Look, I have a ukulele!

25 Jan

At the end of last year, my parents awarded me with a ukulele as a thank-you gift for being such a magnificent daughter. (Well, yes, it could have been a Christmas present, but not everybody thinks that way about the 25th of December, you know… where did you come from and why are you carrying binoculars?)

As the boisterous excitement surrounding this wonderful new present died down, however, we discovered – politely trying to hide our grimaces of displeasure with exclamations of “oh, look how nicely its colour compliments the inside of its box!” – that the poor little instrument had a very clumsy setup, and, as result, a very clumsy sound.

In guitarist’s terms, the nut and the saddle (the little white plastic bit in the bridge) were so high that the there was nearly a full tone’s difference between an open string and the same string held down on the first fret. “Nearly a full tone’s difference” also meant that there was no chance of the strings staying in tune both when open and when held down to form a chord. In short, poor Arnold (my ukulele) sounded permanently out of tune.

Luckily, my dad knew exactly what to do. We took Arnold apart and filed down the nut and the saddle until they were at a height contingent with tunefulness. This process also gave me the opportunity to file down any rough edges in the ukulele’s body.

To the amusement of my parents, I also decided to paint my ukulele, drawing all the imagery from Edward Lear’s poem, The Owl and the Pussycat, which my mum used to read to me when I was tiny.

Once the four layers of varnish were dry and the strings were back on, my friend David and I filmed a silly little Youtube cover to christen my new baby.

 

Ukuleles are wonderful little instruments, and despite the likely need of modification (which was actually a lot of fun), I’d say it’s well worth hunting all over Cape Town (as my parents did) to find one.

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5 Responses to “Look, I have a ukulele!”

  1. Henry 25 January 2012 at 12:22 PM #

    That…. Is so awesome.
    Take my money.

    • bagheadkelly 25 January 2012 at 7:00 PM #

      I aspire to be of ‘a height contingent with tunefulness’.

  2. Rémy, The Quill 25 January 2012 at 3:28 PM #

    Total envy on the ukelele! I want one. I am getting a harmonica – I have to teach myself how to play. But after that, it is straight to the ukelele.

    • Michelle Avenant 31 January 2012 at 6:13 PM #

      I love harmonicas! Pity is you kind of need a whole set to REALLY be able to use them… GREAT investment, tho 🙂

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