The ukulele is a fun and easy string instrument that you can take with you pretty much ANYWHERE (it’s just so cute and tiny). But what is it exactly?
The ukulele (uke), is a member of the lute family with 4 nylon or gut strings, and comes in 4 sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. It originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian interpretation of the machete, a small guitar-like instrument taken to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants.
So, let’s get into the complete history and everything else you need to know about this lovely instrument.
The Ukulele: A Fun-Sized Musical Instrument with a Rich History
What is a Ukulele?
The ukulele (best ones reviewed here) is a small, four-stringed instrument from the guitar family. It’s used in both traditional and pop music, and is made of either four nylon or gut strings, or a combination of both. Famous artists like Eddie Vedder and Jason Mraz have used the uke to add a unique flavor to their songs. It’s a great instrument for beginners of any age, as it’s easy to learn and comes in four different sizes with different pitches, tones, fretboards, and tunes.
The History of the Ukulele
The ukulele has a fascinating history and tradition. It’s believed to have originated in Portugal, but it’s unclear who invented it. What we do know is that it was brought to Hawaii in the 18th century, and the Hawaiians renamed it the “ukulele,” which translates to “jumping flea,” in reference to the way the player’s fingers moved on the fretboard.
At the same time, Portugal was suffering from an economic collapse, which led to many Portuguese immigrants coming to Hawaii to work in the booming sugar industry. Among them were three woodworkers, Manuel Nunes, Augusto Dias, and Jose do Espirito, who are credited with bringing the braguinha, a small instrument similar to the guitar, to Hawaii. The braguinha was then adapted to create the ukulele we know today.
The instrument gained popularity in Hawaii after a man named Joao Fernandes performed a thanksgiving song on the braguinha at the Honolulu Harbor in 1879. The Hawaiian king, David Kalakauna, was so taken with the ukulele that he made it an integral part of Hawaiian music.
The popularity of the ukulele declined in the 1950s with the rise of rock and roll, but it has since made a successful comeback. In fact, ukulele sales in the US have skyrocketed, with 1.77 million ukuleles sold from 2009 to 2018.
Fun Facts About the Ukulele
The ukulele is a fun and popular instrument, and here are some fun facts about it:
- It’s easy to learn, and children of any age can pick it up quickly.
- Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, was a passionate ukulele player.
- The ukulele was featured in the first-ever sound recording in the US in 1890.
- The ukulele is the official instrument of Hawaii.
- The ukulele has been featured in films like Lilo & Stitch and Moana.
The Ukulele: A Fun and Easy Instrument for All Ages
What is a Ukulele?
The ukulele is a small, four-stringed instrument that comes from the guitar family. It’s a great starting point for music students and amateur musicians of any age. It’s made of four nylon or gut strings, some of which may be harmonized in courses. Plus, it comes in four different sizes with different pitches, tones, fretboards, and tunes.
Why Play the Ukulele?
The ukulele is a great way to have fun and make music. It’s easy to learn and can be used to play both traditional and pop music. Plus, it’s been used by some famous musicians like Eddie Vedder and Jason Mraz to add a unique touch to their songs. So, if you’re looking for a fun and easy way to make music, the ukulele is the perfect instrument for you!
Ready to Play?
If you’re ready to start playing the ukulele, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Start with a few simple chords and practice them until you feel comfortable.
- Listen to some of your favorite songs and try to learn them on the ukulele.
- Experiment with different strumming patterns and techniques.
- Have fun and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
The Fascinating History of the Ukulele
From Portugal to Hawaii
The ukulele has a long and interesting history. It all began in Portugal, but it’s not clear who invented it. What we do know is that the Portuguese braguinha or machete de braga is the instrument that led to the creation of the ukulele. The braguinha is similar to the first four strings of a guitar, but the ukulele has the same scale length as the machete and is tuned GCEA instead of DGBD.
In the mid-eighteenth century, Hawaii’s booming sugar industry created a shortage of workers, so many Portuguese immigrants moved to Hawaii to find employment. Among them were three woodworkers and a man named Joao Fernandes who played the machete and sang a thanksgiving song when they arrived at the Honolulu Harbor. This performance was so moving that the Hawaiians became obsessed with the branguinha and nicknamed it the “ukulele,” which means “jumping flea.”
The King of Ukuleles
The Hawaiian king David Kalakauna was a big fan of the ukulele and introduced it into the Hawaiian music of the time. This gave the instrument the backing of the royalty and made it an integral part of Hawaiian music.
The Ukulele’s Comeback
The popularity of the ukulele began to decline with the start of rock and roll in the 1950s, but it made a successful comeback in modern times. In fact, ukulele sales saw a sharp spike in the United States between 2009 and 2018, with 1.77 million ukuleles sold in the US during that time. And it looks like the ukulele’s popularity is only going to keep growing!
Discover the Joys of Playing the Ukulele
Portability and Ease of Use
Guitars are great, but they’re a bit too big for the little ones. That’s why the ukulele is the perfect instrument for kids – it’s small, lightweight, and easy to hold. Plus, it’s easier to learn than a guitar, so your kids can start strumming away in no time!
A Great Starting Point
If you’re thinking of enrolling your kids in guitar lessons, why not start them off with the ukulele first? It’s a great way to get them acquainted with the basics of music and playing an instrument. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!
The Benefits of Playing the Ukulele
Playing the ukulele comes with a lot of perks:
- It’s a great way to introduce kids to music and playing an instrument.
- It’s portable and easy to hold.
- It’s easier to learn than a guitar.
- It’s a lot of fun!
- It’s a great way to bond with your kids.
Ukulele: A Global Phenomenon
Japan: The Uke’s Far East Home
The ukulele has been making its way around the world since the early 1900s, and Japan was one of the first countries to welcome it with open arms. It quickly became a staple of the Japanese music scene, blending in with the Hawaiian and Jazz music that was already popular. Unfortunately, the uke was banned during World War Two, but it made a roaring comeback after the war was over.
Canada: Uke-ing it Up in Schools
Canada was one of the first countries to get in on the ukulele action, introducing it into schools with the help of John Doane’s school music program. Now, kids across the country are strumming away on their ukes, learning the basics of the instrument and having a great time while they’re at it!
The Uke is Everywhere!
The ukulele is truly a global phenomenon, with people from all over the world picking it up and giving it a go. From Japan to Canada, and everywhere in between, the uke is making its mark on the music world and it’s not slowing down anytime soon! So grab your uke and join the party – the world is your oyster!
The Ukulele: A Tiny Instrument Making Big Noise
The History of the Ukulele
The ukulele is a tiny instrument with a big history. It dates back to the 19th century when it was brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants. It quickly became a beloved instrument in the islands, and it wasn’t long before it spread to the mainland.
The Ukulele Today
Today, the ukulele is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. It’s easy to learn, small and portable, and it’s becoming a popular choice for those looking to learn a second instrument. Plus, the internet has made it easier than ever to learn the ukulele with tons of tutorials and resources available.
The ukulele is also a great instrument for social gatherings. It’s easy to strum along to a melody and play together, which has led to the formation of ukulele clubs and orchestras around the world. Plus, many ukulele performers invite concert-goers to bring their own ukes and join in.
It’s also becoming a popular choice for kids who are just starting out. And, the ukulele is no longer just associated with traditional Hawaiian music. It’s being used in all kinds of musical settings, from pop to rock to jazz.
Famous Ukulele Players
The ukulele revival has produced some amazing players over the past two decades. Here are a few of the most famous ukulele players:
- Jake Shimabukuro: This Hawaiian-born ukulele master has been playing since he was four and has been featured on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, and the Late Show with David Letterman.
- Aldrine Guerrero: Aldrine is a YouTube star and the founder of Ukulele Underground, a popular online ukulele community.
- James Hill: This Canadian ukulele player is known for his innovative playing style and has won multiple awards for his performances.
- Victoria Vox: This singer-songwriter has been performing with her ukulele since the early 2000s and has released several albums.
- Taimane Gardner: This Hawaiian-born ukulele player is known for her unique style and her energetic performances.
So, if you’re looking for a fun and easy-to-learn instrument, the ukulele might be the perfect choice. With a rich history and a bright future, it’s sure to be making big noise for years to come.
Ukelele Vs Mandolin
The mandolin and ukulele are both stringed instruments that belong to the lute family, but they have some distinct differences. The mandolin has four pairs of metal strings, which are plucked with a plectrum, while the ukulele has four strings, usually made of nylon. The mandolin has a hollow wooden body with a neck and a flat fretted fingerboard, while the ukulele looks like a miniature guitar and is usually made of wood. When it comes to music genres, the mandolin is often used for bluegrass, classical, ragtime, and folk rock, while the ukulele is best for folk, novelty, and specialty music. So if you’re looking for a unique sound, the uke is your best bet!
Ukelele Vs Guitar
The ukulele and guitar are two instruments that have a lot of differences. The most obvious one is size – the ukulele is much smaller than a guitar, with a body that resembles a classical guitar and only four strings. It’s also tuned differently, with fewer notes and a much smaller range of sound.
But there’s more to it than just size. The ukulele is known for its bright, jangly sound, while the guitar has a much deeper, richer tone. The strings on a ukulele are also much thinner than those on a guitar, making it easier to play for beginners. Plus, the ukulele is a lot more portable than a guitar, so it’s perfect for taking on the go. So if you’re looking for an instrument that’s easy to learn and fun to play, the ukulele might be the one for you.
In conclusion, the ukulele is an incredibly versatile instrument that has been around for centuries. It’s perfect for those who are just starting out in music, as it’s easy to learn and can be used to play a variety of genres. Plus, it’s a great way to have fun and impress your friends with your musical skills! So, if you’re looking for a new instrument to add to your repertoire, the ukulele is definitely the way to go. Just remember, it’s not a ‘UKE-lele’, it’s a ‘YOO-kelele’ – so don’t forget to pronounce it correctly!
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:Subscribe