Thursday, May 21, 2009

This and that

Well, it's been pretty quiet here this month. Coming off a record 21 posts in April, I've made one post here in May so far. I was away on a couple of trips earlier this month, and had been recovering from a little bit of jet lag last week. Of course, the real reason I haven't been posting is due to laziness. :p But with summer coming up, it'll probably be a little slow in the ghetto, much like last summer. I guess we'll see. Do check back once in a while as I do have plans to post videos and reviews here.

I think I may have found a cure for my UAS! Unfortunately it might be in the form of an even more expensive hobby. On the Taiwan trip I bought a Swiss made mechanical watch and I've been inflicted with a bit of "WAS" (as far as I know there isn't an equivalent term to UAS, but it's pretty much the same thing). I've been checking out a lot of Chinese made mechanical watches (I'm talking about non-counterfeit Chinese brand stuff. I didn't even know they existed a few weeks ago.) after reading a lot about mechanical watches on the 'net. Getting a Swiss made watch then looking into the Chinese made stuff is a lot like buying a William King ukulele then looking into Kala and Ohana stuff, but that's precisely what I've been doing with ukuleles anyway. LOL! I guess rather than saying that I might have cured UAS, it's more like I may have switched my "AS"...

Anyway, since catching the mechanical watch bug, I haven not looked at ukes that much on ebay or the various market places. But before you think I've lost interest in ukes, know that lately I've probably played the ukulele as much or more than usual, so it has only affected the "acquisition" aspect of my ukulele life.

Since returning from Taiwan, where I brought my Collings concert along, I've been almost exclusively playing the William King ebony concert. I'm really enjoying this ukulele and would have to say it's my favorite right now. I will say that in terms of sound, I might prefer a few of the tenors more just because they are louder, punchier, etc. But in terms of looks, playability, complexity and clarity of sound, and playing feel, the King concert is pretty hard to beat right now as a total package. Maybe another reason I've not looked around for ukes lately is because I realized that I haven't even spent much time playing many of my other great ukes (again, almost all playing time has gone to the King concert) so I'm not finding much motivation to look into getting more ukes. Yes, I know UAS can and probably will bite again, but hopefully not for a while as I pursue my other "AS". :P

So what have I been playing? I've been trying to learn "Piano Forte". It's a song from Jake Shimabukuro's "Live" CD. It's a nice little song that requires some pretty big finger stretches. Even on a concert uke it makes me stretch pretty close to my limit. On the King LS-tenor, I have to stretch past my limit to play it. I've been practicing mostly on the King LS-concert, and have it mostly down but not very smooth yet. Hopefully I can post a video of it soon.

As always, thanks for checking out this blog and have a great summer!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Where no Collings (uke) has gone before...

...At least that what I think. This week I'm in Taiwan visiting some family and decided to bring the new Collings ukulele with me during the short trip. The picture you see is the Collings uke with Taipei 101 in the background. Taipei 101 was the tallest structure in the world when it was built (I'm not sure if that's still the case) and some serious engineering needed to be done on it since Taiwan is in an active earthquake zone.

The ukulele is pretty much an unknown instrument in Taiwan. I don't even know what its name in Chinese is (or if it even has a Chinese name). I know there are some ghetto (i.e. bad quality) inlaid ukes being sold on ebay that are made in Taiwan, but I'm willing to bet that 10 out of 10 people you run into on the streets couldn't tell you what a ukulele is around here. Being introduced into the market very recently, I'm guessing this is the only Collings ukulele that has ever set..(foot? heel? butt?)...onto Taiwan. But then again, stranger things has happened, so maybe, maybe not.

Having spent a little more time with the Collings UC-1 now, I'm continued to be impressed with it. I've had to adjust to the narrower nut width (I prefer 1.5", Collings is 1-3/8") and the 12-fret joined neck (only other 12-fret join ukes I have are sopranos), but the sound is excellent. I love loud ukes and this one definitely has that covered. It also offers very nice feel and vibration feedback that is similar to some of the custom ukes I have. I've been spoiled by the as-low-as possible action on the William King concert and Kepasa Gypsy Rose, so the Collings doesn't feel quite as low as it probably is. But it's still very easy to play and I have not encountered any action related difficulties with it so far. All in all, I'm still very happy with it and it makes a hell of a travel uke.

Which uke should I bring on my next trip to Oahu???

What's the maximum you'd spend on a ukulele case for your best uke?

If you could steal one of my ukes, which one would it be???

How curly do you like your koa? (preferably on a uke)

What's the maximum number of ukes a perfectly sane person should have???

Poll: How often do you play the ukulele???

Poll: Which guitar company's approach to ukes do you prefer???

Poll: What's your favorite type of headstock???

Poll: The new basic Collings concert uke (UC-1) sells for about $1k, your reaction is: