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Matte, Satin, & Gloss... Oh My!

Matte, Satin, & Gloss... Oh My!

Before we get started, can I just call out the huge elephant in the room? It’s FALL! Well, not technically since the official start of Fall is September 22. But we all the know the season truly changes when Starbucks brings the spice. No, not that spice! (Can't believe DUNE comes out next month!) Yeah, this one! I remember posting about this last year with gifs of leaves falling and pumpkin spice lattes, and here we’re at it again! Before you know it we’ll be hearing Christmas songs on the radio. Now that your back from Starbucks with a “venti” iced pumpkin spiced latte with cloud foam, lets get to the matter at hand. In my last post I wrote about ukulele finishes. I went over the different types of finish, how they are applied, and how they effect the instrument. To check out that post, check it out here. Now, we are gonna take a deep dive on how these finishes are applied and ‘finished’. You’ve seen and heard these buzzwords before; ”Matte, Satin, semi-gloss, full gloss, tuxedo, and ‘supah dupah’ shiny.” But what do these words actually mean? Let's talk about it! Matte, Satin, & Semigloss So let‘s get something big out of the way. All of these words are synonymous! So if your shopping for a new ukulele and see any of these words, they mean that the finish is very thin, rough to the touch, and doesn’t reflect light. Matte finishes are created using the same finish materials as gloss finishes, but are left un-buffed or not rubbed out at the factory. And in most cases they need less coats of nitrocellulose or polyurethane. This makes finishing a ukulele in matte quicker and easier than gloss. A huge benefit to matte finishing is the tonal supremacy achieved over those that are glossy. Using less coats of finish means less material on the body of the ukulele. Less material buildup means less vibrational obstruction. The body of the ukulele is an “air pump”. The more the body vibrates, and the more intense those vibrations, means more air is pumped out of the body. When this happens, you got an amazing instrument! So typically people wanting a great sounding ukulele go for matte versions. There are a few downsides. With less finish, you have less protection covering the wood. Typically matte ukulele scratch and ding a lot easier. Another downside is that matte ukulele eventually gloss up with use since you are ‘rubbing’ out the finish with your arms and oily hands. Gloss As we learned above there are really only two types of finish, matte and gloss. Now gloss proponents love that mirror shine look. So if looks matter most to you, than gloss is your pick! Gloss finishes are achieved by buffing out the layers of finish. The finish on gloss ukulele tend to be thicker due to the fact that there is more work involved to achieve that ‘glossy’ appearance. No one wants to sand and buff through the finish and into the wood. Some advantages of gloss finishes are they offer more protection, are easier to clean, and give the grain and color of the tone wood a pop! Ukulele finished in gloss are more ”sexy” than their counterparts since it reveals more of the wood! A perceived downside to gloss ukulele is a dampening of tone, sustain, and projection due to the added weight of the finish. Though this is debatable with modern applications and techniques. So has been the mantra for decades; ”If you desire looks, go with gloss. If you desire sound, go with matte.” But what if you desire both? Like choosing a partner. Wouldn't you want someone who is both gold on the inside as well as the outside? Now this brings us to… The Tuxedo Finish Tuxedo is a finish that we use here at Leolani. We decided to take the middle road and achieved a finish that is both thin and glossy! Our goal was to have our tuxedo finish look as if the ukulele had just come out of the spray booth… sleek and wet! This is where we got the name Tuxedo. We thought everyone looks good in a tailored 3 piece suite. We achieve this finish by meticulously buffing out thin layers of finish. Seriously check this out… In the end, all that matters is what you want. Most players want the shine and added protection. If this is you, I recommend going full gloss. If looks don't matter too much, and what you want is a ukulele that has more resonance, and patinas over time, go with matte. Some builders use both finishes on their ukulele. They gloss up the body and leave the neck wood matte so its easier to slide up and down the fingerboard. There are options. There you have it! I hope I cleared some things up over the last few posts about ukulele finishes. Now that your informed, maybe it’s time to choose your next ukulele? I mean, come on! Christmas is just around the corner...🎄😁 Keep jamming and aloha!

Mele Kalikimaka Song Tutorial!  Merry Christmas from Leolani

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!!!

2021 Holiday Gift Guide For Ukulele Lovers

2021 Holiday Gift Guide For Ukulele Lovers

Hey ya’ll… its Fall! Okay, I just had to get that off my chest. I’m still shocked that we are already in November with just 6 short weeks till 2022! Crazy! As we Americans head towards the Thanksgiving holiday I thought it fitting now to drop our ‘Holiday Gift Guide For Ukulele Lovers”. With Christmas around the corner, its good to get a get a head start (not to mention that shipping is all ‘nutzo’ this time of year). Plus there’s the added pressure of getting a gift for the ukulele enthusiast in your life, even if that’s you! Well count your lucky sugar plums, because I’m here to help you out! As shipping heads into high gear, below are 10 ukulele gift ideas that every uke lover will appreciate! I will add purchase links to express your shopping time! 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? Let the Christmas shopping commence! Online Ukulele Course 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). Now if you are blessed to be able to live in an area where there are great ukulele teachers that teach in person, I recommend taking in person classes. This year the wife and I invested in our son Ben and got him lessons at ‘Ukulele Hale’ here on Oahu. It’s been three months and he’s blowing us away! He’s currently learning how to play ‘Mele Kalikimaka’! We recommend online lessons from UkeLikeThePros. Affordable and with tons of content! Check them out here! Ukulele Chord Chart My famed chord chart that hangs above my home work station is now discontinued by the artist. So here is the next best thing. This ukulele chord poster comes from the Etsy store Penny & Horse. They design amazing stuff. With over 22,800 sales and at 5 stars, I think its a winner. The chords are color coordinated and easy to follow. It is a digital product, and it includes 5 digital files in common sizes. At under $7 its a steal! Plus you can print multiples so it‘s the gift that keeps on giving. Peruse their shop, they have different layouts so choose the one that sparks your fancy. Check the many chord chart layouts here! 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 Audio-Technica cardioid condenser USB microphone requires only a USB port. Super simple to use and records crystal clear audio! Recording yourself playing will aid in progressing on your ukulele journey. Plus you can send your finished masterpieces to friends in family! Purchase the Audio-Technica USB recording mic here! Ukulele Song Book Ever heard of Hal Leonard? After their band broke up brothers Harold ”Hal” Edstrom and Everett “Leonard” Edstrom started the company Hal Leonard. They had the unique ability because of their professional experience to arrange popular music for school bands. This helped them launch a new publishing company that has been around for over 70 years. Check out this awesome song book they produced with 70 of the most popular songs ever! Aptly entitled ‘The Best Songs Ever- For Ukulele”. Purchase this song book here! Digital Tuner 3 in 1 The perfect gift for the budding ukulele star is the Lekato 3 in 1 digital tuner. This amazing little gadget doesn’t only tune your ukulele, its also a tone generator, and get this… a metronome! Trust me when I say that learning to play in time is key. People singing along with you will thank you. Now you can with this rechargeable all in one secret weapon! Purchase the Lakato 3 in 1 Digital Metronome here! Roadie 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! Ukulele Side Chord Decals Another ETSY gem! From the store front ‘Surfs Up’ comes an innovative way to remember ukulele chord formations. They offer stick on decals that you can put on the sides of your ukulele. What a genius idea! Plus they are removable, so after you’ve learned and mastered your chords, you can take away the evidence. Check out their store as they have many ukulele “cheat sheet” decals. Purchase them here! Ukulele 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! Strings (Uke Logic) Its always a good day when you restring your ukulele. Being in the ‘biz‘ for over a decade I can tell you that strings do make a difference in the sound of your ukulele! So its always great to switch things up once in while to zero in on the right set for you. Low G or high G? Wound or unwound? Nylon or fluorocarbon? How about mixing them? I have done my fair share of research and fell in love with ‘Uke Logic’ strings. Uke Logic string sets are made from high quality "super fluorocarbon" aka Super-Carbon. A high-density formula of fluorocarbon that is tonally different from the average fluorocarbon ukulele string. Uke Logic string sets are available as all-plain Super-Carbon and additional options are available for players who prefer metal wound strings in combination with Super-Carbon. Plus they offer low G sets! Purchase your set of Uke Logic strings here! Leolani Gift Card Now if what you want to gift is an ukulele, I’ve got you covered. I’m pleased to announce the launch of our new Leolani e-gift cards! These gift cards can be used on all our products on our site. You can create the e-gift card and write a festive message to your recipient! This takes the guess work out of choosing the right ukulele! Plus you don’t have to wrap anything… haha! Get an e-gift card here! _________________________________________ So here is my list of 10 super awesome ukulele gifts for ukulele lovers! You can find all these items on Amazon and ETSY now (except for the e-gift card, you can get them at leolaniukulele.com). Keep jamming and Happy Thanksgiving!

It‘s Back!  LEOLANI’S 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

It‘s Back! LEOLANI’S 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

Mele Kalikimaka! Well, at least that’s what Ingrid Michaelson is singing over on my Amazon Echo. (Sorry Bing, please forgive me!) Thanksgiving is just a few days away and my stomach is already longing for my dad’s “super moist, bettah then da rest” turkey! Secret tip guys... he pretends he’s making brisket...lol! Low and slow, finished with a broiler sear. Seriously, at our large Thanksgiving gathering people don’t even touch the other turkeys. They end up taking their dry birds home while my dad’s roasting pot is empty. Can't wait! So with Thanksgiving being tomorrow here in the US we can see just over the hill to CHRISTMAS, the most wonderful time of year! And with that said, it gives me great pleasure to announce to you again: Leolani’s 12 Days of Christmas ukulele giveaway! So in this post I’m gonna break down what this contest/giveaway is all about. And, yes, the challenges too! Just like we did last year we are gonna be giving away 12 ukuleles. One ukulele each day! To enter, check out our list of daily challenges. There are 12 of them, one for each day. You can enter all 12 days or just pick the ones that strike your fancy. Just remember to get your submission in before midnight (HST) on the day you want to enter (just like Cinderella). We will be announcing the winners the following day on our socials!

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 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 48 hours, on Friday, November 26th so mark your calendars!


Here’s how to enter my fellow sugar plums:

1. Use the hashtag #MerryUkeMas2021 + tag @leolani_kumu_ukulele in your post.


2. Follow @leolani_kumu_ukulele on Instagram or Facebook @Leolani Ukulele. or subscribe to Leolani KUMU Ukulele on YouTube. 3. Post your entry to Instagram or Facebook by 11:59pm HST (Hawaii Standard Time) on the day you are entering. This year we are also adding the option of emailing your submission to leolanimedia@gmail.com. Day one is on November 26th, 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 festive submissions.


So be as creative and festive as possible. Let’s make this giveaway super fun! You can enter all twelve days, 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 you get to win! This contest will have up to twelve winners so go tell it on the mountain! If you send in your submission via email, know that we will be posting it to our socials announcing if you win. Everyone will want to see your awesome submission!


HARK! You can prepare 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 2, and make a Christmas cookie in the shape of a ukulele and submit it already. You don’t have to wait till day 2 to submit. Just don’t submit it on day 3 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 you have a ukulele on your Christmas list this year... be sure to enter. (Hint, hint… go for the more challenging days, better chance to win!)

If you have any questions, ask away on our socials and we will get back to you with Prancer speed!

For all of our visual learners, here is our sixty second promo from Sabeth and I, head elf of social media and our reindeer refuse custodian: Keep jamming and aloha!

Fireside Chat with Ricky Somborn!

Fireside Chat with Ricky Somborn!

Ricky Somborn’s ukulele covers are blowing up the inter-webs! His laid back style, dapper vocals, and winsome smile make him an inspiring force in the online ukulele community. He’s performed at the LA International Ukulele Festival and recently at the 2020 Winter NAMM show. I was able to catch up with Ricky Somborn as he is hunkering down in Florida during this global pandemic. Today is also his 32nd birthday. Happy Birthday Ricky! Since it’s his birthday, I wanted to do a deep dive/candid interview with the man himself. So here... we... go... What is your full name? Ricky Somborn: My full name is Ricardo Somborn. When is your birthday? Ricky Somborn: My birthday is June 28, 1988. Now where were you born? Ricky Somborn: I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. What are your ethnicities? Ricky Somborn: My ethnicity is Argentinian. So I consider myself Latin American. I was actually adopted. My dad is Austrian and my mom is South African. So it's interesting when people are like, what do you consider yourself? I consider myself Hispanic. Whenever somebody's like, “Where are you from?” I say Argentina, even though I grew up since I was like two in New York and then moved to Florida. Are there any hobbies or hidden talents that you have that nobody really knows about? Ricky Somborn: I think my hidden talent and hobby was music. Before that, I was strictly corporate business orientated. Wanted to climb up that corporate ladder. So I think music was my little secret. What is your morning routine? What does the average morning look like for you? Ricky Somborn: I usually try to get up by 6:30am. And then usually I play with the dogs for about half an hour, and then I go straight into either uploading to YouTube or Instagram. I try not to get those two on the same day. Otherwise, I’d be working till like four in the morning! So pretty much it's probably by 8:30am I start going through what I have to do in the day, and then I usually upload to YouTube around 11am. Then I want to make sure that the video is fully uploaded to YouTube, thumbnails done. And then I'm pretty much gonna be filming from noon to 4pm. And then it's usually hang out with family and then I go back to editing because I usually have to upload the next day. It’s a pretty full day! I don't think many people who watch YouTube realize the labor of love it is to do this kind of work. Ricky Somborn: Yeah, and if it's a day after upload, it's usually busy spending a few hours responding to comments and emails, and that kind of stuff. Then I’m also learning the next day's tutorial and how I want to structure it. Everyday it kind of varies because it's like either upload or learning day. Learning days are usually between uploads. So yeah, it's pretty interesting but I enjoy it. Keeps me busy. Now, these questions are gonna be a little more ukulele related and about your YouTube and Instagram journey. Hopefully a little more introspective. As you get closer to your birthday are you more reflective or anxious about what's to come? So do you do you look back at the last year? Are you the type of person that like looks forward into the next year? Ricky Somborn: I've been reflecting a lot on the past year because it was was probably the biggest life changing year of my life. In a really positive way. I think when I broke my ankle it was a turning point. And I didn't know what was gonna happen afterwards. That was to me a low point because I didn't know what was gonna happen. But I turned it into one of my high points because I was able to learn the ukulele and that turned into something that I thought would be impossible! And then thinking about it now, it's pretty crazy to look back at the past 365 days, and to see what has gone down and where I've been and what I've done because of this instrument is pretty amazing. So I think I'm reflective but then I'm also really excited for the next 365 days. Where do I go from here? If I've done all that in the past year and it wasn’t even a part of my plans, I can’t even fathom what the next year will lead to. And now that I'm have my goal set for the next year, obviously I want to keep doing this and I want to keep growing. I want to keep growing my skills with the instrument and with social media. Very Excited! What was the hardest song you had to learn on the ukulele for YouTube and Instagam? Ricky Somborn: Hardest song? I think for me it was a Taylor Swift song. I'm not a huge Taylor Swift fan. But I appreciate her music. It's just that I don't listen to that style of music so then it takes me forever to get the rhythm, melody, or the just the lyrics down. The hardest thing for me is not the actual chords or whatever. It's the genre that throws me off. I remember the song having a really fast part. Taylor sang the lyrics really quick. It was basically a rap. It had a minute of no breathing! It took me while to nail it down. Yeah, that was probably the hardest. Who are your musical influences? Ricky Somborn: I mean I grew up in Florida so I feel like it's a staple to love Dave Matthews Band. Yeah, as a Florida guy you have to 100%. I've been to 16 of his concerts. I count because he plays in West Palm often. He's played in West Palm every summer and does two shows Friday and Saturday. I would go to both shows. I did this for eight years in a row. I just love the way he performs and he's such a great singer and a performer in general. I’d also say Phineas, Billie Eilish‘s brother. The way he composes and the way he writes music is really awesome. He incorporates everyday sounds into his music, you'll hear this beep and it's from a random traffic light. He records it on his cell phone and then incorporates it into the music. It's unique. This uniqueness is something I look up to. What amazes you the most about the online ukulele community? Anything surprising? Ricky Somborn: I think I'm just amazed at how welcoming and supportive the community is. I've seen it firsthand myself when I first started playing, everybody was super welcoming. And there was no ego in the ukulele world, I mean, I can't speak for everybody but like from what I‘ve seen in the guitar community, I feel like there's a lot of competition there. For the ukulele community, it's just you play and whether you have 100,000 followers or 10 followers, you can feel that your on an equal playing field with everybody. You can DM anybody, and they will most likely answer. I mean, I try to answer every message. And people are always surprised when I answer a DM when they have a question. But when you have that support system of strangers who just love the instrument as much as you do, it's really cool to have that sort of community. Right! Along with that question is what is it like being a music/ukulele influencer? The good, the bad, the ugly? Ricky Somborn: I think the good is working with companies like you guys and being a part of growing the community. It is strange though I don't consider myself an influencer. I think that's a “no, no”. I don't think I would ever consider myself an influencer but to be able to grow the community and to have a voice in the community is really cool. Though sometimes comments are not so positive, like the DM’s that that say “you suck”. Which I know is just surface level stuff. So it never really gets to me. I've had conversations with followers and they shared that because of my videos they also decided to start uploading to Instagram or YouTube. Some people have 25 followers and were like, I was inspired to make this video because I saw Ricky singing a Billie Eilish song, and they upload it. One time this girl messaged me and was like, “I don't know what to do. I'm getting so much hate on my video.” I'm like, oh why? And they said, “It's these kids from school. They're making fun of me because they saw my video“. I told her to not to worry about it. Shake it off. I know it's easy for me to say because I've already gone through that and learned how to process it. I know that at the end of the day that person is saying something negative because they are probably going through something negative. And they're going to try to hang it on the other person. But to see other person hurting and they don't understand why they are getting put down... it's a frustrating for me and you know, there's only so much that I can do. That's the negative part about this social platform. There is always gonna be negative people. Following up with that question let's talk about what was maybe the worst day since becoming a ukulele player and being on YouTube and Instagram? Did you ever wrestle with the question of giving it up? Ricky Somborn: I have thought about stopping, like once a month. It usually revolves around technology. I had my external hard drive completely crash at one time, and that had everything on it. So now I have everything backed up. Now if my drives crash I still good! Too bad I had to learn this the hard way, which is I guess a good thing now that moving forward, I have backups of backups. Also issues with the microphone not working, lights breaking. Yeah for me a lot of it's technology, it can be super frustrating. And sometimes I don't have great days, sometimes I'm just not into filming. I mean, everybody has bad days. And I think what I've learned now is to just step back and if for some reason I don't upload on a day that I'm supposed to upload, I tell myself it's not the end of the world. Even though I'm the type of person that wants to get things done, that stay up all night to film it right mentality. One time I remember filming a video at night. I was done at like 12:30am. I started editing and I realized that it just didn't sound good. It was my singing. I set everything back up and literally refilmed it again at one in the morning. I just wanted this video to go out, but I was SO tired. I finished filming at like 2:30am and then had to edit the video. I think I stayed up until nine in the morning and then uploaded at 11am. And I still wasn't happy with it, but it just gonna have to do. If your interested it was Billie Eillish’s ‘Everything I Wanted”. Watch that video and look at my eyes and try and see if you can see how tired I am. Funny thing is it was actually my most viewed video on Youtube! I wasn’t planning on unloading it after that all nighter. And now it's has over 200,000 views. Crazy right?! The videos you think aren't gonna perform, they actually do better than the ones you're like, this is gonna be it. This is my big break. Yeah..... right! So you need some more three in the morning sessions! Haha! But you know Ricky, many young people reading this will definitely find hope and inspiration through that. Now we're going to move in a different direction. These questions are not ukulele related. This is just about getting to you know you better. What was your first job? Ricky Somborn: My first job was literally down the street. I could walk 30 minutes to and from my house and it was was like a deli/restaurant. It was an Italian place called Leon's. It's not open anymore but I remember that was my first job because my cousin got a job there. And then I was like, I think I want a job because my cousin got a job and I think it's time that I got a job. I was in ninth grade! So making sandwiches at Leon’s was my first job. It was interesting! That‘s great! I’m getting hungry. Leon’s was your first job... so what would you say was your worst job? Ricky Somborn: I was a dishwasher at a retirement home. I was the ‘dish washer’ guy. I actually applied for the server position and they said I got it and then on my first day, they're like, actually your a dishwasher. And then they put me as a dishwasher and I was there for a few weeks. I was like I can't do this. I'm gonna go back to my Leon's job making sandwiches. So much better! What was your favorite subject in high school? Ricky Somborn: My favorite subject in high school was oddly enough government. Because of my teacher Mr. O'Neill, he was really awesome. And then US history was also really awesome. My teacher for that class was Mr. Adams. They were cool with me being a couple minutes late because that's usually my style. I'm always a couple minutes late. So Government and US History were my favorites, even though I was never into politics, or whatever. These two teachers really wanted to make it fun to learn topics that weren't necessarily the most fun. You know, for the average 11th grader. Are you watching any Netflix? Streaming? I know your time is tight with editing and uploading but do you watch streaming shows? Ricky Somborn: Truthfully I don't. I literally don't watch anything. I think the last thing I watched was LOST on Netflix. This was a year ago. As soon as I started creating content I stopped consuming content. But yeah, LOST was the last TV show that I actually binge watched. I want to watch more so I am up for recommendations or suggestions. And then its the same with music. The only music I listen to is for my content. I don't really listen leisurely anymore which is kind of a bummer. What is your earliest childhood memory? Ricky Somborn: My earliest childhood memory? For some reason I remember when my family first moved to New York when I was like, two, two and a half years old. But I remember sort of doing like a walkthrough of the house that we lived in. It still is my favorite that we've been in. Because it was so old, and it was I think 100 years old at that point. I just remember it being super bright when we did the walkthrough. I don't know why I always think of that. Whenever somebody is like, what's your earliest memory, that's it. It's literally just walking through a house. But that's what I remember and it was impactful! I remember after we moved I always told my parents I'm was gonna buy that house. I don't know how much that house costs but I am gonna buy it one day. It's gonna be mine! Did you ever go back later when you went back to the New York? Ever go to the street and see the house afterwards? Ricky Somborn: I mean I grew up in Tarrytown, which is right on the border of Sleepy Hollow. So the Headless Horseman tale. I used to love thinking our backyard was Sleepy Hollow. It was in the woods and was really secluded. It was cool but terrifying at the same time. Especially at night. I remember when I was in New York for six years, I think I went back there, maybe three times because it's literally like 30-40 minute train ride out of Manhattan. I remember going there and I walking on the same route that I used to walk. It was up all uphill. We lived on the steepest hill ever! And I definitely feel like it got steeper.... as I got older. Haha! What are the movies that define your childhood? You are a 90’s kid. Ricky Somborn: My favorite that I could still watch today is ‘Space Jam’. I grew up loving basketball and Michael Jordan. ‘Liar Liar’ was like one of my favorites as well. I used to love Jim Carrey. So do you have any siblings? Ricky Somborn: Yeah, I have an older brother and an older sister. So if I were to call them, okay, what would they tell me about you? Ricky Somborn: They would say that I am definitely the ‘youngest’. You know of the “youngest child syndrome”? I'm the baby in the family. I feel like I probably get away with more than they ever did when they were younger. So that's probably what they would say. And that music is super unexpected. That they never thought that I'd be doing this. So that's probably what they would say. So when you grew up, were you singing around the house? Did your siblings know you could sing? Ricky Somborn: No! Haha! I could have just been not talking the entire time. I never really showed any interest in singing. My grandmother was opera singer so I would hear her, but I would never, you know, join in. I was more into basketball and that kind of stuff growing up. Then I was in the corporate world, and not really being creative at all. I think that's when I was just like I need to do something. Be more creative. Whether that be taking up pottery or drawing. But in the end I got into music. I just wanted to do something that wasn't analyzing numbers. So what was the craziest thing you've ever done? Ricky Somborn: I don't really do that many crazy things. My brother was always the person that would always push the limits. For me I was mostly hanging out friends. I was part of the student government. I would just stay in my lane in terms of like not getting in trouble with the parents, but I would also have fun with my friends. Very low key. But YouTube is pretty crazy, right? Ricky Somborn: Well yeah! I mean this now my whole career. I think my family's still doesn't truly understand that you can make a little bit of income and make a living off of the internet. I try to explain it to them the best I can. You know, it's like when your parents are trying to figure out what an iPhone is, there's only so much you can do before you get frustrated. So for me we have these conversations and we have them quite often. I'm like, you know there's people that watch the content and there's people that you know, that watch the content. And that's how I grow! And then it goes over their heads and I'm just like, you know what, just know that I'm making an income. Haha! So I have some really funny closing questions. So you have two teleportation devices. Ricky, do you walk through this door and you can exit to the other door? Okay, where would you place these two teleportation devices? Ricky Somborn: Um, I think one would be where I am now. I always want to come back to family. A second one would probably go to Switzerland. I really I love Switzerland, and then my other side of the family's there as well. So I'd probably go back and forth between Switzerland and Florida. If your house was burning and you could only save one thing, what would that one thing be? Ricky Somborn: Probably save my Kumu ukulele. It’s one of my favorite ukuleles. I'd probably take that but if I had that on me already, I would say my laptop or camera. If you had a ‘do over’ button, and you could press it. And you would be transported and go back in time. What would you change? Ricky Somborn: I would probably start getting more interested in music earlier on. I was thinking about this earlier, where would I have been if I started playing music 5 or 10 years ago. But I mean, obviously I can't really think about that too much. But I'm always thinking about what could have happened. Where would I be today if I had made that change. I’m sure this is same with many people and their passions. But you know what, your never too late to start. If today is that day, then today is that day. What is something that you used to believe that you no longer believe? Ricky Somborn: One of them is that perfection doesn't exist. And for me striving for perfection was hindering my productivity. I was the type of person that wanted everything to be perfect and clearly when I stayed up until nine in the morning filming and editing that Billie Eilish video I was like I don't even think I want to post it because I didn't like it. But I posted it anyways and it was one of my most successful videos! That taught me that you're never going to be perfect. I let that go and adopted a new mentality of just do the work and if it's good just post it. Nobody expects everything to be 100% all the time. Even the people that do this, artists on billboard or hot 100 or whatever it's called are taking multiple takes and getting produced to sound the way that they do. How can you compete against that. Literally it's just me recording this entire song in one take. If I screw up, have to do everything over again. If I knew I could just take like every slice, every perfect piece of the song and merge them into the perfect version, then of coure it's going to sound amazing! So I had to get my mind over that and realize that getting something done is better than striving for perfection but not finishing. Ricky, great answer! Before we sign off I have a 5 question lightning round. You have a few seconds to answer. Got it? Here we go... Favorite ice cream flavor? Ahhh, chocolate. Coffee or tea? Coffee. Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings? Harry Potter. Christmas or Halloween? Oooooh.... Christmas. Last question, tacos or sushi? Tacos! Ricky Somborn is a 32 year old self taught ukulele player and singer from Florida who started playing the ukulele in the summer of 2018. Since uploading his first covers on Instagram in March of last year, his social media following has grown to 55,000+ followers on Instagram and 30,000+ subscribers on YouTube. Check out his videos on YouTube here.  And follow him on Instagram at @rickysomborn. I want to personally give a huge mahalo to Ricky for agreeing to do this interview and for sending these personal photos. Mahalo nui loa!

Get Your Pink On!

Get Your Pink On!

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!

12 Days of Christmas Ukulele GIVEAWAY

12 Days of Christmas Ukulele GIVEAWAY

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!

Last Minute Gift Ideas!

Last Minute Gift Ideas!

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: https://www.leolaniukulele.com/kumu-series 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!

Ukulele finishes?  Lets talk about it!

Ukulele finishes? Lets talk about it!

And like that… summer is coming to a close. Wow, that was fast! Schools here in Hawaii are starting back up, and so I felt it was apropos to post something that will hopefully educate us ukulele lovers (I had to look up how to spell apropos, haha!) As ukulele players, we're seemingly pre-wired to sweat the smallest details. Often details that seem absolutely trivial to everyone else are the subject of much debate for us, but hey, that's part of the fun. From our side of the equation as a local ukulele brand we find ourselves in almost constant conversation about a great number of ukulele related topics. Sound awesome? It absolutely is! No matter the specific topic, we learn a lot about what’s going on in the community and what’s trending. But more importantly, we learn about what matters most to players. Honestly in many cases there's not a definitive right or wrong answer, as each player is so different. “Different strokes for different folks!” As the old saying goes Over the years what I’ve found works best is to present as much information as possible on the subject and leave it up to the individual player to decide. Which I know can be daunting since their are already many voices filling up the space… including mine (haha!). I find more times than not that players already know what they want, and are just double checking. We’ve all been there before, impulsed buy an item only to realize later that there was a better option! So this brings us to our topic on ukulele finishes. Yeah, what’s the deal with finishes anyway? Well as your about the find out… a lot! For starters this is a great example of a "no right/wrong" situation. There are quite a few different options for finishes and each type of finish is going to offer advantages as well as shortcomings. In this post, I thought it would be useful to look at a few of the popular options for ukulele finishes and examine the strengths and weaknesses of each. But before we go there I need to cover the purpose why ukulele need to finished in the first place. What really is the purpose of a finish? When you look at the vast array of finishes found on ukulele it is hard not to think that the sole purpose of the finish is to make the instrument beautiful. No matter what some of the more elitist players may say, the aesthetics of an instrument are important to most players. I mean, just look at the bombshell ukulele they are playing. It's impossible to deny that the finish does add to the visual appeal of a ukulele, however its primary purpose is to protect the material underneath. Wood, which still is at the heart of every great instrument, is a great building material. BUT wood has one major downfall. Moisture, or lack thereof, is wood's "Achilles's heel”. If you want to take a deep dive into humidity and it’s effect on ukulele check out my post about it here. Too much moisture will cause wood to swell and often distort from it's shape. This can absolutely reek havoc on a ukulele where many parts are assembled with exact tolerances. On the other hand, a climate that's too dry can cause wood to become brittle and ultimately crack. Either way, your screwed! If you want to know how to protect your ukulele from “death by humidity” just out my post about it here! (Haha, last shameless plug.) The age-old way that craftsmen have been addressing this problem is by stabilizing the level of humidity. The best way to do this is to seal the wood under a finish in order to control the amount of moisture that can enter or leave the wood. Finishing “paint” is actually a very clever invention when you think about it. Finishes can be engineered to optimize a number of performance attributes for their given applications. These newer finishes are not only easier and cheaper to apply, but are also considerably more durable than some of the older ones. With this in mind it is not surprising that a lot of ukulele builder's have ditched the lacquer finishes of yesteryear in favor of some of the newer finishes. Though as we see with most fandoms, there are gatekeepers. And in the ukulele world those gatekeepers are well battle worn warriors of a bygone era. Whether its of historical significance or unique characteristics, many players still want the finishes that are traditional, aka “Old School”. This has spawned quite a debate over time and honestly each side has some pretty solid points. Lacquer Finishes (Nitro) Lacquer is a pretty general term that actually describes a few different finishes. Typically, when it comes to ukulele, the type of lacquer used is either nitrocellulose or acrylic. Nitro lacquer is made from mostly plant-based substances. Most luthiers will attest that the thinner layer created by a nitro finish will allow the wood to breathe better, giving the ukulele increased projection and greater sustain. This is a huge benefit to having a nitro finish. Also, a nitro finish is done over a period of a few days which each layer essentially melting into the previous one, creating a nice gloss layer over the wood. This gives the ukulele a beautiful “wet” look. Now there are a several issues when owning a ukulele with a lacquer finish. Having a thin finish means that the ukulele is more susceptible to cosmetic damage. So if you are a klutz, your ukulele will show it’s injuries. Another issue is that nitro finishes degrade over time. This means it will need to be coated again eventually if you want to keep the glossy, protective layer. Many though like this degradation as it gives the ukulele a vintage patina. Call it superstition, but some vintage models just have a glow to them that you just don't get with modern finishes. Another problem is Nitro doesn’t cope well with regular temperature changes. It tends to crack over time, especially if the ukulele travels between areas of different humidity. If you want to dive deeper into humidity and its… nah, just kidding! Polyurethane and Polyester Finishes For modern ukulele, polyurethane and polyester ukulele are considered the standard. After the ’90s, poly ukulele finishes began to replace nitro ones, and things have basically stayed that way since then. The decision to switch came from Nitrocellulose’s effect on the environment. In the 1960’s Nitrocellulose became a strictly regulated substance, forcing wood workers to look for an alternative. Hence the use of “Poly” finishes. No...not that “poly”! 😆 Polyurethane and polyester finishes are safer and better for the environment than nitro. They also do not require the time-consuming process of applying multiple layers. Instead, a single layer is more than enough to get a thick coat on the ukulele. This means that polyester and polyurethane finishes are much stronger than nitro finishes. Not only do they do a better job of protecting the wood underneath but they are safer and easier to apply, not to mention cheaper. Unlike Nitro finishes they won’t crack easily over time and can take a few bumps without damaging the ukulele. So if you are clumsy, this may be the finish for you! A drawback to poly finishes is that sometimes they are sprayed on the ukulele too thick. This will dampen the acoustics of the ukulele. Factories that have a ‘quantity over quality’ approach experience this issue since they aren’t as careful to limit the amount of finish used. Also, if polyurethane isn‘t allowed to dry properly, white and cloudy blemishes will appear in the finish. UV Finishes A UV finish, mostly found on modern wood floors, is now also used on some ukulele. A UV cured coating is created by using an ultra-violet light that dries the coating. The coating is pre-applied before being placed in the oven, where it dries immediately. This process is similar to what you’d find in the dental offices, when they use UV light to harden fillings. It’s quick! This finish looks similar to a nitro finish but is more durable and faster to manufacture. It is also VOC free, unlike nitrocellulose. This may be the finish of the future since it offers the best of both worlds, looks and protection! Well there you have it! If you are purchasing a new ukulele, it will most likely have some form of poly coating on it. However, if you are shopping secondhand, you might be able to find a vintage ukulele that still has it’s original nitro finish on it (like every Kamaka ukulele locked away in our grandparents closets). But those won’t come cheap! In my next post I’m gonna go over the differences between matte, satin, and gloss finishes. Even the mysterious Tuxedo finish! Please stay tuned! Keep jamming and aloha!

3 Ways to Learn to Play Ukulele

3 Ways to Learn to Play Ukulele

You have a ukulele. You were given one as a birthday gift, or found one at a thrift store. Maybe you inherited one from a relative or just plain bought one for yourself online or at your neighborhood music store. Awesome! Welcome to the world of the ukulele! But now what?! You stare at your ukulele in the corner not knowing what to do. Better yet, where do I even start. Here we are at an ukulele stand off. This could last minutes... hours... days... and even years! That feeling of learning an instrument for the first time is pure excitement. There’s nothing quite like it. However, that excitement can be met with the sinking feeling of being overwhelmed. “Where do I even begin?“ First, pick up your ukulele. Take a deep breath in... hold... and let it out. Good! You just completed the first step...hehe! Next tune it up. To find out about the new tuning methods check them out here. This may take a little while but when your ukulele is tuned up your ready to learn. Now here are 3 ways to learn to play ukulele. Method #1: Being Self Taught So you‘ve heard it a million times before. People who tell you that they were self taught. “Wow you can really play the piano, did you take lessons?” “Nope, I‘m self taught!” ”Your voice is amazing, did you have a vocal coach growing up?” ”No, just a natural!” If they can do it, could you teach yourself the ukulele? Of course you can! Taking the self-learning route consists primarily of reading books and searching online for free lessons. Google and YouTube searches are a great place to start. Even checking out ukulele blogs. Like this one where you can learn the 10 ukulele chords everyone should know (shameless plug). The biggest benefit to the self-teaching method is that you set the pace and best of all it’s FREE! This takes off the pressure of instructors and saves you money as classes can be expensive. But being self taught comes with an investment of time and the added energy of sifting and sorting through the information yourself. Also the lack of accountability can cause you to lax in the practice department. Keeping yourself motivated to learn is critical in being self taught. Being self taught will encourage the development of your own playing style. You will have complete control of what and how you are learning. This is so liberating! Though if this is too intimidating and you don’t have the free time to teach yourself, method #2 may be right for you. Method #2 Classes and Private Lessons Attending classes and taking private lessons are some of the best ways to improve your skills in the shortest amount of time. It’s like having your own personal trainer or coach at the gym showing you exactly what to do. An ukulele coach! The best classes and private coaches/teachers will help in identifying specific learning goals and set sign posts for you to get there. For starters, many beginning ukulele players have the goal of fingerpicking a few simple solo pieces within a year. But a ukulele teacher will most likely say, “No, fingerpicking is too advanced. You should master strumming first.” The student may resist this musical wisdom at first, but its usually right. Pushing too fast is like building on a concrete foundation before it has had the proper time to set. Everything you build later will not be plum. So having teachers and private instructors will guide you on the right paths on your ukulele journey. Although the cost of private lessons can add up, taking classes or hiring a private teacher is worth it! You may not like being corrected or told to practice more but in the end this accountability will help with your ukulele proficiency. Be sure to search for the right teacher. Get references and check reviews when possible to find the right fit. A great teacher can bring greatness out of you. The opposite sadly is true as well. So search wisely for your Jedi.... I mean Ukulele master. But what if there are no ukulele masters near you? Lets check out method #3. Method #3 Online Ukulele Courses Nowadays, for many, online ukulele lesson courses make a lot of sense. There are many great ukulele teachers on the web. They bring the budding ukulele player these amazing benefits: -Go at your own pace in your own home (this alone is worth it) -Access archived lessons anytime, anywhere -Follow step-by-step, easy-to-follow practice plans -Watch the online teacher demonstrate a technique multiple times -Save time searching for free lessons and accurate chord charts -Pay less than the price of a single private lesson -Connect with a worldwide community of likeminded ukulele enthusiasts Not to mention, you have the support of an online teacher to help answer your questions and provide encouragement incase you get stuck along the way. Another bonus of taking online courses is that everything is flexible since you don’t have to set up appointments where you need to plan commuting to and fro. You can log on whenever to see archived classes, or check in at scheduled times for live classes. A seeming downside to taking online ukulele classes is you don’t have an in person teacher sitting in the room identifying your mistakes as you play. However, uploading online video has never been easier! Online teachers would love to seeing you play, offering their feedback and guidance. With online lessons, you have a dedicated space to improve your skills. If your interested in this approach, check out this amazing online resource here. I‘ve been a huge proponent of Ukulele Underground! They’ve been offering up great online resources for over a decade. So which way and method are you gonna choose? Can you combine methods together? Of course you can! In the end it’s your journey. Now stop reading this and get started! May the choice be with you!

Humidifiers... do you need one for your ukulele?

Humidifiers... do you need one for your ukulele?

Ukulele are wonderfully simple instruments. In fact, that’s one reason why they’re more popular than ever. They are so simple in fact that many don’t know about moisture maintenance and how important it is. I’ve heard it many times before. Testimonies of people purchasing ukulele here in Hawaii, only to find their precious instruments cracked and splitting a month after getting home. Oh no! This is due to a lack of moisture maintenance, or maintaining the proper humidity around your ukulele. As someone who plays the ukulele you should already know that your ukulele is made of wood. “Wait... what? Ukulele are made out of wood?!?” Okay, I know, so basic. I did start by saying the ukulele was a simple, right? Haha! But follow me on this, its gonna make sense when we get into the topic. So yes, ukulele are made of wood, so now lets go down the rabbit hole. This is gonna get weird! Zombie-Wood? Just because your tone-wood is cut, dried, shaped, sanded, glued, and made into a ukulele, it still thinks its a tree. Yes, your wood is ‘zombified’! The wood is technically dead, but it is still moving. Get it. Zombie-wood? So just like a tree, the wood in your ukulele will continue to try to acclimate to it’s surroundings. And if your surrounding area isn’t suitable for your ukulele, then destruction is inevitable. “Why will my ukulele fall apart?” Great question! It all comes down to humidity. For example, if the air around your ukulele is too dry, it will eventually dry out the wood causing it to shrink. When this happens, the wood in your ukulele will crack. And this humidity issue goes both ways. If the surrounding area is too humid, the wood on your ukulele will absorb the moisture making it expand. The wood will start warping, taking on new angles and shapes. Either way, having too little or too much humidity can hurt your ukulele. These negative effects can take months but I have seen things happen in days! Scary right? “So What can I do to protect my ukulele from the humidity?” Well, get a humidifier! What the heck is a ukulele humidifier? Ukulele humidifiers are small moisture-filled containers that fit inside your ukulele case or hung on the ukulele itself (while in it’s case). It works by gradually releasing moisture into the environment as needed. It does this without over-humidifying the environment. A consistent humidity level between 40 and 50 percent is ideal. In Hawaii, the birthplace of ukulele, many builders construct their ukulele in humidity controlled rooms. They lower the humidity using dehumidifiers and air conditioners in order to maintain a room humidity of 50%, though Hawaii’s normal humidity vacillates between 55-80%. This helps decrease the chances of cracking when the ukulele is sent to places that are too dry. Some ukulele humidifiers protect your instrument from over-humidification too – that’s a win-win! Particularly if you live in an area where humidity tends to rise and fall as the weather changes. Denver Colorado has the lowest humidity in the United States, as low as 12%! If you send a ukulele made in Hawaii to Denver it could crack in day! 70% down to 12%. Yikes! Does my ukulele need one? Probably! All the best ukuleles are made with wood, which is composed of cells that react to atmospheric changes. Especially if your ukulele is made using solid woods and not laminate. Sure when a ukulele splits, or the top ”bows” it can be easily seen. But like terminates eating in the walls of a house, humidity can also cause damage that’s hard to see. It can manifest as problems such as fret buzz, bad intonation, or high (or too low) action height. These can pretty much make the ukulele unplayable so it’s pretty serious. It’s also very expensive to fix and repair these issues. So it’s the humidifiers job to keep the ukulele environment at the right level of humidity so those changes, and the damage they can cause, don’t happen. If your room is at the right humidity, you can store your ukulele out of it’s humidified case. Hang it on the wall, display it on a stand. It’s all good! Nothing is going to happen to the instrument. Now when you take it from that room to somewhere else... well, now you need to keep your ukulele humidified. Every time you take your ukulele on the road, going from a cool house to a hot car or vice-versa, you want keep the humidity level around your ukulele consistent. Or else... CRAAAAACK! Your climate can help you decide if you need a ukulele humidifier or not. If you live in a warm, humid environment and you don’t use a ton of air conditioning inside your home, your instrument should be fine. If you purchased your ukulele from a local luthier then your ukulele should be fine, just watch out for the seasons! As the temperatures drop, so does moisture. So like chaining up your tires when there’s heavy snow, you need to humidify your ukulele during winter months. If you live in a hot, dry region, then you might need to use a ukulele humidifier year-round to keep your instrument from drying out. When using a ukulele humidifier you must use it in a case. This way it can regulate the humidity in a small contained area. If using a room humidifier, theres no need to worry about keeping it in a case since the room will be humidity controlled. Below are some humidifier recommendations! Best Humidifiers... Oasis Humidifier The Oasis OH-18 ukulele humidifier protects your instrument from the inside out. I really like the fact that it goes right inside your uke and stays put even when you’re traveling. If you forget to fill it up and it runs out, no worries, you can just fill it up again. It’s so user friendly! When it’s time to refill your Oasis humidifier you will notice the ‘humigel’ beads making a sound. This is because they are drying out. Just add water and the beads will swell back up with moisture, and your ready to go. These beads don’t last forever so they recommend you change them out every year. You can purchase these refill packs here. The drying out and shrinking of the humigel beads also affects the tube. The tube also shrinks, crunches up, and starts bending. This is another sign that your humidifier needs more water. We love the father and son duo (the Hepple’s) from Oasis! It’s always great to see them at the Winter NAMM every year. Mahalo for letting use your vacuum for our booth! Geniani Mist Humidifier The Geniani Top Fill Cool Mist Humidifier is a great choice to humidify your ukulele. This way you don’t have to keep your ukulele in a humidified case. You can display it for all to see (or just you...especially if you own a work of art). It is also quite affordable at around $45. It runs silent and boast a large water capacity at 4 liters! If you have multiple instruments, this is the humidifier for you. You can also use in any room of the house. Check it out here and see it’s full list of features! Last but not least........BOVEDA! I have a confession to make... please don’t judge me. I am a connoisseur of the finer things. I collect whiskey, mid century furniture, and pipes and cigars. If you know anything about pipes and cigars, you know you need to humidify your tobacco leaf. With cigars, optimally they should be kept at 69-72% humidity. Yeah, that precise! This is where Boveda Humidipaks save the day. Boveda Humidipaks use a patented, all natural salt solution to precisely protect cigars, musical instruments, and food.  They are able to keep your items at precise humidity levels... like at exactly 68%. For guitars and ukulele, they have packets in the 30-50% range. Boveda Humidipaks also control humidity both ways. They can either lower humidity or raise it. Which takes the guessing out of the everything. Just throw a 49% packet in your ukulele case and you’re good! You will need to change them over time. The packet will get hard when you need to change it out. If your regulating humidity is already near 50% you may never have to change it out. If humidity is really low you may have to change it out every month. Get them here! I love these things! So are humidifiers important? Well, yeah! Now if you have a laminated ukulele humidity maintenance is not as necessary. This is actually a reason you should consider a laminated ukulele. They are not only affordable, with construction quality now matching solid body ukulele, but they are practically humidity proof. But if you want a solid body ukulele, or already own one, getting a humidifier is the cheapest insurance for your instrument! The last thing I want for your ukulele is for it to crack or warp beyond repair. So I hope this post helped you out. And if at night you hear a rattling sound coming from your ukulele case... RUN!!! Keep jamming and aloha!

7 Best Gift Ideas For Ukulele Players

7 Best Gift Ideas For Ukulele Players

Ukulele players love the ukulele. It’s a pretty simple formula, isn’t it? Few hobbies have quite so many options for gifts, but here I’ve compiled the best gifts for ukulele players, ranging from the super practical to the humorous. Now when I say gift... I do mean for birthdays and the holidays (I’m a sucker for Christmas). But I’m also writing about gifting to yourself! For me I love getting gifts for others. I plan on my Christmas purchases starting in the summer and I finish by November. I know, I know! Crazy right? Strange enough though I do have a hard time buying gifts for myself. Especially things ukulele related. So maybe you’re like me and its been a while since you purchased something for yourself. Maybe you haven’t gotten anything since you got your first ukulele, other than maybe a ukulele gig bag. No worries, I’ve got you covered! Here I’ve compiled a list of the 7 best gift ideas for ukulele players. You can already get a head start on the holiday season, find the perfect birthday present for that uke lover in your life... or maybe treat yourself with something special. Look at it as a “investment” for your ukulele journey (that’s what keep telling myself when I buy all my running shoes). It’s an investment... right? Haha! My wife would beg to differ. Quality Case If you’re a ukulele player, you should have a ukulele case to protect your instrument. You may already have a simple gig bag or foam case, so maybe its time for an upgrade. I’m sure a ukulele player being recipient of a beautiful new case will bring a “case” of the giggles. Here is an example of a protective wood hardcase. The Gatorcase Journey Man series offers traditional craftsmanship, modern engineering, and distinct vintage style. Dressed up in pebble weave burlap, accented with espresso trim, and outfitted with antique brass hardware, its a beautiful case. Heavy-duty plywood panels create a sturdy outer shell while royal blue crushed velvet and thick foam padding cradle your tenor style ukulele securely in place. A single interior storage compartment provides ample space for your favorite strings, picks, and accessories. Check out this Gatorcase here! If your wanting to gift something a little more unique, look no further than the new Leolani Showcase wood hardcase. What makes this hardcase unique? Well take a look at this... This case is built from heavy-duty plywood panels with a thick plush foam. It sports a interior storage compartment to store your accessories. Two way carrying system with briefcase handle or shoulder sling carrying strap. But whoa! There is a clear impact resistant acrylic cover to ’showcase’ your ukulele. Now you can both protect and swoon over your ukulele at the same time! Pick one up here! Wall Mount A ukulele wall hanger protects the instrument from damage while putting it in easy reach. I am a dad with 3 little ankle biters scurrying around. Any ukulele on the ground, in a case, or on a stand is free game for utter destruction! Unless my kids can reach above 5 feet than my ukulele is safe. Wall hangers are also a great way to show off your ukulele. So if you rarely play your ukulele at least you can still enjoy it’s beauty. A quality wall mount would make the perfect gift for you or someone who loves their ukulele. I recommend the brand String Swing. They are proudly made here in the USA using quality materials. Not to mention they’re affordable! They come in multiple solid wood finishes you can pick the right wood to match your homes aesthetics. I personally have used one for that past 3 years to hold my custom Rick Turner ukulele! Check here for the String Swing ukulele wall mount! Chromatic Tuner Can you say rechargeable! Finally a clip on chromatic tuner you don’t have to buy those disc shaped batteries for. All you need is a micro USB charger, and we all have those all over our homes. If you don’t already have a tuner the KLIQ EcoTuner would be an amazing one to get. It can tune your ukulele precisely... as well as your guitar, bass, mandolin...etc., etc. If your getting this as a gift, I’m sure you uke loving recipient will be more than happy to upgrade! If you know me personally, and don’t know what to get me for Christmas... look no further. Mahalo in advance! Get this little lifesaver here! Plug and Play Pickup Here is a shameless plug! Here is a great gift if you know someone who wants to be able to plug their ukulele into an amp without doing any ukulele surgery. Installing a pickup can be scary. A slip of a hand can damage your ukulele forever. So here is an option and takes literally a minute to set up. Once the pickup is on the ukulele you just have to turn it on, plug in, and play! Simple as that. Three knobs on the pickup control volume, bass, and treble. Allowing you to get the sound you want. It also runs on a CR2025 bartery. Well designed circuits block out noise interference and a high-tech vinyl allows for repeated use on sticking the pickup to the ukulele. And if you have multiple ukulele, you can put our pickup on all of them (of course not at the same time, haha). And the battery life is whopping 30-40 hours. Check it out here... watch the overview video to see how to use it. Online Lessons Most ukulele players want to improve their skills, and online ukulele courses make a fantastic gift that keeps on giving! I recommend taking online lessons from Uke Like The Pros! Terry is a fabulous musician and has been in the biz over 25 years. He offers different subscription level tiers with loads of live content! 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). Remember it’s an “investment”. Haha! Your kid could be the future Billie Eilish, (she jams on the uke)! Just remind them that you’re owed 50% of their earnings...haha! It’s part of the investment right?! Check out Uke Like The Pros and gift online lessons here! Ukulele Chord Chart This is the most beautiful ukulele chord chart to ever exist. Try and find one better. Most chord chart posters are not worthy enough to be framed and hung on a wall. They usually remain folded and buried in the corner of your desk. This is both a work of art as well as being extremely practical. If your ever in a rut and forget a chord, just stroll by this poster and take a look. This work of art was created by the artist Taylor Waldman. This would be a great gift alongside a wall hanger. Get one before it’s gone... Get this masterpiece here. Tablet/Phone Holder Many ukulele players rely on their phones or tablets for viewing lessons, play-alongs, and more. This cool tripod has an adjustable mount that accommodates most phones and tablets. This can be used at home while jamming or on the road when you visit your local ukulele club. If you gig, or know someone who does, this would be an excellent gift for them. Musicians using iPads/tablets on stage as they perform risks them falling on the floor since they use a normal music stand. These stands offer more protection as they are more sturdy and clamp to hold the device. This stand is so versatile and stows away in a small compact form. While it’s not a traditional gift, it’s sure to be a hit. Get one here. There you have it! 7 gifts ideas for ukulele players. Hopefully you find something for that uke lover in your life..... or better yet, for yourself. As I think about, I know what gift ideas I want to send to my friends and family....... for me! Keep jamming and aloha!