I have now owned one for just over a month. Last night I played at a gig for the first time.
So, what have I learnt?
Those anti-anxiety tablets work. No stage fright.
There are some chords I can play and some I can't, but I'm already well beyond the "three-chord" level. And if I can't...?
If I can't manage the complex strum pattern, hit the main beat.
If I can't play the whole chord, do the top string only.
If I can't even do that, play "air uke" in time to the beat, and join in on the "main" chord for that song. I'll have plenty of time to get fingers in the right place if I skip the one before it.
If I can't do that much, keep singing
If I don't know the tune/words, the uke is a perfectly acceptable percussion instrument.
If I can't even do that much, silence is fine. The wrong note is not.
At practice, we sit down - in a gig, we stand. Given a duff ankle, this hurts. I need to work out what shoes to wear, and practice at home standing - the method of holding the uke is slightly different.
Noting what gadgets others use, and reading up afterwards, I'm getting a clamp-on electronic tuner. My perfect pitch isn't, so it helps to have something to get at least one string right when I'm playing with others, and at home, the phone app does the job nicely. But in a noisy room full of other ukes, it can't tell which one it's listening to. I've been round Amazon and Ebay, reading reviews, and the new tuner should arrive next week. Once I have one string in, I can do the rest by ear.
A strap, or not a strap? Most other people seem to use one, and there are lots of possible designs. So I did some reading up. It seems that quite a few don't actually let you go "hands-free" so as to clap. They help support the weight (what weight?) and help hold the uke away from your body, so you're not deadening the sound, but if you let go completely, the uke hits the floor.
The method of attaching strap to soundbox is either by a strap button (can also be the jack socket for an electric pickup), around the soundbox, or hooked into the sound hole. I don't have a button or jack socket, and anything on the sound box or sound hole will alter the tone. Also, the recommendation is that beginners should learn without a strap until they're completely confident like that. So, no strap.
Printing out every song in the gig list, in play order, with the chord charts for each one written on the sheet, helped no end!
OK, I didn't spend money on a strap, or on a new case ( very tempting, some of those). But there was this mug....
dit to add: one more thing. I have a duff ankle. Standing for the entire gig hurts - think carefully about what shoes to wear. Dancing, during the last number or two, is asking for trouble. Do not expect to be able to walk more than a few yards without a stick the next day. In any case, what's a beginner doing trying to play, and sing, and dance, all at once?
Ah, yes. Having fun. That's what I was doing!