Pink is the new white, 50 is the new 40, geek is the new beautiful, this is the new that: I can’t tell you how much I LOATH statements like these! I suppose they adequately communicate a change in social attitude, but between the semantic nonsense and the endless trite repetition in the media it grates on me. That being said, I have to admit that I was intrigued by this statement a friend made yesterday: ukulele is the new guitar. I started to launch into my usual tirade against the phrase but I stopped to ponder the implications.
All these are good attributes of the guitar that I have been proclaiming for years! Small; a good travel case fits in a plane overhead or on top of a backpack. Ukulele is light even for it’s size so it won’t stretch your arm when you find yourself walking farther than you thought.
It lacks some of the depth of tone of a guitar and thus isn’t quite as versatile, but it makes up for it with it’s inherently sweet tone. The sound automatically evokes images of tropical islands, sandy beaches, and swaying palm trees.
Four strings are easier to manage than six. The short, light nylon strings of a uke are very soft to the touch, so there’s none of the finger discomfort associated with beginning guitar.
For old school, traditional songs you have Don Ho and several Elvis Presley movies. Today we have the warm dulcet tones of Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole, while he accompanies himself on uke. Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro provides the high end with his amazing chord melodies both original and covers from many genres. Even Eddie Vedder released a ukulele album and Mr. Vedder has never done an uncool thing in his life.
All this adds up to a fun instrument that is becoming more popular for good reason. Get one and enjoy!