My first encounter with a ukulele occurred over a year ago. My friend and work colleague, Jeremy, brought one to work after his wedding in Hawaii. Whilst he strummed away over the following months, I never thought much about trying it out myself, even though I appreciated his own child friendly compositions. In fact, I cannot remember when my own interest was aroused, only that I started playing properly three or four months ago on another, worse quality, ukulele that Jeremy had been given.
The more I played, the more I enjoyed the sound that a uke could produce. It also had the advantage of size, being much easier to play than a guitar in the presence of children, and being easier to transport. The additional benefit of a smaller fretboard and fewer strings to control also gave me the illusion of being more adept at playing a stringed instrument. I could knock out chords on a guitar, but had more trouble producing a decent sound, especially with some of the harder finger configurations.
About a month ago I started seriously considering buying my own ukulele. I was becoming good enough, enjoying it immensely, and tiring of the bad quality uke I was using at school. One of the tuner screws had threaded, meaning that the particular string in question would constantly go out of tune.
After some research, I found a model which was rated by other players, and fitted my budget of one thousand crowns. I deliberated a couple of weeks, whilst finding a shop in Stockholm that stated it stocked just the model I was after, a Lanikai LU21. I decided to take the plunge and visit the shop today, with the intention of purchasing one such uke, providing it played, sounded and felt right.
On arrival, I immediately found what I thought was the model I was after, and politely asked if I could try it. As soon as I held it, it felt right. I strummed out a few songs I had learnt, and the sound produced was sweet. I expected it, of course, but having been used to a uke that cost a quarter of the price of the Lanikai, it was none the less impressive.
Just to make sure, I tried a couple of other models, one of which was similar to the one I had just played, and also a Lanikai. When I started to play, it seemed familiar. On closer inspection, I noticed that this model I had in my hands was, in fact, the LU21, and was much closer in every aspect to my school uke than the previous uke I had just tested. It was then I realised what had happened.
There are different sizes of ukuleles. The one that Jeremy and I have at school is the smallest, called a soprano. The first uke I picked up in the shop was an LU21C, the “C” standing for “concert”, which is the next size up in the range. My lack of knowledge of ukuleles made me somewhat bewildered, not knowing the implications of finding a different size than had previously been intended. Whatever the implications may be, I knew that I had found what I was looking for, so I made my way coyly to the lady behind the counter to make a purchase.
It turned out that the display uke was the only one the shop had in stock, and I was offered it for eight hundred crowns, which I accepted without problem. I walked away a very happy customer, and look forward to a future as a casual ukulele player, thanks to Jeremy.