Jake Shimabukuro “Live”

So, pretty much everyone has seen Jake Shimabukuro's "Ukulele Weeps" video on Youtube, right?  If not, go do yourself a favor, it's pretty much mind-blowing.  What I'm wondering, though, is if anyone has any of his CDs?  If so, what's the whole record like?  It looks like his latest release is entitled, "Live" and I see that "While my guitar gently weeps" is on there (as is Michael Jackson's Thriller?!).  I'm just worried that after a while it will be like listening to soft jazz or something?  Or, am I being silly?  I really want to like it.

I spent some time this morning wading through Amazon and I was surprised to see how many releases Jake Shimabukuro has.  Pages and pages of them!  So, either he's

  • incredibly prolific
  • one hundred years old
  • an army of clones

In all three of those scenarios, though, I'm impressed!  So, I guess what I'm asking is can someone give me a recommendation here?  Should I get the live CD or is there a better one?  Thanks y'all!

Live by Jake Shimabukuro
Live by Jake Shimabukuro

Relisted: Crazy Banjolele eBay Deal!

So, when I wrote this post last week, "Banjolele, the hunt begins!", I'm not sure how I missed this auction for a gorgeous Banjo Ukulele.


It took a tweet from UkuleleJim to make me take notice!  This banjolele looks to be in exceptional condition and, as you saw in my earlier post, new ones often go for nearly $500.  Folks, this looks to be a good opportunity to score one of these awesome instruments at a bit of a discount!  Here are some notes from the auction:

This is a concert scale, 8" dia. head banjolele built by WaverlyStreet. Tunable synthetic head (w/ tuning wrench), chrome geared tuners, and polished aluminum arm rest. Slightly spalted oak neck & peghead, stained oak finger board with 15 frets. Strung with Aquila nylon gut strings, tuned GCEA. Sounds great!

Fits in a Hohner Lanikai concert size ukulele case, probably others (no case included).

Best of luck!

Guest Post: Cigar Box Ukuleles with Jon Spencer

Editor's Note: So, on Twitter I was contacted by a friend who's husband makes Cigar Box Ukuleles and, let me tell you, he takes it pretty seriously. After seeing some of his Cigar Box Ukuleles (or CBUs, as he often calls them), I asked him to write a guest post and he happily obliged me. You should also know that he makes custom cigar box ukuleles (and mandolins, dulcimers, guitars, etc) and he's currently taking orders. I'm also trying to convince him to sell some on ebay. But, for the time being, if you want one, you should contact him at "cornfed-groove at hotmail.com". (Just replace the " at " with the @ symbol. I didn't want his e-mail to get harvested by spammer robots or something).  NOTE: Jon is working on a website as well at www.cornfedgrooves.com.

I think we can all agree that it just doesn't get much better than the ukulele.  Not only is it a beautiful and versatile instrument, but when you buy an ukulele, you get more than just an instrument.  When you purchase a ukulele, you not only become part of a rich culture, but you become part of a family.  That's my official, well-written intro...

Cigar Box Ukuleles built by Jonathan Spencer
Cigar Box Ukuleles built by Jon Spencer

Now, I wanna take a few minutes to talk to you about cbu's...that is cigar box ukuleles.  Cbu's are the bomb!  Not only can you have a great sounding instrument, but you can have a really cool, off-the-beaten-path piece of rustic American culture.  Take all the glory of Hawaii in one hand, the historic wonderment of American music in the other, then put your hands together...you'll find that what is born is the raw, screaming beauty of brand new cigar box ukulele.

I own a lot of nice instruments... acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, mountain dulcimer, strumstick, congas, bongos, djembe, harmonicas, and Irish whistle.  The point is that despite all these great instruments, and except for my guitar (which I get paid for), I never play them.  Anyway, there is something really tasty about the old-skool flavor of a quality homemade instrument.  Although they aren't professionally manufactured, if made well, they can be comparable to a good manufactured ukulele in both volume and tone.

I've made a lot of cigar box instruments: ukuleles, mandolins, stick dulcimers, 3 and 4 string guitars (some with magnetic pickups), even a one string cigar box diddly bow...but the ukulele is my favorite.  Everyone has a different style or twist, from the hack hobbyist to the aspiring luthier, and although some are better than others, you have to appreciate people's love of music.   A lot of people buy old ukes, using the tuners, bridge and various parts while bolting the neck onto the box...this is a great way to start.  Yet with basic tools, a little money, and some extra effort, you can make everything except the box.  Myself for instance, I craft the entire neck, headstock, make my own fretted fingerboard, electronics,  etc.   There are a lot of variables in building, and because of that, like traditional ukes, cbu's range in price and quality.

It is my opinion that everyone should own a cigar box instrument whether they make it or purchase it from a craftsman.  Cbu's can be great instruments with unique style.  They make amazing conversation pieces and if you got the guts, I imagine they'll always love you at the local Cracker Barrel!

If anyone is interested, I am always taking orders on ukuleles and other instruments.  I also teach classes on how to do make them, and I am even willing to travel!  Being laid off for 9 months has afforded me the opportunity to travel to scratch a few dimes together.  I offer this class for free to whomever can host and provide a few paying students.  You can contact me for further details.

Video: Sweet Child O’ Mine – The Be Arthurs

Well, after posting my somewhat flawed medley of Sweet Child O' Mine and Baby Elephant Walk I found this crazy version by The Be Arthurs. I don't know anything about these guys, but the fact that they dress up like Angus Young and play ukuleles is pretty damn endearing.

Also, the drummer is sick on the penny whistle!  Enjoy!

Video: Baby Elephant Walk O’ Mine

Ok.  Please be gentle.  I was having a bit of a rough time making this little medley and then I just got too dang busy to finish it.  So, I asked on Twitter and the consensus was to release the sloppy version now and then possibly re-do it, down the road.  So, if you don't like it, don't blame me, just blame jothekendall, radgyle, shelflifecc, lisaandy and spaceshipmark. 😉

In my defense.  I never said I was "Ukulele Badass Guy"... just "Ukulele Guy".  Also... um... it was windy in my office.... and a... a... bug flew in my air.  Plus I have palsy.  There, that outta cover the bases.