I've been messing around with the Lanikai baritone. It would be premature to offer any opinions at this point since the strings are still stretching out, but the one thing I can definitely discuss is the fretboard. It has some friction to it. To the touch it is smooth as silk but when you bend a string, you can feel a slight scratchiness and it makes a sawing sound.
I don't think it is a quality issue; it seems to be more of a choice. My Cordoba is smooth as glass with no sound. My Kamaka has the friction but no sound.
At first, I wonder why the hell would anyone make a fretboard other than glassy smooth. However I am intelligent and realize I don't know more than the guild of luthiers and their millennium of collected expertise. They must have their reasons. If nothing else it could be just an aesthetic choice or a choice that gives acknowledgement to the ideology of "naturalness."
Other than that, the baritone seems to play well...except it doesn't know me yet and is a little intolerant of mistakes. I seem to get a buzz if I don't fret a note with authority.
I have to make an admission. At this point I do not intend to learn the baritone and make use of its abilities; I plan on just playing it like a tenor and playing in keys other than I think I am playing.
This is an update because when you commit thoughts to writing it becomes more real.
I am fairly happy with my progress, but that also means that I am fairly unhappy as well.
Of course, this doesn't really apply to the right hand. I'm not adept at travis picking or clawhammer, and my rhythm is highly questionable. However, those lifetime goals which aren't even on the horizon of possibilities.
My main beef is with some deficits in more everyday playing. I still don't like my speed at changing chords. I think a reasonable goal is being able to change chords at a quarter note speed. Obviously not all quarter notes are the same given different tempos, but you know what I mean. I would like to be able to change chords on a given beat.
I am also not satisfied with my knowledge of the fretboard. I have been playing instruments since the 80's. With a flute, for example, if I was just wanking around and someone yelled, "Stop! what was that note you just played?" I could answer 100% of the time. Not so with the ukulele. I mean, I know my shapes and I can, for instance, play a Dorian mode. Chances are I don't know what key I'm in. I kind of just play where I want on the fretboard. Even if I make a deliberate decision to start on the 4th fret and know that I am therefore in B, if someone stopped me somewhere in the midst of the mode and asked what note I just fretted...I wouldn't know. I could ascertain that information by counting up from the nut or by looking at a dotted fret...but I don't know.
If I don't change, I will get to my goals over time, but who wants that. Who wants to be an octogenarian who has it all? I need to get more focused to get results sooner.
For the chords, it is easy. I just need to practice more, especially with the metronome. That will have the added benefit of helping my timing, which is holding me back in other areas like improvising and phrasing.
For the fretboard I suppose I need to be more mindful of what I am doing. Perhaps even saying aloud what I'm playing to reinforce it. Maybe playing a different mode everyday to change things up. For example, aside from the modes I also have a collection of scales that I copied from the website of a Swedish heavy metal band. They have a lot of ethnic names like Chinese, Japanese, Egyptian, Gypsy. I don't know if they are actually music from these ethnicities or just some kind of vague stereotype of what Chinese music sounds like. They do have odd intervals and that could add some variety.
I think the key concept here will be focusing and consistency. But that was two key concepts; I am already losing focus.
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