The Humble Ukulele

Posted on April 26, 2013


ukulele wall2

Well, since I am both the Ukulele lady and the High Strung blogger, I decided to open our blog with a dedication to the humble ukulele. When I first came to High Strung, I was a guitar player. I have long arms. I felt like I was imitating a T-Rex when I held a soprano uke. But one day I decided on a whim that I wanted to learn “Good Intentions Paving Company,” by the illustrious harpist and singer/songwriter Joanna Newsom, and the humble ukulele happened to be the closest instrument at hand. (I picked up a concert size, and it felt much more natural.) It was really fun, and I’ve loved the ukulele ever since. (You can listen to my early attempts here: )

To be honest, my attraction began before the “Good Intentions Paving Company” incident. From the outset, I loved unpacking the things. Opening a cardboard box full of the little, often colorful instruments seemed akin to opening a box of good cheer. The instruments were so unpretentious. And therein lies the real magic of them. Almost anyone can play the ukulele. With low action, small nut width, and only 4 nylon strings, they present a friendly alternative for folks whose hands aren’t up to the physical demands of the guitar.  A decent entry-level ukulele can be had for under $100, making them more accessible than bigger instruments. And if you live in Durham, you can even learn and jam for free at the High Strung Uke jam, every 1st and 3rd Monday  of the month, from 7-8:30 pm at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

There’s a lot to like about the ukelele. It’s versatile, and has recently earned some serious hipster cred via it’s use by Beirut, Florence and the Machine, and Sharon Van Etten. Ukulele heroes like Jake Shimabukuro and the oddball Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain have proved that the possibilities of the humble ukulele truly are limitless. And who doesn’t love this classic, by the late great Iz? If that’s not enough, check out Amanda Palmer’s Radiohead covers, and Eddie Vedder’s ukulele album.

Here at High Strung, we strive to nurture and support Durham’s ukulele community. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest giving the ukulele a try.


Posted in: Music Info