Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

Ukulele Learning Posts

I have played my Fluke intensively ever since I bought it in December 2008. My Fluke has always been my all-weather ukulele as its plastic structure made it the ideal uke to take along whenever I went for a walk in my beloved hills of Burgundy.

My Fluke did however start to show some signs of wear: some of the plastic frets had become dented and playing a Dm for example sounded really bad.

Here is what my fretboard looked like before I replaced it. You can clearly see the dents:

I couldn’t keep my Fluke as it was as its altered sound really bugged me. Some chords gave a very snappy sound and I couldn’t be blamed for it (honest, I was not trying to play barre chords or an E chord).

I followed Al‘s suggestion and contacted Flea Market Music to find out if I could get a replacement fretboard. I got a very swift answer from Beth who has been extremely helpful and who sent me a new plastic fretboard in no time. In case you ever have the same problem with your Fluke or Flea, it’s worth knowing that you could go for a rosewood fretboard upgrade to avoid having similar problems in the future. I chose to keep my Fluke plastic for my outdoor wanderings.

And now comes the tricky part of the story: unmounting the plastic fretboard and putting on the new one. I am sure some purists will object to our layman’s work but I was determined to get a better knowledge of my own instrument by fixing it myself despite the risk it involved.

With the precious help of my friend Guillaume, we put some masking tape around the old fretboard so as to protect the uke and to mark the exact place where the fretboard was.

Removing the glue with a paint scraper from the top of the neck down was rather easy until we reached the part of the fretboard that was glued on the body. The glue was really strong in this area and we had to heat up the fretboard with an iron covered with a cloth for some minutes before it gave out with the help of a sharp thin knife.

We couldn’t prevent some of the hibiscus finish to come off together with the glue but as this is a hidden part of the uke it was not such a big issue.

Once the fretboard was removed and the surface of the neck cleaned from glue remains, we just mixed some epoxy glue and applied a layer to the surface of the new fretboard and a layer on the neck.

We’ve been really careful about the placement of the new fretboard, using our markings to place it exactly where the old fretboard was. Once it was in place, we placed some pieces of hard cardboard under the neck and on top of the new fretboard and clamped the whole lot for 2 hours.

As we had just received some new sets of strings from Savarez, one of the sponsors of the FIUL festival which we will be attending (17th-18th-19th of June), I decided to try them on.

To check out the new sound, I recorded one of my originals, Maelström, which involves both picking and strumming.

Many thanks to Guillaume who helped me make my Fluke playable again and to Al and Herman for their advice.

And now for the result of the surgery:

Disclaimer: Try this at home at your own risk as we cannot be held responsible for your messing up your Fluke or Fleas.

 


Today’s post will be dedicated to classical fingerstyle uke with excellent new videos uploaded by Herman Vandecauter and Wilfried Welti.

Herman plays a lovely renaissance dance, a Galliard by an anonymous composer.

Let’s now travel to the moon with Wilfried Welti performing Sea of Nectar, a piece by Swedish classical guitarist Per Olov Kindgren.
Wilfried plays this piece on his Glyph soprano ukulele.

Per Olov Kindgren has kindly agreed to let Wilfried share his transcription of the tabs, which you can download here.

If you’re looking into ways of spicing up your ukulele playing, here are 3 tutorials that will teach you how to chunk to give your ukulele a percussive sound, play a cool barre chord progression or if you are using a low G uke, a nice fingerpicking technique.

1. The Chunk by Stuart aka Stukulele

Here is a very nice tutorial which teaches you how to chunk properly. The great thing about this tutorial is that it does not only teach you how to chunk but also focuses on how to get the technique right so as to avoid creating tension in your arm,  an aspect which is often overlooked.

2. A Barre chords progression explained by Matt aka MeandUke

A simple tutorial going through a barre chord progression which sounds quite cool.

3. Fingerpicking technique for Low G uke taught by Keonepax

A nice and simple fingerpicking technique for the Low G uke with an example song.

Update: I’ve tested this fingerpicking technique with my best friend this weekend and I’d like to share some extra information which might be useful:

– The fact that the rhythm starts with &-1 means that the chord changes need to be done when you’re picking the 3rd string of the ukulele (the C string).  This is quite tricky to get right at first as you’re always tempted to change chords when your thumb hits the 4th string of the uke (the G string). It just takes a bit of practise.

– Although the tutorial specifies that it works best for low G ukes, I tried it on my high G concert uke and it sounds great too.

Today, classical string instruments specialist Herman Vandecauter kindly shares the ukulele tab for a solo piece by Italian guitarist and composer Francesco Molino (1775 – 1847).

Download Herman’s arrangement of Andante Vivace by Francesco Molino

Listen to the Andante Vivace performed by Herman
Andante Vivace by Francesco Molino performed by Herman

Here is some extra information kindly provided by Herman.

Francesco Molino arranged this small happy dancing solo piece written for guitar from his 19th century guitar method. I have the original 19th century book at home. He was a guitarist but also a violinist working in Paris!

Pictures provided by Herman: Francesco Molino’s guitar method and a lovely lithography of his best student, the Duchess of Berry.

If you grow tired of playing ukulele on the western scales, today is your chance to discover the Japanese Yo scale and on the Indian C major scale.

The Japanese Yo scale is a pentatonic scale using 5 notes instead of  the 7 which are commonly used in western scales. Besides, the Yo scale does not contain semitones. You can read explanations about the Japanese Yo scale on Wikipedia.

Listen to Ken Middleton improvising some traditional Japanese folk music on the Yo scale on an Ohana TK-35CG tenor ukulele.

If you are into music theory and would like to read more about the various Japanese scales, this post for guitar players might interest you.

Here is another improvisation, on the C major Indian scale this time by tittlescwats11.

For further reading on the subject of scales and ukulele, this thread on the Ukulele Underground forum will provide you with plenty of information on scales from the Middle East.

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