Monday, March 22, 2010

By the way

Click on the picture for a look at the detail that goes into a Style O Deluxe. Why is God so good to me?

I'm feeling pretty good but I'm finding that taking care of myself is pretty demanding. My travel plans are starting to seem over ambitious. I spent two days away from home last week and damn near starved to death trying to stick to my food plan. I'm staying home and cooking for myself for a while. I'm still going to try to make it to the So Cal desert next month (Todd?). I'm hoping to make it to Seattle to pick up a banjo uke from Jere Canote in May (Mike?) and I might even make it to Indiana for the Ukulele World Congress in Needmore in June. (Anyone in Bloomington?)

In truly weird uke news, I was checking craigslist last week while having my coffee. There was a posting for a National Style O Deluxe resonator ukulele. I know I said I liked my Republic resonator better than the National I tried, but I was curious. It's hard to imagine a classier resonator uke than a style O. So I called the guy and he was asking less than half of list price. He said the ukulele was almost unplayed and in mint condition. The big hook was that he was just a couple of miles down the road.

So I saddled up the elderly Volvo and headed over to see what turned out to be, as advertised, an almost brand new Style O Deluxe.

I played it a little bit and it was apparent that it is more ukulele than I need. I'm just not that good, although I am enthusiastic. The seller turned out to be a pretty good player and he ended up letting me fart around with the uke while he got out some other ukes and gave me some tips to improve my playing.

After a while, it began to dawn on me that I would never see another Style O at that price again. I would spend the rest of my days going, "I coulda hadda Style O for cheap, but I felt that I was unworthy". It also dawned on me that I would probably never again find myself with a little bit of cash to call my own and a Style O at the same time. As to the quality of my playing, well, that's what practice is for. The Style O is sitting across from me in all it's nickel plated glory.

Much as I've loved it, The Republic resonator is for sale. Or not. There's a lot to be said for owning too many ukuleles. I mean, God forbid, what if the world ukulele supply suddenly ran out?

And you know what I did the next day? I went to Oakland and took my first ukulele lesson from the great Tippy Canoe. I think I've gotten as far as I can with the self taught thing. I need someone to correct my mistakes and push me in new directions. Tippy turns out to be, among other things, a great listener. She heard me play, she listened to what I hoped to achieve and she gave me a push in a good direction. She's got me working my way further up the neck, playing chords in more positions, and she's got me working on playing with others. I think we also had a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to going back soon. What fun!

By the way, Tippy is teaching at Acme House of Music. I was curious about Acme, I pictured a hipster haven, done up in Nuevo Retro style. I couldn't have been more wrong. Acme is a truly ratty old music store, littered with weird musical junk that, on closer examination, all turns out to be unbelievably cool. The store was recently bought by a younger couple, but the original owner is still enthroned and holding forth. I liked hanging out there. I got there early by accident the first time, next time I'll get there early on purpose. There's a good coffee shop across the street. I'm looking forward to a nice cup of coffee on Acme's sofa.


ib said...

Well, alright.

Seems like a far better investment than many I can think of. While my appreciation of ukuleles is more than one hand removed, I will certainly not deny the Style O Deluxe is an instrument of rare beauty.

If it plays only half as good as it looks it can only yield a very solid return. And what's more. So far as retirement gifts go, it sure as hell bets a gold watch or carriage clock.

Good luck too at the Acme School of Music. Sounds like a fairly well rounded plan, bro.

Anonymous said...


that is most excellent news...i am rejoicing with you...i love kick ass deals and i love when my friends get them too...

tentative plans for me going to high desert (apple valley) may be in late April/Early May...

i will follow up via e-mail if i'm able to do this...

again congratulations,

mwhybark said...

you're welcome any time, Jon.

@eloh said...

This is all good news.

Birdsong said...

Shiny, happy ukulele.

When I was deliberating putting down $2500.00 on my Santa Cruz guitar nearly 20 years ago, I said to myself "I'm not worthy," but that passed. A fine instrument inspires you to reach higher and play better.

I'm so happy for you.

RossK said...

Tippy Freaking Canoe?!

Fantastic Jon.

And just so you know, Pike Place Market on the Seattle Waterfront is only three long right turns from our house.



sfmike said...

Congratulations on surviving into retirement before dying or going mad. And the Style O Deluxe ukelele was probably the second best decision you've made recently. So nice to hear it. Also, your previous travel itinerary struck me as insanely overambitious. Baby steps, dude, and this is from somebody who's never met you. Hope to see you playing ukelele in public somebody so I can take photos and write some of your story.

Jon said...

Mike, really good to hear from you. As to the travel plans. I used to be a truly hardy wanderer. As recently as 15 years ago, I might have pulled that plan off. I had rest days planned in and I would have been sleeping in a bed almost every night. I kinda forgot how hard the last 15 years have been. Given my history of wandering around North America with very little sleep, money or decent food it seemed doable. Unfortunately, all that, like so much else, is behind me.
Mike, given the fact that we've still got friends in common, I'd still like to meet you socially sometime.

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