It’s definitely a good first instrument as a beginner and has a strong community of players. The ukulele is a very expressive instrument. It can evoke sounds that sound very natural on many instruments. I’ve met several players – particularly in Europe, Asia and Africa – who have become very happy with the ukulele as their first instrument. But remember that your first instrument must be what you consider “the good thing” if you’d consider yourself a classical guitarist – and you’ll need to get into the basics if you want to be able to play at the highest level.
Do you think ukuleles are undervalued? Or is there a difference in the value of a new instrument versus an established instrument?
In my opinion, ukuleles are undervalued. They are really powerful and have amazing tonal possibilities, and they are very useful as an all-instrument instrument. There’s nothing wrong with buying a new ukulele, it’s just not the best way to start.
Do you think there’s still a long way to go before ukuleles reach the level of modern classical guitars and guitars used by classical music composers?
The ukulele’s place in classical guitar, as a whole, is very big. A lot of new ukuleles are sold for a fraction of the cost of a new guitar, even when you’re buying a guitar like a Gibson ES-335. So many traditionalist ukulele players think that the ukulele is just a replacement for one of those “old-fashioned” instruments that cost so much. But it’s not always that simple. For instance, the Fender Jazzmaster is very nice acoustic guitar, yet so many players still use it as their first acoustic. The ukulele is a lot more expressive, there’s more expressive tonal possibilities and it’s much simpler to learn than the acoustic. And of course when people come along, they do not give up so easily. Because the ukulele is the first instrument in classical music. It is also the instrument that you need for composition – and this is a very important factor.
It seems like the Ukelele movement is very exciting, so far, in Japan, but how do you think the ukele will grow internationally?
You can be sure that they’re going to expand all over the world because they’ve been a very well-established and well-paid instrument
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