Baritone Uke Notes
© 2006 android originals LC

   For those of us with physical and/or psychiatric disabilities, it's a good thing to find some peace of mind. Making music can do that, providing a profound sense of relaxation. For these uses, the baritone ukelele, like the Hilo Model 2655 at the left, is both inexpensive and has distinct advantages.  You can get one for about $50. As a baritone ukelele, it covers part of the middle range of a six-string guitar. The strings are farther apart than those on a six-string guitar, making them easier to pick, pluck, and finger on the frets. I play them with my thumbs, and, although I don't play well, it's not as bad as you might think. Some of the original nylon strings can be replaced by metal strings, if one is careful not to put on too much tension and break the uke. Those strings are louder and will hold tune better.

   Bob Parker, at The Music Store in Tulsa where I bought it from him (August 2005), told me that using steel strings can break the instrument. But I was careful. In this case, I replaced the first three nylon strings, 1, 2 and 3 (numbered from the right). In that order, I used an Ernie Ball 11 plain steel, a GHS BB20 bright bronze wrapped 20 string, and an Ernie Ball 24 wound steel string. I used strings that, for the tuning, would deflect about 1/4 inch at the bottom of the neck. Change your strings at your own risk - I cannot guarantee that this will not damage your instrument.

I left string 4, an aluminum wrapped nylon string, in place. It does sound a bit less bright than the metal strings, but I was afraid of putting too much tension on the instrument. Later, I replaced it with an Ernie Ball Earthwood 80/20 allow 34 string. This uke is tuned C-E-G-C, which is a nice-sounding open chord on its own. Because I was having trouble with string rattling when I played, I put a couple of lengths of steel string under the bridge piece (white in the image below), including one 50 wound string, to raise the strings up at the bridge. I also moved the white dots, sticky plastic, around to fill the 3, 5, 7, and 9 frets. I used a piece of post-it (tm) note pad for the 12 fret (usually a double dot). As of November 2006, the post-it note fragment is still there.

   To that add a $10 guitar stand, a $20 chromatic tuner (already had one for the guitar), a $15 Hohner nylon gig bag, and an inexpensive sheet music stand (forgot how much it cost, $10 or less, and I already had it for the guitar). For the peace of mind it provides, that's money well spent.


© 2006 don baker dba android originals LC