Many people associate the ukulele with Hawaii but did you know this mini guitar like instrument was actually brought to the Hawaiian Islands by the Portuguese who came to work the sugar cane fields in 1879. The Portuguese call the ukulele ‘braguinha’. The Hawaiians were impressed by the speed of the musicians fingers as they moved across the finger board creating beautiful music and called the instrument a ukulele which translates as “jumping flea” because that is what the musicians fingers looked like when playing. The ukulele became a common instrument used in Hawaiian style music and is still growing in popularity. Modern ukuleles come in 4 sizes, soprano (or standard), concert, tenor and baritone. Typically they have 4 strings, but often the tenor has 5 (the two A strings are in unison). There are also 6-string (the C strings and A strings are an octave apart) and 8-string (the G-strings are an octave apart, the C strings are an octave apart, the E strings are unison, and the A strings are unison). The most popular size in Hawaii today is the 4-string tenor.

If you want to bring home a ukulele from your trip to Hawaii that you want to use as a real instrument and not just a decor item then AVOID the toy version sold for about $10-$35 that looks something like this:

This is a toy and is not intended to actually play music.

These are not made to be a real instrument, just a toy for a kid or to use for display, and they will not stay in tune for more than a few strums of the strings. A quality ukulele that will stay in tune properly will start at about $50 and can go up into several thousand dollars depending on the wood, brand, and quality.

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