PLUC Tales – I Never Liked The Uke

Steve H with uke

Steve H with uke

I never liked the uke.

It sounded bleedin’ awful.

A really low-quality astringent taste in the ears. Not like the softer tones and fuller sound that my nylon string acoustic gave. So I put the uke back and had another look around the music shop in Lewisham High Street. I looked at harmonicas, banjos, bass guitars and the plethora of musical diversions offered in Eric Lindsey Music.

I was looking for something new. An instrument to encourage a little more playing, primarily by being a little more portable. Then I could take it to work and practice on the nursery class I taught. In the end, financial concerns brought me back the uke. It had a little tuner cleverly sunk into the side of the body. Yet, it still sounded dull.

Determinedly sat at home with my new instrument, I played for a bit but struggled with the new shapes on the fretboards and the thin sound of four, short strings. When pitching this toy instrument against the familiar mix of nylon and wound strings that sat just a few feet away from me, my willpower crumbled. I ended playing far more of my guitar in the post-purchase weeks, just to avoid the tiny twang-box. In a sense I had achieved one of my aims: I was playing more, just not on the strings I had intended to.

I have very little willpower. I always have to create obligations to overcome my default position of laziness. To save up, I have to get people to hide money from me. To get to work on time, I have to arrange early meetings. To get walking-fit, I have to leave my Oyster at home (I now have to leave all other cards, thanks to this contactless business). So to play ukulele, I reasoned, I had to join a group. There would be an expectation that I would play for however long the group meets for and that peer pressure could take the position that my willpower can’t be bothered to occupy. It would make me play.

I looked around for different groups in London and I settled on PLUC. Not for its reputation you must understand. I could get there on one direct bus. Easy. Lazy.

In the first few sessions I don’t recall struggling with the new shapes and the awful, astringent twang-box, I thought I wielded, seemed to brighten up in the ukulele chorus. Actually, it sounded great! I thought that playing with a number of ukes was incredibly forgiving. Bum notes got lost in the instrumental choir, the strumming ensemble kept me in time and my voice could tentatively try notes that I could never, for some strange reason, tolerate as a soloist in my own bedroom.

After a few weeks I had forgotten that I was trying to force myself to learn the uke. I really enjoyed the evenings. They were the right mixture of tunes, words and mild booziness that kept me coming back. I was getter better at my ukemanship, the atmosphere was inclusive and my fellow PLUCkers seemed to be interested in music and fun without making either of those two things a priority over the other.

I still don’t think I like the uke as much as the guitar, as an instrument (though I now own a lovely concert uke that sounds much better than the strung tinderbox I had at first). However, I would sooner sell my guitar than my uke. It’s not the sound, it’s the quirkiness, the comedic size, the odd strums that your thumb can throw in between fingers and the fact that it begs to be played with others.

I never liked the uke, to start with. Definitely changed my mind.

Steve H

Other PLUC Tales: Long-Distance Strummer – Gail; New Uker! – Sheila; A Tale Of Two Ukuleles – Tina; The First Rule Of Uke Club… – AnthonyRon’s Progress; Probably The Most Fun Instrument In The World… – Jos; It’s Been A Year – Part 2 – Jeanette; From Classical To PLUC – Andrew; A History Of The Ukulele – And Its Part In My Downfall – JamesSanta Rides Again – Alan F; Steph’s StoryRon’s Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome; Uncle Ron’s Legacy… – Wee Kheng; Dan’s Story; Five Years & Loving It – Simon; My Ukulele Origins… – Rufus; Why Ed Started Playing The Ukulele; Ron’s Song; It’s Been A Year… – Jeanette


Posted by on January 22, 2017 in Members' Items


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New Year’s Workouts

Happy 2017!

Sheila's 50th IMG_0844

Sheila’s 50th – PLUC

  • If you’ve just received your first ukulele, then have a look round our site for playing tips, such as our New Uke For Xmas? article which directs you to some beginners’ guide and handy resources. Or search down the right hand side of the page for the many topics we cover.
  • Should you wish to buy a uke, check out our recommendations for decent starter instruments in Good Buy To All That….
  • For those of you wishing to access some online lessons,  James Hill’s Booster Uke is free until the end of Jan 2017, which will get you moving up & down the fretboard.
  • For a bit of a workout, why not try out the Chord Quiz on Ukulele Go or head over to Uke Hunt’s more challenging Ukulele Quiz 2016.

We’ll be back strumming at the Lewis Club from Tue 3rd January.



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Sweary Steve’s Christmas Message

This year it falls to Sweary Steve to give PLUC’s festive message. I’m sure everybody who knows him will appreciate the card he sent us all:

Sweary Steve's 2016 Xmas Card

Sweary Steve’s 2016 Xmas Card

Sweary Steve's 2016 Xmas Message

Sweary Steve’s 2016 Xmas Message

And here’s an appropriate seasonal tune, penned by Eric Idle and played here by Marco Giovannetti, F*** Christmas. Happy Holidays!

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Posted by on December 25, 2016 in Members' Items


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December 2016 Club Nights

Please note the following arrangements for our club nights around Christmas:

Tue 13 Dec & Tue 20 Dec – We’re at the Lewes Club, as usual. We’ll be playing our regular numbers & adding Mele Kalikimaka as our traditional Hawaiian festive number (in the 2016 Xmas Songs folder in Box). All past & present PLUC members are welcome to join us!

Tue 27 Dec Boxing Day Bank Holiday – XMAS BREAK.

We return to the Lewis Club on Tue 3 Jan 2017.

As ever, please check through the PLUC Song List to ensure you’ve printed all the songs in it. We’re often joined by fresh batches of folk in the New Year and it’s easier for sharing music if the rest of us have copies handy. Thanks.

Here’s UkeFoote playing a wintery uke & theremin version of Once Upon A December, from Anastasia:

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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in PLUC News & Info, Uke Night


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Hollesley 2016 – Farewell

It was that Hollesley time of year again, but sunny Suffolk was a mix of joy and sadness as it was to be the last year at this site. Still it didn’t dampen the spirits, the revelry or uke playing.

Hollesley 2016 – Phil Doleman, Rufus & others playing Enjoy Yourself (filmed by almuzo):

Friday was open mic night and our very own Rufus was on second to give a heart-warming rendition of A Mother’s Lament, a sad song of a baby going down a plug’ole, and wonderful it was too. Later, Chris gave Don McLean a good run for his money with Vincent (aka Starry Starry Night).

Rufus and Chris were joined by Bob and showed Phil Doleman (on bass) how to sing and play Doctor Jazz properly and it was the bestest!

Saturday night’s show was compered by the always elegant Chris in his trompe-l’oeil tuxedo T-shirt (I hope it had a wash as he was wearing it last year). The raffle draw was held at half time and star prize was won by Chris for the second year running, He insists it’s nothing to do with him being MC.

In Sunday night’s singalong we bashed through forty oldies at breakneck speed.

So that seems to be it for Hollesley but let’s hope another venue is found, and to paraphrase Dickens, ‘F*** it, the sadness of each ending is also the joy of a new beginning.’  But then, Dickens never played the uke.

Sweary Steve

Previous Hollesley reports: 2015 & 2102.

Hollesley 2013 – Chris, Rufus & Alan playing Va, Pensiero (filmed by Darren) – go to 1:15 for the start of the tune:


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It’s Ringo Starr’s 76th birthday today, so here’s BirdsEyeViewOfMyUke’s version of his solo hit It Don’t Come Easy (self-penned by Ringo, with a little help from George Harrison). Don’t forget to say “Peace & Love!” at midday.

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Posted by on July 7, 2016 in Interesting Uke Sites


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Pratts Bottom Village Fete May 2016

This year saw fine weather for our annual Pratts Bottom Village Fete gig so Chris arranged for us to be outside under a gazebo, instead of indoors in the Village Hall.

The wind proved an entertaining challenge: whilst we had remembered to bring pegs to ensure our songsheets stayed in place, Bob’s music stand decided to swing round like the sail of a boat &, at times, Colin had to hold down his pages with his foot – an interesting new playing technique!

We had an excellent day. Andrew has caught some of our setting up, clearing down and the obligatory post gig drinks in the local hostelry in this set of photos:


Posted by on May 9, 2016 in PLUC News & Info


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