Ukulele Workshop in London with Manitoba Hal

Canadian Ukulele Blues Star Manitoba Hal joins us for a Ukulele Workshop

I am really chuffed to announce a workshop with the inimitable Canadian blues ukulele player, Manitoba Hal, primarily for our alumni students, but, since Hal only has 1 London workshop date, we’re happy to share him! Places are very limited, so book here if you want to join the fun.

As most of you will know, Hal is a tour de force. He banishes plinky plonky hula ukey in favour of accomplished blues riffs. The video below was Ukulele Hunt’s video of the year 2010.  It really is something to see and hear. Hell, don’t take my word for it. Listen to it for yourself:

Here’s his official blurb:

Manitoba Hal is one of Canada’s most well known ukulele players. He is also an accomplished guitarist and songwriter. Hal proves that the uke can be small but mighty as he pulls out powerful blues riffs and melodies.

Hal uses a looping technology to produce a one-man-band experience, adding subtle but important background beats to his extraordinary ukulele strumming and riffing. Many wouldn’t associate the ukulele as a blues instrument, but Hal takes out all the hula, leaving only room for deep blues to prevail. After his grandfather gave him a uke in ’95, Hal found that it transferred easily from his blues guitar style, complimenting his combination of finger picking and strumming, and gospel vocal style.


Hal will be performing for workshop attendees after the workshop, so come down and share a burger with us beforehand and stick around afterwards. You won’t regret it!

Hal’s UK tour is being organised by the lovely people behind the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival. You can see more information here. (Thank you also for the tour poster, designed by Shelley Rickey

Want to come along? Grab your ticket here, whilst stocks last! [this event was in the past]

What is that Ukulele in the Canary Islands?

Canarian Ukulele? Yes! The Timple from the Canary Islands

International ukuleles, (well, not actually ukuleles in many cases, if we’re being really honest) come in all different shapes and sizes. The Timple, from the Canary Islands (sometimes known as the Tiple, as the instrument of this name is known as in Argentina, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Menorca, Peru and Uruguay) is one of them. It has 5 strings rather than 4, and they are tuned to the notes G-C-E-A-D. If you were to ignore the top string that is tuned to a D, you’d have a ukulele. That’s the way that many of the young Timple Players in the Canary Islands do it these days, apparently, though the traditional 5 string players frown upon this type of behaviour, as it is ‘considered less traditional’. As wikipedia puts it:

The timple is a traditional Spanish 5-string plucked string instrument of the Canary Islands.

In La Palma island and in the north of the island of Tenerife, many timple players omit the fifth (D) string, in order to play the timple as a four-string ukulele, though this is considered less traditional by players and advocates of the five-string version. The players of the four-string style, in return, say that they are simply playing the timple in the old-fashioned way from before the time when a fifth string was introduced in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The common tuning is GCEAD.

Timple players (timplistas) of note are Benito Cabrera from Lanzarote, José Antonio Ramos and Totoyo Millares from Gran Canaria, and Pedro Izquierdo from Tenerife.

If you listen to the timplistas above, you’ll hear that some people play them like a classical guitar, or like a classical guitar mixed with a Spanish guitar, or simply like a Spanish guitar, and others play their Timples like ukuleles. It seems the Canarian cousin of the ukulele, the Timple has very distinct similarities, as we all know, the uke sounds very different depending upon who’s hands it ends up in.

I first came across the timple in 2010 because of Bossarocker, Lou Armer, who came over to Tenerife to see me, and had done her homework on their local instruments. This peaked my interest and I’ve been back a few times bugging the local music shops by tinkering around with their instruments. We toyed with the idea of buying one back in 2010, but we didn’t dive in. I’m now wondering whether I made a mistake, as I’d be a lot further along with my Timple playing than I am now. Ah well.

Here’s some skilled Timple players that I found on YouTube for you to feast your eyes on. (If you wait for video number 2, try not to compare them to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

Here’s how it should be done:

Want to learn how to play Timple yourself? (In Spanish) Go here.

Or, if you fancy learning how to play the Ukulele in pubs in London. Come to us!