What is it about the ukulele that makes it so special?
I think that can be a difficult question to answer. For many the response might be something like “huh?”. I also find it difficult to describe…especially since I can’t play the dang thing. Maybe its rooted in the time I’ve been fortunate to spend in Hawaii where the distinct sound is so prominent. Maybe it’s the simple concept…small, approachable, only 4 strings and playable with some simple chords and notes. Maybe it was the deeply personal rendition of David Crowders song Remedy with the uke played by my church worship team. That might explain why I have been personally so drawn to these simple, but beautiful instruments, I want to play/learn.
At The NAMM Show 2012, the popularity of this instrument is obvious. Over the years I’ve seen the number of manufacturers and craftsmen grow by leaps and bounds. From the very simple and most basic to the extremely exotic. The choice is your in both style and price points. As the ukulele continues to cross into all styles of music, those who produce the instrument have responded to this modern renaissance in force.
One example of the uke’s I keep looking at is from Nalu Ukulele Company. Nalu means “wave” in Hawaiian. As a photographer, and one who grew up in Southern California I’ve always loved the ocean. I like the connection this company has made. Their models names come from different parts of the wave the Ahua (the swell), Hokua (the tip) and Kaiko’o (powerful wave). Available in a variety of woods sizes and features it is very likely you can find one that fits your style and level of play. The fit and finish of these instruments is very nice. Every one that I picked up and plucked a bit produced a nice, full sound with great projection and intonation. The instrument also feels solid in the hand. That in itself inspires confidence and I’m sure these will last a lifetime if properly cared for.
Another really cool feature is something that owner Mark Hirabayashi showed me; a very well made soft case. With solid padding and bracing the case is a very functional and attractive compliment to the fine instruments.
For now a nice super-concert or tenor size is still on my wish-list, but at some point I will acquire one. Nalu will be on the top of my list! Check them out at a dealer near you. Be sure to visit their website for complete information.
Check out this performance from The 2012 NAMM Show featuring Uke Artist Jason Arimoto