Monday, June 14, 2010

Moving to the Dark Side

Okay, the picture tells the story, sort of ...

My first instrument, back in Music-Art-Speech in 7th grade, was an ukulele. (The proper way to say this word, I am told, is not with a hard "u," as in "you," but a soft "ooh," so it's "ooh-kah-lay-lee." We learned to tune it with the "my-dog-has-fleas" standard tuning, i.e., G-C-E-A, from the fourth to the first string. I never owned one, we played them in class.

That is pretty much all I remember about it.

But the ubiquitous uke has made a comeback, and in the right hands, it will amaze you -- go listen to Jake Shimabukuro play Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Yeah, he's playing an instrument that cost more than my guitar, but still, if this doesn't amaze you, you have a tin ear.

Um. Anyway, the guitar gives me more than enough to worry about and I had no desire to get into the ukulele, but Saturday, we attended a fund-raising auction for my grandsons' school, and part of the silent auction was the instrument pictured above. I put a little bid on the sheet, passed by later and saw that somebody had upped it five bucks, so I shrugged it off. Hey, I offered.

My wife sneaked back when I wasn't looking and upped my bid another five bucks.

So I got it for about what you'd pay for it if you bought it from, a few bucks less than if I'd bought it in a shop. The money goes to a good cause. Took me about fifteen minutes to figure out Pachelbel's Canon in D with mostly first-position chords, and probably I can figure out how to make major and minors and slide them up the fretboard. Only has twelve frets and those frets are itty-bitty things, but I'm thinking maybe some down home blues might be fun.

Or maybe something like this:


Dojo Rat said...

If you go to a music store you can get a "low" g string, metal wound. It is still tuned to g but an octave lower I believe. It's way better for playing Blues etc. and you can even play scales easier.

Steve Perry said...

Oddly enough, while digging through my string collection, I found some ukulele's strings I got shipped by accident a couple years back. Couple of them are wound-G's, so that gives me the low note on 4. I replaced the others -- and since they are Aquila Nylgut, it already sounds way better. Or will once the new strings stretch out and it will hold the tuning.

Jonty said...

The best thing about the ukulele, in my opinion, is that you can play it in the drivers' seat of your car without rolling the window down.