We generally perceive a ukulele as a smaller guitar delivering a higher range and chilled-out sounds for a low-key surfer rock record or to convey a tropical character. As well, due to its history, many further think of the ukulele as a strictly Hawaiian instrument.
Whether you're interested in learning the ukulele as a guitar player wanting to try something new or an absolute beginner, Alamo Music Center offers discounts on this deceptively simple stringed instrument.
What is a Ukulele?
Ukuleles are part of the lute family. While we automatically associate them with Hawaiian culture, their roots go back to Western Europe - Portugal, specifically. In the late 19th century, the former Sandwich Islands' sugar plantations attracted workers from all over the world, and Portuguese and Cape Verdean immigrants traveled there in search of jobs and, in the process, took their instruments - including the cavaquinho and machete or braguinha - with them.
With time, as immigrants remained in Hawaii and contributed to its melting pot culture, they set up shop to make and sell machete instruments, whose sounds drew attention from across the islands. The machete eventually evolved into the ukulele - a name meaning "jumping flea" due to its small size and sound - after three cabinet makers wanted to update and add a unique spin on its Portuguese predecessor.
From this history, the ukulele today features four strings - although some models may have as many as eight. Traditionally, they're made out of wood, with Hawaiian koa or acacia preferred.
The instrument also comes in four sizes that influence its range and tone. The soprano ukulele, with 12 to 15 frets, is the standard Hawaiian instrument. As the next level down, the concert ukulele has 15 to 18 frets. Offering an even lower range, tenor and baritone ukuleles have 17 to 19 and 18 to 21 frets, respectively.
Visually, the ukulele looks like a classical guitar and is played in a similar way. However, unlike guitars, the ukulele only features four strings, which affect the notes a player has access to and how they'll voice chords.
Find Ukuleles on Sale at Alamo Music Center
Explore the instrument's tropical, quintessentially Hawaiian sound by finding a ukulele on sale at Alamo Music Center. Get to know your instrument with trial lessons today, and take advantage of multiple financing and layaway options, including 12- to 48-month no-interest options at times.