Tenor ukulele reviews – The stunning YouTube performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps launched Jake Shimabukuro as an international ukulele sensation. His 4-minute rendition of this Beatles classic radiates emotion, variation in tone color, and expressive strumming technique. What’s more, his knack for developing fresh right hand technique shows no sign of running dry. Every one of his arrangements is somehow very different from the next. Here, he shares the story behind the evolution of his fingerstyle and strumming technique.
Shimabukuro Explores Fingerstyle in Tenor Ukulele Reviews
Today, it’s the fingers of Shimabukuro’s right hand that make contact with the four strings of his best tenor ukulele, but that wasn’t always the case. At one time, he employed a pick because he believed he could get more speed. “I was really into Al Di Meola,” he remembers. “I really liked that muted picking technique he would get when he put his palm against the saddle and use the pick to make these really short staccato runs.”
Shimabukuro’s turning point in right-hand technique came when he heard a guitar player named Jeff Beck. He was absolutely blown away by the variety of sound and texture Beck could coax from a guitar with just his fingers. Similar he tried with his best tenor ukulele.
Shimabukuro started comparing sounds and styles in earnest. He found that many musicians who played with picks could get great sounds, but those who played with fingers could drastically change their tone and dynamics to bring out such warmth. “It was a sound that was more organic to me, and I just loved that,” he says. “When I found out Jeff Beck played with just his fingers, I immediately threw all my picks away.”
Playing the Best Tenor Ukulele With Truly Unique Tone
Ultimately, it wasn’t just the quality of fingerstyle’s sound that appealed to Shimabukuro. He soon began to appreciate another distinct advantage as he played. “I realized that I’m the only person in the world that has my fingers,” he remembers, “the only one that has this size fingertip, this texture, this density and shape of nail—all these things, I’m the only one in the world to have. If I’m using a pick, everyone can go out and buy that pick and get a very similar tone, but if I’m using my fingers on my instrument, I’m going to get a tone that’s unique to me. And once I started playing ukulele with my fingers, I immediately found that I started getting closer to that sound I’d been searching for. It was a warmer and fatter sound. With a pick, you really have to use it the right way to get that warm sound. I always thought you could play faster with picks, and then I heard Paco De Lucia. He played twice as fast with his fingers than most people play with picks. Everyone has their own preferences. There’s just something about finger playing that really grabs me.”
Fingerstyle Transforms Shimabukuro’s Tenor Ukulele Playing
Fans of Shimabukuro often marvel at the ukulele master’s ability to make his instrument completely at home in styles of music ranging from blues to flamenco, jazz to classical, and rock to bluegrass. “I have to find ways to capture the sound of those styles,” he explains. “It’s the subtle things that make all the difference in the world. What part of your finger are you using to make contact? Is it the fleshy part of your finger, the top part of your nail or the angle of your nail? All of those things make such a huge difference. That’s the thing that will make the ukulele sound more like a piano or more like a harp or like the Japanese koto. All of those subtle things can change the whole vibe or character of your instrument.”
Jake Shimabukuro on Tenor Ukulele Strumming Technique
For every trick Shimabukuro has worked out in his fingerstyle ukulele playing, he seems to have one to match in strumming technique. The emotion he creates with his ukulele arrangements truly must be heard to be believed. When asked about the variety in his strumming, he responds, “The best way to describe it is a feeling. If I get excited, I’ll strum differently. Every time I play a song it comes out a little differently. Sometimes a song will build up to a crescendo, and sometimes a song will be more consistent from beginning to end. Sometimes you’ll be picking up the tempo a little bit, or slowing it down. I think the key is to always try to tune in and be aware of what you’re feeling. That’s what the audience will really pick up on. That’s what will really grab their attention.”
Many of the strumming techniques Shimabukuro uses come from watching drummers. Two of his inspirations are Steve Gadd and Buddy Rich. “A lot of the right hand stuff I do I come up with by finding ways to get those slaps or rhythmic sounds to mimic the sounds of a snare or kick drum,” he explains. “For example, when I hit the ukulele’s saddle with my palm near the microphone pickup, it gives a bass drum sound.”
Musicians can learn more about the Ukulele Master in other articles on Funender where Shimabukuro discusses tricks for fresh chord voicing on tenor ukulele, his thoughts on playing ukulele for beginners, and his tips for playing ukulele outside the box. As for today this is his tenor ukulele reviews.