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

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.

The Singing Treholipee (the surfing man’s ukulele)

You know, I've always been looking for one of these, but they don't seem to come up on eBay all that often. The other day I was right in the middle of a project and suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue, I thought "Treholipee!" and instantly ran over to eBay. Sure enough, someone was selling one for a great price (probably because it needs some love). I snapped that baby up and now I'll see if I can restore it a little bit.

If you didn't know about these strange instruments, they were marketed to surfers in the 60s. It came with a strap so you could wear it on your back and it has the huge headstock so you can dig it into the sand and it'll stay put while you are doing all your surfing stuff. Here, check out this video I made about my new one:

If you know anything about these instruments, I'd love to talk to you. And/or if you are a crafty person who might have some ideas as to how I'm going to replace that tuning paddle, I'd love to hear it!

Oodles of Mahalo Ukuleles (Ya know, for kids!)

So, I'm not sure my office has ever looked this fun before.  Dig it:

Mahalo Ukuleles for Kids
Mahalo Ukuleles for Kids

Did I really buy 8 Mahalo Ukuleles?  Yup.

Did I get a discount?  Nope.

Are all of these Ukuleles for me?  Sadly, nope.

I'm teaching a ukulele class for the kid's of our local Flagship program.  I asked them how many ukuleles they had and I think they only have like 2-3 to work with but there are going to be like 13 kids or something?  So, scrounging together my own ukuleles, I realized that I needed to buy some more.

That's what led me to 8 shiny new Mahalo ukuleles on my office floor.  I'm going to be donating these to the flagship program in the hopes that they can use them over and over again.  And, I'm going to have to admit, I'm going to be sad to see these little babies go.  They've been making me smile all dang day.

My plan for the kids is to show them a few chords and talk about having fun with music and then teach them Big Rock Candy Mountain and/or Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, by the Flaming Lips.  Hopefully we can get through both.  I really wanted to tackle Livin' Thing by ELO, but there are a fair amount of tricky chords in there.

Here is the modified version of Big Rock Candy Mountain that I'm going to be using:
C - 0003
F - 2010
G7 - 0212

"Big Rock Candy Mountain" (Modified by Ukulele Guy)

One [C]evening as the sun went down
And the campfires all were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hikin',
And he said, "Boys, I'm not a-turning.
I'm [F]headed for a [C]land that's [F]far a[C]way,
Be[F]side the crystal [G7]fountains,
So [C]come with me, we'll go and see,
The Big Rock [G7]Candy [C]Mountains.

Verse 1:
"[C]In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
There's a [F]land that's fair and [C]bright,
Where the [F]french fries grow on [C]bushes,
And you [F]sleep out every [G7]night,
Well [C]all the schools are empty,
And the [F]sun shines every [C]day,
On the [F]birds and the [C]bees
And the [F]candy bar [C]trees,
The [F]lemonade [C]springs
Where the [F]bluebird [C]sings,
In the [G7]Big Rock Candy [C]Mountains.

Verse 2:
"[C]In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You [F]never change your [C]socks,
And the [F]little streams of [C]chocolate milk
Come a-[F]tricklin' down the [G7]rocks,
The [C] teachers do your homework
And your [F]parents clean your [C]room.
There's a [F]lake of [C]stew,
And of [F]soda [C]too,
You can [F]paddle all a[C]round 'em
In a [F]big ca[C]noe,
In the [G7]Big Rock Candy [C]Mountains.
In the [G7]Big Rock Candy [C]Mountains.

Redneck Jellyfish – A rad game with my music!

So, let's talk about Muses.  You might expect that a Muse would be a foxy Greek godess, or maybe a supermodel or maybe even Jodie Foster (Hay, maybe you are inspired to shoot a president, right?).  Well, in my case, my muses are a rad southern dude (who makes incredible pottery and ceramics and who also happens to write code) and his amazing wife.

Keith and his wife Gina (aka Gi Gi) have appeared in music I've been a part of for many years.  Going back to Volumen, Gina was the inspiration for the "That's niiiiice" in Underwater.  Years later, Keith and Gina warranted at least 12 lines of the PWT song BBQ Funk.  Most recently, Keith created a freaking rad video game called Redneck Jellyfish and he asked me to make the soundtrack for it.

Yup, you heard me right.  After a lifelong addiction to video games and a recent obsession with the Ukulele, I was finally able to dip that chocolate into that peanut butter.  I was part of making a video game!  I can die a happy man now.  Here's a trailer for the game:

When Keith first asked me about it, he wanted to know what I would charge him.  Charge?!  Pshaw.  I feel like I should have been paying him for the privilege.  Especially considering that he designed the original Volumen logo (which you can see at Volutunes) and also the logo for my wife's toy store (Walking Stick Toys, y'all!).  He didn't charge us for either of those so money was not changing hands.

Well, Keith got the last laugh by naming the main character in Redneck Jellyfish after my youngest son, August.  Yup, the jellyfish is named "Gus Hickey".  RAD.

Keith created this game with a lot of help from his amazing kids Greyson (age 12) and Iva (age 11).  The concept was based on one of Greyson's drawings and I think Iva had a lot to do with the design of "Gus" and also some of the other art in the game.  Gus's voice, in the game, is 100% Greyson and it's pretty freaking hilarious!  Also, his crazy sayings are probably going to be tough for you to figure out if you happen to have been born north of the Mason-Dixon line. 😉

Anyway, if you have an ipad/ipod touch/iphone then y'all should shell out the measly $.99 and get this rad game.  There are 64 freaking levels!  So, it'll definitely be worth your money.  Also, I think the most recent version posts your scores to Facebook so you can get in some bragging rights.

I'll make another post soon with tabs for the main song in the game, in case you want to play along with your uke. 😉  In the version of the song that appears in the video game, I was playing my aNueNue Banjolele and also my 1974 Gibson EB-0 bass.

Click here to download Redneck Jellyfish!

LEGO Ukulele! Total Nerdy Awesomeness!

Holy RAD!  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the only thing more Nerdily Awesome than a ukulele made out of Legos would be be playing strip Dungeons and Dragons with Princess Leia (wearing her slave costume, of course).  So, since that's probably never going to happen for you, at least the Lego ukulele thing in still real.


Lego Ukulele

Head over to Makezine to learn more about these little slice of radness.  And, if you aren't already a subscriber, you should consider it.  It's easily my favorite magazine in the world.  I think there have been 2-3 articles on how to make your own cigar box guitar as well as all sorts of bitchin' electronics howtos.  If you have nerdy leanings and you aren't already reading this magazine then you should be ashamed of yourself. 😉