At last it’s December 31. Better known as New Years Eve. As the world turns a new page, we bid farewell to a year none of us expected. For some it was the worst year of their lives. They’ve lost their jobs, plans were dashed, and many even battled the virus itself. Worst yet, many have even lost dear loved ones. But for some it was the year they didn’t think they needed. They were pushed to take a deep look at themselves and make hard decisions that needed to be made. Many of those with families were locked together with them, finding that they missed out on so much pre-covid as we raced toward the carrots of success, money, and fame. Many were forced to rethink their careers and find out what brought them joy... and then pursue it. So 2020 gave us 20/20. As in 20/20 vision. No matter where you fall on the year, we should all agree that it was a major reset. And as the dawn of a new year approaches, I want to help reset your ukulele goals with 5 ukulele resolutions for 2021! 5. Chord Guru In 2021 become a chord guru! We all get stumped sometimes when we try to learn new songs. We forget how play certain chords and we get frustrated as we have to search for it online or dig them up on an old chord chart. Doing this risks taking us out of our flow state. As I’ve gotten to know many pro ukulele players throughout the years, one of the things they all have in common is a deep repertoire of chord knowledge. Watching them play through different chords is inspiring. So start by learning a new chord each week. That’s 52 chords in 2021! Learn the chord name, fingering, and play songs that require it. Playing them continuously for a week will help cement it to memory. Remember that their are many variants for chords so learn them all! This will make learning new songs a breeze! 4. Learn 12 New Songs With the plethora of awesome YouTube tutorials, this resolution should be a piece of cake! And 12 new songs is just the baseline. You can make your resolution 24 if you think you can handle it. And if your a classic overachiever, how about 52? Songs can run the gamut of learning a simple jingle to a complex instrumental piece such as Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata! Just WOW!!! 3. The Songwriter Maybe this is the year you start creating your own music! I know the 2020 wave has churned up many emotions so now may be the best time to express them through your ukulele. I‘ve just watched Pixar’s new movie Soul and loved watching the musicians get “in the zone”. Make this a year long resolution. No need to rush. Spend time ’feeling’ your way around the ukulele and start setting your heart to chords! And if you must.....add lyrics. 2. Recording Artist Have you ever heard yourself play the ukulele? As strange as that question sounds, many haven’t. Think about it. Of course you‘ve heard yourself as you play, but have you ever just sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed listening to yourself playing? If you haven’t, this is the resolution for you! Throughout 2021, record yourself playing your ukulele. You can do this simply by shooting it on your phone. If you want to take it further, you could purchase mics and import the audio to your PC. And if you are inspired, you can play with the mix on music apps and software. And who knows? This could be the start of your musical career! 1. The Dream This is a huge one. We all have dreams, right? Hopefully you do! A dream car. A dream home. A dream travel destination. And the dreams go on and on. But what about a dream ukulele? The 2021 could be the year when you purchase your dream ukulele. Start by looking for your dream ukulele. Start researching into the sizes, wood combinations, builders, pickups, and extras. And those extras being side ports, cutaways, slotted head stocks, bevels, custom inlays and rosettes, Rodger’s tuners, 5 strings (or 6 or 8), etc...etc...etc...! Haha! You get the picture. And then start saving each month. This dream ukulele could be a $300 KUMU to a $5,000 Kamaka! Or more! So by this time next year you could be strumming on your new dream ukulele. As I wrap up this post I want to personally thank you for reading my last one of the year! As 2021 arrives I hope you and your loved ones a healthy, safe, and joyful New Years! Keep jamming and aloha!
Mele Kalikimaka Song Tutorial! Merry Christmas from Leolani
This ones for you! Thank you for all your support this 2020 year! As we head towards Christmas, we want to wish you and yours a Mele Kalikimaka and Happy New Year! As a gift, we wanted to bless you with this amazing tutorial of Mele Kalikimaka from our dear friend Jonah Davis. Now grab your uke, a cold glass of eggnog, and let’s learn this classic together! Time Stamps: Mele Kalikimaka Playalong: (00:53) Learn the chords: (03:05) Strumming Patterns: (06:36) Learning the Intro: (11:38) We hoped you enjoyed learning Mele Kalikimaka! We hope you jam it come the 25th! From our ohana to yours.... Mele Kalikimaka!!!
There’s 11 days left till Christmas! I know, crazy right! And maybe your like me and you’ve waited till the last minute to get gifts. Then there’s the added pressure of getting a gift for an ukulele enthusiast! “What do I get and how do I get it fast?” Well count your lucky sugar plums, because I’m here to help you out! As shipping windows close, here are 10 last minute ukulele gift ideas you can get in a jiffy! I will add purchase links to express your shopping time! Amazon is gonna offer before Christmas Day delivery up until Sunday!!! Mahalo Amazon elves! You guys are saving Christmas. Some of these gifts are affordable, while others are next level and are sure to bring a smile to your giftee's face! Or yourself! Haha! We are the generation of self-love right? So without further ado, here...we...go! 10. Online Ukulele Courses Most ukulele players want to improve their skills, and online ukulele courses make a fantastic gift that keeps on giving! Good online ukulele courses are almost as nice as in-person lessons, while being more affordable and a whole lot easier to fit into a busy schedule. This would make a perfect gift someone wanting to get into the ukulele. Maybe the perfect gift for your kid(s). I recommend AllForUke with Kevin Presbrey! He offers a 7-day free trial and only $10 a month afterwards! He even offers private uke lessons! Check out more on his website allforuke.com! 9. Ukulele Chord Chart/Cheat Sheet Every ukulele player needs one of these so this will make an amazing gift. Having a chord chart on hand will help when your in a pinch and need to figure out a specific chord. This version comes in two sizes and are small enough to fit in a ukulele bag or hardcase pocket! Plus they are gloriously laminated so no worries Cheeto fingers! Get the Ukulele Chord Cheatsheets on Amazon here! 8. USB Recording Mic Every budding ukulele artist needs a recording mic. But what if you don’t have all the chords and computer adapters? Don’t fret, the Fafine Condenser Recording Microphone requires only a USB port. Super simple to use, and records crystal clear audio! Gift the Fifine Condenser Recording Mic off Amazon here! 7. String Winder Drill Bit This gift is for the hip ukulele players who like unique gifts. Who wants to spend minutes hand winding their strings when you can do it in seconds! Finally some wizard created a nifty piece of practical magic... a drill bit string winder! And it’s super affordable at under $7 (drill not included... haha). So make sure the giftee has a drill! I use this bit and its a time saver. And its incredibly fun too! Get a String Winder Drill Bit off Amazon here! 6. Orange Amp The Orange Amp Micro Terror is small amp with a ton of power! People all over love the Orange brand of guitar amps, and this little guy sure lives up to the hype. This may be the best gift your giftee may get under the tree. Paired with the right speakers and you will be headlining Coachella! Well, at least in your bedroom. Gift the amazing Orange Amp Micro Terror on Amazon here! 5. Crossrock Hardcase Today, most ukulele come in padded gig bags. They are flexible, lightweight, and get the job done. But sometimes your ukulele needs to ride around in style. In these ‘cases’ you have to get a hardcase. I recommend gifting a Crosswalk Hardcase. They come in all sizes and in a multitude of colors. They even offer different material options. If looks could kill, better call the doctor! Gift a Crossrock Hardcase off Amazon here! 4. Wireless Transmitter Receiver Now this thing is really cool. You can plug in your ukulele into an amp, and do it wirelessly! What devilry is this? No worries, no devils here. Just science! You just plug one of the receivers into your ukulele and the other into the amp and now you can play untethered. No more tripping over your cords. Now your free to roam around as you play. And dare I say dance? Gift the Getaria Wireless Digital Transmitter off Amazon here! 3. The Beatles Ukulele Song Book George Harrison loved the ukulele! And the world loves George Harrison. So here is a fun gift to give to an ukulele player who wants to tap into their musical roots. You can’t go through music pop history without taking a major detour down Abby Road. Now you can take this detour with your ukulele! And did I mention this book comes loaded with 195 songs! Wowza! The Little Black Book of Beatle’s Songs for Ukulele found here! 2. Roadie Tuner 3 A tuner that actually tunes your ukulele. Yeah, you heard me right! The Roadie 3 can tune your ukulele for you and with great accuracy. It can also store over 100 alternate tunings! Just watch the videos of this thing in action and have your mind blown. The perfect gift for someone who has everything. They probably don’t have this! Gift the super engineered Roadie Tuner 3 off Amazon here! 1. KUMU Ukulele So your reading this post on our site. The same site that sells KUMU and Leolani ukulele! This isn’t a top 10 list, but a list of 10 gift ideas... haha! But hey, what best last minute ukulele gift is better than a ukulele? And now we have a secret sale going on until Christmas Day! I recommend getting a KUMU ukulele since its made using Hawaiian Koa. Many companies nowadays are claiming to inventory Hawaiian Koa ukulele, but what they really have are acacia wood ukulele. True, Koa is a type of acacia wood. But Koa can only be grown in the volcanic soil of Hawaii! Now rest assured knowing that our KUMU are produced using this prized wood! Check out our KUMU page and see if a KUMU ukulele will make the best gift for someone really special! Or for yourself... remember...self love! KUMU ukulele: So here is my list of 10 super awesome ukulele gifts to gift at the last minute. You can find all these items on Amazon now (except for number 10 and 1)! And they are currently offering shipping before Christmas! So get on it fast! Like right after reading this. Keep jamming and Mele Kalikimaka!
Mele Kalikimaka! Well, at least that’s what Bing is singing over on my Amazon Echo. Thanksgiving is just a day old and my stomach is already longing for my mom’s homemade cranberry sauce! Secret tip guys... she uses apple and pear in her recipe so it’s basically a Ramsey-fied cranberry sauce. So now with Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, we are heading right into CHRISTMAS, the most wonderful time of year! And with that said, it gives me great pleasure to announce to you Leolani’s 12 Days of Christmas ukulele giveaway! Now say that 10 times fast. Thankfully that isn’t one of the daily challenges. “Wait what? What are these challenges you are speaking of?” Yes, you heard me right... challenges! Just like the ole’ Christmas carol goes we will be giving away ukulele on each of the twelve days! I really love that song BTW (especially the Hawaiian style version)! So in this post I’m gonna break down what this contest/giveaway is all about. And, yes, the challenges too! So lets just start with the best part. We here at Leolani are gonna giveaway twelve ukulele! Yes, you heard me right through those ear muffs! TWELVE ukulele! Your right Dwight! One for each of the twelve days with a few surprises sprinkled in a day or two. And as the big guy in the red suit delivers gifts to children all over the world, we decided to follow his lead and open this contest to everyone. US and International! If you win, we will find a way to get it to you. Even if we have to ship ELF-EXPRESS, USS (United Sleigh Service) or NPPS (North Poll Post). All are welcome to enter! So the next logical question is how does one win one of these awesome ukuleles. We have teamed up with a special team of elves, twelve amazing musical influencers and artists/groups to help spread the holiday cheer! Each of these artist is comman(deer)ing one of the twelve days, and they have personally picked the specific holiday challenges. They are really festive and fun! We hope you get excited looking over. We know that not everyone entering owns a ukulele, so we have both ukulele friendly and non ukulele friendly challenges to choose from. Hopefully a Leolani/KUMU will be your first ukulele, that would be jolly! So without further ado, here are the challenges! HO, HO, HO... those elves are so cheerful! The challenges start next week, in 72 hours, on Monday, November 30th so mark your calendars! Here’s how to enter my fellow sugar plums: 1. Use the hashtag for the specific day you are entering. For day one it will be #MerryUkeMasDay1. For day two... #MerryUkeMasDay2. And each consecutive day will follow the same pattern. So for day twelve its #MerryUkeMasDay12. You got it! 2. Follow @leolani_kumu_ukulele on Instagram or Facebook @Leolani Ukulele. 3. Post your entry to Instagram or Facebook by 11:59pm HST (Hawaii Standard Time) on the day you are entering. Day one is Monday November 30th, just a few days away. 4. Turn you account setting to public (at least on the day you are entering) so our judges will be able to see your wonderful creations. So be as creative and festive as possible. Let’s make this giveaway super fun! You can enter all twelve, or just one. You have a chance to win all twelve ukulele or one. It’s totally up to you. The more days you enter... the more chances to win! This contest will have up to twelve winners. So go tell it on the mountain! HARK! You can submit your entries whenever! Like right after reading this post. As long as it doesn’t come in after the daily deadline. So if you are baking cookies today you can enter for day ten, and make a Christmas cookie in the shape of a ukulele and submit it already. You don’t have to wait till day ten to submit. Just don’t submit it on day eleven because the Grinch will give you that devilish grin! We will announce the winners the following day on our socials. We can‘t wait to see your submissions! If a ukulele in on your Christmas list this year... be sure to enter. If you have any questions, ask away on our socials and we will get back to you with Comet speed! For all of our visual learners, here is our sixty second promo from Sabeth, head elf of social media: Keep jamming and aloha!
Wow! I can't believe Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Hopefully, my fellow Americans, you have already gone out to the grocery stores to pick up all your family secret recipe ingredients! But I made a promise a few months back when I made my ‘My Current Top 10 Ukulele Players’, and today I make good on my promise. Here is my current top 10 ukulele influencer list. This list was difficult to make. I spent a few weeks thinking things through, writing down names, moving them around, and cutting some when I remembered others. I went over countless feeds of content and feel that this is it. Some influencers were so close... but didn’t make it on the list this year (yeah, this gonna be yearly thing). Now as a caveat, there are a ton of new ukulele influencers. Wow, the potential with most of them is huge! So this list was composed with a few criteria. Those being that the influencer/artist plays the ukulele exclusively, and has been on their platform for over a year. So here we go! 10. All For Uke AllForUke was created by Kevin Presbrey. An influencer on the rise with an incredible head of hair. His videos are shot with impeccable quality of detail. He does an amazing job teaching classic songs in a casual way. Not to mention his thumbnails are polished and tempt a click! He also has a website where he has a ton more content. More videos, lessons, reviews, courses, and private lessons! Kevin’s socials: Youtube Facebook 9. Cynthia Lin Singer and songwriter Cynthia Lin. Did I also mention YouTube sensation? With 403k followers on YouTube and climbing! She is full of aloha and chill and relaxed. She makes learning the ukulele easy by taking out all the intimidation with her smile. Her jazzy playing style and superb vocals makes her an incredible influencer to follow. A perfect song for Thanksgiving! Cynthia has many friends in the ukulele community who frequent her channel! She‘s a gem! Cynthia’s socials: YouTube IG Facebook Twitter 8. Timmy Cruz Timmy Cruz—aka Timmy-cruz89, uke shredder, and boutique ukulele hunter. Timmy has been shredding the ukulele and influencing others to do for many years. This guys always making people jealous with all the ukuleles in his collection. Basically a lover of tenor ukes! He also rebooted his online presence with a new IG handle and fresh YouTube channel. Timmy’s socials: Youtube IG 7. Nix (Nix // uuuuuuuukewithme) Whew! All those u’s! All 8 of them. This girl has been blowing up IG and YouTube for years. She also loves playing KoAloha ukuleles! Her passion for life and the ukulele is infectious. Plus that smile... it screams of ukulele joy! She also does quite a lot of traveling and even found her way back to Hawaii earlier this year. Nix’s socials: YouTube IG Facebook 6. Aryy (Ariel Mancanares) From Brazil to California! Ariel has been taking over the YouTube scene amassing a huge following. When I say that huge, I mean over 1 million subscribers! Yowza! Parabens Ariel! She is bilingual and speaks both Portuguese and English! Its great watching her inspire her Brazilian followers on her socials since she often posts in both english and Portuguese. She's also very active on Youtube posting many stories there. Her free spirit and seriously good songwriting skills have catapulted her to the top. Don't sleep on Ariel, she's making moves. Oi! Ariel’s socials: Link Tree 5. Matt Taylor (U Can Uke) Hailing from Rockford Illinois comes Matt Taylor. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Matt a few times at the Winter NAMM in LA. This guy is infectious! Super friendly and always down for a jam session. His YouTube channel is going off and he’s definitely spreading ’da aloha spirit’ everywhere he goes. He got his start teaching songs on YouTube... and the rest is history! He has a bright future in this game and I would bet that his 430k followers on Youtube would agree! Matt’s socials: YouTube Facebook IG 4. Aldrine Guerrero OG right here! If you don’t know who Aldrine Guerrero is, you strayed off the ukulele path. Aldrine has been in the game before I got into it 12 years ago. Okay... how about Ukulele Underground? Ring any bells? This guy started the movement to putting the best ukulele resources online. This local ‘braddah‘ from Kauai is pumping out amazing content every week and his passion for the ukulele community continues to blow me away. Check out all of awesome content on Ukulele Underground and check out his play-alongs. He’s taught me a few....haha! Mahalo Aldrine! Aldrine’s socials: YouTube Facebook IG 3. Ricky Somborn Who would‘ve thought breaking your foot could be so live changing? If you don’t believe me, just ask Ricky Somborn! It was a foot injury that changed the course of this influencer‘s life forever. If you’ve seen his videos, his deep warm vocals and smooth playing gets you every time! What’s crazy is that Ricky really didn’t start singing until a few years ago to the surprise of his family. Since starting his career, his reach and following has been explosive. And his output of his content is ever increasing. Needless to say I’m a huge fan! Ricky’s socials: YouTube Facebook IG 2. Bernadette “Plazi” Bernadette teaches music! She sure does! I have never seen a more in-depth breakdown of music theory on the ukulele! Arigato Plazi sensei! Okay, thats 4 exclamations so I think you get the picture. Plazi has been racking up followers like people were hoarding toilet appear at the start of the pandemic. Her smile, her style, her passion puts her high on the list. I don’t think you can be into the ukulele without knowing who she. Seriously the best free lessons on the web. Friends, she’s got a music degree! And congratulations to Bernadette on the bundle of joy on her way! Bernadette’s socials: YouTube IG Facebook 1. Elise Ecklund Making her to 2 millions subscribers (maybe before 2021), Elise tops my list. If your having a tough day, pop on one her YouTube videos and you’ll be back in good spirits in no time. She doesn’t only showcase her ukulele prowess, but her super funny personality. Like the time she the got a super huge tattoo (her first) and didn’t tell her parents until afterwards... haha! She has bought many young people over to the ukulele, and I couldn’t be happier. Check out her sister Eden as well. There’s no reason she won’t be at 3 million subscribers by next year! Elise’s socials: YouTube IG Facebook So there’s my current top 10 influencer list! This humble instrument has been taking over the world these past two decades. As a native Hawaiian, I’m filled with joy seeing tons of people from all walks of life, falling in love with our little instrument. Who are your favorite ukulele influencers? Maybe you‘ll see them make my list next year! Lotus Cole, Aleksandra (_outofmycomfortzone), and Fernanda Gomes (chewfe)... so close... so close! Keep jamming and aloha!
A new season is upon us! If you are an American we are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving. For many others, it’s CHRISTMAS! As we start cleaning up the cob webs, paper bats, and pumpkins, the sound of Christmas music fills the air. At my house we went from listening to HalloweenTown’s ”This is Christmas”, to Johnny Mathis‘ “Sleigh Ride”! But before we turn on Pentatonix, lets learn how to play these top trending songs. Don’t worry all you Christmas lovers, my list of Christmas song tutorials will be coming out in December! But below are 5 songs that are currently trending all over the place. And all of these are songs are easy to learn. But honestly... maybe not easy to sing... haha! Dreams by Fleetwood Mac We’ve all seen it by now. Nathan Apodaca longboarding to work, sipping on cranberry juice, singing along to Fleetwood Mac’s ’Dreams’. Something about this clip resonated with millions around the world. For me, it was relaxing watching this guy living his best life. The joy on his face made me feel all warm inside. As soon as this clip went viral, streaming of this classic song went through the roof! Learn this smooth song below. Be sure your not trying to learn this song as you cruise the streets on your longboard! Haha! And if you hadn’t seen the original viral video... here it is. Justin Bieber “Holy” Featuring Chance the Rapper The Biebs just keeps coming back and this time he’s bringing company. This song is so uplifting and catchy. Even the music video to this song will bring a smile to your face. Not to mention Chance is lighting up the track with his smooth rhymes and vocals! What a dynamic duo. I know, I know, some of you are tired of Bieber. But just give him another CHANCE! Haha! Get it? Okay, here is the tutorial from Matt from U Can Uke! And the music video is here! Golden by Harry Styles This song from Harry Styles just dropped last week! This song has an 80’s vibe to it that I can’t resist. Like Bieber’s hit above, this one is so catchy. The one issue I have is that it sounds like it should have been dropped in the summer since it has beach vibes. I mean “Golden”, like a beautiful sunset on a warm balmy day. But I guess it’s Harry’s last ditch effort to hold on to summer before the bitter cold sweeps over the Northern Hemisphere. But since I live in Hawaii, it‘s summer all year round baby! Here’s Ricky Somborn’s tutorial! He’s in Florida so he gets my drift. Listen to Harry's new song here! Dynamite by BTS In the past I didn’t get K-Pop. It was silly and I thought their fans were nuts. But now I can unashamedly declare that I’m a fan of K-Pop! It started with my sons dancing to their music video’s on YouTube. Granted BTS (the biggest group on the planet) has already been making waves since 2014, so we had many dance videos to catch up on. The song Dynamite hit America this summer and blew away the competition. It was also their first all English language song. It's so poppy with it’s lyrics and melodic hooks. You can't help but dance along to this jam. Listen to it and see if your at least not bobbing your head to the beat. Learn this summer sizzler below! Dance and smile with BTS here. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen There‘s really nothing more to write about with this next “trendy” song. Like Fleetwood Mac ‘Dream’, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ needs no introduction. Hallelujah was recorded by the late Leonard Cohen all the way back in 1984. And it’s probably the most covered song in history! Whats even as interesting is that it’s often sung on Christmas Albums. Most recently with Pentatonix and Tori Kelly. The meaning behind the song is still debated to this day. Even though Leonard himself has given us his interpretation. I’m not gonna debate it here, but learn this amazing “Christmas” song below with Plazi! A Christmas song huh...... yeah right! Listen to this immortal classic here. There it is! 5 songs currently trending and how to play them on the ukulele. I’m gonna challenge myself this week and learn them all. Maybe you too should take a crack at this challenge and see it you can play them all in a week. Keep jamming and aloha!
The Forbidden Tritone (The Devil’s Melody on the ukulele)
We are here! On the heels of scariest holiday of them all——Halloween! Or if your from a ‘across the pond’, All Hollow’s Eve. This holiday is derived from a sacred festival of the ancient Celts and Druids, coming as days grow short and night stretch long in the Northern Hemisphere. The day itself marking a cross-quarter day, or the midway between an equinox (when the suns sets due west) and a solstice (when the sun sets at it’s most northern or southern point on the horizon. They also called this holiday Samhain marking the end of the harvest shear and the beginning of winter. Now this is where the ‘heebie-jeebies’ come in. They would celebrate Samhain with the lighting of special bonfires. They lit these fires as a cleansing and protective mechanism as they believed that the boundary between our world and the spirit world could be traversed! Meaning their pagan gods and fairies could be appeased (in person) in order to ensure that their livestock would survive the winter. Here is where all our rituals that we incorporate into our Halloween traditions come from. I know, dark right?! Over the years Samhain was seen as being apart of the occult by the early Christian church and seen as demonic. This brings us to the devil’s music! A musical melody thought to conjure of the devil himself, the perfect melody for a Halloween night! Like the “Beast” in the Christian tradition, it goes by many names: Diabolus in musica (devil in music), the devil’s interval, the tritone, the triad and the flatted fifth. As its Latin moniker suggests, it’s an evil sounding combination of notes that’s designed to create a chilling or foreboding atmosphere. The interval was given a sinister name since listeners originally found it unpleasant and surprising. Before the tritone became a common tool in later music, listeners expected artists to play chords and patterns that were pleasing to the ear. When a tone that wasn’t melodious as the triad was inserted into a musical passage, it was unsettling since it didn’t conform to listener expectations. I first heard about this in my college history class, and the teacher played it for us. Definitely a dark set of notes. Rumor has it that it was banned to play the devil’s tritone by the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages for fear that it conjured up Satan! Or that something evil would befall the musician that dared to. Some stories called for the musician to be beheaded if they were heard playing it. You can easily play the devil’s tritone with any of the notes on the scale. For example, playing a perfect fifth will take you from a A to E note. This is pleasing and harmonious. But remember, the triad is a “flatted fifth”. So instead of going from A to E. You go from A to D#, a half step down. But why is it called a triad? Well, when playing the devil’s interval, you play the perfect fifth and then slide down and play the half step. So here is the devil’s interval in all it’s ingloriousness! A-E-D# Now be careful where you play this triad. You may have either a priest or a ghost chasing you around... haha! Now it even gets darker. This system of playing the devil’s interval works for every note of the scale... until you get to B. Playing the devil’s interval on the B scale was called the Locrian mode, and it was the only one where the fifth degree of the scale is not a perfect fifth - it’s an augmented fourth – a forbidden tritone! Goose bumps right on cue. This went against everything music appeared to stand for, and was christened diabolus in musica – the Devil in music. The Locrian mode was very rarely used in compositions! So why is the devil’s triad so horrific to listen to? John Sloboda, a professor of music psychology at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, explained that the tritone is particularly unnerving because the human brain is hardwired to find harmony and symmetry in music: “When we hear something dissonant, it gives you a little bit of an emotional frisson, because it's strange and unexpected. The emotional result of hearing a tritone, might not be too different from the one experienced at the bottom of a staircase that failed to mention it’s missing its last step.” So it’s this melodic dissonance that creates the chill down our spine when we listen to it. Here’s how to play it on the ukulele! Using a low G, you can play the A note (G string, 2nd fret), E note (C String, fourth fret, and then ending on the flatted fifth, D# note (C string, 3rd fret). Play these notes in order at different tempos. Then play the A note and D# by themselves in rhythm. Now all superstitions aside, Heavy Metal rocks bands have embraced this tritone. Most famous being Black Sabbath! Check them out playing the devil’s tritone below! So there you have it! This concludes our October fright fest of posts! And this Halloween you can kick up the scares by playing the Devil’s tritone on your ukulele! But beware, you don’t want to invite things back from trick or treating that go bump in the night. Keep jamming and.................
The month of October is nearing it’s close and if you live in the United States you know how much we love Halloween. My last couple posts have been about the spookiest time of the year, like how you can ‘Frankenstein’ an ukulele to learning to play catchy Halloween themes. But for this post I’m gonna switch gears as there is another huge event we celebrate all month long that I don’t want to miss. This being ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’. So if you’ve seen the flood of professional athletes wearing pink socks, and just pink ribbons everywhere, you now know what they are supporting. When I think about breast cancer awareness I think of the ladies in my life. My mom, wife, and soon to be born daughter (January 8, 2021). Then there are the many friends and family members that have had their lives changed by this disease. Whether they have fought the fight, or have lost someone to this horrible disease. This is why we at Leolani are donating parts of the proceeds from all our online sales to the BCRF, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, in the month of October. The BCRF is valiantly fighting the fight to find a cure for breast cancer. So for this post I wanted to spread joy by highlighting some of the ladies of ukulele. These women sure can jam on the ukulele. I can’t even hold a candle to them! Here we GO! Honoka and Azita Better known as Honoka and Azita, Honoka Katayama and Azita Ganjali stole the hearts of ukulele community and the world. They met each of other while learning the ukulele at Ukulele Studio in Honolulu under the tutelage of ukulele sensei Jody Kamisato. They became friends and realized that their skills complemented each other. When I say these ladies sure put on a show, that is a huge understatement! From their quick picking to their advanced strumming, these ladies will leave you smiling. And that‘s apart of their appeal, their magnetic smiles! Oh, and if you didn’t know—— they can sing as well. As of 2019, Honoka has moved on as a solo artist blazing a new path while Azita is currently pursuing her degree in medicine. But I’m not gonna lie if I said I’m already excited for their reunion and return! Maia Mayeshiro Maia Mayeshiro is a bright up and comer. I had the pleasure of getting to know her when she worked at the famous ukulele company KoAloha! She is sweet and full of positivity. But don’t let that give you the impression that she’s all sunshine and rainbows. Put a ukulele in her hand and the storm clouds roll in. Her playing is electric to watch! Maia found her inspiration to play the ukulele from her older brother TJ. Him too being an exceptional ukulele artist. A family that jams together stays together! Maia is not only known for her playing but also for her beauty having entered and winning beauty pageants. Try and guess what her talent was during the talent segment of the contest. Check her talent out here! Brittni Paiva Brittni Paiva has been enthralling audiences for almost 20 years. She started playing the ukulele at 11 years old and cut albums shortly after. It all started when her grandfather bought her an ukulele. Being classically trained on the piano since she was 4, Brittni transferred her passion to the ukulele and the rest is history! She’s even played on stage with legends Carlos Santa and Tommy Emmanuel. Brittni’s level of musical knowledge makes her an incredible artist to watch and listen to. Every note and strum being methodically chosen to make you feel the music! Bravo! numerous other awards and nominations throughout the years, Taimane Gardner Read my post on my current top 10 ukulele players and you will know what I feel about Taimane. An artist to the core of her being. Strong, feminine, and supremely talented! Taimane has been playing the ukulele since she was could ride a tricycle. Her name means ’diamond’ in Samoan and she truly is a diamond the rough. She plays many genres and lives her art. Karlie G Another amazing artist in my top 10 post! I‘m a huge fan of Karlie Goya and can‘t wait to see what she puts out into the universe. By the age of 18, she already has won numerous awards and competitions. She is not only a gifted ukulele player, but an amazing singer, songwriter, and producer! Grace Vanderwaal Grace Vanderwaal! The 16 year old phenom who stole the hearts of America on AGT. I mean she won the whole SHEbang! Hyper talented. She picked up the ukulele at young age (she’s still young) and secretly honed her craft posting videos of her original songs and covers on YouTube and performing at open mics. Then she entered the AGT at just 12 years old. Just her, her talent, and her ukulele. Thanks to Grace, the ukulele resurged amongst the younger generation, becoming the gateway instrument for a new generation. Thank you ladies for your incredible talent! I hope you all enjoyed this post showcasing some of the best ukulele players in the game. Let’s not forget to stand together and fight the good fight of ending breast cancer. Support the BCRF and love on the ladies in your life! Keep jamming and aloha!
It’s two weeks out till Halloween and the festivities are already in full swing. I try to fill the month with spooky Halloween movies. The main ones on the list are the original Ghostbusters 1 & 2 (even the 2016 reboot is a guilty pleasure), Casper, Hocus Pocus, Sleepy Hallow, The Addams Family 1 & 2, The Nightmare Before Christmas (is it a Halloween or Christmas movie, the debate at my house continues), and The Ring. I know, I know——all but one of these movies (The Ring) are not that scary but more family friendly. Well what can I say, I’m a dad of three young kids and I don’t want to stay up all night putting them to sleep, or worst yet, them sleeping in our bed. But I do like the really scary stuff too. I try to see if they can keep me up at night. Usually no, but they sure are fun to watch. Last year we watched The Hill House series on Netflix and it was great! Season 2 is out now and my wife and I just started watching. So far it’s good! Now we all know that the visuals of ghosts, demons, monsters, and knife wielding psychos give us the creeps. But I would wager that the score and soundtracks to these movies and tv shows are just as creepy. We are either covering our eyes, or plugging our ears to lessen the scares. I confess, I’m guilty of doing both of these things even though I try to hide it...haha! Many of these songs have become iconic over time and have become of anthems of Halloween. Below I’ve collected a list of some of my favorite “Halloweenie” songs that you can learn on the ukulele. If you are not easily frightened, have a go at some of them! Muahahahahaha! Stranger Things Theme Seeing Will Byers vanish in the shed during the opening of the first episode got me hooked. It was nostalgically perfect and hella creepy at the same time. Then the opening credits role and my oh my did I fall into a trance! That rhythmic 80‘s synth pulsed through my soul, teasing me of what was to come. By the end of the season the theme of Stranger Things became a character in the show. Now when you hear the first few seconds of this theme, your hairs of the back of your head begin to rise, and then you begin to wonder... am I in the Upside Down?!? Learn this pulse pounding theme below! Halloween Theme Believe or not I‘ve seen these movies a kid..... at my next door neighbors house. There were many famous slasher psychos in movies- Freddy Krueger, Chucky, and Jason. But it was Michael Myers who gave me heebie-jeebies! He just walked and stalked. No running, never even turning his neck! Haha! This theme song is iconic to it’s core. Almost sounds like a frantic beating heart. So good! Learn it below. Its not for the faint of heart... 🖤 The Addams Family Theme Okay so I just watched the new animated version with the kiddos last week. It made me want a live action reboot. Oscar Isaacs as Gomez and Anne Hathaway as Morticia Addams? I think it would be awesome! This theme song needs no introduction, you just need to know how to snap your fingers. I have two version below. One for beginners, and one that will have your friends impressed! Fun version: Lurch version: GhostBusters Theme I am literally watching this movie as I’m writing this. Classic Rick Moranis! This song is so dang catchy. We’ve all sang the “daaaanah, daaaanah, daaaanah, daaaanah, dan-dah-da-nuh-nah” part of the song! I just gotta say thank you Ray Parker Jr. You wrote one of the best theme songs in the world! Didn’t I mention this song will get stuck in your head. Sorry! Learn this classic theme below, and be sure to watch the movies! ZUUL! The Exorcist Theme You all knew this was coming! The theme for The Exorcist has been giving people nightmares for years. Even when I listen to this in the dark I get spooked! When this movie came out, people where leaving the theaters in droves. It was the most shocking movie in it’s time. Not only was this movie scary, but eerie things happened on set. I mean when you read the title, go figure! The tubular bells add a sense of dread as they are instruments usually played in cathedrals. But played in this melody they become a tune of the devil! Follow along with Matt Dahlberg if your up for a challenge. You may need to call a priest afterwards. “The power of Christ compels you!” Hopefully learning these songs add a little more fright to your Halloween season! I can’t wait to dress up and walk the streets (socially distanced of course 😉) ‘trick or treating’ with the kiddos. I‘m sure I‘ll be humming these tunes as I stroll along. Keep jamming and aloha!
Yes you read that right. Seven ways to Frankenstein the ukulele! MWAHAHA!!! “We are fashioned creatures, but half made up.” – Frankenstein As we are moving through the month of October, I wanted stick with the subject of Halloween and share with you 7 unique and interesting ways one can Frankenstein, or customize an ukulele. Some of these ways are pretty common but others are ’stranger things’. And if you have the courage, maybe you can have some of these features built into your next ukulele. Let the haunt.... I mean hunt.... begin! 1. Slotted Headstock One defining feature of the Frankenstein monster is his oversized, flat topped, nail punctured neck. Just one look at this creature’s head and you need no introduction. This feature on an ukulele is the slotted headstock. Taken from the stylings of the classical guitar, ukulele have been modified with this design for over 50 years. It is beefier in size, the strings are wound on ‘string rollers’, two gapping holes, with the tuning pegs sticking out the sides. A slotted headstock on an ukulele adds class and sophistication to the instrument. Some owners even have custom tuners such as Alessi and Rodger’s hand made for them. These tuners run up to $500 and over! If your looking to having an ukulele with a slotted headstock, your looking at a $250+ upgrade. If you ask me, its totally worth it! 2. Scalloped Nut and Saddle One of my favorite dishes in the world is sautéed scallops! Seared in a piping hot pan, olive oil, sea salt, and finished in brown butter. Hmmmmmm! Sorry if your drooling on your phone or keyboard... haha! This makes me think of the creature from the Black Lagoon. With all the oval shaped scales plating it‘s fish-like body. Maybe the creature can fetch some sea scallops out of the lagoon for us? This scallop motif brings us to our customized feature of scalloped ukulele nuts and saddles. Check it out! Even the overall design continues it’s ocean motif as it resembles a wave pattern. This bizarre customization is not only aesthetically pleasing but functional as well. Typically seen on guitars, scalloping the nut and saddle increases the bass. Don’t do this if you want more treble from your ukulele. This design got it’s name from resembling the shell structure of a sea scallop. This customization doesn’t end here, but they scallop frets as well. Google it! 3. Fanned Frets One of the easiest Halloween costumes to create requires only toilet paper. If you‘ve already guessed it, it is none other than The Mummy! Though this costume of wrapped toilet paper is easy to make, creating and fitting fanned frets on your ukulele is huge nightmare! Fanned frets, or multi-scale ukulele, place the frets on a calculated angle. This angle has to be perfectly precise in order for the ukulele to stay in tune. But doing this gives each string a different scale length. Fanned frets give ukulele a longer scale length on the lower strings and a shorter scale length on the higher strings. When done correctly, the layout of the frets look like mummy wrappings. Whether you're playing straight-fret or fanned, both have the same capabilities as far as tunings are concerned. On the higher frets in particular you may find that playing intricate solos is far easier on a fanned fretboard compared to straight simply your because your hand is more comfortable when playing on them. 4. Florentine Cutaway Its a full moon night and theres a mist rolling in. A ear splitting howl rings through the trees. Screams are head at nearby cabin. What fate has fallen on these innocent weekend glampers? No ones knows. All that was left in the morning was a clawed up Range Rover. Of course you figured it out at ’full moon’. It’s the savage on the list, The Wolfman! The CUTaway, like the slotted headstock, has been around along time. There are two main types of cutaways, the Venetian and the Florentine. In this particular post we will be focusing on the the Florentine style because it has a passing resemblance to a werewolf claw. That point it sharp! Cutaways are great since they allow for greater access to the higher frets on the fingerboard. If you love to shred on the upper frets, you gotta get this feature on your ukulele. AAAAAHHHWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! 5. Armrest Bevel A newer innovation to ukulele has been the armrest bevel. The purpose of the bevel is to make playing the ukulele more comfortable. This is done through smoothing out the corners of the ukulele body where your forearm falls on the top corner. When executed properly, it is a thing of beauty. It makes the top corner of the ukulele disappear. The corner edge should be there..... but it isn’t! Using the bevel will eliminate forearm numbness. This invisible edge really doesn’t affect the sound so it is an awesome edition on any ukulele. There are two main types of arm bevels. The traditional Laskin, or the modernized Ryan. On a ukulele I prefer the Laskin, but on a guitar I gotta go with a Ryan. Feeling the difference is really noticeable. Now if only The Invisible Man wasn’t messing around with my post! Sheesh! Hehehehehe! 6. Sound Ports One of the strangest of all the monsters is London born Dr. Jekyll. Or better known by his other half...... Mr. Hyde. This mild mannered scientist who turns into a hulking murderer when not taking his medicine best exemplifies the ukulele sound port. Indeed, sometimes two are better than one. Or better yet, two in one! And this brings us to our next customized feature, sound ports. Since the beginning of the modern lutherie, guitar and ukulele were built with one “sound port”, or sound hole. Normally centered on the top of the soundboard. Recently though, the adding of a second sound port quickly gained momentum throughout the ukulele community making it an established new feature. A sound port is an added hole, or ”air pump”, on the side of the ukulele. It can be put in the upper or lower bout of the ukulele. Sometimes in both! They act as a personal monitor for the player. This allows them to hear the beauty of their own instruments. And you know what? It definitely works! There is a huge difference in volume and projection. Just like Mr. Hyde, pushing to be heard and experienced! 7. Cantilevered Fingerboard Now this list wouldn’t be complete if I didn‘t add the biggest baddie of them all. Can you guess who I’m talking about? It is none other than the Count of Transylvania.... Dracula! The last custom feature on this list is the cantilevered fingerboard, or the “floating neck”. If you already made the connection, bravo! Floating......NECK. Ouch! The cantilevered neck is an innovation in engineering where the tongue of the fingerboard hovers over the soundboard. Normally the tongue is glued down on traditional ukulele. Supporters of the cantilevered fingerboard believe that glueing down the fingerboard on the soundboard has a negative effect on acoustic vibration. The glued down tongue acts like a ‘break water’, breaking down sound vibration like a mound of boulders protecting ships in a harbor from large surf. In order to get around this they mounted the fingerboard over the body allowing the vibrations from the bridge to reach all the way up the soundboard. You have to see it to believe. It is so effective that many ukulele that use cantilevered fingerboards don’t even have a traditional sound hole but utilize a larger side port, ensuring maximum resonance! Wow, incredible! The cantilevered fingerboard is hands down the most monstrous customization on the ukulele! Just remember to lock these ukulele away in their coffins..... um, I mean cases! There you have it. The seven ways to Frankenstein the ukulele. Hopefully this post sparked your curiosity and inspires you to investigate further. But be warned.... you may want to hire Van Helsing so that he can protect your wallet! Keep and jamming and aloha! On second thought...... maybe not!🧛🏻
Today, as of this writing, is October 1st. The season of Fall is fully upon us! The temperature begins to cool and leaves start changing colors. The Halloween decorations are taken out of storage and pumpkin farms, pumpkin spiced lattes, and pumpkin pies are all the rage. For many, this is the start of what we here in America call “the Holiday Season”. The time where we go through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. And if your anything like me you live for this season all year round. I love Halloween. I know its a little crazy but my wife and I start decorating for Fall on September 1st! We know it’s early but time seems to be moving quicker by the year. And before you know it, there will be Christmas music playing everywhere. I’ve already seen Christmas decorations at the local Lowes and Home Depot. I’m not kidding they were up in September! And this may not be the best kept secret for people who know me personally, but as much as I love Halloween, I love Christmas way more! So here is a chance, looking ahead, to give yourself the best ukulele gift (other than a new ukulele) ever! I’m talking about getting a pickup installed on your ukulele. Sure you can get a new case, or a new set of strings. But deciding to install a pickup, thats the ultimate upgrade for any ukulele. Like an angel getting it‘s wings! Ukulele pickups are overwhelming to think about. There are different types such as UST, soundboard transducer, and internal mic. And each in either active or passive styles. Yeah, it can be confusing picking out a pickup. So I will make it easy for you and give you the my top 5 suggestions. 5. Pono Passive Pickup Now here is the caveat with this amazing pickup. You can’t just buy the pickup, you have to buy a ukulele and get it installed from The Ukulele Site (ukulelesite.com). So if your in the market to buy a new ukulele with a pickup, the team and selection at The Ukulele Site is second to none. This pickup is a very clean, with great note articulation. It’s one of the best passive pickups I’ve ever played. Accompanied with a good preamp, the Pono passive pickup will meet all your needs. Get your new uke and Pono passive pickup here! 4. K&K Aloha Twin The Aloha Twin is an internal double-sensor pickup specially designed for the ukulele. Its based on the same technology as their award-winning Pure Pickup. The K&K Aloha Twin pickup system has a strong output signal and works nicely even without a preamp. The sound of this pickup is clear and bright! This is the most affordable option on the list. Please keep in mind when playing without a preamp, the result depends somewhat on the quality and type of the amplification equipment. You will need to get this installed at a music store because you will need to drill a hole at the bottom for the jack. Get your K&K Aloha Twin pickup here! 3. Fishman Matrix Infinity The Matrix Infinity pickup and preamp system is the newest version of the flagship Matrix Series and offers a clear transparent tone, dynamic string response, and ease of installation with solderless connections. Easily accessible soundhole-mounted Volume and Tone rotary controls allow the player to make effortless adjustments. It sports a redesigned active, endpin mounted preamp! Because this pickup is active, it needs a 9-volt battery to power the preamp. You will need to get this installed at a music store because you will need to drill a hole at the bottom for the jack, fit the under saddle sensor, and mount the sound hole rotary controls. Get the Fishman Matrix Infinity ukulele pickup here! 2. Mi-Si Acoustic Trio Uke Pickup The Mi-Si Acoustic Trio Uke system features an active, battery-free preamp designed specifically to work with the L.R. Baggs ukulele pickup. Yup, you heard me right...battery free! The preamp for this system uses Mi-Si’s custom piezo linearization scheme (whew, say that 5 times fast). This scheme brings the most truthful and accurate sound from the pickup. And boy is it powerful! And the secret weapon for Mi-Si pickups is the onboard charging. All you have to do is power up for 60 seconds using the Mi-Si power charger, and now you’ve got 16 hours of performing power! 60 seconds for 16 hours of plugged in play time? Did Marty bring this pickup back from the future? Get the Mi-Si Acoustic Trio for ukulele here! 1. LR Baggs Five O This pickup is the “King“ of ukulele pickups. It’s been around for almost a decade, but still delivers the most genuine sound of the ukulele. This is important since you want your ukulele to sound like... a ukulele! What a novel though! This powerhouse active pickup is designed specifically for ukulele, sporting a convenient volume control that’s mounted right in the soundhole for easy stealth access and a teeny tiny 3V battery that provides power for a minimum of 300 hours! It’s also very compact and light weight, so it wont add a lot weight to your ukulele. You will need to get this installed at a music store because you will need to drill a hole at the bottom for the jack, the fit the under saddle sensor, and mount the volume control. Its no wonder why this pickup is the most installed ukulele pickup for pros and serious hobbyists alike. Get the LR Baggs Five O pickup here! So now for a shameless plug! Honorable Mention: Leolani G1 Stick-On Transducer Pickup If you don’t want to take your ukulele in to a store for a professional installation, you can get the plugged in experience with the Leolani G1 stick-on transducer pickup. No ukulele surgery required. It utilizes a piezo contact system that just sticks onto your ukulele soundboard. The adhesive is non abrasive so it doesn‘t mess with your ukulele finish, and is reusable so it can be used over and over again. The Leolani G1 pickup sports three onboard control knobs that control volume, bass, and treble to help you fine tune your sound. It also has quarter in cable access so you don’t have to use a mini adapter. Just plug the same quarter inch cable that you use for your amp. It also comes with a spare adhesive pad and a dust protector plug for the port. This way you can protect the electronics when you not plugging in. Comes with a compact carrying case so you can store it in your case. It’s also an affordable option! Get your Leolani G1 stick on pickup here! Can I get a little ‘Mele Kalikimaka’? I know, I know.... it’s too early. Haha! But its never too early to plan ahead. Getting your ukulele amplified could be the gift that you never knew you needed. Trust me when I say its a game changer with you have a pickup installed. It’s like your ukulele is complete. I hope you check out the 6 six mentioned above and see which one is right for you. Keep jamming and aloha!
It had to be done, my list of the current top 10 ukulele players! I spent a few days thinking this list through, writing down names, moving them around, and cutting some when I remembered other players. This list has changed through the years and these artists are my current faves. I’m not gonna lie when I say that it was tough putting this list together since there are many amazing ukulele players out there. Now this list doesn’t include social media savvy ”ukers”. So this list doesn’t include YouTubers. That list will be coming soon! And I’m sure will be a little controversial as everyone has their favorites. Let me say that this is my personal top 10 so if your gonna fire up the comment section sling your stones at me! I would love to hear who your favorites are. Also this list is not a list of singers who play the ukulele, there are many amazing singers that use the ukulele. But my current favorite list of ukulele players, emphasis on the ukulele! Some do sing though (haha)! 10. Tobias Elof Tobias is a musical nomad. He traces his roots to Denmark, with 20+ years of performing and composing on the ukulele, and a bachelor’s degree in traditional folk music from Denmark’s prestigious folk music academy. His style is melodic and relaxing. In fact so relaxing that I can’t write this post or drive while listening or else I’d drool on my keyboard or drive off the road! I love listening to his music when I wake up in the morning and drink my coffee. I’ve personally had the pleasure of hanging out with Tobias when he was helping out at The Ukulele Site. He’s super laid back and friendly. Check out his album Settle Down. Just be sure you are not operating machinery or behind the wheel... haha! Listen as Tobias walks you through the Nordic forest here! 9. Abe Lagrimas Jr. I remember hearing Abe play live at the Winter NAMM a few years ago. He was jamming with a guitar player. What struck me was his ability to play jazz on the ukulele. He sounded like Joe Pass. My mind was blown. He was doing things on the ukulele that I’ve never seen before. Abe resides in LA and has studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. He pretty much is a musical prodigy, even mastering the drums! Watch him play in this jazz circle here! Can someone bring me a cigar and a Old Fashioned? 8. Kris Fuchigami Kris is probably the nicest guy you will ever meet! Well, he is from Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, where us ”Oahuians” go to slow down and relax. This shows in Kris‘ onstage persona as he’s always in his own little world, just him and his ukulele, smiling. Sometimes his eye’s roll back as he plays and that’s my cue that he’s transported somewhere else. Kris made the list because he plays the best version ever of my favorite ukulele song, Santana’s Europa. Jake had that spot for decades until Kris came and stole it. Not to mention that he plays with his equally awesome mom behind the keys. A family that jams together, stays together! Check out Kris playing Europa here! His mom on the keyboard and his eye rolls, love it! 7. Taimane Gardner Mysterious! That‘s what comes to mind when I think about Taimane! From her double low-G ukuleles, to her wide range in musical influences, you can’t pin her down. She plays traditional Hawaiian, jazz, flamenco, pop, rock, blues.... and the list goes on. I really love her take on bossa nova! She also has an eclectic style of fashion. If anything, to me she is an ukulele goddess. I first seen her play at the Hyatt hotel back in 2009. She was a teenager and took command of the stage! I remember everyone in the audience being entranced by her playing. I remember thinking “poor ukulele” as she was shredding up and down the fretboard. I think it even started smoking at one point...haha! Watch this ukulele enchantress put a spell on you here! 6. Sarah Maisel Not many ukulele players sing. Scratch that! All ukulele players can sing....... but only a few can sing well. Haha! This is the case for the uber talented Sarah Maisel. Her voice stylings and playing ability are superb, sweeping me away to my happy place. Sarah and her husband Craig Chee have a massive presence in the ukulele community. They even sponsor an annual ukulele boat cruise where they spend a week on the water teaching and entertaining ukulele aficionado’s. She’s high on the list because of how much she gives back to the ukulele community, and her amazing jazz chops, both singing and playing. Watch Sarah take you to your happy place here! 5. Kalei Gamiao Where do I start with Kalei? Well, we are distant cousins. His grandma and mine were first cousins. I first saw him play back in 2006 at the Red Elephant in Chinatown Oahu when he was barely a teen. And as you guessed it, could shred like no other all way back then! Saying Kalei is an amazing player is an understatement. His stylings and flourishes are uniquely his. You can hear it in his own composition of “The Unknown”. He’s is a pioneer of the modern wave of the ukulele renaissance started by Jake Shimabukuro in the mid 90’s. Watch Kalei take you to the unknown here! 4. Karlie G Not gonna lie, but my first experience of Karlie was comedic! I was delivering ukulele at a local store and I saw the artwork and title of her newest album and starting laughing. Get it? She didn’t look like she was having fun to me! So I judged the book by the cover and didn’t think twice. Then one day I was perusing around YouTube and got one of her videos in my recommended section. I clicked on it and and watched in amazement as she expressed herself with a cover of Radiohead’s Creep. Her voice... mesmerizing! So deep and rich. I couldn’t believe that voice was coming out of her. Another player that can really sing! I am a FAN! Watch the video that instantly changed my mind here! 3. Feng E Dare I even say it! Can this 13 year old be the best ukulele player in the world? The more I watch, the more I tend to believe so. Feng E is simply a musical genius. He not only plays ukulele, but shreds on the guitar. This Taiwanese virtuoso is burning up the internet! You can see him on Ellen, AGT, and many more places wowing crowds with his prowess. I would have a successful musical career if I had 5% of his ukulele talent. He’s even visited Hawaii a few times and entered ukulele contests! If you haven’t seen this kid play, you must. I’ve seen him learn a new song, completely by ear, all of the parts, in just half an hour! I quit! Watch Feng E, be Feng E, here! 2. James Hill Canadian born James Hill is a legend. And for many years, even his hair was legendary. But if it were even possible, his hair cut made James ascend to Instinct (shout out to all Dragon Ball fans)! James Hill for me is like a scientist. He’s always experimenting with the ukulele. Adding percussion taps on his ukulele, as well as playing lead.... while thumping the baseline made him a one man band. It was nuts watching him do this. His approach to the ukulele always left me inspired. His ”discoveries” can be seen in other ukulele players repertoire. Even Feng E takes a page out James text book with Billie Jean! Watch the scientist at work here! 1. Jake Shimabukuro This guy really needs no introduction! Who else did you think was gonna be number one. I’m pretty sure without this guy there would be no list. I go way back with Jake. I learned of him through his band days with Pure Heart! This band played at my little Hawaiian church‘s benefit luau (the church was little but the luau would host 3,000 locals). We didn’t think much of them when they got on stage, but when they left everyone was quiet. If you know anything about a Hawaiian luau, it is never quiet. I remember people trying to pick their jaws off the ground. The singing, the percussion, and the ukulele playing was off the charts! Literally no one played the ukulele like Jake. It was crazy. Since then, this man has changed the course of the ukulele forever. But the most amazing part is that he is the most humble person. He’s played on network shows, TED and Google HQ, and for the Queen of England and Dalai Lama. He’s even been in a movie (Just Go With It), and been on countless world tours. What other ukulele player can claim that resume? Simply none. But you wouldn’t know this from him. He’s as down to earth as can be. And if you had the pleasure of meeting Jake you would know this as well. After being a fan of Jake since I was 10, I now call him friend. And whenever I meet with him, he makes me feel like I’m the special one. Sure his ukulele playing is masterful and all, but to me Jake’s character and heart supersedes it. It’s funny, he really does have a pure heart. Watch Jake the way I was introduced to him 15 years ago. Here! There it is! My current top 10 ukulele players. Whew! If you don’t see yours on the list let me know. Keep jamming and aloha!