Twenty One Pilots have been topping charts for a few years now. The Blurryface performers are known for their catchy music and in-depth lyricism. If you have ever seen the group perform live, you may have seen lead member Tyler Joseph playing the ukulele.
Many people are intrigued by the fact that an alternative hip hop and electro pop group use a ukulele in their performances. However, the band certainly put on a great show using this humble instrument.
After seeing one of these performances, you might be wondering “What kind of ukulele does Tyler Joseph use?” Today we will be answering this question and examining how Tyler’s ukulele has shaped the band’s sound in live performances.
Who are Twenty One Pilots?
Twenty One Pilots are a genre-bending music group that has topped charts across the globe. They are known for creating songs that combine elements from various genres such as hip-hop, pop, rock, and reggae. This combination makes Twenty Pilots sound unique in the current music sphere.
The band’s primary lyricist is singer and musician Tyler Joseph. Tyler plays piano in the band’s compositions. He also raps on certain tracks and helps produce the group’s records.
One notable characteristic about Tyler is that he also plays the ukulele during the band’s live performances. You can watch and hear his ukulele-driven rendition of the band’s hit Stressed Out in this video.
As you can see, these ukulele performances give a band’s music a softer and more acoustic feel. Fans love seeing such performances, and you can find dozens of videos of people covering Twenty One Pilots’ songs on the ukulele on Youtube.
What Type of Ukulele Does Tyler Joseph Use?
So what type of ukulele does Tyler Joseph use? There is no single answer to this question because Joseph has been seen playing many different ukuleles over the course of his music career. This includes:
- Kala Hawaiian Tenor Cutaway Ukulele
- Luna High Tide Series Koa Concert Ukulele
- A custom Ukulele from Kala
Each of the three ukuleles mentioned above are unique in their own way. We will examine each one more closely in the next section.
Kala Hawaiian Tenor Cutaway Ukulele
Tyler can be seen using his tenor ukulele from the California-based manufacturer Kala in most of his live performances. Most ukuleles available on the market have a symmetrical shape, but Tyler’s Kala Hawaiian Tenor Cutaway Ukulele features a unique cutaway body shape. This makes it resemble a small acoustic guitar and also gives the artist easy access to the instrument’s higher frets.
This Ukulele is also made from Hawaiian Koa tonewood. This tonewood stands out for its warm and mellow tone, which is favored by many players.
The instrument also features a tuner. This tuner helps Tyler ensure his instrument is in tune before each performance. The advantage of having a built-in tuner is that you do not need to connect it to a separate tuning pedal, meaning you can tune the Ukulele quickly on-the-go.
The final standout feature on this Ukulele is a two band EQ. A two band EQ may seem somewhat basic compared to the three or four band EQs found on most electro acoustic guitars. However, it is important to note that ukulele strings have a pretty limited tonal range compared to guitars. This means it is possible to influence the instrument’s overall sound quite easily using a two band EQ for bass and treble control.
Luna High Tide Series Koa Concert Ukulele
Tyler’s other ukulele is Luna’s High Tide Series Concert Ukulele. This one is also made from Koa wood and features a cutaway body shape. The instrument features a mahogany neck and maple binding. Both of these characteristics give it a low profile with an elegant finish.
You may be wondering why Tyler chooses to play a Concert ukulele. After all, these ukuleles are less common than tenor ones. The answer is pretty straightforward.
Twenty One Pilots play many different types of music, so a Concert ukulele would be a great choice in areas where a Tenor ukulele falls short. The Concert ukulele offers better mid-range projection which helps it fit in with other instruments in performances, as opposed to the more-limited cutesy solo sound associated with Tenor ukuleles.
This ukulele also features an on-board preamp which allows Tyler to connect his instrument to the sound system at different performance venues. Listeners can hear this ukulele crystal clear and without the need for a microphone during live performances thanks to the preamp.
Kala Custom Made Ukulele
Tyler’s final ukulele is a custom-made one from Kala. Tyler is rarely seen using this ukulele for live performances, as he clearly has a preference for the Kala Hawaiian Tenor Cutaway Ukulele.
Little is known about this ukulele. However, it appears to be made from high quality materials. It also features a cutaway body and a built-in preamp, meaning that it could be used for live performances. Kala has not made this ukulele commercially available for purchase so it is difficult to learn more about this instrument without seeing and playing it in-person.
Kala does make a similar ukulele called the Three Cord Strand Koa. This high-end ukulele retails for approximately $2,300 and features Purpleheart inlays and an Indian Rosewood fingerboard.
Can You Purchase Tyler’s Ukuleles?
Two of the ukuleles that Tyler uses are commercially produced. Their prices and customer first impressions are described below.
Hawaiian Koa Gloss Tenor Cutaway W/ EQ
The Hawaiian Koa Gloss Tenor Cutaway Ukulele retails for $439. Many reviews on Sweetwater.com praise the instrument for its loud and clear projection, even when unplugged. The instrument also produces great sustain thanks to its Koa tonewood.
People have also praised the instrument’s craftsmanship, stating that there are no visible scratches, gaps, or glue in the finished product.
Luna High Tide Koa Concert Acoustic/Electric Ukulele with Preamp
Tyler’s Luna Concert Ukulele retails for approximately $170, making it his more affordable ukulele. Amazon.com reviews for this instrument are mixed. Some customers have praised the ukulele for its beautiful sound and frets, with many stating that it is a good upgrade for any beginner ukulele player.
Other reviews are less forgiving, stating that the sound is poor and that the instrument goes out of tune easily. This instrument is certainly priced right, given that it is made from Koa wood and features an on-board preamp. Professional ukulele players may prefer to look into Tyler’s Hawaiian Koa Gloss Tenor Cutaway if they want that Twenty One PIlots sound along with a more versatile sounding ukulele.
As you can see, Tyler Joseph clearly has a passion for playing the ukulele. The young musician and songwriter has been using these instruments for many years and doesn’t seem interested in stopping any time soon. So consider picking up one of the ukuleles mentioned above if you want to cover Twenty One Pilots songs the authentic way.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.