Monday, February 27, 2017

Jake's Pedal Set Up

If any of you have ever wondered how Jake gets that amazing wall of sound out of
a single ukulele, the following video posted on REVERB.COM will be quite insightful.

The typical player will almost always have a reverb pedal and a delay, those two are a must.

Jake elaborates on his addition of a Tube Dreamer, Octave Pedal, Volume Pedal and
Looping effects.

His set-up no doubt is the result of 100's if not 1000's of hours of experimentation with
electronic pedals, in his quest for the perfect tone / sound. The most inventive players
all seem to have this obsessive drive in common when it comes to trying out
the greatest and latest gear.

Like his guitar playing contemporaries, the use of pedals helps him create a sonic
palette that is quite diverse in its range of dynamics from great big rich chords on the
octave pedal to volume manipulation on his Hilton Volume Pedal....there's a wide
variety of effects being used in his on stage shows to great success, especially
given the limitations of a small acoustic instrument with nylon strings and the ever
lurcking menace of feedback that can be inherent when plugging in

I've personally built a style of early blues, ragtime, folk and old time
string-band based repertoire on resonators where good microphones and
their placement in relationship to your fretboard and sound hole are supreme.
But when i perform in my blues quartet for my Jews N Blues Show i
do plug in and have spent alot of time trying to figure out how to get a good
blues tube sound out of my wood bodied ukuleles. But this is a whole different
beast so we'll save it for another post.

Never the less, it interests me, to know what one of the most visible ukulele pros is
using to get the sound he gets.

There's no substitute for good technique and Jakes sound is based as much on
his agility, expertise, rhythmic pizzaz, wide variety of strums, picking patterns,
single string lead style, chordal melody playing and inventive arranging as
it is on effects pedals.

Bottom line....the effects pedals are the icing on the cake!

Check out this very informal and intimate patter on his pedal effects...

                        America's Hardest Working Uke Star- Jake Shimabukuro

Here's a link to Jakes Site 

Hear some of Jakes Newest Record Streaming on Amazon:

Hope you enjoyed this blog post,

Lil Rev (C)(P) Fountain of Uke 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Dan Scanlan's New "Cool Hand" Soprano Uke

I've known Dan Scanlan for almost 20 years now....

I have had the pleasure of working alongside him in Nova Scotia at the Ceilidh,
as well as at countless festivals across the U.S. 

In a sea of posers, I have long championed Dan as the "real deal," and he's why...
his heart is so undeniably rooted in all things ukulele and he's paid his toll after decades 
of championing the ukulele (and long before it was cool).

He is unassuming, down to earth, salt of the earth, a consummate ukulele historian, 
and a strong player with a unique style all his own. 

Its these things and more, that keep me interested in what my pal Dan is up to ukulele-wise.

Recently, he has begun promoting a new line of ukulele's with his signature "Cool Hand Uke" model. 

What follows is a short interview with him. 

1-Tell us about your ukulele responsibilities these days? What are you involved with in terms of clubs, festivals, teaching, etc.

I continue to direct and teach Cool Hand Uke’s Strum Bums Ukulele Extravaganza Rescue and Relief Band. We have met weekly since 1999 and perform publicly 60 to 90 gigs each year—assisted living, convalescent and retirement homes, schools, county fairs and various community fund-raisers. We received a standing ovation at the New York Ukulele Festival, served as the “house band” at the Santa Cruz CA Festival, and have performed at the Honolulu International Ukulele Festival twice. 

My 75-lesson ukulele course Play Uke Now at has more than 1600 students from 67 countries. Three iBooks on the ukulele, including ukulele history, are on Apple’s iTunes.

For the past ten years I have toured from California to Nova Scotia and back giving workshops and performances bi-annually. This year would have been a tour year but the anchor gig where I emcee, the Liverpool Nova Scotia International Ukulele Ceilidh, is not hosting American players this year due to the current exchange rate and the unpredictable border situation.

I am currently developing a two-set, one-man show of primarily original tunes on ukulele, raj√£o, braguinha, baritone, harmonica and baglama to take on the road later this year.

2-What's so endearing about the ukulele to you after all these years?

The friendliness of the ukulele continues to give me the strength to express my political, social and justice concerns without alienating those who don’t share my stunning insight. As a tool to access my heart, spleen and neurotransmitters it has elevated my highs and softened the hard bumps in my life. The ukulele is multi-cultural both in the annals of history and in the current day. The ukulele is the cynosure of the most effective peace movement on the planet today. What’s not to hold dear?

3-What's a quote-able Dan Scanlan saying as it pertains to the ukulele .....impart some wisdom

Quote from my website:

The ukulele can be
Cradled like a baby,
Sing like a bird and
Is small enough to
Emanate large and
Absorb and expand
The subtle emotion
The player Feels.
It's here now
And there then.

The final quote from The Mighty Uke Movie trailer:
There’s a lot of music in the ukulele—a lot of music!

4- Why Cool Hand Ukulele Soprano Ukuleles? How Much? Where to Get em' ? Why would someone want one of these over the slew of other instruments now available? 

I’ve dreamed of offering a signature ukulele for decades. Many of the early players gave their names to ukuleles—Wendall Hall, Roy Smeck, Bobby Henshaw, May Singhi Breen, Arthur Godfrey. It is a thread of ukulele culture. As a one time radio host I shared that experience, too, with Hall, Breen and Godfrey. Being able to offer my own ukulele was akin to offering my own songs, performances, lessons and recordings. And any uke I offered would have to be the original ukulele, now called a soprano, sound good, be sturdy, play well and be beautiful. At one time I fantasized making ukuleles, but that thought vanished when I found this one. 

After investigating 100s of ukuleles I came across one that had it all—beautiful, great sustain and volume, comfortable playability, exceptional intonation. In short a true ukulele I could be proud to give my name. I had hoped to be able to offer my ukulele for under $200, but shipping costs and refinements made that impossible. I am however happy to be able to offer it for $320, substantially less than other ukuleles in its class. They are available at my website, and at several music stores, including Wonderwall Emporium in Chicago Heights IL. 

The Cool Hand Uke is precision crafted on state of the art computer controlled machinery of spruce, rosewood and mahagony. The spruce top is strengthened by fanned “flying arch” braces that straddle the bridge plate, allowing the majority of the top to reverberate stronger and longer. Rather than a large sound hole in the center that is often muffled by the player’s hand, a smaller hole and pearlescent rosette is located at the top of the small bout. A larger hole is located on the upper side of the large bout so the player can hear clearly. Fret location dots on the top and sides of the rosewood fretboard help the player identify where to play. The tuners enclose smooth action gears for easy tuning. The nut and saddle are bone, and the top is bound in rosewood and shell. Aquila strings are used. I play and verify the integrity of each instrument before it is shipped. I commissioned 40 of them. Each is numbered  on the back of the peghead (I play Number 1 every day). Although I own many high-end ukuleles, this is the one that has become my favorite and that responds best to my styles of playing, whether heavy percussion or soft tickling.

                                        Dan Scanlan's New Cool Hand Uke Soprano Model 

{Please Note: this is not a paid ad for this instrument, it is merely a flag to let folks know that this product is out and on the market. Lil Rev has not played one of these instruments and its merits are based on the opinion of Dan Scanlan}

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Teaching @ Elderly Instruments in March

After a long hiatus, I'll be heading back to Michigan to teach a few classes
at Elderly Instruments ( ) in Lansing.

It was way back in the mid-90's that Elderly took a big chance on a little known
record called Uke Town, which was my first real attempt to feature a mess'o
ukulele on wax.

Thanks in part to long time employees at Elderly like Chris Rietz,
Brian Hefferan, Stan Werbin, Libby and a few others, the store began to play my
CD in store alot, which led to new fans, gigs and a very appreciate musician...Lil Rev!

In 1996, that same year, they also featured my Uke Town
as a "HOT PLATTER, in their mail order catalogue, which also boosted sales and encourage
me to make a full length, "all" ukulele record (the fountain of uke series).

I've always felt a huge debt of gratitude to Elderly and their dedicated staff
for recognizing that the ukulele was coming back (way ahead of the national curve)
and that they deemed me worthy enough to stock my recordings on their showroom floor and
in their catalogue was something i'll always be grateful for. It really helped get
the word out about what i was doing with regards to the ukulele.

Elderly started in the 1970's as just a small operation and thru alot of hard work,
owner Stan Werbin and a very dedicated crew have put Lansing, MI on the map
for like-minded acoustics music lovers, traditional players, local students
and an international customer base that looks forward to receiving the elderly catalog
even more so in this digital era, whence it really does feel good to hold something real
in your hands!

Musicians and music lovers the world over love visiting Elderly, and who wouldn't?
Guitars galor, banjo's, mandolins, ukuleles, books, records, and all the accouterments
one might consider as a picker are available at Elderly.

Thank you Stan, Chris, Brian, Libby and so many others at Elderly!

I will be teaching 2 workshops on Saturday March 4th-

11am-12:30pm- The Blues & Boogie of Leadbelly For Ukulele. (open to all levels)

3pm-4:30pm- Learn 6 Triplet Strokes on the Ukulele. (open to all levels)

If you're a local ukulele player and you can't make the elderly classes in March, i'll be back in the area in June at the Midwest Ukulele Camp (June 23rd-25th) teaching with a world class cast of Ukulele & Harmonica players for a full weekend of jamming, workshops, vendors, and more.

                                     My Good Pal, Ukulele Guru and longtime Elderly Employee Brian Hefferan

                                                                     Brian and I doing St. James Infirmary Blues