Dating a kamaka ukulele
Plus I started playing harmonica again (see my harmonica review pages). I had heard buskers playing charango in Zihuatanejo at La Casa Cafe and I became very interested in the little instrument. I went to the local music stores for advice and to purchase (always shop local, first).
Towards the end of winter '08, I decided to add ukulele to my practice. I spoke at length (in my abysmal Spanish) to one of the performers, and he even let me try out his charango. I was shown some cheap -or-less knock-offs, and my inquiries for something of higher quality met with a shrug of the shoulders, and the presentation of a catalogue with a single "better" () uke listed.
I got the impression ukuleles weren't treated as "serious" instruments, not serious enough for either store to have a tuned one on hand at least.
And certainly not serious for anyone to want to take more of my money for one. I spent hours surfing uke-related forums, blogs and websites, trying to match my growing interests with my limited budget, trying to understand everything about ukulele brands, woods, strings, sizes and finishes, reading reviews and comparisons. I also spent time on You Tube and similar sites looking at the brilliant new performers - like Jake Shimabukuro and Mike Okouchi and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Brittni Paiva, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and others - musicians who have returned the uke from a novelty into a serious musical instrument for a new generation, and in turn helped spawn the ukulele renaissance.
You may even find that, with only four strings to contend with, you're a better uke player than a guitar player!
You can also string a uke in low-G tuning, so it has a bass note in the fourth string, not a high note.
Personally, I like both, but I tend to play my high-G ukes more because I prefer the sound and it makes the uke different from a guitar. In the 1920s and 30s, there were other popular tunings for ukuleles (A-D-F#-B most often) and you'll see them noted in song sheets from that era, but you seldom see them today.
Some string packages make note of these tunings because the strings can be used in standard or alternate tunings. In G tuning (except, apparently, in Nova Scotia where the A tuning reigns).
Some songs definitely work better in low-G, but others are best in high-G.I'm not a musician: I'm just someone who likes to make music.