I have come to discover that ukuleles are a bit like potato chips – you can’t have just one! When I retired I planned on doing some new things. Through a bit of serendipity, I became the upright bass player for the Front Porch Folk. I loved playing the bass, but soon realized it wasn’t much of a solo instrument that I could sit and play in the evening. My adult daughter had mentioned how she would like to learn to play the ukulele, so I decided to buy her one and thought I’d get myself a baritone ukulele (ukulele #1).
Soon afterwards my daughter mentioned there was going to be a ukulele workshop in Erie where you got a soprano ukulele with the price of the workshop, so I signed up (ukulele #2).
A friend had a banjolele that I thought sounded so unique but I knew I couldn’t justify the $500 to get myself one. I searched the Internet looking for a less expensive one, and found one for under $100. I just couldn’t resist getting it (ukulele #3).
My husband thought he’d surprise me with a new instrument for my birthday and got me a mandolin. What he didn’t realize was I had become a ukulele addict! I sent the mandolin back and exchanged it for a concert ukulele (ukulele # 4).
I was shopping in Erie one day and saw a ukulele on a sale rack for 70% off. It wasn’t the greatest of quality, but this would be perfect for my two year old granddaughter – you’re never too young to love the ukulele (ukulele #5).
I was now actively searching eBay for ukuleles, they came in all different sizes, shapes and colors. I found an 8-string ukulele with dolphin cut out sound holes. I didn’t have an 8-string ukulele so I bid on it, and won (ukulele #6).
Other than playing ukuleles together with UkeLadies and Gents, a group of us occasionally drive up to Edinboro to the N.W. PA Ukuleles. One night when we went up I noticed a woman with a bass ukulele. I knew I had to have one. After searching the Internet for one, I discovered they were between $400 and $500 – more than I was willing to pay. Since Linda Henderson was making cigar box ukuleles, I asked her if she thought she could make a cigar box bass ukulele for less – she could (ukulele #7)!
I didn’t have a tenor ukulele yet so I started looking. I found a resonator ukulele I really liked, only to discover that most companies only made the concert size not the tenor size. I didn’t let that deter me. I searched the Internet and found a music store in California that had a tenor sized one. I could have waited until Christmas and have my husband get it for me, but I had to have it NOW (ukulele #8)!
You have to understand, I bought my first ukulele in 2012 – it is only 2014 and I now have eight ukuleles! I should also mention that my daughter has now acquired two more ukuleles and she bought a ukulele for her niece and nephew. He liked playing the ukulele so much I bought a flying-vee ukulele for him too. I just can’t stop buying ukuleles for others or collecting ukuleles for myself! Do I still look online or check catalogs for ukuleles? YES! Lay’s may have coined the term, “betcha can’t eat just one” – but I swear you can’t just own one ukulele!
Written by Kathy Bartlett (3/30/14)