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31 December 2013

King Uke on 2013

We've reached the end of another fun-packed year at the Ukulele Blog. There have been highs and there have been highs. Time for a festive round-up!

Bring on 2014!

24 December 2013

Lullaby of Christmas Eve (2013)

I really didn't want to break my tradition of producing a Christmas song in time for Christmas day. I thought I'd left it too late this year, but what do you know... I pulled it out of the bag with hours to spare! Ha ha. Not bad considering that that I only started trying to think up a tune this morning. I had it written and recorded in less than 4 hours. Perhaps I'd have done a better job if I'd taken my time over it ;-)

Do you recognise this picture? Oh Santa! You're not a cowboy! 

21 December 2013

How to clean a Trumpet

I tried to get my son J-Uke into ukulele, but it's never taken off. He's got two and they're never out of their boxes. What a shame! He likes the idea of playing one, but it just hasn't clicked for him. Earlier this year he got the opportunity to have a go at learning the trumpet at school. I'm pleased to say that he's never looked back!

J-Uke's Grandma bought this trumpet in a charity shop in Pontefract when I took her to the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in October. She gave it to J-Uke just recently. Unfortunately, it wouldn't produce a note. I joked that it probably had a pea stuck in it. I promised that I'd clean it and we'd see whether I could get it playing. I've never done anything like this before. What a great little project. In typical style, I've captured what I did for you. Did I get it working? Read on...

15 December 2013

Christmas Give-away!!!

I hinted that I might have some freebies for you and I was right! Ho ho ho. Just call me King Crimbo!

I'm so happy that I could hula like Santa!

14 December 2013

Baubles for Young Maids

I'm conscious that I haven't done a great deal with the blog recently. I've been busy. It's that time of year where work goes crazy and home is a mad dash for Christmas. Today's update is loosely based upon spending money like it's going out of fashion, oh yes, and Crimbo.

Yes, I'm still convinced that I'm a highwayman. Ha ha. I am soooo easily lead you wouldn't believe.

30 November 2013

Highwayman (2013)

In my last post I announced the completion of my Grand Poobah Ukulele Build. I can't believe that I finally got to the end of it. It turned into a real labour of love. I'm still enjoying putting the Poobah through its paces. I promise you that I'll do a tune on it sometime soon so that you can have a listen to it.

Man belongs to the Earth - Earth does not belong to Man

This is an adaptation of a meme I saw flying about the interwebs this morning. Somehow it seems to fit with my current state of mind.

24 November 2013

Grand Poobah - Bridge or Bust!

The journey is drawing to an end. I'm down to the final steps in my Grand Poobah Ukulele Build. My challenge has been to build and fit a bridge. Could I do it? Let's find out...

My plans call for a fancy hand-made bridge. I decided that it needed to be ebony to match the fretboard. See here that I've cut an offcut from my fretboard into three bridge-sized blocks. In much the same way as I've fashioned the body out of all sorts of odd bits of wood glued together, I'll be doing the same with the bridge.

12 November 2013

The Poobah Sings!

Time for another update in the Grand Poobah ukulele build. Sorry for the delayed write-up, but I've been ill. Boo!

The project is drawing to the end, but bloody hell... it's not getting any easier! The past week has been a real battle. I think I'm winning, but my patience is really being tested. Unfortunately, most of my troubles have been of my own making. Damn! Let me explain...

I bought some ebony to make a fretboard and bridge. Here you can see the fretboard blank I made resting on the ukulele neck. It was pretty easy to shape. The nut is a plastic one I bought. I got lucky and ended up with a blank that was pretty much the right depth without anything more than a bit of light sanding. The gap between the surface of the fretboard and grooves in the nut is about the distance of a zero fret.

5 November 2013

Marking the Poobah

It's time for another update on my Grand Poobah ukulele build! Hooray! This one's completely theoretical... Yep, I've done no building whatsoever! How on earth am I going to manage this? Just watch me...

I've been letting my imagination run riot as I've been considering options for fret markers on the Grand Poobah. Wouldn't scarab markers be cool! Try as I might, I haven't been able to find any small enough. Damn!

4 November 2013

Winter is Coming

I've been up north to Northumberland for a sneaky weekend break. I've got lots of photos to show you and a couple of stories to tell. Better get on with it!

Above is the crest of the Duke of Northumberland. I'm going to go out on a limb and call it the "waxing crescent" phase of the moon, but it all depends upon which hemisphere you're in as to whether it's waxing or waning.

This is my crest too! Only mine's the other way around...

27 October 2013

The Desert Song (2013)

The Golden Scarab EP is finished! I seal the deal with a moody, stuttering instrumental straight out of the desert.

"Count these"

I'm feeling a bit rebellious... Dangerous to know ;-)

One in the eye for the Grand Poobah

I've been doing some more work on my Grand Poobah acoustic ukulele build this week. There have been highs... there have been lows. Here's the update!

[Sorry - broke the link to this photo as part of the Google Photos update. Move along...]

That feeling when you can see disaster approaching, but you can't do anything about it.

25 October 2013

King Uke's Scanning Contraption

This post chronicles a little more of my journey into figuring out the best way to digitise some of my sheet music. I've had a couple of attempts already; My first involved a scanner and though the results were pretty good, it was just too much effort. My second attempt also involved a scanner, but this time I had the benefit of proper ereading devices to test the finished product. Again, the results were very good, but it was all too hard. Today I'm going to tell you about my latest thoughts on the subject. The big difference this time around is that I'm trying a camera instead of a scanner...

I rifled through "the Crate" the other day to see if I had any cowboy-related tunes to look at. I certainly do! Aren't these fantastic! :-)

20 October 2013

Drilling the Grand Poobah

After all the excitement of a weekend in Pontefract, I've finally got back to my Grand Poobah ukulele build. Here's this weekend's update. I've made some good progress!

Voodoo Night? This poster was designed by Alan Aldridge. I'll talk a little more about him soon... 

16 October 2013

The Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2013

It kind of sneaked up on me, but this weekend I took a break from building my Grand Poobah ukulele and paid a visit to the inaugural Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in Pontefract. I took quite a few pictures, but unfortunately, most of them have come out a bit blurry. Damn! Don't worry... I still have some beauties for you ;-)

In no particular order...

I start with a confession. Look at what I found in my hand when I got home! I really can't be trusted. :-O Sorry GNUF. Sorry Eek.

Happy Birthday... :-S

6 October 2013

Picking up the Poobah

I was so depressed the last time I wrote about my Grand Poobah build. You might remember that I'd broken my jigsaw and had a bad experience with a forstner bit. I don't know if it came across in the post, but I was tired and grumpy and ready to throw in the towel. Fast-forward a week and I've got a smile back on my face. Things have improved a lot...

I figured that the only way I'd rescue my ukulele body would be if I dug out the router. I'm not a fan of routers... they scare me! I find them difficult to use and I have visions of damaging myself in horribly painful ways.

I got to wondering if maybe I could adapt my router technique? The more I thought about it, the more I figured that there may be a better, safer, cleverer way to use the router. In this picture you can see the germ of my cunning plan taking shape.

My new Cowboy Ukulele

I've only gone and bought myself another uke! Yes, I know... as if I haven't got enough already!

I just couldn't help myself. When I spotted this little beauty earlier this week, I just had to have it. Get this... I don't even know the brand. If you know, then please drop me a comment. And I pretty much bought this one blind over the internet! Crazy fool!

I'm calling the new instrument my "Cowboy Uke" for reasons that will become obvious soon...

I've snaffled this wonderful picture from ukulala. Sadly, it looks like the blog is no longer being updated. This is a cowboy uke, but it's not my cowboy uke.

29 September 2013

Poobah, Bloody Poobah!!!

Today I've pushed myself to the absolute limits of half-baked lutherie. After hours and hours of work, I'm in a super-depression. I'm ready to give the whole bloody Poobah up as a bad job! I must have been mad to think that I could get this damn uke built!

Shaz sounds like a bit of a character. This message was on J-Uke's phone. I'm really going to have to start vetting his friends. 

28 September 2013

Wrestling the Grand Poobah

Today's update on my Grand Poobah ukulele build is one steeped in frustration. It's been a bloody battle since I last wrote about my exploits. I've had a number of mishaps and wrestled with all manner of problems (a number of which have been of my own making). This might take me a while, but let me explain...

In line with my wrestling comment above, I'm going to weave a theme into this post of "men in masks". What on earth am I talking about? You'll just have to read on to find out... 

26 September 2013

A Taste of Fountains Abbey

There I was trying to sort out my backlog of holiday photos from Lake Tahoe when I was encouraged to take a trip out to Fountains Abbey. The result was yet more photos! It's a nice problem to have. These are actually from a couple of weeks ago...

As we wandered up to take in the view from "Anne Boleyn's Seat" we passed the statue above. As I snapped a photo I joked that this must be a statue of Anne Boleyn making reference to the fact that she had been beheaded by Henry VIII. It seems that I'm only 250 years late in making this joke. See the following that I just pinched from TommyId:

"The name Anne Boleyn’s Seat was coined because paintings show that there was a decapitated statue on this spot before the acquisition of the Abbey by Aislabie in 1768."

Hold on a second. This can't possibly be a statue of Anne Boleyn. Google tells me that Anne had six fingers, a large mole on her neck... and three breasts! I wonder what Henry saw in her? ;-)

22 September 2013

Tahoe - Over and Out

This is it! My last post on Lake Tahoe! I can't promise to never mention it again, but perhaps I'll stop sharing holiday snaps with you? This post is all over the place. In it, I'll show you a number of photos that don't fit anywhere in particular, and a few others besides. Imagine the Bee Gees. Imagine Stayin' Alive. Let us begin!

Yep - King Uke has legs... and sexy marching ones at that! ;-)

21 September 2013

The Tokyo Fan Stroke

This is a continuation of a post I did quite recently on strumming at the speed of Formby. I've still got the banjolele bug. Talking of bugs... look at this fly playing a miniature ukulele!

I'm not sure who to credit for this photo. If it's yours... well done!

All Hail the Grand Poobah!

I know I said that I wouldn't do any ukulele posts for a while, but I lied! I need a break from holiday photos and I'm desperate to show you a little project I've been working on. This post is about a ukulele I designed recently that I'm calling the "Grand Poobah".

Here's the "Grand Poobah" concept art in all its glory. My inspiration is obviously the surfboard. I saw potential to get some beautiful curves and angles into the body shape in what I hope is an elegant little design.

When I mocked this up, I didn't really have any intention of making it; I mean, I have too many other ideas already. But a couple of the challenges I'll mention soon got me wondering if I could pull it off. That's all I needed to start the project. Will it be enough for me to finish it?

You can see that the mockup is piezo-electric. My current thoughts are that I won't me adding a pickup. I think I'm going to try something a whole lot more adventurous and foolhardy!

19 September 2013

Wake-up Tahoe!

I've stolen the name of this post from a show that's filmed in Tahoe. I'll reveal the inspiration and talk more about this shortly. First, I want to let you know that I'm coming to the end of the holiday snaps. I could go on and on, but I won't... I'm only planning to do one more set after this post. Normal service will resume soon!

Today's theme is loosely based upon people...

Always be vigilant!

I don't know who he was, or what he was doing... but it involved a bloody drill. HIDE!

15 September 2013

The Panoramification of Lake Tahoe

This has the potential to be my most boring post yet on Lake Tahoe. Today's collection of holiday snaps are predominantly of the landscape of this beautiful part of the world. Whilst it's impressive when seen with your own eyes, photos rarely manage to capture the magic. You've just got to go and see this for yourself! I'll try and mix it up a little to add a bit of variety.


While we were in Tahoe there were something close to 50+ forest fires burning across America. Forest fires are a fact of life in many places (including Tahoe), but this year has been unusual in as much as we haven't reached forest fire season just yet! Until this holiday I'd never seen "smoke" as an option on a weather forecast.

What it does mean, is that some of the photos in this post are not going to be what you'd usually see taken in this area. There were many days were it was impossible to see across the lake. Personally, I think it adds a certain charm to a couple of the shots I'll show you below.

13 September 2013

King Uke Talks to the Animals

I don't just talk to the animals... I talk to the birds and the bees too! and the trees! and all the pretty little flowers!

Welcome to one more installment in my series of photos from my recent holiday to Lake Tahoe. In this post I'm going to show you some of the local flora and fauna. It's at times like this that I really would have benefitted from a beefy macro lens. There are things that I just couldn't capture on my iPhone that I would have loved to have shared with you. Don't worry, I've still got loads to show you...

"Chapter 13: A Bloodsucker Lake Leech"

This would be my worst nightmare. I never made it out as far as Bloodsucker Lake and quite frankly, knowing how the lake gets its name, I'm really not that bothered that I missed it. Prior to going on this holiday, my son was worrying about all the wildlife that could bite/sting/eat him. Actually, there was nothing to worry about. It certainly didn't stop us from doing anything.

12 September 2013

Food, Gut-busting Food

Today's post continues my series of photos from my recent holiday to Lake Tahoe and environs. To be honest, I'm not sure that this one's going to be all that good. The theme is "Food and Drink". I've never written about food and drink before on this blog. I'm not sure I know where to start.

Don't expect wonderful pictures of swans made out of peas or other gastro-extravagance. This is everyday food found on the run... and WARNING! not much of what you'll see below is very good for you...


When I posted this picture on Google+ I said that I could neither confirm nor deny who these pills were for. I'm keeping shtum. There surely is such a thing as too much information!

8 September 2013

A Shot of Pioneering Spirit

Time for another post jam-packed full of holiday snaps! Today's theme is sort of an historical one. I cover some of what has made Lake Tahoe what it is. There's no way I can hope to do this theme justice, but here are a few observations to start the ball rolling...

I had my eye open for an unusual momento to bring back with me from this holiday. This figurine of a singing cowboy almost made the grade, but no, I left it for another.

7 September 2013

Right in the Altoids!

Here are a few more snaps from my recent holiday to Lake Tahoe. The theme for this post is "Music"...

Big pants or small ukulele?

I floated the idea of  taking a ukulele away on holiday with me. Mrs Uke instantly shot me down. This is the picture I posted at the time as I pondered ways of sneaking one along without her noticing. All was not lost! Perhaps this would be an ideal opportunity for me to buy a new ukulele once I got to America! Of course, I never mentioned this idea to Mrs Uke ;-)

My dream acquisition would have been some sort of vintage plastic American uke like a Maccaferri, but I vowed to keep an open mind on my travels ;-) Unfortunately, in the end there were no ukuleles to be had. I  think I only saw one the whole time I was in America... A Lanikai, in a hock shop in Carson City. I checked CraigsList and everything else I could think of and nothing! What on earth is wrong with you America? Perhaps I should have done my homework before setting off?

6 September 2013

American Zombie

I'm back from my hols in America! What a fantastic adventure! I have sooo many pictures to share with you that I'm a little overwhelmed by the whole idea. If you've circled me on Google+, then you've probably seen most of them already. Perhaps I'll only stick some of the more eclectic ones on the blog? We'll just have to wait and see.

I think that I'll start off with some silly pictures that are mostly zombie-related. You know that I have a soft-spot for zombies. It would appear that America has embraced the concept lock, stock and smoking barrel. Enjoy...

One last thing... not all these photos are mine. I've added some extra info here and there. Where I've done this, I've provided links to the sources.

Zombie - Post Apocalypse Playing Cards

If chess isn't your thing, then perhaps you can while away the end of the world with a few card games. Solitaire?

11 August 2013

Stay (2013)

Earlier this week when I wasn't looking, the Ukulele Blog hit 200k visitors! Isn't that great! I can't help but feel that my instructions on how to draw a turd are somehow responsible for the recent influx. It's hard to tell... nobody ever comments.

New beginnings?

10 August 2013

Adventures at the Speed of Formby

This week's obsession has been a lot of fun and it sort of grew out of nothing. I really didn't see this one coming. I'm calling this post "Adventures at the Speed of Formby" for reasons that will become apparent soon. There are lots of videos below. All of them are brilliant and linked in a beautiful synchronistic way.

George Formby - License to Thrill

2 August 2013

Deathproof (2007)

A number of years ago I was looking for the DVDs for Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films. I'd seen the films before, but was desperate to watch them again. Whilst looking on ebay, I came across someone selling a bundle of 6 Tarantino DVDs. Get this... The bundle was the same price as the Kill Bills would have been separately. You know how I love a bargain!

Rose McGowan looking a little suspicious
Deathproof, 2007 Dimension Films

Since then, I've been disappointed by From Dusk Till Dawn (just the once), and I've high-kicked my way thorugh Kill Bill 1 and Kill Bill 2. I haven't rewatched Jackie Brown (though I loved it the first time round), and I haven't gone anywhere near Pulp Fiction. This week I dusted off Deathproof, which depending upon who you talk to was Quentin's flop of 2007.

27 July 2013

A Taste of Philately and Lepidoptery

I realised this morning that there are a couple of themes running through my photos this summer. I'm going to mix up two of them here for you...

Purple Emperor Butterfly (Apatura iris)

Subversion TM

Can it only be a couple of weeks ago that I discovered the magic that is Microsoft PhotoSynth? It feels like I've been capturing crazy swirling panoramas forever! I've shared a lot of them on google+. I reckon that I must have bored the pants off everyone on there by now. Ha ha! Now it's your turn!

Today's post is going to be full of pictures and it's not all PhotoSynth related... but this is where I'm going to start!

Surround Meadow

What you are seeing here is a complete 360 degree set of photos, stitched together to form a panorama and stretched top and bottom to make it flat. It's exactly the sort of thing you will see being done when people make a map of the World. Unlike a map of the world , which flattens the view from the outside, PhotoSynth flattens the view from the inside. I'm sure this all makes perfect sense now ;-)

26 July 2013

At the Altar of the Skylark

Regular readers of this blog will know that I've been having a bit of fun spearheading a campaign to raise the profile of Skylark Ukuleles. I'm now the proud owner of three of these ancient budget ukes. Earlier this week I received a comment on one of my numerous Skylark posts that has allowed me to track down the company that produces the Skylark brand ukuleles. I'm happy to announce that it's still going strong! I'm over the moon! Come with me on a Skylark journey...

I've been searching for the maker of Skylark ukuleles for some time and although I've stumbled across a couple of potential leads, I've never really uncovered anything that convinced me that I'd found the right one.  How about this then! See the image on the plucktrum in the picture. Yes! It's the very same one you will see on the labels inside Skylark ukes! Only, this picture is from a plucktrum being made and sold today! Kerching!

21 July 2013

The Grand Northern Ukulele Festival - Teaser!

I mentioned in my recent post on the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain that I'd learnt about a new ukulele festival that is going to be held up in my neck of the woods. Since then I've been in touch with Mary Agnes Krell (one of the organisers) and gathered all sorts of information on the event which I'll share with you now.

"I play what I like and I like what I play"

I created an event on Google+ for the festival and inadvertently spammed everyone in my circles with notifications. Apologies for that. The event allows you to say whether you're planning to go or not. There are a couple of takers already! I might even get to meet some of you! Oooh... how scarey!

20 July 2013

How to Draw a Cannibal

I was intrigued the other day to see that I'd had a hit on the blog with the search term "how to draw a cannibal". I get all sorts of crazy hits, but this one in particular tickled my fancy. Wouldn't it be great to have a post detailing how to draw a cannibal... and all sorts of other things for that matter!

Step-by-Step How To Draw

See the fretboard that the book is resting on. Yep, that is the pre-made one I ordered the other day. I'm not impressed with the Chinese build quality at all. I will not be using it on my up-coming King Six CBG Build.

18 July 2013

Save My Soul (2013)

In Vaqueros folklore there is a story of a man disillusioned with life who takes to the desert in search of salvation. With only a horse for company, the poor unfortunate disappears into the night perhaps never to return. In my new song "Save My Soul" we join this desparado as he sets off on his journey of discovery.

King Uke - Save My Soul

12 July 2013

Deadheads (2011)

It should come as no surprise to learn that I'm really not that keen on romantic comedies. It's a formula that doesn't do that much for me. Imagine my horror when I sat down to watch Deadheads a couple of nights ago and realised that I'd bought a zombie rom com. Good God NOOOOOO!!!!!!!

This is a snippet from a teaser for the Norwegian zombie flick Dead Snow, a film I'd much rather be talking about than Deadheads. When I first posted this, my German correspondent +Eric Harris was kind enough to point out a tiny error... "ein = a; eins = one". Oh dear! Knowing this... this video makes no sense at all! Ha ha... How cool is that! 

7 July 2013

A Taste of Summer

I know this is the second post of today, but the weather and Andy Murray's glorious victory has inspired me to bring together a few of the photos I've taken over the past couple of weeks for you. These are the photos that don't really fit anywhere in particular. Most (if not all) were taken whilst walking the dog. So if you want to thank anyone for this little collection, then praise the little fur-ball. All the photos were taken on my new iPhone. I must say that I love the camera on this phone - it's better than my real camera!

"Secret Resistance"
This view was hidden behind a fence. I sneaked a peak over the top and look what I found growing at the other side!

Oompah, Oompah, Stick it up your Jumper

Not much is happening at the Ukulele Blog unfortunately. With the Summer has come a bout of "Real Life". I can't claim to be unhappy with the arrangement... I'd much rather be outside doing something, than inside writing about it.

I do have a couple of random updates for you though, so without further ado...

Kings Six Mock-up

28 June 2013

The Ukulele Festival of Great Britain 2013

It's official! I don't get out much!

I'm back from my visit down to the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain in Cheltenham and I have a heap of photos and recollections to share with you below. Forgive me if I jump about a bit, but this weekend has been a bit of a blur. View this as an alternative review of the festival... You read this blog for a reason right? Welcome to my world...

"Who's Kev?"

I can't say that I was very impressed with the hotel we stayed in at Cheltenham. What a dump! There was a sign on the wall in reception that read along the lines of: "Please don't abuse the staff... They're here to help you." The hotel was one and three-quarters of a mile from the centre of Cheltenham. It was a walk I was to do many times.

16 June 2013

Losing You (2013)

This post is ostensibly about a new song I'm posting for you, but really, I'm just clearing the decks before next weekend. I can't wait for a little bit of down-time with my ukulele brethren at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain. My bro's going and he's still trying to convince me to get a tattoo. Have no fear... I will not succumb!

Look at this fantastic card I received this morning! I was wondering where that bit of string from my guitar strap had gone. Isn't it brilliant! J-Uke even made me breakfast this morning... shredded wheat, my favourite!

15 June 2013

The Ballad of Tokyo Zombie (2013)

I'm off to the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain next weekend. You will remember that I went to the last one and came back with a million photos. By all accounts it's going to be packed; Tickets to the event have all sold out. I feel a bit like Willy Wonka... Yep... I've got the golden ticket!

The Ukulele Festival of Great Britain will be held in Cheltenham 21-23 June 2013

8 June 2013

Skylark in the Meadow (2013)

I can't help myself at the moment. I've been playing a lot of ukulele and thinking up new tunes.

I know there're a number of you out there wondering what I look like. Okay, here you go...
Photo courtesy of Next

26 May 2013

A Taste of Swin Dale

The puppy was rooting around in the garage yesterday and came out with a leaf in her mouth. I took it from her and was surprised to see that there was writing on it. It's left over from one of my kids' games. It says "a ticket... 1 adult and 2 children". Fancy that! I hopped onto Google+ and asked what it might be a ticket for. The suggestions are below. Personally, I'm taking it as a reminder to get out more. So today, that's exactly what I did. Today's little adventure was to return to a place I discovered in March called Swin Dale. We didn't have long, but it was great! Below are the snaps...

When I asked what this ticket might be for yesterday I had a few great suggestions.
+Denise Sparrowhawk suggested that it might be a ticket to the jungle. +Liz Quilty
seemed sure that it was a ticket to the forest. +shankti oviedo revealed that it is in
fact a ticket for the "Tihuantinsuyo party". Count me in! Those Incans know how to party!

The Ballad of Tokyo Zombie (2013)

"I'd like to see you write a ballad about 'Tokyo Zombie'. Consider that a challenge."
~ Brizdaz (Darren)12 May 2013 00:56

Whilst I love Tokyo Zombie, you can also view this post as a tribute to
everything crazy in Japan. Have you ever heard of arse-swords?