Seasons Greetings from Bayside Ukes

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Bayside Ukes has had a great year. We finished the last term with Performance Night playing some great group songs that we had been working on for a while. Well done everyone.

Thanks to everyone who did solos for our entertainment. It was wonderful to hear the contributions of songwriters and some new covers.

The performances were followed by drinks, snacks and lively conversation.

We look forward to more fun times in 2018, whether you are an old hand or fairly new to the ukulele.

Wishing our members and readers a very Happy Festive Season and New Year.

Kat, Bayside Ukes Member

Here’s the wonderful Taimane Gardner and Jazzy Jazz with a festive tune to get you in the mood

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The Lows and Highs of G

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Often when you have two or several ukuleles there is one that you play more than the others. It’s your favorite and it just feels and sounds wonderful. So how do you bring back the passion for your other ukes if they are being neglected?

To make the most of your collection it can simply be a matter of increasing your repertoire and playing the right song for the right uke. Some music sounds better when played on a particular size or type of ukulele (eg resonator or banjolele). But if, like me, you have two ukuleles of the same size and a similar type this won’t make much difference.

I have two concert ukes. I bought the second one because I love the feel and the sound it makes and the size suits me. It is so playable that I was not using my other concert ukulele, which seemed a complete waste. A couple of other members of our group have low G strings on their ukuleles which can give more of a bass sound to a song. So I replaced the high G string on my first use with one of the Aquila Red Series low G strings and it sounds completely different. It’s also great to play with a felt pick, especially on the “boom Dit-ty strum” (see earlier post) and makes the uke more resonant.

The low G works particularly well on a Tenor sized ukulele but you can even put one on a soprano uke. You will have a deeper sound while still playing the chords for the GCEA tuning. A Tenor ukulele with a low G is a great alternative to buying a larger baritone ukulele, especially if you find the fingering too difficult with the change of chord structure necessary for the DGBE tuning.

Have a look on You Tube as there are many videos with a comparison of low and high G strings, as well as reviews for wound and unwound strings.

Now I can switch between ukes depending on the song and am enjoying playing both my ukuleles. So if you feel you have been neglecting one of your ukes, try a low G for a change of sound and some renewed enthusiasm.

Kat

Ukulele Accessories

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There are a great many accessories available to go with the ukulele and enhance your playing.  The Ukulele Hunt website has reviews of many of the types available, so I thought I would just write about what I found to be useful and why.  This may give others some idea of what accessories would suit them.

In a previous post I talked about the types of straps that I prefer so I won’t go into these accessories.  Probably the main accessory that is essential is a tuner.  My two ukuleles have built-in tuners that are really good, but I do keep a Snark clip-on tuner on hand in case of battery failure.  The Snark is easy to use and is not affected by any surrounding noise because it works by detecting vibrations.  These are small tuners and don’t take up much room in your bag or uke case.  There is only one problem.  As I have mentioned before puppies and young dogs will eat them if given half the chance, so beware.  A Snark is not a dog snack.

When playing on your own it is good to have a capo to change the key without changing your fingering.  Although I like to be able to play a song is several keys, sometimes I can’t find exactly the right key to suit my voice without using one that is just too hard for me to play and sing at the same time.  This is when a capo is really useful.  I have one of the Jim Dunlop clip on ones for ukulele and it is quick and easy to fit to the fret board.

Sometimes I like to use a pick.  There are various types of these available for the ukulele.  I have some felt and leather ones.  I know that you should not use hard plastic picks because these can gouge in the ukulele body and the strings.  They also make an irritating clicking sound.  The felt ones for ukulele make the least noise but they are rather thick and large, so I used a guitar pick and traced around this on a felt pick with a ballpoint pen and then cut it down to size.  I found this easier to control when playing and it is less likely to catch between the strings.  The leather ones, while quite large, are thinner and more like a guitar pick so are easy to use and are good if you want a crisper sound.

Ukulele stands are useful, especially if you have more than one ukulele.  I have a small folding one.  If I have only one ukulele with me, I usually rest it in a chair when I’m not playing.  With this type of stand you do need to be careful that the uke is balanced correctly or it can topple over, which defeats its purpose.  My ukes are concert sized and if you have a larger sized uke you would definitely need a bigger stand.

A non-essential accessory that is great fun is a finger shaker.  You slide it on one of the fingers on your strumming hand and it shakes to the rhythm as you play.  This works really well on fast songs.

Another great thing to have is a kazoo.  When there is a brass section in a song this makes a fun substitute.  And if your kazoo goes soggy and won’t work, replace the insert with a piece of tissue paper or use the transparent window material of an old envelope.  It is also a good idea to hang the kazoo from a cord around your neck then you can spit it out when playing and it’s time to sing again without hitting someone.

I have found all of the above accessories to be worthwhile purchases, but do check out what is available.  You might find something that you like better.

Happy strumming.

Kat,     Bayside Ukes member

Ukulele Songs About Ukuleles

Ukulele songs about ukuleles.  This is a great genre for groups so I thought I’d have a look on the net to see how many I could find.  There are a number of songs from the 1920’s and 30s but not so many from later periods, unless they are just unrecorded, unavailable on the net or only found in ukulele music books.

From the early days of the uke, some of the songs mentioned on the Ukulele Hunt website (Ukulele Songs) are Ukulele Moon and Ukulele Island, but I could not find them in cyberspace.  Pity, they sounded interesting.

One of the most famous songs from the early period that is still madly popular is of course Ukulele Lady.  A great live version by Bette Midler (not the distorted video version) has disappeared from YouTube but here is a fun one by the Muppets.

Amusing songs about the ukulele were performed by those stalwarts of the 30s and 40s, George Formby and Cliff Edwards.

Here’s  George doing With My Little Ukulele In My Hand from the movie Off The Dole (1935)

Another funny song is I Did It With My Little Ukulele sung be Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards in the 1933 movie Take A Chance.  It contains a typical flash back sequence of the period with stereotypical cannibals and hula dancers.

Other songs that I found on YouTube are I Love A Ukulele performed by Annette Hanshaw (1930) and I Love To Play My Ukulele  by Max Bygraves (1958).

Recent songs about the ukulele are harder to find.  There are plenty of new songs written for the ukulele, like Charlie Roe’s Ukulele Song and Vance Joy’s Riptide, but these do not refer to the ukulele in the lyrics.

A good one I did find is Ukulele Central written and performed by Fairport Convention in 2010.  It gives a short hilarious history of the ukulele.

Most ukulele players by now would have heard the fabulous Amanda Palmer’s Ukulele Anthem, but here is a great version of her performing the song in 2014 while battling the winds around the Sydney Opera house.  (For those with delicate sensibilities, the song contains strong language).

Another fairly recent song is A Ukulele and You by Jim Berloff (2005), one of the compilers of The Daily Ukulele and other song books.  Here is a version performed by Ukester Brown:

A Ukulele and You

Some ukulele groups adapt existing popular songs so that they are about ukuleles and can be played on the uke.  Here is an example:

Blame It On The Ukulele 

If you wanted, it would be relatively easy to adapt a song yourself or you could write an original song about ukuleles.

I am sure that there must be more ukulele songs about the ukulele out there so have a look around.  It really does take you on a small journey into the history of the uke.

Kat

Bayside Ukes Member

Bayside Ukes Sessions 2017

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Bayside Ukes returns to the Hampton Community Centre on Tuesday, January 31 at 7 pm.

We hope everyone had a great holiday break and that you are all raring to play at our group sessions.  Looking forward to seeing you all there.  New members are always welcome.

Kat  and Zilla,  Bayside Ukes Members