In case you didn't know ukuleles are pretty hot right now. Late last year Eddie Vedder dropped an album of ukulele songs, but nobody can touch the skills of Hawaiian ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro. Jake became a YouTube sensation when his rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" went viral. Everything has changed for him since then. His latest album, Grand Ukulele, dropped last week and he's currently touring the U.S. When he stopped by the Plexoffices last week, we asked him to play something he's never done before. He didn't know any Chief Keef, so we settled for this Nirvana classic. And now, word from the #UkuleleBasedGod:
"There’s something about this instrument that makes people smile. It’s that instant gratification, because you hand someone a ukulele, and you just say ‘OK take your finger and just put it right there, alright, and just hit the strings.’ And you’re immediately playing. It’s the simplest instrument. I mean, you can play with just one finger. And it doesn’t hurt your fingers cause the strings are made of nylon. It’s just wonderful.
It’s the simplest instrument. You can play with just one finger. And it doesn’t hurt your fingers cause the strings are made of nylon. It’s just wonderful.
"My advice to anyone picking up the ukulele is just have fun with it. Play songs that you enjoy playing. That’s one of the problems that I always see with kids when they’re learning the piano or the violin. A lot of times the kids come home and they don’t want to practice because they don’t like the songs that they’re learning. But if the teachers were to ask ‘What song do you want to learn?’ and you just told them, ‘Oh I want to learn this song.’ Learning that tune, you’ll always be inspired to practice.
"This instrument just has so much potential, and I feel like what I do with it is just, I feel like I’m just scratching the surface—just the tip of the iceberg, and there’s so much more to be discovered." On that note, here's a bonus cut off Jake's debut disc: