Saturday, July 9, 2011

Is Les more???

Whoa, it has been 2 months since I last posted here.  Not sure if anyone is still checking this blog, but it's not dead.  I just got more busy as summer has finally rolled around in Minnesota.  Also, I've contracted some other "AS" so UAS is in remission, thus less stuff to post here.

Regardless, I had ordered an Epiphone Les Paul uke after it was announced at one of the NAMM shows.  I ordered it from Sam Ash, and it took quite a while until they finally had stock to ship around the middle of June.

So why would I even bother with something like this?  After all, it's more or less a novelty uke made with laminated wood.  Well, the reason is simple.  I've always been a fan of Les Pauls.  No, I can't play guitar, but I've always thought Les Pauls looked cool in the hands of guys like Slash.  I once bought a Kiwaya K-Wave ukulele because it resembled a Les Paul, and I've wanted an Earnest La Paula for the same reason.  A Les Paul shaped ukulele made by Epiphone, no matter how bad an instrument it turns out to be, would be an actual, genuine Les Paul, and that's enough for me to want to get one.  The fact that these sell for $99 made it a no brainer.

So now I've had this ukulele for a little while, I will do a quick review of it.  First off, the stock strings that came with it are complete garbage.  The ukulele sounded pretty bad and dead out of the box.  I don't know what those strings are, and frankly I don't care, as they probably sound worse than my dental floss would have sounded strung to this uke.  So my initial impression wasn't good.  I thought I had bought a $99 novelty.  At that point, I figure it wouldn't hurt to slap some Aquila strings onto this uke.  I'm not a fan of Aquila strings, and pretty much every uke I have that came strung with Aquilas got a string change in quick order.  So I had plenty of Aquila strings on hand.  I know Aquilas were at least good for bringing low end laminated ukes to life, so I gave it a shot.  I wasn't expecting much, but to my surprise, the Aquilas significantly improved the sound of this uke.  With the Aquila strings installed, the ukulele actually sounded pretty good.  In fact, I liked the sound better than some lower end solid wood ukes I've played before.  This was quite a pleasant surprise, and immediately made the ukulele worth the $99 and more.

The next thing I noted was the action.  It's setup probably on the high side of acceptability for me.  I have no problem strumming on it, but finger picking beyond say the first 3~5 frets takes a little bit of an effort.  Do keep in mind I'm pretty used to playing some custom ukes with very easy playing actions, so it's probably better than what I've described.  I've read that the nut and saddle are plastic and rather crudely finished, and that was the case on mine.  On the saddle, there is a mold line right on the edge where the strings contact the saddle.  Pretty terrible place for a mold line in my opinion.  So I took a sandpaper and sanded off that mold line.  The nut slots also looked a bit crude with some burrs on the sides of the slots.  However, other than looking bad, I didn't think there was enough of an issue for me to work on it.  The overall action was acceptable for me, so I didn't do anything to lower it.  It does have a bolt-on neck, so if needed, it should be rather easy to adjust the action.

Reviewing this backwards, let's talk a little bit about the package.  It comes packaged in a trapezoid box with Epiphone graphics on it.  Beside the ukulele, it comes with a very thin gig-bag and a chord to plug it into an amp.  The box also contained some Epiphone catalogs and an Epiphone bumper sticker.  Not a bad package for $99.

The Les Paul uke has an undersaddle pickup installed.  I only used it once so far, but I thought it worked really well.  The volume was pretty balanced from string to string, and it was fun playing it using various effects on my amp.  So as an electric uke, it seems to do the job.

While the sound, once the Aquilas were installed, surprised me, the looks was what I expected.  The sunburst on the body looked great, as is the curls in the laminated wood.  The workmanship besides the nut and saddle looked good to me.  The uke is on the heavy side, but that was expected as I've read that the body (besides the top) was routed from a block rather than glued together, making the sides and back fairly thick.  One quirk I found is that the normal ukulele position dot at the 10th fret is now at the 9th fret, which is where they place a dot on the guitar.  This does screw me up a bit because I usually look at the side markers (the Les Paul also have side markers) when I play, and having the one at 10th fret moved to 9th fret will take some mental adjustment.  It's not a huge deal, but it would have made the uke more playable for me if the dot was at the 10th fret.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Epiphone Les Paul.  As long as you make sure to change out the crappy stock strings, I think it's a pretty fun ukulele that sounds surprisingly good.  I've actually played it a lot more than I thought I would.  I think it makes a good knock around ukulele, one that you don't need to worry too much about humidifying and can just leave anywhere in the house.  It looks cool, sounds pretty good, and is cheap.  In my book it's well worth the $99 price of admission.

Front shot

Back shot

Hey, it's a Les Paul!

The bolted neck.

Bridge & saddle.

Pickup plug.

Back of the headstock.  It's made in Indonesia.

Notice the position dot at the 9th fret.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Comparing a few concert ukes

Since receiving the Mya-Moe concert ukulele, I've been meaning to do some sort of a demo between it and some other concert ukes I have.  I got some free time this weekend so I decided to make a video playing it and three other ukes: William King ls-concert, Glyph mezzo-soprano, Collings UC-1.

Each of these ukuleles were strung with different kind of strings, so perhaps the comparison isn't as un-bias as it could be.  But I have found that at this level of ukulele, strings don't really change the basic dynamic of their sound anyway.  These ukes pretty much should sound good with any reasonably good strings.  The string setup:

Collings UC-1 (Aquila strings)
William King long-scale concert (Southcoast medium tension)
Glyph mezzo-soprano (Worth CD)
Mya-Moe concert (Worth CM)

Besides sharing the same scale length (the King is 1" longer than the rest), all of these ukes have radiused fretboards.  The Collings have a 1-3/8" nut while the other three have 1.5" nuts.  The string spacing are also all different, with the Mya-Moe being the widest followed by Glyph, King, and Collings.  This made it slightly challenging to quickly play the same things on these ukes in succession, as you will see a few mess ups and messy playing on the video.  But I think it gets the point across.

I won't make any comments on what I personally thought about the sound of each of these ukes, so you can form your own opinion.  I'm actually not sure if this exercise is of any benefit to anyone, but I guess it could just be a fun excuse to post a video featuring four different ukes or something.

Anyway, here's the vid:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Curly Brothers

My Glyph mezzo soprano had been back at Dave Mean's shop the last month for a little fretboard issue caused by winter dryness.  The issue occurred during the winter and caused me to play the uke a lot less than I would have liked (I wanted to wait until the weather warmed up a bit before sending it back for repair).  So in effect I basically have not played it for what seems like 4-5 months.

The repair is a minor one and the ukulele returned today.  Man I really missed playing this ukulele.  When it's right, it's perhaps my favorite sounding ukulele, certainly one of the very best I have.  Like the great custom built ukulele it is, it plays effortlessly and feels really alive while I play it.  It's hard to explain but the notes really bounce out of this thing.  I guess I better pay better attention to humidifying it next winter so I won't be without it for an extended length of time again.

Anyway, as I've been playing the Mya-Moe myrtle concert a lot lately, I just had to compare the curly wood found on these ukes.  The Glyph was supposed to be AAAA curly koa, and next to it, the Mya-Moe looks to be similarly curled.  I like this type of curly appearance very much, and I'm very happy with the appearance of both of these ukes.

One thing I noticed is that the scale length of the Glyph mezzo soprano is exactly the same as the Mya-Moe concert.  The mezzo is sort of a "long-scale" mezzo soprano in that it was joined at the 14th fret and Dave Means make the scale longer to place the bridge at the ideal spot.  I thought the scale length is just a little less than a concert scale but at least when compared with the Mya-Moe concert, it is exactly the same.  So I guess the mezzo soprano is something of a large bodied super-soprano, or a small bodied concert.  Or a long-scale mezzo soprano...

Ok, enough of that, a couple of more pictures of the curly bros:

Curly sides

Curly backs

What do you get with your Mya-Moe?

I've had my Mya-Moe myrtle concert ukulele for about a week now and for most of the past week, I've been playing it almost exclusively to get accustomed to it and also kind of start the break-in process.  So far it's proven to be a nice and robust ukulele and I've enjoyed playing it.  I plugged it in a few days ago and am very happy with the performance of the pickup.  This is the first ukulele I have with a K&K twin spot pickup.  The three other acoustic ukes I have with pickups all have Mi-Si.  I plugged it to my cheap acoustic amplifier through an L.R. Baggs DI and I thought it sounded pretty good.  All strings sounded loud and clear through the speaker, and that's all I pretty much ask for.  I'm still hoping that in time the sound will open up a little more, but even if it stays the same, it is a good sounding ukulele and I can't really complain.

So what else do you get with a Mya-Moe besides the ukulele itself?  If you ordered a Tradition model, which is the least expensive model they have, you're supposed to get a canvas foam case.  However, mine came with an upgraded Uke Crazy case.  I did upgrade the wood to curly myrtle and added the pickup, so perhaps they just threw in the case upgrade.  I don't know.  It's a pretty nice case, but the latches it has makes me just a little bit nervous.  They are the flip open type (you can see that they are in the open position in the above picture).  There are only two of them and they strike me as being easy to open.  They are probably just fine, but they just don't feel as secure as the "hook & latch" type found on Ko'olau and Ameritage cases.  I guess I'll just take extra precaution if I ever take the case out of the house.

Besides the case, you get a Mya-Moe micro-fiber cloth, a small bottle of lemon oil, a Mya-Moe sticker, and a spec sheet.  The micro-fiber cloth has the Mya-Moe logo on it, so you know which uke it's supposed to wipe.  The lemon oil is used to maintain the finish on the ukulele.  The spec sheet contains the build specifications and serial number on the uke, so if you ever pass it down to your kids, they know exactly what they're getting.

Anyway, I thought the stuff they included with the ukulele are pretty cool.  I will be spending more time with the Mya-Moe concert and post some random stuff about it from time to time.

Spec Sheet

Lemon Oil

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bohemian Rhapsody on the Mya-Moe

I've been playing Bohemian a lot in the last month or so, in hopes of being able to play it better than I did when I posted a video of this song a couple of months ago. I definitely feel like I've improved (I mean, I better be after practicing for two months right?), but it's still a work in progress. Then again, I'm not sure I can play any song cleanly, especially in front of a camera. With the arrival of my Mya-Moe concert, I thought I'd post a couple of videos up with it, and Bohemian Rhapsody is the first one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Early Bird

In my last post, I said that Mya-Moe has completed my myrtle concert ukulele ahead of schedule. Well, it appears that UPS also got into the early bird act because two days ago while checking the tracking number, UPS indicated that the package will be delivered ahead of schedule, on 4/26 instead of the original 4/27 date. Lo and behold, the ukulele showed up today! I'm not sure if I'll experience this kind of ahead-of-the-schedule-ness for the rest of my life, but I'll take it this time! I must say the Mya-Moe experience has been really exceptional. Their awesome uke tracker kept me up to date on the progress of the uke. The build was complete ahead of schedule. And they even upgraded my case to a deluxe case (the Uke Crazy case seen in the picture above). Before the build, Char even checked with me to see if I was interested in another piece of curly myrtle she found in her shop. She could have easily just built the ukulele using the piece of myrtle I've already chosen, instead of making the effort to check with me on the new piece of wood. I really think they provide exceptional service, which is consistent with everything I heard about them before deciding to place an order.

Since I've only had this ukulele with me for half a day, I can only share some early impressions. The first impression is very good. I opened the case and saw a very well made ukulele with some seriously curly myrtle. I love curly wood and this makes me happy! (hey! get yer head out of the gutter!) The Mya Moe headstock, which I have to admit wasn't exactly my cup of tea from all the pictures I've seen, looks really good in person. The headstock is well executed and there is a thin layer of ebony between the veneer and the mahogany, giving it a nice higher-end look. I have not gone through the ukulele with a fine-tooth comb (and probably won't. I generally don't do that.), but there are no noticeable cosmetic issues on the exterior and the interior looks clean. I ordered a K&K pickup and it is neatly installed and wires are affixed to the side of the ukulele so it doesn't dangle around. The neck is of a one-piece construction, which is something I personally really like. I just really like it when a ukulele doesn't have a stacked heel and multi-piece headstock construction. Gimme a neck carved out of one piece of wood! Dammit! (LOL!) Anyway, going onto the fretboard, it appears to have a bigger radius than any ukulele I currently own. But as with my other radiused fretboards, it isn't something that's consciously noticeable, so the radius isn't too large and it feels comfortable. Another detail that I like a lot is the small angle carved into the outer edges of the fretboard. It is meant to prevent the fret ends from ever sticking out far enough to cause discomfort. It's a nice little touch, and hopefully the fretboard is well seasoned so it won't shrink in the dry winter here to cause any fret-end sticking out issues. This ukulele feels relatively heavy, at least compared to my feather light Collings concert. I was kind of expecting it to be super light like the Collings, but the weight isn't anything that bothers me. After all, it is still lighter than my heavy duty William King ebony concert that remains my favorite ukulele.

So the Mya Moe is pretty much a homerun in terms of looks and workmanship. As for the sound and playing feel, the first impression is not quite as rosy. This ukulele certainly sounds good, and when picked, it seems to be in the same level as my other custom concert ukes. However, when strumming it, I felt that it seemed a bit tight. I don't recall ever thinking that playing any of my other custom built concerts or the Collings. Played side by side with the William King concert and the Collings concert, those two did feel more open when strummed. Of course, Mya Moe did send a note saying that the ukulele should open up with consistent play over several months, so hopefully this slight tightness in the sound would go away in time. As is, it's still a very nice sounding instrument, but playing it next to my other ukes, I think it would do well if it opened up a bit in the future.

The ukulele came with about average height setup. I didn't measure it, but it feels that way to me. Given that it's a concert scale, I didn't need it to be super low because the string tension is relatively low. It is easy to play and the vibrations while playing it feels good, as it should on a luthier built instrument.

Overall, my first impression is very positive for this ukulele. The only improvement I would like to see is for the strummed sound to be more open, and I'm hopeful that it will open up a little bit in time. If that happens, this would truly be a great ukulele. I will try to record a video or two with it soon. Until then, here are a few more pics of the new addition to my stash 'o ukes:

The back of the myrtle concert. I like it!

The sides have matching curls.

Hanging out with a couple of other concert ukes with one-piece necks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mya-Moe is completed!

How about that! A custom ukulele actually completed ahead of schedule! Woohoo! Ok, so I don't actually consider Mya-Moes to be true customs, since you don't get to design every aspect of the ukulele's look and you can't really get custom inlays on it, but they are still bespoke instruments made by two people only, so they can't be considered a factory instrument either. Either way, my Mya-Moe concert is now completed. The original promise date was April 27th, and they've beaten that by almost a week. If you look at the uke tracker for my uke, it appears that they even took a vacation between April 6th and April 19th, so it could have been even earlier. Anyway you slice it, I'm impressed by how accurate they were on their promise date.

And another word about their Uke Tracker. It has to be the coolest thing any ukulele luthier has ever put on their website. It's so nice to be able to punch in your ukulele number and follow the progress as it builds. There's no guessing on where they're at with your instrument. No need to email for updates. And it's just plain cool to have this level of traceability for a bespoke instrument.

Anyway, it's supposed to be shipped out today, so I should be seeing it sometime next week. Judging from the pictures, I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I love tight reflective curls and this is pretty much what I envisioned when I went with this piece of Myrtle. I trust that the uke will sound and play wonderfully, but I'm still very anxious to try it out. This will be the least adorned custom ukulele I've ever ordered, with no bindings or even position dots on the fretboard face, but I was going for a basic look with this one, and I like what I see on the pictures.

Since I have not learned any new songs since posting my rather broken Bohemian Rhapsody attempt, so maybe I'll try to make a video playing Bohemian Rhapsody (hopefully a better attempt) and perhaps something else that I can play in my sleep (maybe Gently Weeps) as a demo of this ukulele. Anyway, I will probably try to post a couple of videos with this ukulele.

Well, I will have more to post once this uke arrives. Until then, here are the other pictures from the Uke Tracker:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Eddie Vedder's ukulele album

A few weeks ago I noticed on the forums that Eddie Vedder will be coming out with a solo album titled Ukulele Songs. While I can't say that I was especially excited, since these days I'm more into ukulele instrumental music, I was certainly happy to know that Eddie Vedder will release a ukulele-centric album. I've been a Pearl Jam fan since I was in high school (that's like 20 years ago! Damn I'm old!) and the very first song I learned to play on the ukulele was Eddie Vedder's Soon Forget, so this is a album I'll be getting for sure. The release date is May 31st.

In other happenings, it appears that my Mya-Moe custom concert ukulele is ahead of schedule. In this day and age of delays after delays, it's pretty refreshing to see someone meeting a promise date, much less improve upon it. The pictures on the uke tracker is looking really good. The curly Myrtle is looking great and I look forward to checking it out to see if Mya-Moe is as good as advertised.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Start Date

Well, time sure flies. I ordered a Mya-Moe ukulele last November and the start date was set for March 23rd. Here we are on the eve of March 23rd, and looks like it will start on time. I don't know if I've ever ordered a custom ukulele that started on time. I think the William Kings were pretty close, but the other ones were way off the projected start (and finish) date for one reason or another. So it's kind of refreshing to have a custom started on time.

Anyway, since I ordered it, Mya-Moe has added some nifty stuff to their website. Namely the Uke Tracker. I find the Uke Tracker to be insanely cool because you can enter your uke number and follow the exact progress, complete with pictures, of your ukulele. I imagine it's a lot of work to keep it up for them, but so far they haven't missed a beat. My Mya-Moe is #423. Check it out on the Uke Tracker if you'd like. It will be cool to follow the progress of this ukulele. I have pretty high expectations for it. Hopefully it delivers.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bohemian Rhapsody played badly...

....but hey, at least I played it!

Anyway, Bohemian Rhapsody is a song that was very familiar to me. When I was in junior high, I watched MTV all the time because I loved watching music videos. Back then they have these video countdown show and when the movie Wayne's World used Bohemian Rhapsody on the soundtrack, they released a video of the some with footage from Wayne's World mixed in with Queen's original video. It was a hit and was played over and over on MTV back then. It wasn't really one of my favorite songs but I always thought the middle part where they sang a pseudo opera was pretty funny. For some reason even though this song wasn't exactly one of my favorite songs, it was imprinted onto my brain pretty good. I think I can literally recite all the lyrics in the opera section. Which tells me I might have watched too much MTV back then...whatever.

Now Jake Shimabukuro has composed a version of this song on the ukulele, I have taken interest in this song again. After all these years, I still know exactly how this song goes. So it's pretty amazing to hear how closely Jake's version follows the original. That's a good thing when trying to learn this song because it is really long at almost six minutes. If I didn't know exactly how the song sounded like, I probably would have no shot at learning it.

As usual, I searched Youtube for videos to learn this song from. There are a few videos of Jake himself playing this song, but I did most of the learning from this video by Greyboy78. That's because he played it quite a bit slower than Jake and it was easier to follow. His camera angle made it a bit hard to see finger positions, but I was able to figure most it out by ear after seeing the approximate finger positioning on the fingerboard. It turned out that this song really isn't difficult from a technical sense. There are really no really difficult parts to play, but the difficulty lied in the sheer length of the song. As I mentioned, I knew how this song is supposed to sound like, so it helped me remember how to play it, but it definitely wasn't easy to remember how to play through this song from the beginning to the end.

The video I'm posting today is not a very good attempt, as it contains more mistakes then even by my low standards. But I am pretty excited that I can even play through this song entirely at all, so I thought I'd post an attempt. Hopefully I can play it better in the near future and be able to upload a better video.

So here it is, a ghetto attempt at Bohemian Rhapsody:

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Maybe it was the fact that the start date for my Mya Moe concert is approaching soon, but maybe a couple of weeks ago I felt a jolt of motivation to learn some new songs on the ukulele (kind of bad to have UAS as a source of motivation to learn new stuff. Gotta change that...). Having been listening to Jake Shimabukuro's Peace Love Ukulele quite a bit lately, it's only natural that I wanted to learn some of the new stuff from the album. Bohemian Rhapsody has always been on my wish list to learn, but I have not really gave it a shot until just a few days ago because it seems too difficult (trying to piece it together now, realizing that the difficulty is not in the technical aspect, but rather how long the song is). So I tackled Bring Your Adz. This song seemed to be manageable for my playing level but while I was able to learn it fairly quickly, I still have a long ways to go before I can play it smoothly enough. While browsing Youtube videos to learn Adz (my primary way of learning new songs these days), I saw a related Hallelujah (Jake's version) video. I viewed a couple of those and decided to try and learn it. To my pleasant surprise it was pretty easy and I was able to play it reasonably well in a few days. I had some time on my hands yesterday so I decided to shoot a video of this song. As far as number of takes go to get a presentable video, it wasn't too bad. So here is Hallelujah.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New wood

Char from Mya-Moe emailed me yesterday regarding the wood set for my concert ukulele. She had found another set that she thought was closer to what I had originally asked for and sent me a picture of it. This set of myrtle had some really nice curl, more so than the set I had picked out before, so I went for it. I love me some curly wood, and this one should be pretty good looking. The uke is scheduled to start around the end of March, so it's definitely closing in. I guess I need to have a few songs ready (just learned "Bring Your Adz" & "Hallelujah" and about to tackle "Bohemian Rhapsody") so I can make some videos with it soon after it arrives.

Here's what the wood set looks like:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What was that about UAS again??...?

So much for my contention that I don't have any UAS right now. I browsed the Ukulele Underground forum briefly today and read a post about the Epiphone Les Paul ukulele. That was all it took for me to place a pre-order for one of these babies with Sam Ash. Pretty crazy. Then again, it is only $100. To me, just the fact that this is a Les Paul shaped ukulele with an Epiphone logo on it makes it worth the Benjamin, even if it sounds like something that should only be purchased by clueless tourists on Waikiki. I've always loved the Les Paul shape, and have once owned a Kiwaya K-Wave just because of its shape. I've also lusted after the Earnest LaPaula since basically when I started playing the ukulele. So to have an "official" Les Paul ukulele is pretty cool, I think. It is supposedly coming out in March, so hopefully I'll get to see how good or bad it is. But whether it's a decent beater uke or a piece of crap, I will be able to say I own a real Les Paul uke! That's gotta be worth something right???....ok, maybe not, but it's still cool!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Whoa! It's been quite a long time since I've posted here. Cobwebs have definitely been growing in the ghetto!

Well, since the last holiday season, I guess my attention have been quite divided. Besides having 3 kids to handle, I've also been getting back into a couple of other hobbies. I didn't get any new ukuleles for Christmas, but I got myself (people my age basically use Christmas as an excuse to buy stuff for themselves. At least I do, har!) other stuff that occupied my attention for the last couple of months. Ukulele kind of taken a backseat in terms of me learning new stuff and following what going on in the ukulele world. My temporary UAS binge (Lanikai zebra and Kala pocket) totally went away, and while I busted the ukulele to play most days, there were a few days where I didn't even get around to playing the ukulele. I still enjoyed playing the ukulele, but it was kind of a "time away" from my ukes. I think that's good though, because I know ukulele is pretty much in my blood, and I will always be interested in it and come back to it.

I've been listening to Jake's new CD in my car fairly often of late, and sure enough, I got an itch to learn something from that disc. I know I would like to play his version of Bohemian Rhapsody someday, but it's really long and probably not that easy to learn, so the next song I really wanted to learn was Bring Your Adz. I have no idea what "Adz" means, but the tune is pretty cool. I started messing with the opening section last week and kind of figured out how it was played. Then a couple of days ago, I decided to tackle the song hard and dug up a few Youtube videos to attempt to learn it. It isn't a hard song to learn, so I more of less got all the parts down. But it is pretty hard to execute (for me anyway), so now it will just take some time to refine it the best I can. I guess there is no shortage of songs I would like to learn, sometimes the motivation is there, and sometimes there isn't. I'm definitely feeling the urge to learn a few new songs now, so hopefully I'll have something to share soon.

On the UAS front, although I have not felt any urges to get new ukes, there is one on the horizon. That is the Mya Moe I ordered last year. I think it was slated to start in March and be completed by April. Mya Moe appears to be the most "on-time" builder around, so I'm thinking I'll be getting the uke sometime in April. I hope it doesn't trigger another UAS binge, but I guess we'll see about that.

Anyway, all is well. I still love the ukulele very much, although I just don't have as much time or things I could share here right now. Hopefully I will continue to be able to put of semi-useful or halfway entertaining stuff here.

Until next time, I leave you with a quick picture of the myrtle wood set I recently choose for the Mya Moe:

Friday, January 7, 2011

"I Love Hawaii"...

And now for something a little different (yet still have a little bit to do with ukes!)...

So tonight I took my family to a local mall. While there, I went into a store there called "Tomodachi", which sells mainly Japanese toys and collectibles. The Japanese love "candy toys", which are these little boxes containing randomly inserted little models of various subjects and usually a piece of candy or gum. The subject matter of these "candy toys" range from the usual Japanese Animation stuff such as Dragon Ball Z and Gundam, to some really bizarre stuff such as miniature furniture and food models. This store sells a lot of these "candy toys" and this time I decided to check them out while pushing my baby son's stroller through the small store. Since the Japanese love to travel to Hawaii, I guess it wasn't a shock to see this:

You probably didn't have to guess that the ukulele on the front of this box immediately caught my eyes (yes, sad but true...). Knowing what these boxes are, I knew the ukulele was probably one of the random items packaged inside the box. I grabbed it and turned it over, and sure enough, there are 9 different sets of "Hawaii" items that you can get:

As you can see, set 3 contained the mini ukulele I so very much wanted (I guess UAS knows no size limitations or make any distinctions between real and fake). Now, being full of items imported to the USA from Japan, everything in the store carried fairly ridiculous prices. This little box, which measures about 4 inches tall, costs $4.50. So I wasn't going to get a bunch of boxes in hopes of scoring the mini-uke. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, there were only two boxes left. I thought about just letting it go, but as I left the store, I was like "what the heck, I'll just get one and see what I got". I was thinking as long as I didn't get set 8 (golf clubs...that's supposed to remind me of Hawaii???) I'd be OK with it. So I grabbed one box, paid for it, and left (OK, so I also grabbed another box containing an insanely detailed 1/24 Suzuki racing motorcycle).

After getting to my car, I opened the "I Love Hawaii" box to see what I got, not really expecting to get set 3 with the mini-uke. Lo and behold, I did get set 3! (This is when you get to say "what a nerd!")

As you can see, it came with a few other things other than the mini-ukulele. There's a card that tells you what they are:

Besides the ukulele, we have a glass of "Blue Hawaii" cocktail, a pair of Beach Sandals, and a Lei. So I have absolutely no interest in the other 3 items (especially not the pink sandals!), but hey, they are pretty cute. The mini-ukulele probably was modeled after a Martin, but being so small, the headstock actually looks more like a Gibson. Whatever. It's actually looks pretty decent, and it has 4 strings (painted on a piece of clear plastic) and 4 tuning pegs. Pretty accurate representation of the ukulele if you ask me.

So just how small is this little guy? Remember the Pocket uke?

It's the size of the Pocket uke's bridge! (for those of you who have sharp eyes, yes, the Pocket uke developed some seam separation at the soundboard. It works fine, but I'll need to try to do something about it at some point, I think.)

I think this just might be the smallest model of the ukulele ever. I mean, any smaller you might not be able to see it!

So there you have it. Something totally out of the left field. I guess I was pretty lucky to have scored this fake mini-uke. Too bad I don't have such luck with lottery tickets...(like I have a 1 in 9 chance of winning the lottery...) But now that I have this little fake ukulele, what do I do with it??? Hmmm....I think I know just the guy to give it to:

Kamen Rider DECADE!

Yeah baby! He rocks the ukulele and the Lei! Isn't that perfect or what??? (OK, I'll go away now...)

I hope you've enjoyed this little ukulele odyssey. Until next time, keep strumming... (yes, you too, Decade...)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Peace, Love, Ukulele

It's no secret that I'm a big Jake Shimabukuro fan, so when I learned that I could pre-order his upcoming CD, titled Peace, Love, Ukulele, I did just that.

The pre-order indicated that the CD would be released on January 3rd, but I actually received the CD on that date, so it was a pleasant surprise.

I've only listened to the CD a couple of times so far in my car (where I do most of my music listening), but I do like it. There are 2 tracks worth of Bohemian Rhapsody, one recorded in studio and one recorded live. I thought it's a cool arrangement. A few other songs got studio recordings after being released on the Live album from a couple of years ago. There are not a ton of new materials but most are pretty fresh.

Anyway, I'm not much of a reviewer of albums, so I'll just share a few more pictures of it. If you're a Jake Shimabukuro fan, you've probably already bought this in the form of the CD or MP3 from iTunes. If you're just discovering the ukulele and find Jake's music to your liking, this is a good listen.

Back of the CD

Inside of the case

Folded insert. On one side it has a picture of Jake holding a Kamaka soprano (he doesn't play sopranos!) and a couple of chord charts.

Other side of the insert with track listing and thank you's.

Which uke should I bring on my next trip to Oahu???

What's the maximum you'd spend on a ukulele case for your best uke?

If you could steal one of my ukes, which one would it be???

How curly do you like your koa? (preferably on a uke)

What's the maximum number of ukes a perfectly sane person should have???

Poll: How often do you play the ukulele???

Poll: Which guitar company's approach to ukes do you prefer???

Poll: What's your favorite type of headstock???

Poll: The new basic Collings concert uke (UC-1) sells for about $1k, your reaction is: