There are lots of fun specialty shops along the Gulf coast. One of our great finds is the Ukulele Place. We discovered it tucked in behind the Breakfast Cottage in Nokomis.
The first time I tried the door the place was closed. But the webpage has a warning that the owners might well be out of town or even in a different country so it is best to call ahead. .
However, I was determined – and a return visit found the lights on and activity inside the showroom.
Once inside, I found a toy store of ukuleles. There were hundreds of them. I counted 15 brands in seven different sizes. There were 4, 5, 6, 8, and even 10-string models. I saw electrics, resonator-style and banjo ukes as well. There even was one in the shape of a Russian balalaika.
Owner Jeff Hanna, told me he actually customized each of the instruments. He lowers the action of every ukulele before it goes on sale. By making them easier to finger, his students are encouraged to keep playing.
And to us, it looked like he wanted to entice future ukulele players by keeping the prices low as well. The first thing we saw as we walked into the shop was a huge wall full of instruments on sale.
How to buy a Ukelele
To be honest, we never knew that there were so many variables in purchasing a ukulele. But Jeff does. I was fascinated to read his two part series on How to Buy a Ukulele which is located on his website.
Apparently, it is a process that involves finding out what is right for you. Decisions range from where you plan to play your uke (for fun or profit) to the kind of wood they used to construct the instrument. Jeff told me that there are at least 30 different wood types in his current collection.
There also is a wide range of prices. I saw models ranging from $45 to $400 and up. However, Jeff told me that a beginner could probably pick up a good performing instrument for somewhere between $45 and $150.
Learning to Play
Upon entering, I noticed a small semi-circle of chairs. That’s where students would come for class. Jeff still prefers face-to-face classes but due to the coronavirus, he told me that he was doing a lot of classes online.
You can find out more about the where and when of classes by signing up for his newsletter
The Rhythm Inlet
In addition to his ukuleles, Jeff has a full line of drums. He told us, that’s where his wife Barbara Gail comes in. She teaches the djembe drum and instructs women’s drum, dance and tambourine classes as well as children’s yoga instructionals.
The pair have twin websites. The Rythm Inlet can be found here.
The Joy of Music
I myself own a ukulele, and plan to revisit The Ukulele Place to have Jeff give it the once over and make any and all adjustments. And seeing as how we don’t live nearby I also plan to take a few lessons from him via computer.
If you are interested at all in musical instruments, I can recommend The Ukulele Place – and if you are a drum circle type, there’s plenty of percussion instruments at the Rhythm Inlet.