In 2020, when lockdown first hit, ukulele sales soared around the world, at one point taking over the guitar. People between 20 and 60 years old were giving the instrument a try. Indians also jumped in on this opportunity, especially in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa, and helped beat some of the lockdown blues.
Here are some interesting facts about the ukulele:
- Many Indians think of the ukulele as a “chota guitar” but it has many unique qualities. Since it has just four strings, it is relatively easy to play. It is estimated that on average, you can learn a new song on the ukulele every three minutes.
- The ukulele comes in different sizes and variations. There is the bass ukulele, which has thick rubber strings and sounds like a double bass when connected to an amplifier. There is also a banjo ukulele (sometimes called the banjo-lele), which is a hybrid of the two instruments.
- While the ukulele is back at the top of most popularity charts because of the lockdown, overall love for the instrument soared in the mid 1990s. This was because of a documentary in which George Harrison and Paul McCartney from The Beatles declared themselves as fans of the ukulele. There is even a written note from George Harrison, where he says that everyone should carry and play the ukulele (which made him one of the most important shapers in the story of the instrument).
- The originating country of the ukulele is left to debate. While it is considered a Hawaiian instrument, many historians claim that Portuguese immigrants brought it to the island while traveling there in search of better opportunities. However, it gained popularity in Hawaii, where it was seen as a sign of royalty.
The ukulele is easy to play and easy to carry on weekend getaways. It comes as no surprise that its sales grew by 300 per cent during the pandemic, as it is one of the most adaptable instruments that will continue to have its place even post lockdowns. If you are looking to explore a new musical instrument, the ukulele is a great place to start.