12 Days of Awesomely Geeky Gifts: Give the Joy of a Ukulele

This ukulele is by Luna Guitars, which are made for women; I own one of their guitars, and covet this lovely little uke.

My geekdoms are far and wide, but one of my earliest past-times is music. I grew up the daughter of a guitar geek, trolling the aisles of Downtown Sounds in Northampton, MA and the Fretted Instrument Workshop in Amherst, MA, oogling the vintage amps and axes (a term we call “guitar gawking”). It’s in my blood, you might say, tempered in the New England chill. I started playing guitar around the age of twelve or so, and continue playing to this day. And until a few years ago, I found no greater joy in the world than rocking on out my guitar to They Might Be Giants and the Beatles.

But I’ll tell you, something happened when I picked up that first ukulele. It was a baritone, something inherited from my husband’s grandfather: A simple, 1950s style uke, easily tuned to the top highest notes on a guitar (so I could easily convert guitar chords to ukulele ones… a little hack to make the transition easier). Something simmered in my blood then, giving me a kind of happiness I haven’t experienced in a very long time. Playing the ukulele, I believe, is one of the most powerful anti-depressants on the planet. Just try playing “Here Comes the Sun” (penned by George Harrison, an avid ukulele lover) and feel sad. It just ain’t possible.

Ukuleles are remarkable little instruments, and particularly suited for people with smaller hands (GeekMoms and our geeklets). There are a variety of sizes and shapes, from vintage to modern, traditional and unusual. You can even make a cigar-box ukulele at home. Best of all? Even for the high end models, you aren’t going to have to shell out the kind of dough necessary for a real fancy guitar (still drooling over a lyptus Martin I played a few years ago, but didn’t have the nearly 2K needed to make the purchase). Amazon has a great selection, and our local Sam Ash has a ukulele alcove where I often visit. You know, to just commune with the ukes.

So if you’ve a musical geek in the family, you truly can’t go wrong with a ukulele. Young or old, or in between, it’s happiness in music form.

And if you need any more convincing, check out the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain in the video below.  This is their interpretation of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”.

Natania Barron is a Gryffindor, a Took, and a Greyjoy (mostly because of the squid).