Blog July 2017

Happenings in July

In the 22nd July it’s Uke Fest Essex. This is a free event (though workshops are £15),
featuring Ben Rouse, Opera-lele, Phillipa Leigh, The D’Ukes, and me and Ian 

Shameless plug!

I’ll be playing with Ian Emmerson in London and Shrewsbury in July. Fri 21st July: 
Chat’s Palace, Hackney Sun 23rd July: Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury

Around the World

In July you’ll also find; July 7th 9th: Rocky Mountain Uke Fest, Colorado, with Kevin Carroll.

July 14th 16th Uke U, Bend Oregon, with Lil’ Rev, Jim D’Ville, Aaron and Nicole Keim, 
Danielle Ate The Sandwich and lots more.

July 16th The 47th Annual Ukulele Festival Hawaii, with Ohta San, Herb Ohta Jr. and 
lots more, including Roy Sakuma’s 700 piece Ukulele Band!


July’s playing tip

Be aware. This might sound obvious, but it’s very easy when you’re reading a sheet, 
trying to remember the next chord or are just generally bogged down in the 
technicalities of operating your instrument to forget to listen to the music you and 
those you are playing with are making. Ask yourself; am I feeling the  beat? 
Am I ‘in sync’ with everyone else? Am I aware of where I am in the song? When is the 
ending coming, and how am I going to finish? We’ve all been in a session where 
someone is playing very loud and out of time, or is late with every chord change, 
or where someone carries on after the final chord has been hit. 
Don’t let it be you!


Chord of the month

A nice easy easy one to play this month, but one that’s very effective. C augmented 
crops up in the chorus of The Beatles’ “All My Loving”, in between an Am and a C, 
creating lovely descending line. It’s a pattern the Fab Four were very fond of. 
You can use it as an ascending pattern too, which happens in John Lennon’s 
“Just Like Starting Over” (if youplay it in C!) and even in Food, Glorious Food 
from Oliver (on the ‘Is it worth the waiting for, if we live ’til eighty four?’ line)! 
Given the oft-mentioned Beatles influence on the band Oasis, 
it’s hardly surprising then that we find this chord in their songs, too. 
“Let There Be Love” uses a C to Caug change several timesat the very beginning.  


All the best,

High D Baritone Tuning and Baritone GCEA – What keeps me awake at night?

Perhaps the title is a bit dramatic? I am celebrating 8 years of working at a Ukulele shop this month and it amazes me the amount of solutions and gaps in the market that have been filled either by us or other people looking to find their place in the Ukulele world..
For example, it used to be impossible to find a Spruce top Ukulele, Kala were the only people making a Ukulele bass and they only did the one type, getting a new Hawaiian/Japanese/Mainland USA made Ukulele was unheard of without getting on a plane and if children learnt an instrument in school it would have still been a recorder and most kids wouldn’t know what a Ukulele is.


(Pictured above – A Spruce top Baritone with a cool sunburst by Pono. Unthinkable here in the UK 10 years ago)
So I guess things progress as the general publics influence and interests increase and as retailers and musicians we also adapt to survive and thankfully as lovers of the Ukulele we thrive as we learn to meet those interests. A couple of years back, I would get several emails a week from customers that had purchased Baritone Ukuleles but were really keen to have them strung up GCEA with a Low G. Now I am not a Baritone player but this seems to me like a logical choice.. Make use of the extra depth of sound from your Baritone’s larger body by fitting a string that explores the lower octave. And yet! – Nobody manufactured this set of strings and seemingly still don’t. I contacted our reps for Aquila, Martin and more recently D’Addario who all politely indicated that it was a bit too niche to make manufacturing costs make sense.

So what we did was play around with several gauges of single strings until we found what we felt was the best fit and bundled that string in with the standard set of High G GCEA strings manufactured by Aquila. In two years we have sold more 200 sets and I regularly sell out of the single strings before I even notice we are running out. (Perhaps that says more about my poor stock management skills than it does about the sets popularity? Maybe, Maybe not?).


(Pictured above – Alex always lost count when stocktaking because the Ukuleles often blended in too well with his cardigan)

So I was thinking – right problem solved lets move on. Until I began receiving more emails and phone calls from customers asking for a set of High D Baritone Tuning strings. This too seems like a logical choice to me and one that should be more readily available. Using a High D is going to completely differentiate the sound of the Baritone Ukulele from the Guitar yet Somehow, the manufacturing trend is and always has been to produce sets in Low D tuning for Baritone Ukuleles.
I have come across dozens of players in the shop over the years that play around with single classical guitar strings to acheive High D tuning and even more people that are crazy enough to buy two sets of strings each time they restring a Ukulele so that they can pinch the .028 gauge E string to use as a D. A couple of manufacturers were bringing Ukuleles in accidentally strung High D from the factory which interested me until I tuned one of these Ukuleles up and realised that the strings on the Uke were the Baritone GCEA Aquila strings I mentioned earlier and they practically hung off of the fretboard when tuned down to DGBE.

Over the past few weeks I have experimented with several different gauges of string to try and find the most balanced tension. Eventually I settled on a High tension .028 D’addario Titanium Classical Guitar string which is just a little bit tighter on the neck than the E string at the opposite end of the fretboard and honestly – we are all delighted to finally have a solution for all of our customers.

I got Adam to film a little video for you of him trying these strings out on a Pono.

I hope you like it? If it sounds like a fix for your Ukulele then you can order them here.

During these experiments with different strings I grew to appreciate the Baritone Ukulele a lot more. Ukulelemag published a great article worth a read!

Great Ukes: The Birth of The Baritone

So the question is – What next? Is the next trend going to be for Baritone Ukuleles that have four wound strings or ones that can be tuned ADF#B? I hope not..

Until next time
Alex Beds

Whats new in June/July and the UFOGB

The original post can be viewed here with more photos relating to Cheltenham.


How did you enjoy that mini heatwave? It was crazy down in Bournemouth with holiday makers and day trippers really getting a taste of Bournemouth at its best. We have met some wonderful people that planned whole holidays around coming to the store and the instore events continue to be an absolute blast. Also, after months of CITES related holdups at the start of the year; Ukulele favourites like KoAloha, Pono, Kala etc are beginning to trickle back into stock in bigger numbers and long may this continue as we dive head first into Summer and beyond.

Anyway, this is what we are excited about in June/July.


Upcoming Free Workshops and Instore Gigs

This year has been just fantastic for quality and quantity of instore workshops and performances. The 2017 list of instores reads like a Ukulele Hall of Fame class with James Hill, Del Ray & Adam Franklin, Manitoba Hal and Andy Eastwood all leading the charge in the first six months of this year and we aren’t done yet! As summer comes to a close we will be hosting workshops with Stephen Sproat on the 23rd of September and Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel on the 21st of October. As usual these workshops will be absolutely free but spaces are limited… If you think you would like to come then please do get in touch with either Rob or I (Alex) in the shop on 01202 430820 to book a place.

james hill

Stephens workshop will cover Strumming patterns including The Triplet, Rock Strum, Hawaiian Strum, Choppy Strum and Fingerpicking patterns.
Also how to Add colour to one’s Playing (Accents and attitude!)
and Inversions – up the fretboard versions of common chords (C, C7, D7, E7 etc).

Craig and Sarah’s workshop is a fantastic social experience. They are both so happy and enthusiastic that we are quite happy to let them teach and show us whatever they like. Some details will be available closer to the time.

Super Duper Salt And Pepper Ukuleles

One of the most exciting things we had the pleasure of seeing in Cheltenham last week was Kala’s new USA made Doghair Mahogany Tenors. The Salt and Pepper Ukulele in particular blew me away.


It sounds lovely and rumbly and soulful. The looks are to die for but even putting that to one side, this Tenor feels big and deep and has a lovely little boom to it when you fingerpick it.

If you like the idea of a slightly chunkier neck then this Ukulele is for you! The sound of this Ukulele reminds me of a Pro Classic Pono and its easy to forget when you look at it that it is made of some very fine Honduran Mahogany.

I think we can all agree…. 


SUPER RARE USED Martin 3K Koa Soprano Ukulele​

Editor Note: I am going to be gutted if this Ukulele sells before I press publish on this article

The Martin 3K Professional Ukulele is to many players the holy grail of Ukuleles. First introduced in this Koa incarnation back in 1920; typically this model was known as one of the first truly premium Ukuleles. As happens with many more unusual instruments in the catalogue – Martin discontinued the Koa model in 1941 before bringing it back for a brief spell from 2012-2016/17. These Ukuleles were special order only and do not appear to be available now to order from Martin.

The one we have for sale is in super duper tip top condition. The original owner never even took the swing tags off. Check out our listing for it below if you like drooling over historic gorgeous Ukuleles.



CHELTENHAM – Ukulele Festival of GB
The final Ukulele Festival of Great Britain at Cheltenham Town Hall was in no way a somber affair. Every year, we spend months planning what Ukuleles to have in stock and love seeing people react to our display as they walk around the room. Aside from that, we enjoy catching up with our friends from the trade like Sutherland, Pete Howlett our friend Mat from World of Ukes. I only hope that this festivals finds a way to continue in some form next year…

Cordoba seems to have grown in the UK this year. Nearly every store that sold a variety of instruments had a Cordoba or two on the stand. We’ve been really impressed with them but it was a surprise to see everybody else has found big love for them too. If you plan on visiting us this year then try one out.

The new Kala 8 string baritone model is pretty impressive. Everybody in attendance seemed to queue up to have a go including us. We were chuffed to have a couple in stock this week for all of 6 hours before they were snapped up. Excited to get more in time for Christmas…

Pete Howlett had some wonderful Ukuleles on display as well. Rob, our Phil and every Bass player in the land spent the day trading Pete’s new bass around and smile to themselves. A truly exceptional Bass that hopefully Pete will make more of in the future. Pete had some lovely Ukes with him and I know a couple were still for sale at the end of the day. Check out Petes site or contact him on facebook for details. Alternatively our website has some fantastic Howlett’s in stock. If I had to choose a favourite??!? I would say the one in the link below is it.


DJ Morgan and Wunderkammer had people flocking to try their instruments. Liam from Wunderkammer especially blew us away with his mini Weissenborns that seemed to turn up at every jam including Pete Howletts impromptu blues jam in the afternoon.

Check out Liam’s Ukes now at
Check out DJ Morgans Ukes now at

For our store – the star of the day was KoAloha. We sold every KoAloha we took up to the show with us. I only wish KoAloha would hurry up and finish the factory move they have been powering through for a while so that they can build us more fantastic Ukuleles.

The Opio’s continue to be in a league of their own especially the Spruce models and the Hawaiian made KoAloha’s we are getting are crisp, clinical and continue to show signs of progression which is what you would expect when a company brings out such a great intermediate range like the Opio’s.


Something a bit different to end…

You could spend days on Youtube searching for Ukulele covers and I bet most of us already have.. I thought I would share one of my favourites with you.

Geraint Morgan is the product manager in the UK for Kala and Pono and quite an understated Ukulele player himself. We have always liked his rendition of the Family guy theme.

Ukulele happenings in May and June

Happenings in May

We’re well into festival season now, and they’re coming thick and fast. I’ll be at Winchester Ukulele Festival on June 3rd along with Del Rey, Andy Eastwood, Operalele, The Mother Ukers and more.

The following weekend (9th-11th) I’ll be at the Ukulele Festival of Scotland with a whole host of performers including Sarah Maisiel & Craig Chee, Gracie Terzian, Gerald Ross, Mike Hind and Jim D’Ville.

On the 16th– 18th, it’s the 8th and final Ukulele Festival of Great Britain. I had the pleasure of playing at the very first (and second, and third, in fact the first five!) and I’m really happy that I can be at the final one, though I’m sad it’s the last one.

The boys from SUS will be there too with some new, weird and wonderful Ukuleles for sale as long supporters of the festival.

This festival will always have a special place in my heart, and was my first (and for a while only) exposure to overseas acts, some of whom have become firm friends. It was through the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain that I got to meet James Hill, Gerald Ross, Sarah Maisel, Craig Chee, Ukulele Bartt, Paul Moore and The Winin’ Boys to name but a few.

The Ukulele Festival of Wales takes place on 23rd– 25th, with The Ukulele Uff trio, Peter Moss, Chonkinfeckle, Percy Copley, Matt Hicks and plenty of others.

Around the World

In June you’ll also find; 

The Ukulele World Congress in Indiana on the 2nd– 3rd

Ukulele Festival Dortmund in Germany on the 3rd– 4th

Ukestock Festival Groningen, Netherlands on 23rd– 24th

Reporting back from The West Coast Ukulele Retreat


I recently returned from my second visit to The West Coast Ukulele Retreat in California, where again I had a wonderful time. It is such a pleasure to teach and play alongside Gerald Ross, Jim D’Ville (and I’ll be seeing both of them again in a few days in Scotland), Dave Egan, Kevin Carroll (why hasn’t a UK festival grabbed Kevin yet? He’s a wonderful teacher and player), Rhan Wilson, Rick Zeek, Craig McClelland (my Blues Brother) and the utterly charming Dennis Lake.

For me, at least, it’s a completely unique experience, where instructors and attendees spend all day and evening together, and teaching can be spread over several sessions, allowing for much more in-depth workshops. The attendees all work so hard, and play hard too in the evening events! I’ve made some great friends thanks to the West Coast Retreat, and I hope I get to return!

My Uke Story

I’m often asked “how did you get into the uke?”, or “why the uke?”, so here’s how I fell into the world of the ukulele. I’ve been a bassist and guitarist since the 80s, and often dabbled in other instruments.

When my first daughter was born, in 2003, I bought a uke because I thought it would be a nice, quiet instrument to play nursery rhymes to her with, easy to grab and not too loud or threatening.

I quickly discovered that I could fit a uke under the pushchair, too! I didn’t really do much with it until I stumbled across an online forum (The 4th Peg, no longer around), and through that I discovered great players such as Cliff Edwards and Roy Smeck.

I became more interested in what the uke could do, and fell more in love with the instrument, so when I finally met another local uke player (Ian Emmerson) in the flesh in 2007, it was inevitable we would form a band!

Back then not too many people played so we had to stick with a duo. That duo, called The Re-entrants, ended up touring all over the UK for 5 years, playing all the major uke festivals and lots of other music festivals too. In fact, here we are performing in Southern Ukulele Store!


Of course, all good things must come to an end, and in 2012 we decided we needed a break, but happily we’re playing together again as Ian joins me on guitar at many gigs.

May’s playing tip

Mistakes! We all make them, so it’s worth remembering that, from an audience’s perspective’ a mistake happens and then it’s gone.

They won’t remember that stray chord or buzzy note by the end of the song let alone the gig, so you need to let go of them too. Dwelling on them will only distract you and then you’ll mess up even more.

Bear in mind that the audience are on your side. They want you to be good, to succeed, because they want to have a good time! They will happily let the odd fluff pass by.

When you make a mistake you can choose whether to ignore it, keep smiling, and pretend it never happened, or you can laugh at yourself, make a comment, and turn it into a joke- just remember to keep playing, whatever happens!

Chord of the month

The chord for June is actually lots of chords, because 1. it’s a moveable shape and 2. it has two names!


You could call the chord above Fmin7 or you could call it Ab6 (remember how we can call the chord made by playing the open strings of the uke Am7, or we can call it C6? The same principle applies here, every m7 chord has a 6 chord that’s made up of the same notes. Which is the right name depends on context, and what the bass player is playing!)
However, because there are no open strings, we can slide this shape about. At the third fret it’s a Gm7 or a Bb6, at the fifth fret it’s an Am7 or C6 (same as that open strings chord!). You can work out the rest!

When you’re playing jazzier tunes, it’s common to avoid straight major or minor chords and ‘dress them up’ a little. An easy way to do this is to play m7 chords instead of minor, and 6 chords instead of major, so it’s no surprise that this chord shape crops up a lot in jazz.


All the best,

Uke happenings in May

As mentioned last month, May kicks off with the 5th Grand Northern Ukulele Festival on the 5th -7th, but you’ll also find The New Forest Ukulele Festival in New Milton, Hampshire on the 20th and Uke Power at Drax Social Club, Selby, North Yorkshire on the 26th-28th.


Uke happenings around the world

In Europe


The Paris Ukulele Festival takes place on the 11th -13th, and features Rita and Martin, Uff & Zaza and The Hot Potato Syncopators.

On the 27th-29th The Freiburg Ukulele Festival takes place down in South West Germany.

On the 12th to the 14th there’s the first  Austrian Ukulele Festival in Graz, featuring UK acts Dead Man’s Uke and The League of Ukulele Gentlemen as well as acts from Hawaii and all over Europe.

In the US

The Denver Uke Fest is on the 11th-13th with Jake Shimabukuro, Aldrine GuerreroThe Quiet American.

Mighty Uke Day is in Lansing, Michigan on 12th-14th ( with Heidi Swedberg and Daniel Ward.

Spring Into Uke is on the 13th in Voorheesville, New York with Jim and Liz Beloff.

Las Cruces Ukulele Festival takes place on the 19th-23rd and features Jim and Liz Beloff, Daniel Ward, Heidi Swedberg and Danielle Ate The Sandwich.

Ashokan Uke Fest runs from the 26th to the 29th in Olivebridge, New York, with James Hill & Anne Janelle, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Gerald Ross and Jim D’Ville.

In Australia

Dandenong Ranges Ukulele Festival takes place on the 20th and 21st.

Reporting back from Sore Fingers Bluegrass Week

In last month’s blog I mentioned that I would be teaching uke, alongside Percy Copley, at Sore Fingers Bluegrass camp. I’m happy to report that I had a wonderful time, teaching alongside some of the top names in bluegrass and old-time music, and the students were all amazing (especially the uke students!)

I’m happy to report that I’ve been asked to return as uke teacher for the October weekend (dates to be announced soon), and even if you think bluegrass isn’t your thing, I’m positive you’d have an amazing time. Come and join me!


Uke Class at Sore Fingers

Who’s around?

Right now, Manitoba Hal and Victoria Vox are to be found wandering the UK, popping up at various venues (Hal has just visited SUS!), so keep an eye on their gig lists to see if they are anywhere near you.

Quite soon, they’ll be joined by Del Rey who’s making her way through Europe in May before hitting our shores in early June, where she’ll not only be playing in my home town, with me and Ian Emmerson supporting, grab your tickets here.

She’ll also be at Southern Ukulele Store on June 10th  from 2-4pm, leading a workshop and performing with Adam Franklin.


Del Rey

Cool stuff

Despite being an old-school kind of guy with a pretty simple stage setup (point a mic at it and go) I do like to keep an eye out for any cool gadgets, instrument innovation and new toys to try out.

This month, the D’Addario Cinch Fit strap attachment caught my eye. For years I performed on plugged in electric ukes with straps, and end pin jacks were always a bit of a nuisance. Straps had to be stretched over them or even cut to make the hole bigger, ruining them for use on regular strap buttons. This is a really neat solution!


D’Addario Cinch Fit

May’s playing tip

Step out of your comfort zone! It’s really easy, in the confines of your home or when surrounded by your fellow uke club members, to play music that you’ve played many times before.

The best way to move on as a player is to put yourself in situations where you feel a little out of your depth. Try hanging around with players that are better than you, players of other instruments, or players of a style of music that you don’t normally play.

Try attending a folk session or a blues jam. If you’ve never performed in public before, find a safe, friendly place and set yourself a deadline. It’s amazing how knowing you’re going to play in front of people in a week’s time can focus the mind!

Chord of the month

Another favourite of mine, this is a nice inversion of an F9 chord (or you could call it a Cm6). Try is on bluesy songs with a regular C chord, and last months G7 alternative. Notice how when you put those those three chords together, the G string remains open all the time.

This is really effective in blues and old-time music, as the drone is reminiscent of either the thumping bottom string of a blues  guitar (especially if you have a low G), or the ringing high 5th string on a 5 string banjo.

image2 (1)


All the best,

Ukulelia – April: Festival season and other goings on

Welcome to the Southern Ukelele Store blog! I’m Phil Doleman, and I’ll be bringing you news from all over the ukelele world as well as hints and tips to help your playing.

Grand Northern Ukulele Festival


Very soon we’ll be getting into the festival season. Grand Northern Ukulele festival, now in it’s 5th year, takes place in Huddersfield on the 5th-7th May, and it’s always a great event, busy with performances, workshops and opportunities to play.

This year sees international performers Victoria Vox, Elof & Wamberg, and Ryo Montgomery join a host of home-grown acts. I’ll be there with Ian Emmerson, performing and leading workshops.

Cardiff Ukulele Festival

On Saturday 8th April, the 4th annual Cardiff Ukulele Festival takes place at St David’s Hall from 1-5pm. It’s free, and groups from South Wales and South West England will be performing. Bring your uke and join in!

Sore Fingers Bluegrass Week

The 17th-21st April is the 22nd Sore Fingers Bluegrass week. Why am I mentioning this on a ukulele blog, you may ask? Well, Percy Copley  is not only a great uke player, he also plays a mean banjo, mandolin and guitar, and is a regular tutor at Sore Fingers.

Recently he introduced the ukulele to them with great success, so much so that I’ve been recruited to help! I’m always enthused by what the ukulele can do with other instruments and in unexpected genres, and after all playing music with others is one of the most satisfying and fun things to do!

James Hill Ukulele Initiative


Ukulele virtuoso James Hill has launched his Ukulele Initiative, which includes a teacher certification program. Uke teachers can study under James to develop their teaching skills based on James’ thorough method and gain a qualification. On April 8th and 9th James will be running the programme in Northampton, UK.

The Ukulele Society Of Great Britain

Many people may not know that this society even exists, but it has in fact been around since 1970 and for a long time was the only ukulele society in the UK. Despite the many hundreds of ukulele clubs that have sprung up more recently, it is still going strong, and it’s next meeting is on Sunday 7th April in Digswell, Hertfordshire. Find out more and join at

Lyle Ritz

Sadly, we recently lost ukulele jazz pioneer Lyle Ritz. His albums ‘How About Uke’ and ’50th State Jazz’, released in 1957 and 1959 respectively, set the standard and influenced many players over the years.


Lyle was also a member of the famed Wrecking Crew (as a bassist), the LA studio musicians who played on countless classic albums by The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Sonny and Cher, The Byrds and lots more.

Like his work with the Wrecking Crew, possibly his most most frequently heard performance on the uke was also anonymous; he actually playing the uke on ‘Tonight, You Belong To Me’ in the film ‘The Jerk’, which Steve Martin mimes to as he sings with Bernadette Peters

If you’re at all interested in jazz ukulele, you owe it to yourself to check out not only his recordings, but also the three books released through Flea Market Music; Jumpin’ Jim’s Ukulele Masters: Lyle Lite, Lyle Ritz Solos, and Lyle Ritz Jazz.

Around the world

April sees the international festival season kick off too, with The Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival in Queensland, Australia on the 20th-23rd April, with Kalei Gamiao, Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel and the UK’s own Peter Moss.

On Sunday April 30th, the 23rd Ukulele Festival of North California takes place, with guest appearances from Bryan Tolentino, Asa Young, Del Beazley, Chris Kamaka and Herb Ohta, Jr.

April’s playing tip

This is one that I really need to do more myself! Set yourself a target of learning a new song every week/ fortnight/ month. Building your repertoire is a great way to learn new chords, rhythms, and musical patterns, and it gives you a pool of songs you can draw on whenever you need them.

Try to learn to play them from memory, not from a song sheet, and even if you only manage one each month, by this time next year you’ll have a dozen songs. Manage one a week and it’ll be fifty two! You’ll never be stuck for something to play when someone asks for a song.

Chord of the month

This month’s chord is one I use an awful lot. It’s an alternative to the regular G7, but as it is lacking the note that determines whether it is major or minor, it’s also an alternative Gm7! Try playing it when others in your group are playing a regular G7 or Gm7 or, if you’re on your own, alternate between them.


All the best,

The Ukulele world at SUS in March

Kala Elite UK Price Drop

After our initial order for these Californian made ukes arrived at Cheltenham in 2015 we didn’t see any new models in the UK until the tail end of last year. To help promote the Elite brand, KALA UK have recently agreed to a temporary price drop of 30%! So now, for a short time these great Ukuleles are much more affordable.

The Kala Elites are a well made and well specced solid Koa equivalent to the big Hawaiian brands like KoAloha, Kamaka and Kanile’a. The most obvious difference being the Kala has a larger and wider neck profile which will be something that appeals to a great many different players. 


Zachary Taylor Special Offer

We can’t help but love the Zachary Taylor Ukuleles. Players have been walking through the door keen to look at them since Zachary premiered this modern/vintage hybrid range of eccentric spruce instruments at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain last year. We are very excited to see what will happen with ZT Ukuleles in 2017 and in preparation, we have decided to reduce the price on the remaining 2016 models to make way. As I write this, we still have one Electro Tenor model available and as professional quality Electro Acoustic Ukuleles are incredibly sparse, could this be the Uke you have been looking for this whole time?


KoAloha Opio Spruce top Tenor review

Baz Maz over at Gotaukulele wrote a lovely review about the KoAloha Opio Spruce top Tenor. We already knew they were great but such an in-depth review is must-read stuff. For those of you thinking seriously about your next Ukulele purchase, this should answer a lot of your questions about these fabulous instruments without relying on just our enthusiastic opinions!


Tiny Ukuleles in a BIG way – Ohana

Lots of new Ohana models have arrived this week and have found their way on to the website. The highlight of which must be the all solid Eucalyptus CK-550QEL (the name needs work). A sound with the best bits of Mahogany and Cedar mashed up and one of the best headstock designs we have ever seen.


We also have padded Sopranissimo gigbags for the O’Nino and O’Nina models and finally an Ohana Sopranino hard case for the SK21 series. Luthier built tiny Ukuleles will *probably* fit (please check measurements carefully first – some padding might be required) so credit to Ohana for coming to the rescue before your John Daniels Pixie Ukulele or suchlike comes to any harm.

Something a bit different – Eiichi Sumi

After all the positive feedback I received for mentioning ‘Ohta San’ in our last mailout – I thought I would share with you what I’ve been brushing up on this month. At NAMM I discovered a stall shared by several different Ukulele luthiers from all around the world. Having just spent the previous four hours at the Kamaka and Kanile’a stands I really thought I would be burnt out and that nothing could blow me away but I couldn’t have been more wrong.



Firstly, an honorable mention should go out to Mike Da Silva who aside from creating and building the James Hill signature Ukulele, had built a Mango Concert I loved enough to order for SUS and threatened to steal it when his back was turned. What really surprised and humbled me was a collection of three Ukuleles made by a Japanese luthier called Eiichi Sumi.

The first two Ukuleles were a pair of Concert and Tenor Gibson Hummingbirds scaled down from 6 string guitar shape and size to four string Ukulele scale complete with hand painted pickguards and tulip buttoned machine heads. My interest in Ohta San probably makes me a sucker for the rounder dreadnought shape on the Ukulele but these Ukes sounded like nothing else. I wanted them but alas it wasn’t meant to be due to reasons beyond my control (another retailer purchased it and it was taken literally out of my hands as I stood in shock).

The third Ukulele was something else altogether… I couldn’t let that one go and it’s a solid Eucalyptus slice of Ukulele heaven.  You can see it on the website right now.

So my research took me to the far east where I learned what a big deal Eiichi Sumi and his Ukuleles actually are.

Eiichi Sumi began making folk instruments in Nagano, Japan in 1977. He spent his early years as a builder working in the now famous Japanese factories that produced high end copies of American instruments (Tokai/Ibanez/Kimbara etc). It is well documented that the Japanese instruments from this era are now more sought after by collectors than the USA made counterparts due to an unmistakable high quality and attention to detail.

In 1986, with a reputation of his own already established he broke out and set up his own workshop with a team of 3-4 employees that has been producing some of Japans most highly respected bespoke instruments ever since. I left NAMM obsessed with his Ukuleles but not much can be found online about Sumi Ukuleles. His Mandolins and Archtop guitars however, are world famous and he has a client list any builder would be envious of. His display at NAMM was apparently done by an enthusiastic supplier that places their orders with him once a year in person! I find it romantic that a lack of website and contact information is a deliberate choice made by a team of builders that have enough of a waiting list and word of mouth desire for instruments that they can pick and choose what they do.


Ukulelia – February: Ukulele Clubs & Tuning by Ear

Welcome back to Ukulelia, ukeheads! We hope you’re feeling loved up this Valentine’s, whether that’s with your beau, your hobbies, your work, yourself or even your favourite instrument: the uke!

To help keep your passion for the instrument ablaze, we’ve searched high and low for our favourite ukulele related blogs from all over the internet.

This month, get to know the charming Red Bluff Ukulele Club, find out what makes the ukulele a great starter instrument for aspiring young guitarists and learn how to impress your friends by tuning your ukulele by ear like a total pro…

Big Love for the Red Bluff Ukulele Club

We absolutely love seeing ukulele players of all abilities getting out there and having fun with their favourite four stringed instruments. The Red Bluff Northern Valley Ukulele Club appear to be doing exactly that in their latest January update! They’ve even shot a video of their session, sharing snippets of some of the songs they’ve been practising. Can you name every tune?

How to Tune Your Ukulele By Ear


It’s not often that you’re more than a finger’s swipe away from technology, these days. But for those rare moments when you’re out in the wild without an online ukulele tuner handy, learning how to tune your ukulele by ear will ensure you’re hitting all the right notes. It’s a fun trick to learn to do, either way, and Native Ground have created a very handy guide which will show you exactly how it’s done, from twiddling your tuning pegs, to finding a middle C by ear. Helpful stuff, thanks guys!


The Uke is a Great Starter Instruments for Wannabe Guitarists

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

If you’ve raised something of a rock star, your child may already be asking you for their first instrument, but investing in a guitar can be problematic for kids. While affordable options are out there, children grow fast, which means soon their instrument will no longer fit them. However, if you buy a larger version, the heavier weight and bigger size will make it very tough for your young Frank Zappa to play.

Cue: the ukulele! It may not be as cool as a guitar, but ukes are pleasingly cheap, easy to play and a great starter instrument for aspiring guitar heroes, teaching them the basics of chords, plucking, frets and strumming until they’re ready for an upgrade. She’s Savvy blogger Stacey Marmolejo has written an informative post on this very subject!

Does your youngster play the ukulele? What has been their experience? Share your stories and tips with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Ukulelia – January: Young Ukers & Beatles Chords

A very very Happy New Year ukulele fiends! Whether you received your first uke for Christmas and can’t wait to start strumming or an old hand with a New Year’s resolution to improve your ukulele game in 2017, the Southern Ukulele Store has you covered!

But we don’t just stock amazing instruments, accessories and music, we also love to inspire you with the very best ukulele content from the world wide web every month. From resources and opinion pieces, to videos, tutorials and how-tos, our monthly Ukulelia roundup shares the very best stuff from the web-o-sphere from our very favourite musically-minded bloggers.

Stay turned…

This month: discover the five reasons why absolutely everybody needs to learn the ukulele, learn to play Here Comes The Sun and meet 10 amazing young ukulele players.

5 Reasons Everyone Needs a Ukulele


We may love ukuleles. You may be a ukulele convert. But not everyone loves our favourite four-stringed instrument – yet! This blog from Australian multi-instrumentalist Herrin George features a comprehensive list of the five reasons why absolutely everybody needs to own a ukulele – perfect for making converts of even your most sceptical, non-strumming friends.

From the affordability of the instrument, to the portability and “sing-a-long-ability” of the humble ukulele, this post is a great persuader for the unconvinced and a great reminded for lapsed players too!

How to Play: Here Comes The Sun


A cheering ditty about sunshine is just what the doctor ordered to cure those dark and dreary January blues. This chord sheet from the Centre Stage Ukulele Academy will help you feel summery even while you’re wearing your slipper socks. It also dives into the back story behind this sweet classic from George Harrison, who wrote the tune in the gardens of Eric Clapton’s country home while sneakily skipping a meeting with his record label.

10 Amazing Young Ukers


The ukulele may be an old favourite but plenty of youngsters are picking up the instrument and putting many of us old hands to shame. This amazing, inspiring blog from Ukes Up shares videos from ten astonishing young ukers from all over the world. From horrifyingly talented Hawaiian teens Honoka & Azita, to astonishing 15 year old musician Aiden James. Prepare to be very, very impressed!

Have you ever make an instrument out of unusual materials? Have you ever taken your uke abroad? Share your stories with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.


Ukulelia – December: Ukulele History & Compositional Glory

Season’s Greetings ukulele lovers! A very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of the musical elves at the Southern Ukulele Store. Whether you’re receiving your very first ukulele this Christmas, or searching for a gift for the seasoned strummer in your life, you’ll find ukulele regalia and paraphernalia of all ilks in our online store.

Need a little more inspiration? We have something for that too…

Every month we comb the world wide web for the latest and greatest blogs and posts from ukulele fanatics the world over. This month; take a fascinating plunge into ukulele history, get inspired by a compositional project and enjoy some chilled out ukulele sounds.

Dive into Ukulele History


The ukulele may be a small instrument, but it’s been hugely instrumental (gettit?) in social changes and movements throughout history, ever since its invention in Hawaii. From the four-stringed-wonders travels to Japan, to its role in German history, the ukulele has wormed its way into an awful lot of history. The blogger behind the UKULELE Japan blog is especially intrigued by the uke’s roots – and they’ve been posting regular fascinating journeys into the instrument’s past. If you love ukes and you love history, this blog is for you.

Composing for the Lincoln Ukulele Band

lincoln uke 2

We totally inspired by Making Music‘s “Adopt a Composer” project which pairs talented young music makers with skilled musicians in order to compose a unique piece of work. In this blog you can read all about Angela Slater’s journey towards creating a piece for the 50+ members of the Lincoln Ukulele Band, despite never having played a uke before! It makes fascinating reading and we were thrilled to hear that the piece premièred earlier this month! Lovely stuff.

Zuli Loves “Ukulele & Chill”

With all the 2016 doom and gloom and all this festive chaos and mayhem to contend with, sometimes it’s nice to escape the endless renditions of Slade and East17 and turn on something that totally transports you. Writing on Stereofox, blogger Zuli has shared a little slice of “get away from it all” Nirvana: Ukulele and Chill by Cody G. It does exactly what it says on the tin and we’d strongly recommend it for those moments when it all gets too much.

Have you ever make an instrument out of unusual materials? Have you ever taken your uke abroad? Share your stories with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.