Ukuleles – My Passion and Gear

Petey in a Berlin Cemetery
Petey in a Berlin Cemetery

Martin Guitars started making a new line of ukuleles in 2011. I immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started buying the new Martin sopranos. You can watch the YouTube video of the first five I bought and hear my story.

I don’t own any vintage Martin ukuleles. Not yet! I have played some though. I just like putting the new ones to the test and doing video reviews. You can find all the specifications of the new Martin ukuleles on the Martin site: Martin Ukuleles are back!

When I started playing ukulele back in October 2006, the only local ukuleles available from the music stores were those low budget colourful Mahalo ukuleles. I didn’t realize when I started playing that there were also great quality ukes out there at the time — mostly only in Hawaii and I didn’t have vacation plans to go there! hehe

So, as the humble ukulele started to make a long deserved comeback on the internet between 2008 and onward, I started to buy ukuleles online. I must admit I don’t like buying musical instruments without playing them first but our world has changed quite a bit with online purchases. Especially, since it was so hard to find good ukuleles back then, and I was forced to start buying all sorts of them online looking for that Holy Grail of new ukes.

I went through many suspect ukes as I depleted regularly my pocketbook but I never quite found the sound and quality I was looking for until I stumbled across my first new Martin SO (made in Mexico). I actually bought it in Berlin, Germany in May 2011. When I came back to Canada, I started looking for to order new Martin ukes from my local music store Long and McQuade that listed them on their website. I’ve bought most of the new Martin ukuleles of all sizes (soprano, concert, tenor) but I have since given a number of them away to good friends once I’ve done my reviews. Voltaire said, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.”

My “new” Martin Ukulele Collection:

  • Soprano:
    • SO
    • OX Bamboo (2017)
    • 0XK
    • S1
    • Style 2 (mahogany)
    • 2K (koa)
    • 3 Cherry
    • Style 3 (mahogany)
    • Konter ukulele replica
  • Concert:
    • Style 2 (mahogany)
    • 2K (koa)
  • Tenor:
    • T1K
    • Style 2 (mahogany)
    • 2K (koa)

Other Ukulele Brands I’ve Owned (or still own):

  • Brüko flat black soprano (goth uke)
  • Brüko custom cherry soprano
  • Brüko custom maple soprano
  • Goldtone Banjo Little Gem Diamond (it lights up and is recharged by USB!)
  • K-Wave “Les Paul” concert
  • Kala Jazz tenor
  • Kala koa soprano
  • Kamaka longneck soprano
  • Lanikai LFM-S soprano
  • Lanikai LU soprano
  • Mainland cedar soprano
  • Mainland hot chili soprano
  • Mahalo sopranos (green, red, purple and lime)
  • Ohana SK35G soprano
  • Oscar Schmidt soprano
  • Pono koa soprano
  • Risa soprano stick (electric)
  • Sitarulele
  • Triumph TR-400 tenor ukulele

Other Gear:

I’ve used a number of different instruments and recording devices over the years to do my YouTube videos. My first ukulele videos where done with a Canon Elura 65 miniDV (tape) camcorder and editing in Adobe Premiere Elements. I later bought a Sony HD Handycam HDR-XR500 and things improved without having to use tape anymore. I mainly use now my Sony Handycam HDR-CX405 due to the better live sound than my previous Sony camcorder recorded directly in the device. I have used my Zoom H2n handy recorder to replace the audio in some videos on occasion (less noise). Those Zoom mics are brilliant microphone/recorders for live recordings. Here is my current gear and software that I use in their latest releases.

I’ve recorded generally my videos over the past few years in 1440 x 1080 resolution. It’s a good balance of available light quality and facilitates editing and uploading. Though, now in 2021, I have now moved to 1920 x 1080. No, not 4K. haha

  • Adobe Premiere Pro CC video editing software (to do my vids. I used Premiere Elements in my early vids and it worked well so I eventually went to the pro version). It does excellent noise reduction as well.
  • Premiere Elements 2022: Photoshop and Premiere
  • Magix Movie Edit 2022 Premium (I use this video editing software for cool effects at times and have upgraded over the years)
  • Zoom H2n for audio recording (if required to replace the video’s audio or for overdubbing into a video)
  • Adobe Audition CC for audio editing
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface
  • Surface Studio 1.0 PC
  • Sony Handycam HDR-CX405 (my main videocam with built-in wide angle)
  • Sony Handycam HDR-PJ200 (old videocam)
  • Sony Handycam HDR-XR500 (old videocam)
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50 digital camera for stills, and small video clips
  • Sibelius Ultimate notation software (to do my uke scores and tabs)
  • M-Audio AV 30 recording speakers for my PC
  • Yeti Blue Pro (192kHz/24-bit) USB microphone plus 5-pin XLR connector for recording on PC
  • K&M König & Meyer Popkiller 23956 (used for vocal recording to stop vocal pops)
  • Ocean Blue Melodica (blue)
  • Hohner Melodica: Performer37
  • Casio keyboard LK-270 (keyboard lights up)
  • Roland digital piano model HP-3
  • Fender GDEC Fifteen amplifier
  • Danelectro HoneyTone mini amp
  • Fender MD-20 mini amp
  • Hohner Super Chromatica Gold
  • iPhone SE