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Ukulele Town


Ukuleles are members of the guitar family; they will normally have 4 nylon or gut strings and the tuning for most Ukuleles are: G,C,E,A. The name for a Ukulele is also often shortened to Uke.


Ukuleles originated in the 19th Century from Hawaii. They also became popular in the United States in the 20th Century and from then on it because internationally popular. The name ‘Ukulele’ roughly translates in Hawaiian to ‘Jumping Flea’. It was developed in the 1880’s and is based on several small guitar-like instruments from Portugal such as the machete, cavaquinho and the rajao. In Hawaii one of the most important figures to play the Ukulele was King Kalakaua, who used to play the instrument at royal gatherings.


We saw a decline in the use of the Ukulele after the 1960’s until the late 1990’s where they once again became popular. In the UK George Formby was one of the most famous Ukulele players (however, he also played a banjolele – a cross between a banjo and a Ukulele.)  The internet also played a big part in the Ukuleles re-appearance as people can now learn how to play the instruments through videos on social media sites. Thousands of people watch others playing the Ukuleles and performing renditions of popular songs on the internet while others choose to give lessons over the internet using video, which is giving the Ukulele international exposure.


There are 4 different sizes of Ukuleles. The smallest is called a Soprano (although there is an even smaller ukulele called the Sopranino which isn’t as popular). The Soprano’s are the most popular size and are often associated with looking and sounding like a ‘typical Ukulele’. They have a bright and distinctive sound, and they are often referred to as ‘standard Ukulele’s’ in Hawaii as they are the original size Ukulele. The next size up is the concert ukulele. The concert has a slightly deeper tone than the Soprano ukulele and is often slightly louder too. The body is bigger than the Soprano and the neck is also longer allowing more room between each fret. This also makes it a little easier to handle. This size is popular with people who have slightly bigger hands and find the Soprano too small to play and the Concert more comfortable. Shortly after the Concert ukulele was developed, the tenor was introduced. In standard tuning, the tenor ukulele is the biggest size. It has a much deeper tone than the other two sizes, it also has more volume too. This size would be the best if you struggle with the small sizes of the Soprano and the Concert as the frets are even more spaced out and the body is a lot bigger. The last of the Ukulele’s is the Baritone Uke. This ukulele is even larger than the tenor but it uses a different tuning to the other sizes. The tuning of the Baritone ukulele is D,G,B,E. The Baritone is almost the size of a small guitar (1/2 size), and has the deepest tone of the Ukuleles.


Ukuleles have become more and more popular over time, with schools also starting to give lessons on how to play the instrument. They are a lot of fun for children to learn and a lot of the basic chords only need 1-3 fingers on the strings, which are very easy for children and adults to learn. With the internet and various books to choose from its also easy to learn this instrument in the comfort of your own home.


Here at Allegro Music we sell Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone ukes, from all sorts of different brands and in a range of prices so you will have a lot of great Ukuleles to choose from. Why not treat yourself to a travel friendly, fun instrument that will be great for anyone at any age and fun for the whole family!


Come down to either our Westcliff, or Chelmsford branch and have a look for yourself at what brilliant Ukuleles we have to offer.


Westcliff telephone number: 01702 348476

Chelmsford telephone number: 01245 359899


Written By Jessica Grimshaw, Allegro Music Westcliff


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