Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Tango'd by a Tanglewood

If I keep taking deep breaths and panting, perhaps it'll go away, I don't NEED another ukulele. My little Samich Indonesian-built Greg Bennett UK50 is a sweetie.... lovely intonation, a warm pleasing sound, especially since I put Aquila "new nylgut" strings on. Low action... why would I want another wooden uke?

I've been to slow to realise that guitars, ukuleles and banjos produce different sorts and qualities of sound "timbres" - watching a concert, I'd be mystified, why a guitarist had two or three different instruments on stage with him - "What's wrong with just one?" I'd think. George Harrison always had his Gretsch, Paul McCartney his Hofner bass.....but now I know. A whole new world of sound has opened up to me, and I realise a Stratocaster does not sound like - well - anything else. And if a musician wants a particular guitar sound, they have a guitar to suit.

I have come to realise that all ukuleles do not sound the same... yes, dear reader, I was slow there. Of course, until recently I had only ever played the one - and I have no complaints about it, it's a great little ukulele, I know that for the price, it's particularly good quality. The trouble is, I went into a music shop a few months ago and picked up a couple of ukes - and heard a difference. So now I have an itch - to get a ukulele that's better. That's prettier, with a sound that's somehow superior.

So the research has started. Trip number one to a music shop, to explore the wonderful world of ukulele.

I think I played every concert and tenor size in the shop, and played them against my own ukulele, to compare. I had a blast. I'll return to that.

Now I'm not looking for a top-of-the-range ukulele - just the next step up, within a limited budget. The thing is I think I have been Tango'd...... in the UK there was a TV advert a few years ago for Tango, a fizzy, soft orange drink - so fizzy and full of flavour, (allegedly), that when you tasted it you got zapped - or "Tango'd" - and the bright orange bursts exploded all over the screen.

Well, there was a Tanglewood concert ukulele in their exotic wood range, in "mango" - or, according to the Tanglewood website, lacewood. And it is very bright - not actually what I had in mind - quite "orange" with a very unusual pattern in the grain. But the sound is beautiful. I find that the very bright sound of a spruce-top ukulele does not appeal; my little Greg Bennett is mahogany, with a voice at the opposite end of the spectrum to spruce - warm and full. I don't have the technical vocabulary to accurately describe the difference in the sound of the Tanglewood lacewood to my UK50 mahogany; I can only say that it is better - hence the higher price tag. (Still very moderate.) Perhaps it's that the Tanglewood has more definition and a more bell-like voice - rather like the difference between a bel-canto tenor, like Paverotti and any other tenor singer.

But it is beautiful, and I have the itch to possess it.

Here it is - the Tanglewood TU7 XM Lacewood concert ukulele

Deep breaths girl - and the itch will go away.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you, I hear you...If there is such a thing as the UAS (ukulele aquisition syndrome) bug, the little blighter bit me twice! I started of with a lovely little Lanikai soprano and fell head over heels in love with the ukulele! Chords were a little easier than the guitar, which I played for 25 years leading up to this, the sweet honey tones simply had me captivated. Then, my better half announced that she had ordered me an 'Oscar Schmidt' concert for valentines! Oh how I love her...Ah...The first thing I did was change the strings to a set of low G Aquila Nylguts. The sound was just beautiful and very different to my lanikai. Then I heard people talking about solid wood ukulele's and how amazing they sounded and there my next mission began. A few weeks ago I bought myself an Ohana Tenor, all solid mahogany with a cutaway and she is a stunner! So warm and mellow, with sustain for weeks! I also recently commissioned a luthier to build me something rather special (watch this space for a comprehensive documentation of the whole build)I don't give myself a hard time about it though. I do not drink or smoke and these instruments bring real joy into my life. So I say, why not?


HI! I hope you enjoy this blog and I'd love to hear your comments! But I know you'll forgive me if I read them over before I click the "publish" button! Thanks!