Sunday, December 11, 2011

Banjo Uke (IW#35)

I have been wanting a banjo uke ever since I was in a jug band in the early Naughts.  Our washboard player Short Stride Clyde had one he got off of ebay and I have wanted one ever since.  Even though a lot of the tins I have used have technically been banjos, I have been wanting a real skin banjo uke.  I happened across this little tambourine and realized my time had come.

I feel a little weird taking apart one instrument to make another for this.  I have been having this struggle lately, thinking that maybe it would be better to buy cheap ukes on amazon or ebay and pull off the necks and use those for my diabolical purposes, but it is hard to see my way clear to ending the useful life of an instrument that has already been made.  So I have until now eschewed that line of reasoning.

But stretching a skin seems daunting, so I decided this little tambourine would be sacrificed to make my banjo uke.  It ended up being quite a nice little instrument, the neck being some more of that red oak that came from the church pews from a local church built in 1906.  The tail piece is the handle of a lovely silver fork from the flea market, it has some beautiful ornament.  Just a little fanciness. 

I am still learning how to play uke the way I want, and I have to admit, it is harder without frets.  Maybe in the new year I will break down and get some fret wire and start to try my hand at that.  Eesh.  Here's how it sounds:

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