The Growing Shimo Ukulele Family

Over the years I have had the fortune to try out and play a huge number of ukuleles from all parts of the planet. I have lost track of the number of brands and types of ukulele I have played, but the Shimo ukuleles remain in my view the very best. 

I have known of Shimos work for a number of years after visiting the excellent Ukulele Mania Store and buying my first Shimo ukulele, The LAX. I actually have a record of this purchase on video below

Since then the Shimo ukulele family has grown to 7 members including the new ukulele resonator below

This is very different from any reso and any instrument I have played to date. As with all Shimos it plays brilliantly but is more sweet sounding and with more bass than any uke reso I have come across. It also looks terrific.

The other surprise purchase was the Simo ukulele “Mammy” which was built in 2008 and I spotted in  Tokyo store. I almost missed it as I had no plans to buy a second instrument on this visit, BUT this was too good to pass up. This is a concert and the first 2nd had Shimo I have come across.

It sounds terrific and Shimo was good enough to raise the action, so we can now hear the full sonic capability of the instrument. It also has a DTar pickup which I have only come across via Shimo and this makes for a brilliant plugged in sound. I suspect this will get some live use as well as being a great recording instrument along with my faithful Shimo Comet 3.

The Comet is one of the biggest investments I have made in an instrument, but I have recorded 30 tracks with it to date. All the Shimo ukuleles play brilliantly and sound fantastic. They are simply the best constructed and sounding instruments I have found. There can be a wait for custom builds, but in my view its well worth it!

Below is the “Mammy” concert.

I’ll be back in Japan in 2019 to speak at a major medical conference, so you can expect to see at least one more member of the Shimo family!

Is there such a thing as an expensive instrument?

On social media there are often threads about ukulele players and guitarists moaning about what they call “expensive instruments” I’ve even seen one reviewer state that any ukulele over “X amount” is expensive, totally missing the point that its all about context. Manitoba Hal, a seasoned performer  put it best stating

‘”I’m always surprised at people expecting great things from budget instruments. I always tell them to think how often you might play an instrument. A £1000 uke is pretty cheap when you think you’ll play it 200 to 300 times a year for 10 years at least. And of course most folks don’t need the £1000 uke. They can get a great serviceable instrument for £500.”

Bill Collings one of the very best builders

A few years ago I have the privilege of interviewing Bill Collings, one of the most respected builders on planet earth. I have never played any Collings instrument whether electric or acoustic that is not absolutely superb. He commented

 “You’ve got to care, you’ve got to say I’m going to make a uke that makes the difference, I’m not going to make one that’s going to be the 35 dollar uke! Then it would be craftsmanship of course and materials, the right materials, not too heavy, not too light, the right thicknesses, the right everything, the right finishes, playability, I mean everything making a uke great is what makes a guitar great. The problem is they’re smaller, so it’s hard to get all that work in. You can overbuild a uke really easy, you can under build a uke too”

I own a number of Bill’s instruments and they remain superb instruments as well as great investments. Collings no longer make ukuleles, so I am very pleased to have grabbed a few over the years.

Some of the instruments I truly love

Here are some of my favorite instruments I have purchased over the years. I have never regretted buying any of these instruments that have inspired some terrific songs


The term “expensive” is of course always a relative term. I have always been and remain a fan of buying the best instruments I can find and sometimes that means a price tag many won’t want to pay. That said, people spend thousands on cars and all manner of other objects, so its all about personal choice. One thing I am 100% convinced of is that a great instrument inspires playing. I thank all those builders who have dedicated time and energy to creating such instruments