Hi, I’m on a social media break so I’ll only see comments here on the blog and not on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. If there is a question or comment that you want me to see right away, the blog is the place to do it. I’m back to Social Media (maybe) on November 20th. Ta!
You may or may not know that almost 4 years ago, I bought a uke on a spur of the moment decision and I had no regrets other than I wished I’d researched a little more. Judy is an “all mahogany” uke with a gloss coating.. meaning she’s a laminate uke made out of mahogany and she’s got a big old layer or lacquer on top.
But I love her and she was affordable and just in my price point at the time. She’s beautiful to look at and I’ve never seen anyone else playing one like her. Honestly, sometimes you just have to go with your gut, am I right? Sure.
Here is a slightly abbreviated video of me playing Judy.. I have a few mistakes… well, lets call them “flavor”… and you can hear my friend humming along as he tapes this. I love that.
I’ve been playing Judy off and on for a while and I decided I wanted to upgrade my uke. As my teacher Ron says, you should really have one of each size (I like how he thinks), and I’ve been wanting a uke with a more mellow sounds. Judy is great, but she’s a little sharp when it comes to tone. I even put new strings on her just to see if that would chill her out a bit. It didn’t.
So, I was going to do it “right” this time. I researched tonewoods and sizes and was pretty convinced I was going to get the Tiny Tenor from Romero Creations. This is not an inexpensive uke. It’s not going to break the bank but I was looking at $500 for the solid mahogany and I wouldn’t be able to play her before purchase. And then I thought, if I was going to go for the $500 uke, I might as well go all the way and get the solid Koa which is basically the same price as two of my car payments (ouch). Someone in my uke class has the spruce top version and she loves it. I loved the idea of a Low G string and a softer tone.
On Tuesday, when I was talking with Ron about getting a new uke, he said, really the best thing is to just play a ton of them until you find the one you like.. and hinted that I should drive to Michigan to visit Elderly Instruments to play a bunch. (I remember my Dad talking about Elderly instruments when l was a kid and I know they have an excellent reputation.. but .. that’s a nine hour drive!)
Wednesday, a little voice in the back of my head suggested that maybe I’d want to wander over to the music store on my lunch and just play some ukes “for fun”. I ignored that voice, mostly because the last time I was in there, this saleswoman annoyed me.
I had been looking for an all plastic uke to keep in my car, you know.. for traffic jams and long stop lights, like you do… and she did not listen to me and tried to hand me every solid wood uke in the place and did that annoying thing of playing an instrument and nodding at me while I’m trying to get it through her head that no, I was looking for all plastic.. like a Waterman or a Ukadelic.
Not much annoys me more than a salesperson who doesn’t listen.
So I really didn’t want to go back there.
Thursday afternoon, the little voice says “hey! maybe today is a good day to .. ” and I shut that voice down. I was NOT going to go buy another off the rack uke. I was going to do it “right”.
Friday, true to form.. ugh.. ok FINE. If I’ve learned anything from all of the intuitive work that I’ve done it’s that if you don’t listen to the quiet voice, eventually that bitch gets loud and starts smacking you around… so fine. I’ll go. But I’m not buying anything.
Unfortunately, the same saleswoman was there (ugh) and she did the same damn thing.. and I ignored her. I just picked up some ukes and played them and put them down and told her I was just “window shopping” and she kept talking and talking and talking and did the whole annoying schpeel (the same one.. do you have a uke now? How long have you been playing? blah blah blah) and I know she’s doing her job but I’m one of those people who just .. ugh. Let me look uninterrupted, ok?
I’m on my last two minutes before I have to head back to work (I literally have 10 minutes to play after driving over there) and then.. I see her. This GORGEOUS UKE… I had never seen a tonewood like this.. ever!
I.. picked her up and I had to have her.. NO… NOPE NOPE NOPE… we are not buying another uke because it’s pretty.. it needs to sound good! Besides, it’s a concert size.. Judy is a concert size. I don’t need another concert size uke.
But I played her a bit. and she felt so RIGHT in my hands. I peeked inside at the model number… and stuck it in the back of my head. I shouted to the now missing saleswoman (who evidently, finally got tired of being ignored and I said “Excuse me, do you know what this uke is made out of?” She shouts back “Spalted Maple!”
That is not spalted maple. I’ve SEEN spalted maple and this is not it. Now, encouraged by my question, she’s practically running over to me and starts telling me all about this uke and blah blah blah but I’m not listening because I know she’s already told me something incorrect.
I put the pretty uke back, say thank you to the saleswoman and go back to work.
And I couldn’t stop thinking about her. While I was waiting for my computer to do it’s thing, I researched the model number. That wood was Olive Ash Burl and it is stunning.
I went home, told LB all about it and said that after we run our errands on Saturday, I wanted to go play that uke again. So, off we went Saturday morning… but before we left, I jammed out on Judy. Really got the sound of her in my ears.
It was a completely different experience in the store.
I walked right over to the uke I wanted and a salesman peeks around at me and says “That’s a Luna made out of Olive Ash. Relatively new model There’s a seat right there if you’d like to sit down and play it”.. and then he wanders away with his coffee.
The dude let the instrument sell itself.
I took my time, tuned her up, and then played the same stuff I played on Judy at home.
Holy Gods, she sounded amazing.
I think you know where this is going.
The salesman comes back after I’d been playing for about 10 minutes and says “So, what did you think?”. I’m practically drooling in the chair. But I played it cool… he offered to throw in a gig bag at half price, because it didn’t come with one (and it should have).
Friends, I’m so ridiculoulsy happy with this uke. She’s a solid wood uke and has a moon theme going on.. (she’s made by Luna Ukes.. but they don’t all have this). She’s sweet, resonate and mellow but still perky.. kind of like me (har har)
Here she is. She needs a name.. and I kinda want to name her Hina-i-ka-malama, but I feel weird about it because I worry about the internet being wrong about translations and sacred mythology and I’m not sure I would pronounce it correctly.
I’ll post some video of me playing her at some point.. after some practice … on a day when I feel like putting on a bra. But right now, I’m off to sew a strap for her.
Isn’t she lovely? Gosh, I’m so glad I listened to that little voice in my head. As for a tenor, I’m going to go with an inexpensive laminate. Luna makes one with Honu around the sound hole although I’m not seeing it on their website right now.. but Amazon has it so I’ll have it on my wishlist. If and when the time is right, I’ll pick it up. But for now, I’m happily jamming on this pretty little thing.