The UkeBuddy (Ukulele Buddy) by ChordBuddy
About a month ago, Daniel Hulbert at Circuits and Strings (website and YouTube channel) posted about the UkeBuddy, a new product by Chord Buddy. ChordBuddy is a guitar learning product that helps you play chords through a device that you connect to the neck of the guitar, but over time, you remove parts of the device and learn to play on your own.
I am interested in devices that can be used for students with various disabilities to open up the world of ukulele playing to them, and I contacted the company and asked for a review unit, and they were happy to send it. At the time of writing this blog, the UkeBuddy is temporarily sold out and sells for $30.
The UkeBuddy is a step in that same direction for the ukulele. It is a device that you connect to the neck of a ukulele, but it only has buttons for two chords (F and G; three chords if you count the C chord), but it does not disassemble to help you learn those chords on your own.
The device is well made, with good sized buttons, and can be used on soprano, concert, or tenor ukuleles. It is easy to attach, and works as suggested. You are also given a book of songs to play (more about this in a moment) and there is a very basic but functional app for iOS and Android that gives you access to videos for all of the songs (as well as some other material). The song book is color coded to the UkeBuddy colors, as are the videos, and the song book is made up of various folk songs. I like that the traditional chord shapes are shown in addition to color, so that when you remove the UkeBuddy, you can still play the right chords based on a chord diagram.
I like the UkeBuddy, and I’d recommend it over another competitor’s product because of the quality of the device, the way it is flexible for three ukulele sizes, the size of the buttons, and the included materials (book and app). That said, there are things I’d love to see on the UkeBuddy 2.0 if it ever happens:
- I wish the chord colors aligned with one of the other existing color chord methods…whether Rainbow Ukulele, Kala Color Chord, of Judy Fjell’s system. We don’t need four ukulele color systems…and there are probably yet more systems (Bernadette Teaches Music? Ukulaliens?)
- The book (and video) include Am, in yellow. There is no longer a yellow sticker included, and there really isn’t room for your finger to play an Am Chord anyway.
- I’d love to see 4 buttons on the device so the tactile experience is the same on all four chords (C, F, G, Am), and so that 4 chord songs are opened to the player. Then, in theory, you could also capo the ukulele and move the UkeBuddy and play in different keys, too (until fret spacing became too tight to make the “G chord” up the neck).
- Finally, I’d love to make Ukulele Play Alongs for each of the tunes, if we could find high quality audio versions (or make versions) of the songs in the Key of C that went along with the method.
Again, I like devices that can open the ukulele as an instrument to more players. The UkeBuddy “fits the bill,” is fairly priced, and is a quality device that is going to last. Yes, I’d love to see some changes…but if you have small children, or know of people that need help to play basic chords, this is a great solution. My video review appears below.