice and she's Irish.  So, that's a win/win.  Oh yeah, and she plays ukulele!

I guess they filmed this video in Dublin and they did it in one take.  Once you see the video you'll see why she might have been reluctant to do a second take.  It seems like they start off having the different paint represent different instruments but then it sorta goes haywire.  Anyway, it's a nice little song, even if the ukulele isn't the main component.

Swagerty Treholipee Paddle Repair

Posted in Ukulele News on September 16th, 2011 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

As I mentioned in an earlier swagerty post, I have a Treholipee that has a broken tuning paddle.  As I also mentioned in that post, I got an e-mail (from a fella named Larry) describing how he fixed a similar problem.  I wanted to post it here (with Larry's blessing) so other enterprising folks can make use of this info.

If you recall, Larry managed to pick up a Treholipee for a $1 at a garage sale (for this, I will always be jealous of him).  His Treholipee, like mine, is missing a string as well as a tuning paddle.  Now, Larry is using fishing line to replace his strings.

Here's a handy tip for you and all those fellow Uke fans out there who
need replacement strings. Nylon fishing line of various weights works very
well once you let it stretch in a few days (and it costs a WHOLE lot less!).
It just takes a little patience needing to retune a few times. Pete Seeger
talked about replacing banjo strings with nylon monofilament fishing line
starting with 10 lb. test through 50 lb. test depending on the diameter
needed.

If you don't fancy fishing line, though, you can get Worth tenor ukulele strings in lengths of 46" and that should work for you.

Anyway, back to the task of fixing the broken tuning paddle.  Larry has found himself with a surplus of chopsticks.  And, he was able to find a chopstick of the appropriate diameter to fit right in the hole for the Treholipee tuning paddle.  Check out this rad picture:

Treholipee Improvided Paddle Repair

Treholipee Improvided Paddle Repair

Now all he has to do is cut it to length and stain it black.  I should mention that another suggestion I got on paddle repair was to use a clay mold of one of the other paddles and possibly cast it out of plastic.  If I can get motivated, I might try that out and I'll let everyone know how it goes.

When I got my first Treholipee I was a little unsure about how to tune it.  I've since found out that the Treholipee was meant to be tuned as a "tenor ukulele, tenor banjo, plectrum banjo, tenor guitar or baritone uke."  Larry, being a banjo player, went this route:

I decided that I did'nt need to learn new chords if I would simply string it like the top 4 strings of my banjo, open G (DGBD). Good idea, but much too low. Some strings buzzed. A little research showed that some uke's are tuned to an open C but not the same as a banjo open C. I put a capo on my banjo at the 5th fret and found that GBEG was the open C tuning that would let me take advantage of my knowledge and still play this sweet little instrument like a pro. All of my wife's doubts were swept away when I serenaded her with "Tonight you belong to me".

Awesome!



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Time to hurt some feelings – Portland Man by Ukulele Guy

Posted in Ukulele Songs, Ukulele Videos on September 15th, 2011 by Uke Guy – 1 Comment

I'd like to consider myself as a fairly nice guy.  I mean, I'm not a totally sociopath at least.  I honestly want other people to be happy and whatnot.  But, all that said, I can definitely tell you that as I age (poorly) I find that I have less and less tolerance for douchebaggery.  Odd... for some reason my spellcheck is telling me that douchebaggery isn't a word.  Clearly this thing is faulty.

Anyway, despite all of my best intentions.  I often find myself writing "mean" songs.  Some of the oldest Volumen songs (and nearly all the PWT songs) are mean to some person or other.  I guess I just can't help being an asshole.  But, on the opposite side of it.  It never hurts to take yourself less seriously, right?  I mean, I'm more than willing to have it thrown right back in my face.

So, why all the setup?  Well, being a "weirdo" into "weird music" I have lots of "weird" friends (surprisingly enough).  Well, I love all of those weirdos and the weirdos that they introduce me into in other town. But, in my journeys and tours (especially in Seattle and Portland) I've noticed a particular kind of (slightly disingenuous) weirdo.  So, I attempted to document this character in song.  I probably should have written another verse or two, but you know how I roll.  I'd rather just blast a song out and then never look back.  So, let's blast away, shall we?

If you feel like playing along.  Here's the tabs.  NOTE:  In my head the parentheses are a call and response type of thing.  So, I'm hoping my brother will sing those parts for me if we manage to play this live ever.

 

Portland Man by Ukulele Guy

A
He got tight pants (high waters)
C
white belt (doesn't matter)
D
He got a squiggly design on his v-neck shirt
C                         D7
5 o'clock shadow and his feelings are hurt

A
He's got principles (I believe him)
C
LAST YEAR HE WAS ALMOST TOTALLY VEGAN
D
He heard about your favorite band before you did
C D7
you read it in mojo (he already knew it)

twirly C             A
He's a..... Portland man
twirly C   F G
Portland man
He's a..... Portland man

twirly C D7
A
He's got lady friends (ad infinitim)
C
longboards (oh, he'll ride 'em)
D
he knows a little place that has the best soy latte
C                          D7
he's got perfect hair, and glitter on his body

He rocks facial hair (with irony)
he digs mp3 piracy
his cigarette brand? (american spirits)
you like his messenger bag? don't get near it

chorus

He's a...
C                                  E7
adorable hipster, but he's gaining weight
F                           G
because that pabst blue ribbon tastes so great

My addiction now has it’s own addiction (Swagerty!)

Posted in Ukulele News on September 14th, 2011 by Uke Guy – 1 Comment

So, apparently it's not enough that I'm addicted to ukuleles and the collection of said ukuleles.  As you might recall, I recently got my hands on a Swagerty Singing Treholipee.  Now, unfortunately, mine is a little janky.  It's missing a tuning paddle (yup, paddle) and a string.  But, that was enough to give me a taste.  Especially after I started to hear back from other Swagerty fans.

One helpful fella (named Rick) informed me that he was the proud owner of 12 Swagerty ukuleles!!  It was at this point that I realized that Swagerty didn't just make the Treholipee.  They had a whole line of, what they called, their Kooky Ukes.  This line included the Treholipee, the Kook-a-la-lee, the surf-a-lele and the double neck kook-a-la-lee.  There is also something called the "Little Guitar"  but I'm not sure if that was considered a Kooky Uke or not.

Before I talk more about that, I wanted to mention that my string dilemma is solved!  Rick tells me that you can buy Worth tenor ukulele strings in 46" and 63" lengths.  And, since the Treholipee is 47" long (in total) the 47" lengths are more than adequate to re-string this baby.  It looks like Elderly Instruments might carry these, so let me know if you have luck getting some there and let them know I sent you.  Maybe they'll hook me up.  Because, something tells me I'm going to be doing a lot of string-buying for Kooky Ukes in the near future.

Now, about my broken tuning paddle, that's a whole 'nother problem.  I've been waiting for one to pop up on eBay, but I imagine that's going to increasingly rare.  Rick suggested taking a clay mold and casting a new one (maybe out of plastic).  I might also bug some of my wood-working friends and see if they can't put something together for me.  Another fella contacted me and let me know he bought a Treholipee at a garage sale for $1.  Grrrr... but he had the same problem of a broken tuning paddle.  But, he fixed that by using (get this) a chopstick!  Awesome!

So, back to my addiction.  Today, I found myself buying another Treholipee.  Yup, that's right.  I bought another one and this one has all of its paddles and strings!  So, while I anxiously await my Treholipee's arrival I can tell you what I've learned so far.

Swagerty was a copy started, and owned, by Ancil Swagerty.  It sounds like he started out making guitars and ukuleles more as art or wall decorations and then was convinced to turn them into playable instruments.  His company (whose full name was "Swagerty Specialties Company, Artistry in Woods") made instruments, oddities and other things from the 50s through the 70s.  Here's what I've found out about some of those instruments so far:

Treholipee - Ancil was granted a patent for the Treholipee in 1966.  I think I read that roughly 60,000 of these little babies were manufactured.  The Treholipee seems to have been the flagship for Swagerty's Kooky Ukes line of instruments.  Both the Treholipee and the Kook-a-Lele had long headstocks and the idea was the surfers could stick the instruments upside-down in the sand when it was time for surfin'.  The Treholipee is 47" long and, as far as I can tell, they can in yellow, orange or green.  You might wonder where the name came for this little beauty?  Well, it seems like the "Tre" is for three.  The "Holi" is for holes (or holy, get it).  And I have no idea what the "pee" is all about.  Here's a picture from the Frets.com Ukulele museum.  You see, the sound holes are those three little music notes.

Swagerty Singing Treholipee

Swagerty Singing Treholipee

 

 

Kook-a-La-Lee - The Kook-a-La-Lee seems to have been a close relation to the Treholipee.  The main differences are that it was two inches shorter (at 45") and the headstock was straight and not curved.  Another difference is that the Kook-a-La-Lee has a heart-shaped sound hole and not the three music note holes sported by the Treholipee.  Here's a picture from Eldery Instruments.Swagerty Kook-a-La-Lee

Double-neck Kook-a-La-Lee - There was, apparently a variation of the Kook-a-La-Lee that had two necks!!  From what I've read, these were made specially for friends and were never marketed to the general public.  Besides having two necks, they are also different from the standard Kook-a-La-Lee in that the sound holes are round and not heart-shaped.  The decal on the body also just says Kook-a-La-Lee.  I'm almost certainly going to have to kill someone to get one of these.  Here's a picture from the Frets.com ukulele museum.

Double-neck Kook-a-La-Lee

Surf-a-Lele - The Surf-a-Lele was like a compact version of the Kook-a-La-Lee.  I think the idea was that it needed to be smaller so that you could play it while you were surfing.  Now, how anyone was going to hear you over the raging surf, or what was going to happen to your Surf-a-Lele when you fell into the water?  Well, I can't answer that.  He's a picture from Elderly Instruments.

Swagerty Surf-a-Lele

Swagerty Surf-a-Lele

Little Guitar - From what I've read so far, this little number is the white Sasquatch of the Kooky-Ukes line.  Meaning, it's crazy rare.  That's weird to me, because it probably has the most "normal" appearance of the whole line.  These made their appearance somewhere between 1964 and 1968.

Swagerty Little Guitar

Swagerty Little Guitar

Ok.  That's enough lesson time for today.  Next time we can talk about the knock-offs that were spawned by the Kooky Uke series.  That would include the Polk-a-Lay-Lee and the Wander-Le-Le.  Time enough for that later, though.



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Kala S-U-B (Subductive U-bass)

Posted in Ukulele News on September 2nd, 2011 by Uke Guy – 2 Comments

Freaking Kala does it again.  What did they do?  They made me NEED yet another ukulele-related instrument.  I know, I have a problem.  Or, rather, I have a disease and the only cure is more UKULELE!  (and beer)

Anyway, check out a picture of the new Kala Subductive Solid Body U-bass.

Kala S-U-B Solid U-Bass Sunburst

Kala S-U-B Solid U-Bass Sunburst

Now if that doesn't get yer juices flowin' then you might already be dead.

So, I guess they call this baby the Subductive because of that word's relation to the Mariana Trench.  Get it?  The deepest place on Earth.  Well, if you've ever heard the apparent black magic of the low end that comes out of these U-basses then you would definitely get the reference.

I'm hoping to get my hands on one, and if I do, I'll upload some videos of it.  Now, where did I leave my bank-robbing mask and gloves?

Destroyed Guitarron and the Kala U-Bass

Posted in Ukulele News on September 1st, 2011 by Uke Guy – 2 Comments

So, one of my biggest shortcomings is my memory.... or, rather, complete lack of long-term memory.  So, lately I've been heavily relying on my Google calendar.  That way, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, if I happen to be lucky enough to remember something, I pretty much enter it in my calendar right away.  Sometimes, I need a little help making sense of what entered, but it's better than nothing.

So, where I'm going with this is that I was at the grocery store and I remembered that my brother, Bryan, had always really wanted a giant acoustic bass guitar.  What he really wanted was a bass like Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes plays.

But, I'm pretty sure that's a custom job.  Or, at least, I couldn't figure out where to get one.  So, I started thinking.  Ya know, I bet he'd like one of those giant mariachi bass guitars.  So, I put it in my calendar for August 1st (his birthday is August 17th) and I promptly forgot all about it.

Fast forward to August 1st, 2011.  My Google calendar tells me that I need to "buy giant bass guitar for Bryan".  So, I do some research and discover that those mariachi bass guitars are called guitarrons.  What is cooler than that is the fact that they have 6 strings and weird tuning.  I was roughly Bryan's age when I first got my ukulele and it was right before the birth of my first son.  Well, Bryan and his wife are expecting their first baby sometime in October.  So, I thought maybe this guitarron could launch him down a new path in life and figuring out how to play it would open his mind to new ideas.  Long story short, the ukulele changed my life and I was hoping to give him a similar experience.

So, I order a guitarron on eBay and when I get it... there are problems.

What's worse is that the replacement guitarron that they sent me also had problems.  I think the brand is just trash, which isn't what you would expect for nearly $400.  Well, now I'm in a pickle.  I got the replacement guitarron on August 18th... the freaking day after Bryan's birthday.  So, even though I started off ahead of the curve thanks to my new calendar-brain, I still ended up blowing it.

Almost.

Guess what saved the day?   The Kala U-bass!  Although, that almost didn't happen.  I called my local music store because I know they sell U-basses, but they informed me they were all sold out.  They checked with Kala and I guess they are back-ordered for like 4 months?!  Crap!  So, I headed to eBay and I found plenty of left-handed U-basses, but only one Spruce right-handed U-bass.  I snapped that mother right up.  Now, I should mention that there were some mahogany right-handed U-basses available but those are nearly $550, I think?  I love my brother, but I apparently don't $550-love him.  Heh.

What's neat is that the U-bass I bought for him is fretless, so it sounds like a freaking upright bass.  It rules!  Now I can finally play Lovecats by the Cure without having to bend strings.  Wait.. what do you mean it's his bass?  Crap!  Heh.  I'm sure he'll let me play it.

Our next step is to get him a battery-powered amp.  You see, although the U-Bass sounds amazing, it's not terribly loud.  So, if you were rocking it at a campfire, you should probably have a little amp.  Right now we are looking at the Roland MicroCube Bass Amp or a Pignose HOG-30 amp.  I'll letcha know what we decide on.  I'm sure we'll make some videos after we get the amp.  So then you'll know what a U-bass sounds like through a little battery powered amp.

Video: Dead Puppies on a 6-String Uke

Posted in Ukulele Videos on August 17th, 2011 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

Well, if you ever wanted to know what Dead Puppies sounded like when it was being performed by a traveling minstrel on a lute.  I can help you out.  Well, I don't actually have a lute, but I assume it sounds much like my 6-string ukulele.

What's that?  You don't know what Dead Puppies is?  Holy crap.  Didn't you listen to the Dr. Demento show on the radio, growing up?  What's that?  You don't know what the radio is?  Freaking kids today and your fancy interwebs and whatnot.

Here's a live version of Ogden Edsl rocking Dead Puppies.  I dunno about you guys, but I totally want to hang with these dudes.  Maybe it's the beard talking.

And here is my bathroom version of Dead Puppies.

This song is just one of those touchstones for me.  I can't explain in.  In fact, my brothers and I are working on a ridiculous requirements for our funerals.  For example, the other brothers have to have Coolio hair, or everyone at the funeral must listen to 3 hours of my old 4-track recordings.... etc.  Well, I'm pretty sure Dead Puppies is going to need to be played at my funeral and my ghost will ensure that everyone is singing along.

Video: 6-String Ukulele Sound Comparisons

Posted in Ukulele Videos on August 2nd, 2011 by Uke Guy – 2 Comments

So, the night before I went on a little mini-vacation to Wisconsin, I got my 6-string Aquila string set in the mail.  So, I strung up my new OU-26T 6-String Tenor Ukulele so I could show you guys how it sounds with the proper strings on there.  I think you'll agree that the sound differences between my 6-string tenor uke and my low-G tenor uke are pretty dang dramatic!

If I don't seem as perky in this video, it's because my wife and two boys had been gone for over a week at this point.  So, if you have kids, then you know how that goes.  It's like 2-3 days of late nights, beer, bad movies and video games and then the rest of the days are spent moping around the house.  I honestly missed the sound of the boys screaming at each other.  Heh.

Also, I'd thank you to not look up my shorts during the whole video.

Video: Brian Eno’s Needles in the Camel’s Eye on 6-string Uke

Posted in Ukulele Songs, Ukulele Videos on July 29th, 2011 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

So, I was so freaking excited after getting my new Oscar Schmidt OU-26T Tenor 6-String ukulele that I was pretty much making up reasons for putting it in a video.  Case in point, last Friday night I went to a get-together at my brother's house.  Beers and ribs were enjoyed by all and then I made my way on home with no definite plans.  Hrm.  What to do?  How bouts a hop on my old friend and enemy, Facebook.  Next thing I knew, it was 4:30am.  You see, here's the thing.  Colin, my brother, does this thing on Facebook that he calls CTV.  Basically, he drinks beer and posts Youtube videos and pretends that a) he's a DJ (which, in reality, he is) and b) that we are listening (well, sometimes we are).  Well, on Friday me posted something like "CTV is about to start!".  So, I thought it would be hilarious if I suddenly "invented" something called STV and if I pretended that I didn't know what CTV was.  Thus began a mighty Youtube DJ Battle on Facebook and my sobriety was the main casualty.

So, anyway, during the back and forth video attacks between CTV and STV, Colin's CTV posted this video.

Wherein I responded and said that I liked that song when it was called Needles in the Camel's Eye.

I considered that my checkmate.

So, why am I going on and on about this?  Hmm... good question.  Oh yeah, I remember.  You see when I picked up my new 6-string ukulele and heard those octave A strings (slightly out of tune) it popped Needles in the Camel's Eye right into my brain.  That's all the excuse I needed to make a uke video for it.  And, here it is.

This song is real easy to learn, it only has 4 chords.  Here's a quick tab for it.

Needles in the Camel's Eye - Brian Eno

E         A
Those who know
E                 A
They don't let it show
E                  B
They just give you one long life
D          A
And you go, oh oh, oh oh

Goes to show
How winds blow
The weather's fine
And I feel so so-so, so

Birds of prey
With too much to say
Oh what could be my destiny
Another rainy day

Why ask why?
For by the by and by
All mysteries are just more
Needles in the camel's eye

Those who know
They don't let it show
They just give you one long life
And you go, oh oh, oh oh

Why ask why?
For by the by and by
All mysteries are just more
Needles in the camel's eye

The Oscar Schmidt OU-26T 6-string Tenor Ukulele (huzzah!)

Posted in Ukulele News on July 24th, 2011 by Uke Guy – Be the first to comment

So, yesterday was a damn fine day. Two ukulele events coincided with each other and the stars truly aligned for awesomeness. First, the mailman delivered my set of Orcas Low-G tenor strings (which I was going to use for my Lanikai CK-TEQ tenor ukulele). Next, I scored an Oscar Schmidt OU-26T 6-string tenor ukulele for a meager $45 on Craigslist. The guy who was selling it lives in Polson, MT. That's about an hour away from Missoula (where I reside), for those of you who aren't familiar with Montana geography (for shame!). But, as luck would have it, his wife was traveling to our shopping mall yesterday and he sent the uke down with her.

So, beside the fact that I was going to have to intentionally visit the mall, the day was really looking like it was gonna rule. The lady I was meeting suggested we meet at the coffee shop in the center of the mall. I'm sure she naturally assumed that since I was from Craigslist that I was murdering rapist. Heh. So, I met her and had a look at the 6-string tenor and it was in perfect condition. I played it a little bit (long enough to entertain other coffee shop patrons and not so long as to be tossed out of the mall for busking) and something sounded a little weird about it. It looked to me as if he strung it a little bit weird. But, no matter, still a fine deal.

So, when I got it home I realized what he had done. The A and C strings on the OU-26T are supposed to be double strings. But, they are also supposed to be octaves. Now, he had both strings playing the same note and not octaves. The end result being that the smaller gauge string was really "floppy". I did my best to fix it up and, sadly, snapped the C string. The A strings are a real nice octave, though. I just ordered a new set of Aquila 6-string tenor strings, though, so I'll make more videos when I get it strung up properly.

Anyway, here is a video that shows you how a Low-G tenor ukulele sounds and also how the OU-26T sounds with only 5 strings. ;)

I should probably mention, again, that these Orcas strings are really incredible.  Do yourself a favor and get a set to see what I mean.  And, if you have a tenor ukulele, you should definitely get a set of the Low-G strings.  They sound so full and rich.



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