Friday, September 19, 2008


This is my soprano Pohaku ukulele that I bought from Peter Hurley at the Northern California Ukulele Festival 2008. I told Peter that I really love the sound that this mahogany body / spruce top ukulele puts out. He said, please tell others. I am now doing so. The photo doesn't show some of the beautiful details and I couldn't resist it.

I have never felt real comfortable singing in front of others and so going to a Ukulele Club meeting has the benefit of drowning out my voice so I can enjoy strumming and chording. Perhaps, from this reluctance I have had the desire to work on fingerpicking songs to produce a SEMI-recognizable melody. I have purchased several books over the last two years and perhaps my favorite is John King's Famous Solos & Duets for the Ukulele.

Today, I had an appointment to get two new tires on my car. I figured that I would be sitting around for a while so I brought my custom Pohaku soprano ukulele in a rustic case that I recently purchased from Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, CA. Mel's tires had two benches outside and I sat, pulled out John King's book and started playing Hene.

Hene is a rather simple waltz that is plucked and it involves fairly easy finger movements. I recommend looking at the Berkeley Ukulele Club page on for the song as an example of the book. Of course, I recommend purchasing the book. Some songs look quite difficult but there's really a lot of material to challenge yourself with. I don't think anyone will ever outgrow this book.

When I started taking lessons from Hiram Bell. I played Hene for him because he also had the book and liked the ukulele/guitar duets. Hiram asked me to work on the Aloha Quickstep which has become my favorite tune to play. Again the strings are plucked but the song is constructed so that it is easily played and repeated as many times as you like. A great song to warm up the fingers in the morning.
The manager at the car shop stopped to listen for a while and he said that the ukulele had a very soothing sound. I have been learning slowly but have 5 or 6 songs that I can play from memory.
Besides John King's songs my favorite songs to play have been created by Steven Strauss. Steven has put together two songs for the club: Moonglow and Sweet and Slow. They can be seen on the ukemaker site as well. Steven likes older tunes and provides great fluid chord movements that have a very pleasing sound. He has taken some song requests from the club and we are all eagerly awaiting the next song.
I personally wish Steven would compile an ukulele songbook and make great royalties on it. He's got the genius and he shares it with us evey two weeks.

1 comment:

  1. I have to get my hands on the solos and duets book. His Classical Ukulele book is the best out there.