11 January 2007

"To this day, if I ever meet grownups who play ukulele, I love 'em." - Paul McCartney

I used to have a Ukulele. I gave it to my sister. She threw it away.

I've been on the lookout for a decent replacement for years. I didn't want to pay a lot for a new "Rock and Roll mandolin" At the same time, I wanted a quality instrument, not just a piece of crap I'd eventually hurl across the room in a fit of frustration.

I have much envy for the Amoeba Ukulele:

But $179 for a ukulele? Not even if it was autographed by Cliff Edwards himself.

Well, okay. Maybe if autographed by ol' Ukulele Ike. He's part of the reason I bought a ukulele in the first place.

The second reason? I couldn't afford a mandolin. This was back when R.E.M. released "Losing my Religion," thus instigating a new wave of mandos in mainstream rock music.

The Ukulele is deceptively easy to play. Except that there's nothing deceptive about it.

I performed publicly with my ukulele within weeks of purchasing it: I performed a 1920s song entitle "I'll Never Get Drunk Anymore" for a speech class my sophomore year in high school. I was a new transfer student from the desolate plains of Wyoming, by way of North Little Rock. (Yep, I went to three different high schools that year. Thanks, Dad!) Although my performance netted me a "C" from the substitute teacher, it did serve as a sort of audition for a bundle of energy named J.C. Macek III who promptly ordered me to join the band he was starting up.

Maybe it was the fact that a ukulele has four strings, but Macek assigned me bass guitar duties in Glamourous Vagrancy [sic], a "progressive punk-thrash" band noted for it's Rocky Horror Picture Show cover tunes.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah. The ukulele. I was also inspired by Tiny Tim, having grown up on Johnny Carson.

Yikes. The late 70s - early 80s were far more forgiving of unattractive people. I mean, no offense to the late Tiny Tim, but ... woof.

So with sadness and longing in my heart, I have over the years scanned music stores for well-made, low-cost ukuleles. I've come up empty-handed for over a decade. I almost plopped $10 down on a piece of crap toy I found at a discount clothing store(!?) but better judgment overruled nostalgia, and I spent my money on a cup of coffee instead. Coffee: it warms the body and the heart!

So New Years eve, I talk Pamela into stopping by Sam Ash. (We like to go into the special acoustic guitar room, the one that's kept at a perfect temperature and humidity level, and play the most expensive guitars. I tell you, a $4,000 Martin & Co. guitar plays itself. Yum.) Browsing around, what should I find but a Carlo Robelli ukulele on sale for $19.99!

Yeah! I'll write it again in case you missed it and are too lazy to go back and read it again: $19.99! I was stunned. Pamela had to nudge me forward (I was standing on her foot) and politely ask an employee to mop up the pool of saliva I embarrassingly created.

I love Sam Ash, and I think the work they do with Carlo Robelli (i.e. making good, quality, affordable instruments) is to be commended. I scooped up a pretty little number, took it home, tuned it up, and played "I'll Never Get Drunk Anymore" for the first time in [censored] years!


No comments: