Interesting Facts About the Ukulele

Did you know that the Hawaiian word “ukulele” means “jumping flea”? This funky little instrument has been a part of the music scene for years, and has even made it onto the charts. Here are some more facts about the ukulele:

The ukulele is a small instrument that is popular in Hawaiian music, and was derived from two Portuguese instruments: the braguinha and the cavaquino. Four sizes of ukulele exist, with the standard size being the soprano, which is around 60 cm. Other sizes include: concert, tenor, and baritone.

With only four strings, the ukulele is known by the notes G, C, E, and A. The instrument is made of mahogany wood, but the cheapest are plastic, which are usually for children. Notably, George Harrison of The Beatles was an avid ukulele fan, and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain often play Formby classics when performing.

Popular comedic entertainer George Formby Jr. often sang accompanied by the ukulele, but was often told his lyrics were too rude. Another American musician, Tiny Tim, entered the charts with his ukulele hit, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in 1968.

The ukulele is a great starter instrument for anyone interested in learning string instruments. So what are you waiting for? Pick up a uke and start strumming!


1. What is the origin of the ukulele?

The ukulele originated in Hawaii in the late 19th century. It was developed from a small Portuguese instrument called the machete, which was brought to Hawaii by immigrants from Madeira and Cape Verde. The Hawaiians modified it to suit their musical tastes and renamed it ukulele, which means “jumping flea” in Hawaiian.

2. How many types of ukuleles are there?

There are four main types of ukuleles: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The soprano is the smallest, with a bright, cheerful sound. The concert is slightly larger and produces a deeper tone. The tenor is even bigger, with a rich, warm sound. The baritone is the largest and has a deep, mellow tone similar to a classical guitar.

3. What are some famous ukulele players?

Some famous ukulele players include Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Jake Shimabukuro, and Eddie Vedder. Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is perhaps the most well-known ukulele song. Shimabukuro is known for his virtuosic playing and has performed with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Bette Midler. Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam, has released two ukulele albums and frequently plays the instrument in concerts.

4. Can the ukulele be played in different genres of music?

Yes, the ukulele can be played in a variety of genres, including pop, rock, jazz, and even classical. It is a versatile instrument that can be used as a strummed accompaniment or for intricate fingerpicking arrangements.

5. Are there any famous songs that feature the ukulele?

Yes, there are many famous songs that feature the ukulele. In addition to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” there is “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, “Lava” from the Pixar short film, and “Hey Soul Sister” by Train, among others.

6. What are some unusual ways the ukulele has been used?

The ukulele has been used in some unusual ways, such as in the sport of ukulele tossing. This involves throwing a ukulele as far as possible and is popular at festivals in Hawaii. The ukulele has also been used as a prop in theater productions and as a tool for therapy in music therapy sessions.

7. Can you customize a ukulele?

Yes, you can customize a ukulele in many ways. Some people add decals or stickers to the body, while others paint intricate designs. You can also change the strings to different colors or materials to alter the sound. Some ukuleles even come with built-in electronics for amplification.

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