Hoping you all had a good ukulele 2016. Certainly not a year to be remembered for lots of people, and a lot of musical legends lost to us. Still, we must press on and make each year ahead the best it can be.For Got A Ukulele, it was also a slightly quieter year, but that was a case of me trying to find some balance between real life and writing, but I think I now have it how I want it! Looking back though, I think this was one of the busiest years for ukulele reviews. It's the part of Got A Ukulele I enjoy doing more than anything else, so that figures I guess! If you are new to Got A Ukulele, consider this a potted history of what I think are the 'best bits' of 2016. Plenty already in the pipeline for 2017 too!
January saw us kick off with a couple of instrument reviews. One wasn't all that memorable in the form of a Mahalo Baritone ukulele, but one was certainly different and put the cat amongst the pigeons, in the form of the Deering Banjo Ukulele. What a great instrument! I was also thrilled to end the month with an interview with a ukulele performer I had wanted to speak to for ages - Danielle Ate The Sandwich.
February saw a mix of reviews and advice pieces (and rants of course!). Firstly I tried to once again put to bed the endless silly myth spread by the media that the ukulele is automatcically easy, (sadly something I STILL see being repeated) and that was followed by one of my favourite music releases of the year from Phil Doleman and Ian Emmerson. I then worked up an advice guide on gear that you should take to the ukulele gig and ended with a look at a pleasing, but new to me brand, called Aiersi.
In March I tackled the much debated (and much badly advised) subject of ukulele performers insurance and was delighted to see a debut on Got A Ukulele for a brand that had been absent from UK shores for some time in the form of the aNueNue Africa Mahogany Concert.
April and May were varied. We kicked off with rants about a couple of things. Firstly, the endless debate about the pronunciation of the word 'ukulele' and then the assumption that everything has to be tinged with something Hawaiian, even though most of us have never even been there. New brands were featured in the form of a concert ukuleles from Mabuhay and Ashbury, and there was guide to adjusting the ukulele saddle for accurate intonation. Ending the month was a review of one of the nicest instruments I've ever played in the Pono ATDC Tenor uke.
In June, I looked at another Mahalo ukulele. Not the best instrument but a far cry from some of their ealier ones. And I was delighted to take another step in trying to dispel the myth that ukulele friction tuners are bad by looking at these marvels from Waverly.
July brought some controversy with a post looking at what I considered to be an overload of ukulele festivals and the risk that posed to some organisers. Sadly, looking at the diary for 2017, it's going to be even worse in the year ahead... Reviews wise I looked at the rather wonderful Clearwater Roundback Baritone and the Cordoba 20TM uke. The Clearwater is still a ukulele that I would highly recommend for the money.
August is school holiday month in the UK, so writing was reduced as family time took precedent. I did manage to look at the marvellous Ziricote Tenor ukulele from Kala and a cool double gig bag from Fusion though.
Full steam ahead into September with my favourites being the advice guide showing you how easy it actually is to play ukulele in different keys, a review of the hugely fun Duke Banjo Uke and a look at some great clip on tuners from D'Addario. Wow... two banjos on Got A Ukulele in one year...
There was a real mix of reviews in October. We ranged from one of the lowest scores ever on Got A Ukulele in the form of this soprano uke from Kaka, and then one of the highest in the delightful Blackbird Clara Concert. I also looked at some accessories including ukulele capos and the rather wonderful Logjam Travelog 2 stomp box.
November was all about me being spoiled. I took a look at another instrument from Cocobolo in their Super Soprano ukulele, and I also got my hands on one of the new Ohana O'Nino Sopranino ukuleles. Crowning the month, in fact crowning the year was the highest review score ever on Got A Ukulele in the aNueNue UT200 Moon Bird Tenor Ukulele. Wow..
And so we came to the close of the year. December had a few reviews including a welcome return for Snail Ukuleles and a rather wonderful concert pineapple uke from Ohana, but then slowed down for the Christmas break. Phew!
The year has been a lot of fun, and you may have also noticed that the ukulele festival calendar is up and running again which seems to suggest this current ukulele trend shows no signs of slowing.. Over 11 million pages read on the site in total now too! Looking forward, the reviews bench is overloaded with instruments for the new year, including some really interesting ones and discussions underway for even more.
Thanks SO much for your support of the site and positive feedback during 2016. It really is appreciated. All that remains is for me to wish you and yours all the very best for 2017 wherever you are. Will be interesting to see how the ukulele world develops in the year ahead!
© Barry Maz