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Not a uke!

Well, as someone who has always preferred the smaller ukes, and doesn’t have any budget for new instruments at the moment, this news may well surprise some of you. A week ago an option presented itself that I would have been a fool to miss: someone locally advertised something at such a low price that, even if it hadn’t been in a playable state or even complete, I would have snapped it up. My main interest, of course, is to play it, but I have had to get used to several things, but look at the pictures first:

As you may have worked out, that is big. And LOUD. Bigger and louder than anything I have ever had. It’s a 4 string tenor banjo. The headstock label (‘John Grey and Sons, London’) marks it of British (or possibly nearby Europe) manufacture, dating between 1928 and 1960. The decorations on it appear to date it to the end of that period. Currently strung with metal strings as DGBE (not unknown, but not one of the 2 most common tunings for the instrument), so it’s the same as a baritone uke (but bigger). So, I’ve had to get into metal strings (and NO, I have never used a pick and don’t think I’ll start), at least for the moment, and the idea of what I previously thought of as one chord being another one (the shapes and sequences are the same, just the actual key differs). And I had to use the traditional method of muting the volume slightly with a towel stuffed inside.

But I’ve not given up on the uke – it’s something new to add to the arsenal occasionally, and to give even more variety. I’ve only had it a week, and have tried out a few things and even uploaded a video to youtube already.

And a new lockdown is about to start – more time to practise, possibly, though I will still be working.


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