No. 44, Spring 2024
On the cover of this issue is a beautiful and mysterious old ukulele. Luthier and historian Aaron Keim learned of this 120-year-old gem after a friend found it at an electronics show of all places, and in the cover story, he explores the history of Hawaiian instruments of its vintage and details its meticulous restoration using period materials.
It can be a uniquely satisfying experience to build your own ukulele, and in his feature Sandor Nagyszalanczy provides a history of do-it-yourself building guides, while also presenting some of the latest kits that come with all of the necessary parts for making a playable instrument—even for those who have absolutely no previous woodworking experience.
Speaking of DIY, in his regular lesson, Daniel Ward introduces some useful devices for delving into creating your own arrangement, demonstrating these concepts through the vaudeville classic “Ain’t We Got Fun.” There are other great old songs to learn: Christopher Davis-Shannon teaches an approachable chord-melody arrangement of “April Showers” and Marcy Marxer shows her fun take on the bluesy classic “I Ain’t Got Nobody.” Plus, fingerstyle guitar great Alex de Grassi shows the cool ukulele part he plays in the Kate Wolf folk favorite “Across the Great Divide” with his group The Real Sarahs.
To help explain how the chords in songs work together, Diane Nalini breaks down the Roman numeral system that will also help you improve your ear. These concepts are reinforced on the back page with a separate series of chord progression flash cards that you can mix and match to create your own songs.
Plus, editor Nicolas Grizzle covers the world’s first ukulele bachelor’s degree program in Italy; Blair Jackson writes about Hawaiian Music Hall of Famer Kahauanu Lake; Grizzle on Pepe Romero Jr. and his classical guitar approach to his ukuleles; and we review cool new instruments from Ohana and Flight.