Other Guitars



I’ll be the first to admit I’d had a couple of drinks before I played it last night (if your team had lost the way mine did yesterday, you’d have been drinking, too). But I was at my brother’s house drowning my sorrows in whiskey and song, and my brother showed me his Lanikai 8-string tenor ukulele. I typically shy away from ukes because, well, because they’re ukes, and those little necks are just too hard to maneuver on.

But this one was different. It had enough runway to land my fingers on, and with two extra octave strings and two unison strings, it put out enough sound to feel I was really playing something.

Now I don’t claim to be a genyouween uke player, I just use guitar chord fingerings and mentally transpose the chords so I know what I’m actually playing. But on this uke, whiskey or not, this actually sounded GOOD.

I did a bunch of Facebook Live videos (thanks to my sister-in-law) and watched them this morning. And while they don’t sound as good sober, the uke still sounded like I remembered.

So I started shopping and reading up on these little beasts. I think I’m gong to need one soon, probably an acoustic-electric one. Does anyone have any experience with or opinions of this instrument?


Dear Frank,

I’m sorry, brother, but I’m afraid I can’t advise you re: u-ke-le-les. They represent a class of instruments which has forever slipped beneath my interest.

Here’s what I know: my dog has fleas, and Jake the YouTube phenom.

Also, Dad used to have one in his closet, above the tie rack loaded with incomprehensible ties from the 40s, all artifacts presumably left over from his college days.

Even when I was freshly and desperately guitar-besotted in the wake of Ed Sulllivan, in 4th grade, it didn’t occur to me to pretend with the u-ke-le-le. Instead I built a cigar-box rubber-band twanger to pantomime with.

If I could reach through time into that closet now though, I'd grab the...well, the ties.

Good luck.

Your pal,



I had to play a tenor uke at a family party on Saturday night. I hate to think what it sounded like. At least there were four of us going at it.

A pal of mine has an eight stringer and a formidable thing it is. After a few drinks he plays The Old Bazaar In Cairo on it.


Frank, Ive seen your sausages ,I mean Your fingers, stay away from the Ukes.


I love playing the ukulele. A tenor - particularly one with a wider neck - is easier to get around on for a guitarist than most would think, especially when strung with a low G string instead of a high G. At that point it’s just the top four strings of a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret. Chord shapes and scale lines stay the same, but the note/chord names change.

If you’re looking for an ukulele, the best resource is theukulelesite.com. They’re a shop here in HI that performs serious set-ups on even their cheapest ukes and it goes a long way with some of them. They also offer pickup installation if you want that as well. They’re all good guys.


Here’s a video I did with a low G string:


As a reaction to long winded folk singers that liked to tell 15 minute storied introductions to 4 minute songs, I used a uke and my own 15 minutes to spin a tale of how I came to write the song "Dead Flowers".

I then played it on a uke to a crowd that was still laughing hysterically to my web of bs, and at the end, swore that I wrote this song.

I then put the uke away and haven't touched it since.


I started on my dad's 1950s Regal uke when I was 10. That was a long time ago. I still have it. That started it all. In later years The Great George Harrison was a uke guy. They are compact and cool


They really are. I think they're among the best instruments out there with a gentle learning curve, but the potential to handle whatever virtuosity you want to develop as a player. They're portable, often affordable, and less intimidating than most instruments. I'm certainly glad I've gotten into it.


I’ve been known to bring people to tears with my rendition of Radio Head’s “Creep” on a ukulele. Take that for what it is worth...


If the target for u-ke-le-le-ship was George Formby, y'know...maybe.


I've been tinkering on an Ibanez concert uke for a few years. Acoustic/ electric. I think I've plugged it in maybe three times. I do like the on-board tuner. I've recently been looking at tenors to have some more real estate. In doing some research, it's interesting the differences in neck widths. I'm thinking I'd want something on the wider side.

Giffenf- I have not played one of the eight string guys. I have seen some videos. Looks like good fun! I'll be following this thread. Keep us posted on what you end up doing!


I like wider necks, but I'd take a slimmer neck if it meant getting one with a radius'ed fretboard. Most ukes are flat and, on a wider fretboard, it can feel a bit awkward for a while. Pono ukuleles are the most guitarist friendly, in my opinion, with pretty chunky necks on their tenors, wider fretboards, and a curve to the fretboard that makes barring a lot easier and more natural-feeling. All solid woods and equipped with bone nuts and saddles, too.


I'm actually a little surprised to see all this commentary on the ukelele without nary a mention of our friend Mr Harrison, who was a somewhat well-known ukelele wielder in his time.

In fact, here is Mr H, with his friend Mr McC and a man I cannot identify (though I think he's a drummer of some sort), showing how their band might have sounded if George had stuck with the uke and not picked up a Gretsch....


Here's a good resource for ukulele reviews (some even written by me), but there's a lot more to it from technique and genre lessons to free sheet music, to plenty of videos, and even a podcast.

And I'll reiterate my recommendation for theukulelesite.com when you go shopping. They record a ton of videos in dry conditions played by pros so you can hear the differences between the different ukuleles. This one is generally the one I recommend for people looking to stretch their money as far as possible while still getting a pro-level ukulele.


It was the fingerpickability and the freakin' huge sound a rasgueado makes that smote me with the thing. No intention of going 4-string, my daughter plays that better than I ever will. But this happened (if the sharing options are correct):


Along with this:


Painful lyrical interpretation owing to inebriation, but the uke sound that punches through so clearly, I just keep thinking about it. No immediate purchase plans.


links seem to have expired Frank.

I get it! those eight strings are really rich sounding for the little instruments they are, and there are shades of charango, Cuatro, bandurria or capo'd 12 string guitar in there.

I like ukes in the right setting, but those eight strings are something else - a lot of people wouldn't associate the sound of them with an ukelele.


Never mind, the links weren’t shared publicly so they wouldn’t work, and they’re not mine so I can’t share them. Enfatuation tends not to last, and such is the case here. If I ever were to buy one of those little guys, it would be an 8-string. But I’m no longer feeling pangs of desire for one. Carry on.


Infatuation is so fleeting.


Infatuation is so fleeting.

Indeed. Today is my 37th wedding anniversary. First time we’ve ever been apart on this date (day job duties). This is way more than infatuation. Ukes seem even less than trivial by comparison.


Pappy- Please be safe with news of Hurricane Lane approaching your area. Looks very threatening.


People were freaking out before it arrived. Businesses and restaurants shut down, windows were taped up, and comic con was cancelled. I landed back here on Thursday morning and watched the unprepared assault the community pages for tips.

And then it became a tropical storm.

Thanks for the concern!

Register Sign in to join the conversation