In the 20's and 30's when the ukulele was most popular, the best American popular song writers and composers were at their peak and the ukulele was the most common instrument, ideally suited to the jazzy tunes of that era. Since 2007, there has been a massive revival of the popularity of the ukulele and is questionably the most popular instrument at the moment - The Guardian released an interesting article about the Ukulele boom in 2007 with us being mentioned.
Ukuleles come in four basic sizes. From smallest to largest, they are Soprano, Concert, Tenor, and Baritone. The tone and volume of the instrument varies with size and construction – the larger the instrument, the deeper and warmer its tone will be.
Today any genre of music can be played on the ukulele but it is thought to be best suited to folk and pop tunes.
Here are a few examples where you can hear the ukulele in action...
Paul McCartney – ‘Something’
Bulgarian Folk Tune
FUN FACT: The name "Ukulele" means "jumping flea" in Hawaiian.
The first step is to get a ukulele, they are not usually supplied with a case and additional accessories as they are not essential when you first start out, this makes the instrument very affordable compared to other beginner instruments.
The soprano ukulele is the most popular ukulele for beginners (children & adults) and are usually made of wood and come and a wide variety of colours.
Whilst additional ukulele accessories are not essential for getting started with your new ukulele, here are a few examples or things you might find useful to protect and support your new instrument.
Ukulele Pitch Pipe
Here are the best selling ukulele books for beginners:
The Absolute Beginners Ukulele book is packed with information and tips to get you on the road to becoming a competent ukulele player. It builds your ability in a step by step process that gradually leads to you being able to play the short pieces towards the end of the book. This edition of the book comes complete with a CD with which you can play along with other ukulele players as well as other instruments.
Starting Ukulele is a good resource if you are fairly competent with music theory and following tutorial guides. As you move through the book, you will gradually become more familiar with different techniques, progressing from strumming simple chords to performing complete tunes. The CD that is included contains backing tracks with which you can play along in the comfort of your own home.
Ukulele from the Beginning assumes no previous knowledge of music or the ukulele and so guides you through the basics in simple terms building up your confidence to be able to play the short entertaining pieces towards the end of the book. The book is described as being tailored to beginners of aged 7 years and over as its design is simple and clear.