The Ukulele

Nothing beats the tropical sounds of the ukulele. The quickest way to feel like vacation is just around the corner is to turn on some ukulele music and start dancing around the living room.

It’s just one of those instruments that makes you feel like you’re on a beach, no matter where you are in real life. Whatever your budget, there is a ukulele just right for you.

Did you know that the ukulele originated in Portugal and symbolizes peace and friendship? How about the fact that you could be an expert ukulele player in three to six months?

Regardless of what you want to learn about the ukulele, you’ve come to the right place. This piece will cover all that and more. So let’s dive in and have a good time along the way!

History of the Ukulele

Known colloquially as the “jumping flea,” the ukulele was invented in Europe. Although it’s known today as a uniquely Hawaiian instrument, it first appeared in Portugal.

The ukulele is the product of several similar, small, guitar-like instruments invented in Portugal around the mid-1800s. Instruments like the Machete, the Timple, and the Cavaquinho all served as predecessors and influencers of the ukulele.

As far as anyone knows, the ukulele first appeared in Hawaii when a group of Portuguese immigrants brought it to the islands in the 1880s. The instrument had four plastic strings and a short neck, which fascinated the Hawaiian people.

The Portuguese immigrants would serenade the Hawaiian Islanders with ukulele music. The people loved it so much that news of it made it back to King Kalākaua, an ardent supporter of the arts and lover of music.

After King Kalākaua started incorporating the instrument into his royal parties and other significant functions, the ukulele earned its place as a piece of Hawaiian culture.

Types of Ukuleles

Since its first appearance in the 1800s, the ukulele has undergone significant changes and developments. Today, several different kinds and sizes are available for purchase.

Owning a ukulele has always been slightly trendy, but it also takes some impressive instrumental skill to learn to play it. The ukulele’s popularity has surpassed other staple instruments in some countries, like the guitar in Australia.

There are five main ukulele sizes. The different types of ukuleles allow the instrument to perform more exciting variations in the music world. And with different sizes, ukulelists can learn to play various ukulele songs from many other keys and tones.

Soprano Ukulele

Ideal for young players or beginners with the instrument, the soprano ukulele is typically about 21 inches.

Concert Ukulele

A little heavier and longer than the soprano but capable of more unique sounds, the concert ukulele is around 23 inches.

Tenor Ukulele

Ideally suited for fingerpicking with a longer neck and extra fret spaces, the tenor ukulele is about 26 inches.

Baritone Ukulele

With a longer neck, the baritone ukulele provides a full, deep sound that resembles an acoustic guitar. It’s usually about 29 inches.

Bass Ukulele

While not difficult to learn, the bass ukulele tends to have a different feel than other ukuleles, especially at 30 inches.

Making a Ukulele

Ukulele construction is an exciting topic because it covers various materials and substances. While the traditional ukulele is made of wood, it can also use plastic, plywood, laminated wood, or other similar materials.

Hardwood appears in more expensive ukuleles, like spruce and mahogany. The traditional choice for ukuleles that come from Hawaii is Acacia.

The wood is usually cut thin and then glued together. The body construction is very similar to that of a guitar, although the pieces are smaller. The instrument’s structure comes from the sides, and the top and bottom provide a resonant sound.

A ukulele’s strings are usually made of nylon and are similar to classical guitar strings. The ukulele has four strings stretched across the instrument’s body and screwed into the nut and the tuners.

It generally takes about three days for a professional to construct a ukulele. That time includes letting glue dry, which is always somewhat tedious. But the result is exciting enough to make it all worthwhile.

Typical Cost To Purchase

The price of a ukulele depends on the quality and what kind of material appears in its construction. There’s a whole range of variables that could impact the cost of your ukulele.

Starting with the instrument, you don’t need to spend more than $50. Beginner ukuleles are low-cost and are not extravagant pieces of equipment, but they’ll sound good and serve you well as you learn to play.

When it’s time to get serious about your ukulele endeavors, you might look into purchasing something a little nicer. Some quality ukuleles run upward of $100. If you find one that’s authentic Hawaiian Acacia, don’t be surprised if you spend at least $150.

The price of the ukulele reflects how it is made and the materials used, such as the different kinds of wood.

Electric Ukuleles

If you’ve heard of electric guitars and violins, you could probably guess that there are also electric ukuleles.

The electric ukulele has internal electronics that allow the instrumentalist to plug into an amp. The sound is slightly different and comes through louder than a regular acoustic ukulele.

Electric ukuleles are typically more expensive than acoustic ones. Some shops sell them for as much as $200.

Learning How to Play the Ukulele

If you’re interested in picking up the ukulele, you’re in luck. It’s a pretty simple instrument to learn. You can expect a good handle on how to play within a few months if you practice regularly.

There are various ways to learn how to play the ukulele. If you don’t have anyone to teach you personally, you can try checking out a book at your local library or searching the internet for instructional videos.

However you choose to learn, there are plenty of free resources in the world to help you get started and grow genuinely proficient at the ukulele.

Final Thoughts

The ukulele is a traditional Hawaiian instrument that originated in Portugal and remains one of the most popular instruments to play. If you’re interested in acquiring your ukulele, you can purchase one online for a low cost and start playing immediately.