Welcome to the Tulsa Ukulele Club Website

Welcome to the Tulsa Ukulele Club website. We are a group of people of all ages who enjoy playing the ukulele. We welcome every level of player from beginner to professional. We play a wide variety of music, as diverse as our membership. Right now, if you come to one of our meetings you are going to hear a lot of old time standards, country, folk and blues, possibly some Gospel, but we are welcome to new influences.

While our emphasis is on ukuleles, we welcome other instruments too. Bring your harmonica or guitar and of course, a kazoo is always welcome.

We are a family oriented organization and encourage the entire family to attend, even the little guys, so long as they do not disrupt the meeting. Watch this site for special announcements for meetings when we will be offering free beginner's ukulele lessons.

We have been evaluating several alternative sites for our meetings. Watch the blog postings below for the latest meeting place. At this time (10-17) we are meeting in the lobby of the Cancer Center of America in the first Thursday, have an Open Mike Night and jam on the second Thursday at Burgundy Place and the other Thursdays are jams at Burgundy Place or some other location. Check the blog, the web page or contact us for latest plans.

Thank you for visiting our Blog. You will also find a lot of useful links for songs and instruction material in the Handy Links section on the right side of the page.

We also have a web page that contains a lot of the songs in our song book -- see https://sites.google.com/site/tulsaukuleleclub/

We also have a YouTube channel and a Facebook page ("Tulsa Uke Club").

Please contact us if you have any questions at tulsaukes@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Makala Baritone and Makala Dolphin Soprano

By Bill Kumpe

I have a soft spot in my heart for cheap instruments.  Not only because I am “frugal” but also because, as something of a minor bluesman, I recognize the fact that my blues and country forefathers often could not afford high dollar equipment but still made legendarily good music.  Or, as in the case of Chester Arthur Burnett (aka the famous Howlin’ Wolf), they just would not shell out big bucks for instruments that were going to be drug around constantly, often into bad places where beer bottles and punches got thrown, etc.   Unlike BB King who risked burning to death to save his legendary Gibson “Lucille,” Howlin’ Wolf would have just let his Epiphone burn, bought another one, and still have been money ahead on the deal.

With that background in mind, I would like to talk about the Makala series of ukuleles.  They are made by Kala and roughly have the same brand relationship with Kala as Epiphone with Gibson.  They are designed to be entry level instruments.  They offer great value out of the box but with a little tweaking can be very useful for any level player.

I have purchased two Makala ukes now and I can highly recommend both.  The first was a gift that I wound up playing for over a month before I gave it to the little girl I bought it for.  It was a Makala Dolphin soprano.  I paid $35.00 for it at Firey Bros. and didn’t really expect much.  After all, it was just a plastic bodied, wooden top, entry level uke.  They come in a range of vibrant colors.  This one was hot pink.  But, after I set it up a little and began playing it, I was pleasantly surprised.  It stayed in tune nicely.  Despite its size, it had a loud, pleasant, ringing tone.  And, it even came with its own little gig bag.  Come Christmas, I hated to give the little guy up and almost bought another one for myself.  I can highly recommend the little Makala Dolphin as beginner uke or for anyone looking for a pleasant toned, dependable little knock around soprano.

The second is the Makala Baritone.  I play this instrument daily.  I tried several baritones before I bought it.  I bought a Rogue Baritone from Musicians Friend and sent it back.  No matter how I coaxed it, it would not stay in tune and had a disappointing tone even for a $40.00 instrument.  The $40.00 to $50.00 Chinese off brands like Rogue that were stocked locally by Saied and others also would not stay in tune and had an unpleasant, almost harsh tone.  I tried the hundred dollar Oscar Schmidt at Firey Bros.  Same situation.  But, the minute I sat down with the Makala Baritone at The Music Store, I knew that I had found my instrument.  That particular instrument.  The one on display.  It has a deep, pleasant, mellow tone, an easy to play neck and stays in tune even between sessions.  It is made from agathis wood which is often called a mahogany substitute but is actually a member of the pine family.  The instrument is remarkably light but again the tone is remarkably deep and mellow.  I might also add that it has striking volume and projection after the mods and set up.  If you have a powerful voice and need a big acoustic sound to back it up, this is your instrument.

The particular unit I bought has a slight blemish.  I paid $65.00 dollars for it.  After the purchase, I did a standard setup to my preferences.  I changed the strings to Low G Aquila Nyguts, raised the action slightly with a steel shim so that jazz chords could be played all the way down the neck without string rattle and gave it a good polish.  I intend to do a little more work on the frets which are the one slight problem with this otherwise very good instrument.  Make no mistake.  This is a vanilla instrument.  No frills.  Nothing fancy.  I am tempted to name it "Plain Jane."  But, if you close your eyes and listen, it won’t make any difference and you won’t believe you are hearing an under hundred dollar uke.

(c) 2011 Bill Kumpe, All rights reserved.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Joe Brown Tribute to George Harrison

This is a clip from a large concert to the memory of George Harrison of the Beetles. Joe Brown was a good friend of George (best man at his wedding) and he closed out the concert with this song. This is got to be one of the best songs to show off our simple, but effective, instrument.


Another Cut From Lo-Fi's - I've Got You Under My Skin

Thursday, June 23, 2011

About the "Blues Conversation"

I got the feeling at the last meeting that I did communicate well when I talked about the "blues conversation" that is the back and forth dialogue between musicians in a blues number.  This is a classic example of two very good French musicians having a conversation with their instruments.   Listen for the give and take, how one takes the lead for a while and then the other.  Notice how the person on backup (mostly harp here) "fills in the spaces" and occasionally plays with and even gently over the other player.  Listen for the conversation.  Blues is all about call and response, lead and refrain.  Without getting too technical, I haven't taken the time to figure out what key they are playing in here but you can tell from the sound that the harp player is probably playing third or fourth position on a diatonic to harmonize with the guitar and vocals.  That will put her generally in the same key but I don't believe that the scales would be exactly the same.  But, as you can tell from the sound the overall effect is quite good.

Moderator Bill

Monday, June 20, 2011

Kimo Hussey video

Kimo Hussey is a Hawaiian musician that is well known in the guitar and ukulele worlds. He is retired from his time as a pilot in the Air Force and now spends a lot of time in musical education, travelling to uke festivals and giving workshops.

He has a long standing arrangement with DeVine Guitars and his favorite instrument in a DeVine baritone 6 string, with the two lower pitched strings doubled, an octave apart.

Here is a video in which he compares a 4 string tenor to his 6 string baritone, showing the effects of the lower tone of the baritone on the song feeling.

I will add that Kimo commented in both 2010 and 2011festivals on the tone of my personal Pono tenor (with a low G) and thinks that it is very good.  He likes the lower tones of the larger instruments, as compared to a soprano.

You might want to also see his YouTube video called "troduction" in which he shows how to take the familiar 4 chord progression -- C, Am, F, G7 -- and by changing the position on the uke fretboard, change the voicing of the progression and use it in different parts of a song.

You can see Kimo and join him in a workshop, or get a private lesson from him at the Lone Star Uke Festival next spring in Dallas.  Details to follow next year.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another great site - EZFolk.com

Richard Hefner runs a great site for those interested in folk instrument, including mandolin, banjo, harmonica and our favorite, the ukulele.  The link below is to his section dealing with tabs and tutorials, a section that any beginner and intermediate player will find useful.

For example, do some clicks and go to the ukulele section on strumming and you will find a variety of strum patterns, each of which has (1) a video showing him doing the strum, (2) three MP3 recordings of the strum in slow, medium and normal speeds (so you can build up your muscle memory starting slowly and (3) the tabs for the strums.

Want to do some fingerpicking?   It is here too.  Great learning stuff with both visual and audio media.

Check out the songs too.  There are probably some that you like and, generally speaking they are easy to play.

This is a great site to add to your web browsers bookmarks.



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This is good advice

Jim D'Ville has a great series of blogs in his "Play ukulele by ear" series.  This is a free site to view and has a lot of good information for our use.

The latest blog has a short video where he has a good instructor in Santa Cruz, Dave Egan,  discussing both left and right hand mechanics.  One thing that he did not verbally highlight was that he strongly recommends holding the uke high and at a significant angle -- somewhere near 45 degrees -- so as to get both left hand and right hand knuckle positions more aligned with the strings than many players seem to use.  A good video to view.  Scroll down to this interview.


Jake Shimabukuro -- the best!

Some of you may already know of Jake Shimabukuro, arguably the top ukulele performer in the world. This video shows the wide range of his skills but even more importantly, his performance shows the wide range of musical capability of the ukulele in the right hands. This is a long video, some 19 minutes, but worth viewing.

Now if only I could do a small fraction of his capability, I would be one happy fellow.

Want more from Jake? YouTube has them, in all different musical genre's.


Tulsa Ukulele Club Open Mic Jam

GoAnimate.com: OPEN MIC JAM by BillKumpe@yt

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Video of the Week - Glen Rose, Beyond the Sea

Glen Rose is a fabulous entertainer who just happens to use a uke a lot these days.  He also plays a mean jazz guitar and keyboards ... and his wife Linda Dathe is an accomplished vocalist in her own right.  And to top the package off, Glen has published a number of very good FREE jazz ukulele lessons on YouTube and sells downloads of his uke arrangments in songbook form very reasonably.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Video of The Week - Miss Zooey

I would post this young lady's real name if I knew it but I don't.  Online she is just "MissZooey."  What we do know is that she is Australian, a PHD candidate somewhere, is cute as a button, has a strong, clear singing voice, great ukulele skills and a sharp sense of humor.  The ukulele seems to encourage smart people to speak their mind musically.  MissZooey is one of hundreds of ukulele players who perform their own compositions online.  Many of these compositions are smart, funny, and entertaining.  This one is no exception.  MissZooey has a vanity channel on YouTube.  I can highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Learn Another Instrument - The Uke

Many famous songwriters (like the Beatles) use a uke to compose with since the chords are simpler and the smaller neck does not cause hand and arm pain when being played for long periods of time.  And, the uke is increasingly gaining respect as a serious instrument.  It's easy to learn, fun to play and cheap to acquire.  What's not to like about a uke?