When you're looking for a bit of island happiness after a tough day, that much-needed lift may be just a ukulele away. There's something about the happy, bright sound of this island instrument that puts a smile on your face. If you have a cranky baby or a grumpy cat, perhaps a few upbeat verses set to music will get them back on the right track. Certainly, relaxing with a uke is a great way to decompress after a stressful day. Imagining the soft island breezes and the sound of waves lapping on sugar-white beaches, your little Hawaiian slack-key guitar helps make it all better.
Learning to play a uke is a little different than playing a guitar since there are fewer strings, and the neck and body are smaller as well. With four strings, the soprano ukulele is the smallest of the instruments. A step up in size, the alto, or concert ukulele has either four or six strings. The tenor ukulele is larger still and is the uke most often played in Hawaii. The eight-stringed baritone version is the largest and deepest sounding variant of this instrument. A few of the other varieties are the banjo and pineapple ukes.
Be sure to pick up a protective case, a few soft or hard picks, extra strings, and a capo if you want to explore the instrument's capabilities. With a shorter scale length, a ukulele is a bit trickier to tune than a guitar and goes out of tune more quickly. These scaled-down instruments are easier to carry and are generally less expensive than all but the most basic guitars. Ukuleles offer a fresh take on traditional guitar sounds, and just a few strums can whisk your imagination away to tropical paradise.