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.

1 comment:

  1. Trendy Beginner Ukulele from Bizarkdeal

    I was really pleased with this Ukulele when it arrived. It has such a beautiful finish to it. The sound is great and easy to tune with the included digital tuner. It also comes with a nice bag to keep it protected when not in use. Since I am just starting to play, it is easy to hold and play. I love the sound of the ukulele, its beautiful. This is a fantastic beginner ukulele and would make a great gift. We are really enjoying learning on this.