Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Ukuleles of "One Ukulele" #2: Beardco

Beardco of ukuleleunderground was the first member to respond to my call for stories about the ukes featured in One Ukulele. His Oceana Ukuleles custom made uke is even more special than I imagined, but I will let beardco tell the tale:

"In May of this year I was at the Seattle Folklife Festival & happened across Oceana Ukuleles, a relatively new luthier. My only knowledge of ukuleles was seeing Tiny Tim play in the '60's, but all of Oceana's uke's looked really nice so I had to stop in. The one I picked up looked great & sounded very guitarlike. Zac Steimle, the owner, was pretty patient with me and didn't even laugh at my questions. I thought it was such a great size guitar for my soon-to-be life in a campervan traveling around the U.S. & Europe, so I bought it on a lark. It wasn't until a few weeks later when surfing the internet for music that I understood I had stumbled onto a very popular instrument, and then I saw Jake's famous Youtube video. My respect for my impulse buy had just increased substantially.

"Zac spent several years in Ecuador working with a small-guitar luthier and recently came back home to the pacific northwest to make ukuleles full time. Mine was made in Ecuador completely by hand with no power tools. It is all Bolivian rosewood, a mahogany neck, balsamo fretboard, walnut binding, bone nut & saddle, and Gotoh closed gear tuners. The great part is that the mahogany neck came from a house in L.A. built in 1903. The wood was taken out of the house and put in dry storage for 40 years, and then shipped down to Ecuador for my tenor ukulele. Every time I pick it up, I smile at my 100 year old neck and think about the minor part I've played in that wood's life.

"How does it sound? I don't have anything to compare it to but, I was recently visiting someone with a cat that scratches and bites anyone that gets near her. I was playing a simple tune I learned from Ukulele Underground & the cat came out from under the sofa, laid down at my feet, and started purring. I'm taking that as a positive sign but, the cat IS a little crazy.

"I actually do own just one ukulele. For now."

One ukuelel is all it takes, especially when it's as special as this one. Beardco's beautiful Oceana appears at 2:45 in "One Ukulele."


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