Tuesday, 7 August 2012

World's Smallest Playable Ukulele? Will Grove-White demonstrates....

The soprano ukulele is a small instrument, it goes without saying. New players often buy a soprano and find it tricky to get their fingers round the chord shapes on the fingerboard. They think that it's going to be a permanent problem to them, and swiftly move on to one of the larger sizes, a concert or a tenor. But in truth, these fingering problems are pretty soon overcome with practice, and people who have thought the soprano to be a no-go area for them do find that when they return to that size, they can play it much more easily, after lots of practice with a larger fingerboard.

The soprano is the traditional size for the uke, and the late great Roy Smeck, "Wizard of the Strings" and arguably the best player ever, never played any other size, even though he did not possess slim fingers. Experienced players agree, it just takes time to get your fingers accustomed to the small fretboard.

Following a discussion on this very subject on the Ukulele Underground Forum, I saw this video, by Will Grove-White, one of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

Will writes:

"I have recently acquired this wonderful microscopic ukulele. I think it's meant to be a desk ornament or perhaps a fridge magnet. It is only just possible to play it. It is a miniature Tangi Ukulele. Thanks very much to Mike and pfrogner. If this tickles your fancy, you may like to hear more of my music at http://www.willgrovewhite.com/"

Well, it did tickle my fancy, and I followed the link, to read more. It just so happens that Will has a new CD out, called "Small Fry". Just click for the page.... you can listen to the new album there, and buy it if you like it! I liked it, and will be buying.

He writes: "It's a collection of my own tunes, played by a pocket orchestra. I used a menagerie of small-scale instruments for the recording of this album, from the Piccolo Trombone to the Sopranino Ukulele, so the listener is able to delight in both musical and dimensional scales. So why not put the album on your compact hi-fi, sit back in a tiny armchair, eat a mini-roll, and forget that you might want a bigger house."

I'm lucky enough to have seen the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain live, at the Albert Hall in London. It was the proms concert in 2009 where the audience were invited to bring their ukes along and join in - and I did. What a fabulous Ukafrolic that was!

And another story.

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