Sunday, August 25, 2013


So having decided to get better at playing the ukulele, I selected some songs to fingerpick, one of which is Paul McCartney's Blackbird. It's a piece I can play on the guitar, in G.

So I went on YouTube and found what I thought was the best-sounding version on the uke and decided that was the one I wanted to learn. It's in C, which is a better key for the uke, and for my voice.

There is a reason it sounds the best; it's the most complex, and the hardest to finger.

 Of course it is.

Be a while, but I will get back to you ...

Also on the to-learn-list:

Something in the Way She Moves
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Quigley Down Under
Ashokan Farewell

Already have the chords for Hey, Jude ...

Oh, and a technical note: Whilst playing the most recent gig, a come-to-realize moment, regarding volume ...

My ukes are pretty loud for such instruments, but that's a relative term. A loud ukulele is kind of like the world's tallest midget. When the banjo and mandolin and steel-string guitars and various tympani crank up, the uke disappears. This might be a good thing if you are prone to hitting clams, but when I was at the farmer's market strumming away, I couldn't hear myself playing, because when the electric guitar starts, the acoustic instruments just run and hide ...

Which brings us to amplification.

Back when I was at my first jam group, I had something of the same problem with my nylon-string guitar. The other players suggest that I get some kind of small amp, to add just enough sound to achieve parity with the steel-strings.

Which I did. Got a tiny amp, a Roland MicroCube, about the size and shape of a car battery. A grand two watts of power, but with a piezo pick-up stuck to the front of the guitar, it gave me more than enough juice.

The stick-to-the-front transducer wasn't pretty and it required some extra tape to keep it in place, but it did work. 

I decided that since I will be likely be playing out more, given that the CM's already have another gig lined up at the assisted living place this fall, I should consider having a pick-up installed in one of the ukes. I hunted around and found the go-to guy for such things in Portland, Ryan Lynn, and he didn't see any problem doing it, so that is in progress. He's busy, so it will take a week or ten days to get to it.

What this means is, I can use a standard quarter-inch jack and cable from the uke to the amp, and kick the volume up. Ideally, I need a dedicated acoustic amp, and failing that, some kind of pre-amp between the other end of the cable and the amp, but there are a bunch of those around and not really expensive, so, depending on how the thing sounds after the pick-up (K&K Twin Spots) is installed, I might become more of a gear head ...


steve-vh said...

a week to 10 days? That's pretty fast!

Steve Perry said...

An easy job, he says, shouldn't take but a few minutes, so soon as he gets the pick-up in and gets a break, no problem. Guymwent to luthiers school, then worked at a couple of guitar makers before he opened his own shop.

steve-vh said...

Nice to find a good one! I bought my first drums from Luthier Del Langejans in '77 LOL