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. 

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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?

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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!

OPIO REVIEW BY BAZ MAZ

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.

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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.

DA SILVA MANGO CONCERT

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Ukulelia – November: Ukulele Hangers & Musical Wanderlust

Welcome back to Ukulelia, your monthly spot for the best of ukulele news, ideas, resources and fun from all over the web. Each month the Southern Ukulele Store team keep up with their favourite online sources of ukulele goodness, then round up the very best of the bunch to share especially with you.

This month; get inspired to give your ukulele a proper wall mounting, give yourself a dose of ukulele wanderlust on Ben’s ukulele road trip and discover how smart crafter Amy turned a gourd into a ukulele!

How to Hang a Ukulele

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If you’re anything like the Southern Ukulele Store team, your four stringed instrument is one of your pride and joys. While photos of family and friends get pride of place on your wall, your very favourite instrument can all-too-often languish in a corner or rest amidst your clutter. This post from The Ukulele Blog by King Uke will change all that. Covering a variety of interesting ways to store, showcase and hang up your ukulele, this post will help you put your instrument safely in pride of place in an aesthetically appealing way.

Enjoy Wild Heights on Ben’s Ukulele Road Trip


Do you enjoy your ukulele with a side serving of wanderlust? Ben’s Ukulele Road Trip blog is an essential addition to your bookmarks bar. Since 2015 Ben has been roaming the globe with his ukuleles on the cultural adventure of a lifetime. In this edition Ben is in the rural village of Sibiel in Romania, strumming a very uplifting version of Wild Heights. We’ve got itchy feet already…

Make Your Own: Gourd-kelele

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Feeling handy? Enjoy a spot of DIY? Love ukuleles? This fantastic blog from Amy Makes Stuff will talk you through Amy’s latest project: making a ukulele out of a gourd. Given to her as a gag gift, Amy set about transforming her gourd into a playable – and actually pretty good lookin’ – ukulele. Amazing stuff from a very clever crafter!

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 – October: Ukulele Breakfasts & Chord Cheats

With the leaves turning orange and a nip in the air, it’s one of the Southern Ukulele Store’s favourite times of year – perfect for curling up by the fire with your ukulele and a woolly jumper.

Whether you’re an old hand, a newbie or just trying to learn a couple of Christmas songs ahead of December, you’ll find tonnes of inspiration in our store and in our monthly Ukulelia round up. Every month we scour the web for the best ukulele blogs and resources, then share them with our readers right here.

This month; drool over a beautiful piece of wood as it is hand-crafted into a gorgeous ukulele, enjoy a ukulele breakfast in Hawaii and learn a few clever chord shortcuts.

Wooden it Be Nice?

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Exceptional luthier, David Ingalls, can trace his ukulele connection back to the 1800s and the life of his Hawaiian, haole seafaring great-great-great-grandparents. Perhaps that’s why he’s able to create bespoke instruments of such remarkable beauty. This blog shows off David’s current work in progress, a 16 inch concert ukulele made from drool-inducingly gorgeous quilted maple. If you have any interest in the craft of making ukuleles, David’s blog – Ono Ukes – is well worth a visit.

Ukulele Breakfasts in Kona, Hawaii

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Time for a little dose of ukulele island paradise. Fabulous blogger Ukulele Tonya has been chronicling her adventures in ukulele for years and this instalment shares her experiences of playing ukulele on the islands of the instrument’s birth. In Hawaii, Tonya was able to join in with a morning gathering of keen 40 strummers who love nothing more than a ukulele sing along to start a Thursday the right way Ah, island living, eh?

Cheating with Chords

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Who doesn’t love taking a sneaky shortcut every now and again? Jason of the Grande Royale Ükulelists of the Black Swamp (AKA the GRÜBS) certainly does. In this fun and friendly blog, Jason shares a few clever chord cheats which might make fast changes easier for beginners. Instead of swift finger reshuffles to hit D G and C, Jason used a few alternatives to keep everything nice and conveniently on the second fret. A handy read and well written too!

Do you have any ukulele “cheats” you’d like to share with our readers? Drop us a line and share your favourite uke stuff with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Ukulelia – August: Ukuambience & Cigar Boxes

With autumn just around the corner, September is a wonderful month for snuggling up with your favourite ukulele and learning some brand new songs and tricks. This season, the Southern Ukulele team have put together a collection of their favourite blogs and resources which will help you do just that, from online lessons and chords, to fun doses of creative inspiration.

This month; welcome to the web your new music teacher: Matt Ukulele, discover a new “ukuambient” genre with Kara Square and take a peek at some very old cigar box ukuleles.

New Online Uke Resource Launched

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There are some fabulous ukulele resources and blogs out there, packed with free chords, songs, tips, lessons and resources, but we’re firmly of the opinion that you can never have too much ukulele goodness. That why, this month we’re very pleased to welcome Matt Ukulele to the world wide web, a brand spanking new resource for uke lovers looking to learn some new chords and some fun ways to practice and use them. With a fresh lesson set to be posted each week, we look forward to seeing what veteran uke teacher Matt Dahlberg has to share.

Get Ukuambient with Kara Square


The ukulele’s sheer versatility is one of the things which love so much about our very favourite instrument, which is why devoted strummer Kara Square’s bandcamp single Ukuambient was such a fun listen for the Southern Ukulele team. A creative and experimental ukulele player herself, Kara has been working on a whole new genre for our four stringed friend. We love the results!   

  • What do you think of Kara Square’s unusual ukuambient sound? Have you come across any new ukulele genres you’d like to share? Let us know via Twitter.

Discover the Cigar Box Ukulele

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Kara may have the future of the ukulele all sewn up, but we still love the occasional delve into the uke’s rich history. This fascinating post published on Eddy Finn Ukes introduces readers to the charming looking cigar box ukulele which dates back to the 1840s. Lovely stuff, cheers Eddy!

Do you have a favourite historical style or uke or a favourite ukulele genre? Share your sounds and two cents with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Ukulelia – July: Two Chord Songs & the Calypso Strum

Happy July, ukulele strummers! Welcome back to a brand new, shiny update from the Southern Ukulele Store’s monthly fixture: Ukulelia. Every month, rain or shine (and in this case, a bit of both), we take this opportunity to share some of our favourite posts, blogs and resources from our favourite ukulele lovers on the world wide web.

This July: Meet ten young ukulele players who will inspire you to up your ukulele game whether you’re 16 or 85, pick up some two chord songs instantly, plus learn to perform the calypso strum.

10 Young Uke-ers Who Will Inspire You to Practice

 

Feeling low on motivation lately? That’s about to change. Following the rise to fame of America’s Got Talent’s ukulele playing 12 year old Grace VanderWaal this summer, the excellent Ukes Up blog curated a bumper list of ten of the worlds most inspiring young players.

Aged between 14 and 27, these fresh faces bring plenty of inspiring passion to their music which we guarantee will make you want to pick up your instrument and learn something new. We’ve included this video of 19 year old Sungha Jung playing Goyte’s Somebody That I Used to Know, shared by John of Ukes Up, because it’s just plain great!

Two Chord Songs for “Easy as Pie” Strum-AlongsPie_splet_on_pieIf you’re still struggling to get playing, even after all of that inspiration, this handy post from Wildflower Ukulele is sure to cure what ails ya. After all, who can resist the simplicity of a two chord song? From Deep in the Heart of Texas, to Jambalaya and Iko Iko there’s a whole host of ridiculously easy tunes to strum and sing here, which you can master in seconds. Thanks, Mr Tad Dreis!

How to Master: The Calypso Strum

Ready to inject some ready island vibes into your ukulele playing? It’s time to get the hang of the chilled out island strum. Most widely known as a calypso strum, this technique is relatively simple once you’ve got the hang of the pattern which goes: down down up – up down up. Repeat this pattern and you’ve got yourself some serious island feels. This excellent blog from ArtistWorks will teach you exactly how it’s done in more detail.

What is your favourite strumming pattern? Can you think of a young ukulele player who deserves a mention too? Have your say and share your favourite videos and resources with our team via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Ukulelia – June: Jazzkelele & Life on Four Strings

Welcome to summer, ukulele lovers! The weather’s been a mixed bag so far, but we hope you’ve have the chance to shoehorn in some al fresco ukulele sessions during the season’s sunny spells.

If you’re not feeling the ukulele groove recently, our brand new Ukulelia round up should put a twang back into your tunes. Each month we keep up with the very finest ukulele bloggers the world wide web has to offer, sharing our favourite posts with you right here.

This June: Fall victim to Liz Panton’s infectious passion for the ukulele, listen to a ukulele play some seriously good jazz, plus uncover the story of a true ukulele pioneer in a new documentary.

Meet: Liz Panton, the Ukulele Allsort

 

Liz Panton‘s blog, Ukulele Allsorts is a treasure trove of ukulele inspiration and news from the uke community in the UK. From posts sharing her very own songs, to videos of her music, updates about upcoming events and plenty of helpful resources, this is a blog infused with Liz’s passion for our favourite four stringed instrument. If you’ve got the blues about the uke lately, Ukulele Allsorts will sort you right out and inspire you to pick up your faithful ukulele once more.

A Little Jazzkelele

 

We’re constantly awed by the versatility of our favourite instrument. In different hands, the uke creates an incredible array of sounds, from folky noises and traditional Hawaiian vibes, to pure jazz. This amazing video of Benny Chong playing his gob-smackingly good brand of jazz ukulele is testament to the flexibility of the ukulele. We picked up this video via Uke Fans’ fantastic blog, which is crammed with tonnes of other amazing ukulele posts. Well worth a peruse!

Life on Four Strings: the Jake Shimabukuro Story


We love The Good Ukulele‘s edgier approach to our instrument of choice. Their blog is full of interesting posts for those who are excited about both the history of the ukulele and its future in contemporary music. We owe their curators thanks for sharing this clip from a new documentary about ukulele pioneer Jake Shimabukuro, entitled Life on Four Stings.

Who is your ukulele inspiration? What style of ukulele do you play? Have your say and share your favourite videos and resources with our team via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Interview with Aaron Keim (Quiet American)

The second in our series of chats between Nicci and famous Ukulele players at Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2016.

Aaron Keim – A Brief Chat

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What ukulele do you perform with?

I perform with a bunch of different ukuleles, all of which, I made. So I build musical instruments for Mya-Moe- it’s the name of the company. Every one you see me play is one I made. The two that we’re playing this weekend are made from Myrtlewood, which is from Oregon where we live. It’s a local wood you can only get there.

What pickup do you use?

We use K&K pickups for everything. So the one that’s in our ukes, I think, are Twin Spot- K&K Twin Spot. All the instruments we have, from the banjos to the basses, they have K&K pickups.

Do you use a preamp or an amp and if so which one/ones?

We use LR Baggs preamps. I think it’s called a Para Acoustic DI- it’s the little brown box that goes on the floor. I’ve had that for 15 years, at least, and it’s great. I love it. And I have a little tiny five watt from the 1950s that I use when I use an amp. But I don’t fly with it because it would just break.

What tuning do you use?

On the baritone ukulele I use DGBE and it’s a low D fourth string. And on the tenor ukulele GCEA but high G because the high G is what I need to play the clawhammer and banjo style music, it has to have a high fourth string.

Is there anything you’d recommend for anyone starting out?

They should do high G; GCEA. That’s the most ukulele-y ish tuning. It’s the one that sounds most like a uke. The low fourth string is best for folks who maybe come from guitar because they may already have certain things already together and it makes sense to have that low fourth string.

Wound low G or unwound low G?

Wound, for sure. I hate the unwound low Gs because they’re too thick. They have to make them that thick to have the proper density to tune up to pitch but then they’re kind of thumpy sounding and they only sound good a few frets up and then they start to go really thumpy. The wound low G does have a more metallic sound but it’s diameter is somewhere like the other strings so it’s easier to play, I think. And the pitch is truer on that thinner string than the thick string. I know that every company makes an unwound low G but I prefer not to use them.

What is your favourite song or piece of music involving the ukulele?

James Hill’s newest CD is called ‘Old Silo’ and…I can’t remember the name of the tune. I can sing but I don’t know what it’s called. James Hill is one of my favourite musicians and what’s great about him is that he’s a virtuoso performer but he writes all of his own music and it’s all super high quality. There are other virtuosos who don’t write their own music, they play other people’s. But James can do both and that’s why I think he’s tops.

New Moon- it’s the first track on there. That’s an instrument I built. In this video he’s got a big piece of black tape on the top because he cracked it. And I keep saying “James, I’ll fix it. Next time you see me, I’ll fix it”. And he keeps forgetting, so he keeps making YouTube videos like this with a big piece of tape stuck to the top. That’s good, though, I like to see them come back that way. If you make an instrument and it just sits in the closet, what’s the point?

If you had up to 5000GBP to spend on any ukulele right now, what would you buy?

That doesn’t count because I would spend £5000 on wood and make lots of ukuleles!

Roughly how many could you make?

I have to do my math first of all. That’s like $7000 of wood and I can get enough wood to make a really great ukulele for like $400. So that’s like 40 instruments. I could make one for myself and sell the rest.

Can you tell us a little bit about your signature Beansprout banjo?

I started making banjo-ukuleles first because no-one was making one new that I thought was any good. This was like 2002/3. You could buy old ones and then fix them up, which was great, but they didn’t have some of the modern features I wanted them to have. And there’s a banjo company near where I lived that made me a big banjo, a five string banjo, and I asked him to make a banjo-uke for me. He said “how old are you?”, I said “I’m 21”. He said “when I was 21 and I wanted a banjo and no-one else would make it so I made it myself. So you should make it yourself”. So that’s how Beansprout started. And then when I started working for Mya-Moe, it became part of Mya-Moe, and then when I go back out on my own in a few years it will still be our signature model, probably. But it’s just a little banjo, technically. But it sounds great and it plays great and it’s my favourite.

What are your plans for your own luthier company and can you tell us anything about the work you’re doing for it at the moment?

At the moment, in the middle of 2017 I’ll start making some banjo-ukes for customers with the new designs. In 2018 I’ll start making regular ukes with new designs. Right now, I’m prototyping new woods, new shapes and sizes, new construction techniques, new materials, as well as trying to plan things like logos, graphic design, artwork, photography, website, database, taxes. It takes a lot. I don’t actually know how many instruments I’m going to be able to make a year when I’m by myself. As a group, with all the people, we’re making about 300 instruments a year. It’ll be smaller when I’m on my own so I don’t even know yet how much they’re going to cost because there’s a lot of math that needs to be done to make that happen.

What’s it like performing with your wife and do you settle arguments with competitive uke playing?

No, we don’t. It’s great playing with Nicole but the thing I always say is people pay us to travel, because the travel is what’s frustrating, annoying and difficult. The music is the easy part. So having a good teammate is necessary if you’re gonna travel with each other. I’ve spent years in bands with guys and it’s hard to find people that you can work with and live with – because you’re basically living with them. So we’re a good team. Mostly when we settle musical arguments, I usually win because Nicole gives up, which is an issue. We need to work on that. But when it comes to everything else, she’s pretty much in charge.

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How grateful are people generally for workshops such as these?

I think that we really make our living teaching. And performing is secondary. Not because we choose that but because that’s what people choose. People like the one-on-one experience of being in the room and being able to really interact and learn a little bit about what we do and also Nicole and I are trained as teachers so I think we have a little bit extra edge on our workshops as they’re a little more educationally sound than other folks. So people respond to that and all our workshops are generally sold out wherever we go. If we wanted to do that all the time, travel all the time, we probably could. But we like to be home, too.

Do we need more ukulele in the charts?

Oh, I don’t mind whatever. There’s a lot in the charts compared to 10 years ago. But to me, I don’t play the ukulele because I’m obsessed with the ukulele, I just play music and this is an instrument I love. So I’m not quite as militant as some of our friends are. I don’t mind if someone plays their guitar and the ukulele. But it’s nice when it pops up, so I wouldn’t mind.

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