Monday, June 13, 2011 is Just Perfect for Ukulele

About a year ago, when I was regularly posting in these pages, I wrote about some of the clever chord finder and chord namer sites (“Nothing Could Be Finder…”). As I noted in the article, the difference between a “finder” and a “namer” is that the finder allows you to enter a chord and find its position on the fingerboard, while a namer lets you plug in the notes in a box or plot them on a fretboard and tell you the name of the chord.

If you are like me and noodle around “discovering” chords on the ukulele, namers are great because they allow you to know the name (or, multiple names) of the chord you just played.

As far as I am concerned, one of the best namers out there is at (according to their faq, the “J” stands for java). As I noted last June, however, you need to make some adjustments to convert the default guitar fretboard to that of ukulele. My fix back then was to start with the nut at the fifth fret and mute the two lowest strings. Effective, but it can get a bit confusing.

While I am sure the real fix was there all along, I just recently realized that you can adjust’s number of strings and tunings to adapt it to different instruments. With a little tweaking, I was able to find GCEA ukulele fretboards in high-g and low-g versions. The best thing is that once you are in the site, all of the other cool functions, from scale finders to chord finders, will work off those revised tunings.

So go ahead and follow these links and discover what an incredibly cool ukulele site really is!

Hi-G ukulele fretboard

and Lo-G ukulele fretboard

For those of you who play guitar, be sure to check out their standard-tuned guitar namer.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Attention Lamb Chop Blog Followers!

Hi - thanks so much for following Lamb Chop Ukulele Cookin' - I really appreciate it and would like to ask you to now follow my blog at, as I am moving everything over to that site. Lamb Chop will still be here, but One Ukulele is the one I am updating.

Thanks for your support and I hope to see you following One Ukulele soon!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

One Ukulele - new blog and website

I really am groovin' on this One Ukulele idea, so much so that I think I am going to change over my blog from Lamb Chop over to, so come on over and join me there. I'lls till keep this one up, but I think my heart is going with the One Ukulele theme. Oh, and the website is simply


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Get the MP3 of "One Ukulele"

The new MP3 version of "One Ukulele" is now available as a downloadable single from Only 99 cents!

Friday, November 26, 2010

One Ukulele

Well, after more than a week of sifting through images, editing in Windows Movie Maker, laying down a ukulele and vocal track on the Tascam DP-008, and publishing movie after movie, I finally have the final copy of my new song, "One Ukulele," on YouTube. Special thanks to all the members of who posted pictures for me to use in the video, as well as to Jake Shimabukuro, Abe Lagrimas Jr., Brittni Paiva and Victoria Vox for the kind use of their images in the video. This has been a labor of love and I hope it serves as a fitting tribute to the beauty and positivity of the ukulele:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tiptoe Through the Tulips Redux

Well, this morning I got out my ukulele and my little Samsung video recorder and headed downtown Flint to my favorite location and recorded me a little dity I've been working on for the past few weeks now. Took a lot of takes to get to this one and I'm pretty proud of it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Peace Love and Ukulele - Seeing Jake

I had the pleasure once again last night to see Jake Shimabukuro play at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In addition to revised versions of his classics, like "Blue Roses Falling," "Five-Dollars Unleaded," and an all new head and finish for his famous "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" cover, Jake played some of his new songs including "1-4-3," which is pager- speak for "I love you," and "Go for Broke," which is dedicated to the Japanese Americans who served in World War II. The highlight of the evening, however, was his cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody." I saw him do it last year, and it was amazing, but now it has become a much more mature tribute that is less of a "Wow, he's doing this on ukulele," and more of a new anthem for the ukulele itself. I see this as becoming, like "...Weeps," one of Jake's signature pieces. No video of him doing at the Ark, of course, but here is an excerpt of the song from the upcoming documentary about Jake set to premiere in 2011.

After the show, Jake made himself available to meet and greet all of us who cared to. I and the group I went with got our picture taken with Jake and I also introduced myself as the person who interviewed him online last summer. Like last year, he was gracious and sincere.

The crowd, like all Jake crowds, represented a range of people from kids to people in their 70s and 80s, and, of course, a full compliment of Middle Aged Guys with Ukuleles, who seem to be the most fanatic about Jake. Seeing Jake is wonderful, but seeing him in such an intimate venue - the Ark only holds about 400 people and there is no such thing as a bad seat - is truly special. I hope Jake comes back next year; it's wonderful to see him and hear his music as it keeps evolving. Until that time, his new CD, "Peace Love Ukulele" comes out in January.

-Mike Kassel

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Odds and Ends #1

Just a few things that have been going on since my last post on the Boss OC-3 Super Octave pedal. I got to use the pedal in a live setting since then and was really happy with it. I could not capture the subtle bass it added though my video camera, but I could certainly hear it in the room, which happened to be for a gig at the Ypsilanti Songwriting Festival. I have a little video from the performance of my new song "Andi."

I was using a Danelectro Fab D-5 chorus in that gig as well, and at $15 it's a steal!

I have also started a new website,, which is hosted by which makes for some nice free sites, so if you are looking for a host you may want to check it out. I have my own domain, but you can get a free one with if you don't want to spend a dime while having a presence on the web.

On that site I also have a new blog, "Ukulele Player & Listener," which I am describing as the "Road & Track of Ukulele" and I have absolutely no idea what that means. I'll be using that to post videos that I find as opposed to longer articles, which I will save for here.

Working on a ton of stuff but my day-job keeps me to busy. I have a couple of videos I want to share from some of my Ukuleleunderground friends and I also have a review of Glen Rose's new book as well as a review of my new Accent clip-on tuner, which I absolutely love. I also have to get back with a couple of Ukulele artists who have already promised me interviews but who I have not had a chance to get back to - please forgive me.

Hopefully sooner than later,
Mike "Lamb Chop" Kassel

Monday, September 27, 2010

Going Low: The Boss OC-3 Super Octave

In addition to blogging, I record, sing and play out with my ukulele as a solo singer/songwriter. While I prefer ukulele to guitar, I do miss the rounder tone of an instrument with notes below middle C. Uncomfortable playing a low G, I did discover another way to introduce some bass into my sound – the Super Octave OC-3 octave pedal by Boss.

I am not a big fan of effects pedals, as I think they can be easily overused, but with a little restraint I’m able to get a pretty subtle bass effect with the OC-3.

Like all Boss pedals, the OC-3 is a well-made, all-metal stomper that runs on a 9-volt battery or optional AC power adapter. It has four knobs; furthest to the left is the direct knob, which allows you to determine the amount of original, unprocessed sound in the mix. The next knob controls the level of the tone one octave below the original. The knob furthest to the right sets the pedal to one of its three modes—Drive, Octave 2 and Polyphonic—while the knob to its immediate left controls the level of the particular mode setting.

The most useful mode for ukulele players is Polyphonic, as it allows chord playing without producing a muddy digital mess . When in poly mode, one can use the multi-purpose knob to select the range of original notes to be “doubled” one octave lower. When playing with a high-g, the range needs to be set at about the one or two o’clock to take effect. While the high-g and A strings are pretty much unaffected by this, the E and C—particularly the C—sound with the original and lower octave tones.

By setting the Octave 1 level knob to around nine o’clock and the direct to around Noon, I get a pretty nice, un-muddied bass accompaniment. It will also work with single note or arpeggio playing as well, but, again, will only be noticeable on the C and E strings.

Overall, the effect is subtle but pleasing and really rounds out the tone. Use modestly, the OC-3 gives the appearance that there is a bass player hiding in the wings. It would be cool to sample this with a low-G, as that would effect three of the four strings, although that might get a little too deep.

By the way, there is a direct output which allows you to run another effect, such as a chorus, on your unprocessed sound. You can then run the octave and other effects into separate inputs on a board or even two separate amps if you wanted. A nice touch that gives a little more control over where the effect comes in.

The OC-2 mode, which adds a tone two octaves lower than original (can you imagine using this with a bass?) is designed for single-note playing only. Indeed, playing chords or even two notes in anything but the poly mode makes for a harsh digital tone that is not at all musical. Playing single notes in the OC-2 mode can produce some cool sounds bordering on Chick Corea-like synth patches. Not something you would use everyday, but I am certainly planning on using that mode on the unison part of Corea’s classic, “Spain.”

While I have no use for drive mode, it does add a solo octave fuzz. Having sampled this with my electric guitar, the OC-3 in Drive does make for a decent distortion sound, and the poly mode can also make your six-string sound like a twelve. Amazing stuff.

The OC-3, which added the polyphonic mode to its already popular OC-2 pedal, has been around since 2004. It comes with a short but complete manual and is covered by a five-year warranty. Street price is about $119 and they go for around $50 to $70 used on Ebay (obviously holding a good deal of their value). The closest thing to the OC-3 is the Electro-Harmonix Micro POG, which not only does polyphony but also goes an octave above the original tone, but it costs over $200 new. The OC-3 has been reviewed well and while it is mainly used by guitarists and bass players, I am finding it does have its place for high-g players looking to go a little low.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interesting Article

I found this article on the web after I typed in "growing ukulele sales." Although it is New York based, I think it applies all around the world. Check it out from The Brooklynink.