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View Full Version : Culture clash between two ways of seeing music instruments



Lalz
04-08-2012, 02:40 PM
I got into an interesting discussion today with a musician after a slight disagreement about the environmental conditions under which we were playing together.

Here's the thing: I'm quite meticulous about how I handle my acoustic music instruments. I always store them in sturdy cases when not playing them (except for my kora as I don't have a case for it, but I rarely take it out of the house anyway), I make sure they don't get scratched and I don't expose them to water or excessive heat/cold or extreme dryness/humidity. I even use microfiber clothes to wipe fingerprints of my ukes after playing them. The reason I try to take good care of them is that it took me a long time and effort to find each of them, that I find them unique and optimal for me, that I've gotten used to their particularities, and that I'd like to keep in good condition for as long as possible, preferably for life so that my instruments and I get to grow old together (aren't I a big romantic :) )
This means I generally don't play them outdoors (English climate, you know...) but that limitation doesn't bother me. I generally prefer having good instruments that sound great rather than cheap ones I can bully around and play on the street but that sound so-so. But that's just me.

My friend on the other hand is a busker and prioritises playing instruments anywhere under any circumstances, whether it be under the rain or when walking on stilts. His philosophy is play the instrument until it breaks and then get a new one, regardless of how expensive the instrument is. Completely valid point of view... as long as he doesn't touch my ukuleles lol
He doesn't really get why there are circumstances under which I'd rather not play since instruments are made for being played. I don't really get how he can tear and toss instruments the way he does. In short: total culture clash; but we agreed to disagree on this: only play cheap instruments outdoors and keep the good ones for indoors. Phew!

Which makes me wonder: which philosophy do you subscribe to? Instruments as long-term friends you should take good care of vs. as disposable means to an end?

(The question applying mostly to more expensive instruments than the generic 5 pounds uke)

rpfrogner
04-08-2012, 02:57 PM
I tend to take your side on this one. I become "attached" to my instruments and take care with them. It is true they were meant to be played and enjoyed, but abused is another thing. It would likely be a good idea to have a "beater" for the times the elements come into play :)

Pondoro
04-08-2012, 03:09 PM
You two represent extremes that often play out in the question, "Should I get a travel uke?" One side says, "Yes" if you travel with a uke it is more likely to get smashed, stolen, lost or left in a cold or hot place. The other side says, "No", you'll never like the sound of your cheap travel uke as well as your good one. That debate pops up a lot.

uke4life
04-08-2012, 03:11 PM
I tend to take your side on this one. I become "attached" to my instruments and take care with them. It is true they were meant to be played and enjoyed, but abused is another thing. It would likely be a good idea to have a "beater" for the times the elements come into play :)

x2 well said!!! I invest in good quality instruments and play them a lot. Thus, they get scratches now and then and occasionally a ding. It is heart-breaking but the cost of having a instrument that is played a lot.

ricdoug
04-08-2012, 03:11 PM
That's why I play an Ovation/Applause UAE20 acoustic electric with a composite back. It has the right combination of quality, tone, intonation past the 12th fret and durability. They take about a year and a half of constant playing to break in. Mine's traveled around the globe with me. It's been played through the splashing waters of the China Sea, in the sun, the rain. It gets wiped down with a towell after the wet sessions. The solid spruce tops on both of mine have not split yet. Should that happen, it's

http://www.woodnworkshop.com.au/images/Titebond_iii_green%20copy.jpg

and wood clamps. Rain, snow, wind and shine, the show must go on. Ric

Lalz
04-08-2012, 03:34 PM
@ricdoug: that picture made me laugh real hard haha. A sturdy instrument like an Ovation is definitely a good investment in your case, and if in case of damage you're able to repair it to a state that is satisfying for you then it's all good :)

@ukes4life: I do play my ukes a *lot* though, and bring them to (indoors) jam sessions regularly. I guess normal reasonable wear is to be expected and gives them some character. But I'm just not ready to play them in extreme conditions such as on a really cold rainy day or walking on stilts knowing it might cause them to get a crack or worse. I don't consider them easily replaceable in case something happens to them. Cold shiver just thinking about it. Brrr.

@pondoro: I'm torn about this one actually. If it sounds good I'll get protective of it regardless of its value, if it doesn't sound good (in particular if it buzzes a lot) I won't enjoy playing it so then what's the point of bringing it on a trip. I had a beater before but it still sounded great. Broke my heart when I parted from it.

@rpfrogner: you and I both! I think the consensus my friend and I seemed to have come to was "I play my ukes when we are at your house, you lend me one of your ukes when we play outdoors on stilts since you don't mind them getting damaged" haha. That way we're both happy.

Freeda
04-08-2012, 03:41 PM
I am with your busker buddy. However you also won't see me dropping tons of money on a uke. I am such a clutz I would hate to have an instrument where the thought of damaging it would keep me from playing it.

Ukuleleblues
04-08-2012, 03:48 PM
I bought an expensive solid wood acoustic Guitar and never played it because I wanted to "save it" for good gigs, well I ended up playing my POS beater all the time. A friend pointed out that it was just a TOOL and I was wasting it. I now use them (uke, guitars, etc.) as a tool, since I am not a collector, I am a player!! Think about it, it would be like buying a Lexus and not wanting to get it dirty so you drive around in your 15 year old clunker. Remember one thing, you never ever see a U-Haul behind a hearse!!!!

Hippie Dribble
04-08-2012, 03:50 PM
Hi Lalou, I'm more on your side but a little bit torn I confess. For most of my musical life I've really babied my instruments to the point where I couldn't bare to have fingernail marks on them from hard playing, dings etc etc and like you, would always wipe them over to remove and oil, perspiration, dirt and clean them, and certainly never take them anywhere they might get damaged by environmental factors.

About a year ago I started to change my way of thinking. I now look upon each mark of strum wear as a sign that the instrument is being loved...more than I look at a perfect as new specimen in it's case as a sign of love. What I mean is, if the instrument bears signs of playwear, to me that says how wonderful an instrument it really is...that it needs to be played because it sounds great. I used to be so hung up about cosmetic things and aesthetics but now, as I've refined my collection down to the bare bones, the instruments I now own I will most likely keep for the rest of my life, so blemishes and marks from heavy use no longer concern me as much.

Case in point...I had a gorgeous custom Collings uke but was so scared of marking it that I hardly ever played it. Then it occured to me one day...why have I spent $1500+ on an instrument to let it sit and rot in a case and never be seen, let alone heard. It was kind of my 'epiphany' about this issue and since then I've gone totally in the opposite direction But do I still take good care of em...you bet!!!!

Plainsong
04-08-2012, 04:04 PM
While I wouldn't go as far as to purposefully take out an instrument into conditions where it could be destroyed, I think they're meant to be seen and played and enjoyed. I actually look forward to the day when I can have a grail uke and have it look warn out just from my playing. The best music teachers always had instruments like that, and I wanted to be like them.

Although I think the last time I took a nice uke to the pub was when a drunk dude who was showing some interest in it, picked it up without permission, tried to play some guitar chords, then put it down very hard onto the table with an audible bang. His friends got him about it, but uhh.... yeah, never again. I said played in by MY hands, not destroyed by Drunky.

bynapkinart
04-08-2012, 04:13 PM
I'm halfway into each train of thought. On the one hand I don't think you should be busking with any instrument in the rain or when it isn't nice out. Two reasons: Your instrument probably costs more than you'll make...and no one wants to stand in the rain or in the cold on their way to somewhere and stop and listen to a busker. It just doesn't make much sense.

I would definitely play nicer instruments busking, and I do...when it is decent outside and there's a chance of getting listened to instead of just heard (there is a difference). That being said, the Pono Tenor is my go to uke when I want to perform in a more professional environment (aka not a party), and my soon-to-arrive KPK Soprano is my bang-around, don't-care-much-what's-going-on-around-me uke. I would say beater uke but I don't beat up my ukes, and I don't let others do it either.

And if the KPK turns out to be as cool as I'm hoping, I may pick up a tenor and concert to have as my live-out-of-case solid ukes. I've not had an instrument crack on me and I don't plan on letting it happen, but I do want a uke I don't have to worry about. It's not the most expensive in the world, but it looks nice and should sound nice and feel great to play. Anything more than that is just a bonus!

southcoastukes
04-08-2012, 04:59 PM
Dimensional stability is something that is not given top priority in high end stringed instruments. It is assumed that fine violins and guitars, for example, will be given the care appropriate to the high investments their owners have made.

We feel that ukuleles are a slightly different case. While they're not much different in size than the violin, their portability and "go everywhere" reputation has been a large part of their popularity. We live in a different world today, however - one of climate controlled dwellings and international travel. Wooden instruments were never under this sort of stress before, and an unstable instrument doesn't play well.

I think that the ukulele, in particular, due to it's smaller size, can still be built of wood, but built in a way that can give it freedom of movement through almost any environment. We've got an approach that we love - and it's one that still puts top quality sound as the first priority. We'll have the first ones ready this summer.

I personally have always hated the idea that my nice instruments needed to be "locked up" for certain parts of the year, and yet I've seen vintage instruments that have survived for decades develop cracks when I moved to an "energy efiicient" home. I think some new thinking in design is in line. The ukulele can be free again!

P.S: scratches are cool!

itsme
04-08-2012, 05:11 PM
I think I'd tend to side with the OP on this one. Growing up, money was really tight, and I learned to value and take care of what I was lucky enough to have.

On the other hand, my mother kept her "good" stuff in the china cabinet, and there was rarely ever a good enough occasion to actually use it, lest something got broken. I'll drink wine out of crystal goblets now and if I happen to break one, at least I got to enjoy using it instead of just admiring it sitting in a china cabinet. :)

Lori
04-08-2012, 07:19 PM
I am one of those who was brought up to be careful (parents lived during the Depression and WWII) so I always treat my things well. I have a few ukes that I can relax a bit more with, like my Dolphins, and my Flea, which is important for many circumstances where you can't control the people around you. I think of the ukulele as a work of artful craftsmanship, both visually and aurally. I truly enjoy looking at them almost as much as playing them. I know others who think of their instruments like it was a tool, like a pencil to a writer (or these days a computer). That's just the way they are, which I am sure is very freeing. But I think they are missing something.

–Lori

pakhan
04-08-2012, 07:51 PM
Well I think that you pay for the instrument and how you want to use it or pamper it is up to the person.

The one thing I am very careful about though, for guitars is that I make it clear I am happy to let anyone play it but as often I am demoing them for a builder, once damaged, it is considered sold out of respect to the luthier. My own guitars, really are kept for home or studio or controlled environments. Anything I do to them, I can live with, any abuse they get from someone else and there is usually trouble. I'm not gentle with my instruments, but they aren't abused either so they get wiped down and put into a case for storage but I don't use a lot of protective gear like sleeves for them either.

Tigeralum2001
04-08-2012, 08:09 PM
This guy went busking with a $2,000,000 Stradivarius. Long read, but it did win a Pulitzer http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

His Sinfulness
04-08-2012, 10:10 PM
Although I don't own any big ticket ukes (yet) I do take good care of the insturments I have. I will, in the near future (Christmas!) be spending a pretty healthy chunk of change on a K-brand so perhaps my attitude will change, but I think I want to walk a middle path on this - use reasonable caution to protect my insturments and respect their makers, but don't let that caution make me miss out on a fun playing experience. The Buddha said, "all things pass away." I'm sure that applies to ukes as well, regardless of the care we might give them. It's the time spent playing and enjoying them that matters to me.

oudin
04-08-2012, 10:22 PM
This is why God created the Kala solid mahogany tenor. So that we could have a very nice sounding ukulele that we don't have to worry about. Let me tell you, playing that thing on while sitting in my skivvies in the hot springs along the Rio Grande, or in the Andes near Pichidegua, or in my backyard around the campfire, it's like honey with butter and whipped cream.

mm stan
04-08-2012, 11:03 PM
I guess it is how you were raised and what values you have...I tend to baby my instruments, but play and enjoy them at the same time...my thoughts ...I will only let my treasured ukes to people who I know will respect and take
care of them...I have dropped friendships if they mishandle my ukes, I see it as a form of disrespect....and I am not kidding..LOL..

Lalz
04-09-2012, 01:24 AM
Thank you all for your answers, it's very interesting and inspirational to read what people's opinions and philosophies are about this!

Bill1 made a good point about buskers: if your job is to play in any circumstances and it will earn you enough money to replace the ukes you damage through playing that way, then you have to be less precious about it. Me, I don't play professionally and I don't make enough money to constantly buy new ukes. Also I'm more like rpfrogner, eugene, itsme, Lori, mm stan and others, I try to take good care of my things because that's how I was brought up and I want them to last and enjoy them as long as possible.

In case that didn't come across, I do play my ukes a lot (at least a couple hours a day every day), I bring them out to jam at friend's houses and at the pub quite often (a uke-friendly pub mind, full of ukers who value their instruments and won't abuse other people's like that guy did to Plainsong's) and I sometimes lend them out to friends who I know I can trust them with. So it's not like I don't get to enjoy them by being too careful. Also I do get the occasional tiny scratch, which I can totally live with because it's just part of them getting played and gives them character. But I'd rather it happen through normal wear rather than through avoidable accidents, and I just don't want to play one of my own ukes somewhere dodgy if I know it's going to cause substantial damage to it, or let people who don't appreciate them go ahead and abuse them. It's just not worth it IMO.

On another end of the spectrum than my tear-and-toss busker friend, I have another musician friend who recently stepped on his guitar by accident and broke it really badly: the soundboard got cracked and the sides and back broke apart. Unlike busker friend who runs a circus company and makes quite a good living out of making music, this one is a broke singer-songwriter who can't afford getting a new guitar for a long while, so he duck-taped it and still performs professionally with it. But he's so talented and his performances are so breathtakingly beautiful that he could just be playing a tin-can with a rubber string and no one would notice it's not an actual guitar hehe. Actually I think most people don't notice the duck-tape at all.

chris667
04-09-2012, 01:33 AM
It's important to look after your stuff. But I think it's balance. If you kept them in a glass case, I'd find that depressing; there's nothing sadder than a beautiful instrument that doesn't get played because of its value. Look at Willie Nelson's guitar:

http://gallery.photo.net/photo/1046936-lg.jpg

That's patina.;)

Also, there are GOOD knockabout instruments. I was given a Lani like this one:

http://www.themusicroom-online.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=4008

It's a tough little thing, and it plays really nicely. But it would be easy enough to replace if need be.

pakhan
04-09-2012, 02:18 AM
Like Stan, I have dropped friendships for folks damaging my instruments, but if it was an accident as they 'fess up, I'm usually more forgiving. It is those who don't tell you that I drop immediately.

barefootgypsy
04-09-2012, 02:19 AM
I really sympathise with you on this. I was brought up to take good care of everything, because money was tight and represented a lot of hard work to buy it. I could no more let a quality, expensive instrument get spoilt by water or anything else, than fly in the air. I don't know whether I even dare buy a solid wood instrument at all, in case it cracks because we like our house warm! In your position, I think I'd consider how much I was prepared to spend/risk on an instrument that might be at risk from the outdoor elements, and just buy the best uke that fitted. You have to do what you're comfortable with.

stmace
04-09-2012, 04:40 AM
As a young musician, I learned to protect my instruments. My trumpets were always clean on the inside (except for the time with the cookie dough), and polished on the outside. And the one thing you NEVER did was pick up someone else's instrument.

Now, my KoAloha is treated similarly to one of my trumpets. If I will be seated, or in a relatively safe environment, I'll take the KoAloha anywhere. However, if there is a chance of rain, or a chance of any kids playing the uke, the Fluke is the one I take, or at least I take it with me.

Plainsong
04-09-2012, 05:07 AM
Except for the time with the cookie dough... hmm, did you eat cookie dough before playing, then not clean the trumpet for the summer, then look inside the bell after a few months to find a science project?

Or were you experimenting with more organic mutes and thought cookie dough might be a tasty alternative? We gotta know this story!

tjomball
04-09-2012, 05:20 AM
On one side I paid good money for my instruments. And as such they get the care they deserve..

On the other hand I'm fanatic about friends and other people using my instruments.. Only if I hand it to them. And then make sure they treat it properly. If you bang it against something. You're screwed. You just f....d up.
Drunks have no business handling my instruments..

However if I bang or scratch them up. Fine.. Marks of use. But all abuse must come from me..

Just my 2 cents..

UkuEroll
04-09-2012, 05:40 AM
I've really enjoyed reading this thread, it's not often that people reply in such depth. For me it's an OCD thing. Some years ago I bought a Takamine guitar, which I pampered like a baby. After ten years it was still in pristine condition! then one day my son dropped it and put a ding right in the middle of the face, since then I hardly ever play it, all i see it THAT ding.
I now own a K brand and I'm trying "without much success" to change my way of thinking, but like many have said, I think it's a lot to do with how you've been brought up.

PoiDog
04-09-2012, 05:46 AM
Seems like my opinion tends to be the more common one of understanding both points of view.

Personally, I wouldn't even have started playing the uke if I didn't ever want to take it outside now and then. For example, this weekend in West LA was absolutely gorgeous. And, after spending my Saturday morning mowing a lawn, pruning a couple of trees, and then patching up some drywall, I grabbed an extremely cold beer and my Kanile'a and went outside into the backyard where I just sat, sipped, and strummed for about an hour. I wasn't worried about whether I might scratch, ding, stain, or otherwise harm my 'ukulele. Instead, I just enjoyed the sun and the beer and the vibe.

When I got back in I noticed that, indeed, there was a scratch on one of the sides. I can't recall when it happened, though it was most likely during one of the moments when I put the uke aside to take a swig. But it doesn't bother me, and like Eugene said, I view it as a mark that this uke was played in a really nice way.

That doesn't mean I'm about to start dragging it behind me and abusing it. But if the only time I reached for it was when I was in a hermetically sealed environment free of potential damage, I would almost never play it.

That's just me.

PS: I loved that photo of Willie's guitar.

stmace
04-09-2012, 05:51 AM
Except for the time with the cookie dough... hmm, did you eat cookie dough before playing, then not clean the trumpet for the summer, then look inside the bell after a few months to find a science project?

Or were you experimenting with more organic mutes and thought cookie dough might be a tasty alternative? We gotta know this story!

Initial suspicion was correct. I ate it just before practicing, and it just BLOBBED out of the "spit valve." Oh, I cleaned it immediately. Eighth-grade minds, you can't tell them anything!

Lalz
04-09-2012, 06:33 AM
For example, this weekend in West LA was absolutely gorgeous. And, after spending my Saturday morning mowing a lawn, pruning a couple of trees, and then patching up some drywall, I grabbed an extremely cold beer and my Kanile'a and went outside into the backyard where I just sat, sipped, and strummed for about an hour.

Ah lucky you! My dream is to be able to seat down on a porch and play under the sun while drinking some ice-tea. Unfortunately for me, I live in one of the rainiest regions in the world and my front door tends to get regularly washed over with brown water thanks to trucks driving by. My new flat does have a closed open-air backyard though, for now still uninhabitable but in the process of being refurbished. I'm hoping for some nice days in the summer so I can seat outside in the backyard on a recliner chair and play under the sun with some friends. Please English weather, work with me! But right now: impossible. It's april and even if it wasn't raining like constantly these past few days (we even had snow last week), it's still too cold to get my gloves off or my fingers get numb!

Loving the Willie Nelson's guitar picture too. And the cookie dough story haha :)

Lalz
04-09-2012, 06:35 AM
On one side I paid good money for my instruments. And as such they get the care they deserve..

On the other hand I'm fanatic about friends and other people using my instruments.. Only if I hand it to them. And then make sure they treat it properly. If you bang it against something. You're screwed. You just f....d up.
Drunks have no business handling my instruments..

However if I bang or scratch them up. Fine.. Marks of use. But all abuse must come from me..

Just my 2 cents..

Same! Although I do trust some of my friends to borrow my ukes for a few days because I know nothing bad will happen with them

OldePhart
04-09-2012, 06:49 AM
I believe in taking decent care of my instruments but I wouldn't own an instrument that I was afraid to play out with. My best uke is a KoAloha - it has been to UWC and it has non-slip rubber matting glued to the back...

Instruments are tools and as such should be used. I care for my tools, I don't leave them to rust in the yard, but when all is said and done a tool you're afraid to use is useless.

Also, I own my stuff, I don't let it own me... :)

John

pootsie
04-09-2012, 06:56 AM
Look at Willie Nelson's guitar:

That's patina.;)

Wow, Willie's guitar has almost as much "patina" as Willie has.

I am new to the uke and have only one dolphin that will undoubtedly take abuse and one "vintage" Conrad Crudbox that has been abused already.

But I have taken my drums to many drum circles and when you do that, you just have to let go and hope the drum comes back. Drums are meant to be beaten! (Though I do have one drum that no one else gets to touch.)

Lalz
04-09-2012, 07:29 AM
a tool you're afraid to use is useless.

Also, I own my stuff, I don't let it own me... :)

John

I don't think anyone here is talking about never taking the instrument out of the case to play them though... Most of us do get ukuleles to play them, not to let them rot in a case. Remember this thread a while ago about a collector who hoarded dozens of amazing high-end ukuleles and stored them in glass shelves? That broke my heart because those ukes most likely hardly ever get played.

Nickie
04-09-2012, 09:17 AM
I do like this thread. My uke is important to me, just like my car, or my home, or my body. Not going to get very far wrecking those, so I treat 'em all with respect. I have no problem with Willie being hard on his guitar, I imagine his luthier don't mind either. Tommy Emmanuel also beats the crap outta his guitar, but it's very enjoyable to listen to.
True, if my uke gets scratches and dings, I'm gonna be the one that puts 'em there. Wish I could say the same for my body... it REALLY looks used, LOL!

weerpool
04-09-2012, 10:38 AM
scuff marks, dings and scratches, patina,play wear etc . i find them just as appealing and beautiful as your pristine looking, brandnew smelling, shiny and decked out overrated custom whatever. i look at them the way theyre intended to be which is to be played.but then i again, i have smashed 5 stratocaster, 2 1965 fender mustang and a flying V to date.

Heidi Litke
04-16-2012, 04:10 PM
I totally agree with you. I however, am not a collector but rather a player. I have two ukes, (one high G, one low G). I play mine everyday and because of that, they have a few scratches but I hope that they will last a very long time. I mostly play them at home. I am very protective when they are out in public as most people do not take the ukulele very seriously and it shows in the handling. As a rule i do not let others play them at all. After I play they goes right back in the case and they sit right beside me. I have had close calls every time I take them out even with all the care I take. I know these instrument inside and out and would feel a great loss if something happened to them. Its funny, if you are a classical player, your instrument is pampered but because your instrument is a ukulele it means beat the heck out of it? I totally agree it is a tool, play it and yes scratch it and even wear it out, but with care.

bynapkinart
04-16-2012, 04:27 PM
Its funny, if you are a classical player, your instrument is pampered but because your instrument is a ukulele it means beat the heck out of it? I totally agree it is a tool, play it and yes scratch it and even wear it out, but with care.

I don't see many classical guitarists playing pristine guitars...actually there's a few people I've seen that have worn the soundboards on their guitars down to almost paper. Plus, there's not too much you can do about humidifying an instrument and keeping it pristine on the road. I don't know that anyone would take a $300 or $400 ukulele and beat it up, just like you wouldn't take a $600 or $700 guitar and beat it up. The added portability does create more opportunities for the uke to get roughed up, though.

I will say that people couldn't care less about how they treat a $100 uke, from what I've seen. It was funny, the other day I went out to jam with a guitar buddy of mine and brought my Pono...he's got a Lanikai LU21, and he was always hounding me about my uke craze because he's played one and "it's not really as good an instrument as a guitar." It was awesome to see his face completely change when he was playing on the Pono, and it made me really realize that all the cheap ukes out there make it more available for beginners but don't really change guitar players' perception of the uke as a smaller and less versatile guitar.

They get a cheap uke and beat it up and never realize it's potential. Then again, I can't really knock that approach, because that's what started all of this for me.

itsme
04-16-2012, 06:38 PM
Its funny, if you are a classical player, your instrument is pampered but because your instrument is a ukulele it means beat the heck out of it? I totally agree it is a tool, play it and yes scratch it and even wear it out, but with care.
I pamper all my instruments. From the ridiculously expensive all the way down to the lowliest. :)

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
04-16-2012, 07:52 PM
I'm right in the middle on this one. I like to have nice instruments, then play them into that scratched-up, grimy, dinged-up, finish-rubbed-off state that says to all observers, "My player loves me".

My acoustic guitar has achieved just the right amount of grossness over the last twenty years. I'm looking forward to doing the same to my Kamaka over the next twenty.

DaveVisi
04-16-2012, 08:11 PM
This guy went busking with a $2,000,000 Stradivarius. Long read, but it did win a Pulitzer http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html
It's interesting how often this example is used.

Mr. Bell isn't a busker. How do I know this? Easy. If he was a busker he would have made more money. Busking is an art form. It takes more than skill to make a living at it.

Hastour
04-16-2012, 11:16 PM
My first instrument would always be the one to be used and abused. A second, expensive uke might be treated with more care. But it's much more important for me to be able to play anywhere and not worry much about occasional damage. I love music more than instruments.

I like when an uke is just lying somewhere in my room, to be picked and strummed for a few minutes, whenever I'm in the mood. It wouldn't be so easy, if it was locked in a hard case with a humidifier, and If I would have to wash my hands before touching it.

chris667
04-17-2012, 12:34 AM
I have my first (to me) expensive instrument. It sounds lovely, but I'm worried I'll break it. It goes in its case every time after it's played.

Does this remove some of the fun of owning it? I think it does.

Even though it sounds better, it might be for sale soon.

Lanark
04-17-2012, 04:25 AM
I believe in taking decent care of my instruments but I wouldn't own an instrument that I was afraid to play out with. My best uke is a KoAloha - it has been to UWC and it has non-slip rubber matting glued to the back...

Instruments are tools and as such should be used. I care for my tools, I don't leave them to rust in the yard, but when all is said and done a tool you're afraid to use is useless.

Also, I own my stuff, I don't let it own me... :)

John

This.

It's a matter of taking reasonable precautions and accepting that wear and tear is a fact of life that adds character and uniqueness to your instrument. I bought it and I'm going to play it like I mean it.

Sporin
04-17-2012, 05:03 AM
While I wouldn't go as far as to purposefully take out an instrument into conditions where it could be destroyed, I think they're meant to be seen and played and enjoyed. I actually look forward to the day when I can have a grail uke and have it look warn out just from my playing. The best music teachers always had instruments like that, and I wanted to be like them.


It's a matter of taking reasonable precautions and accepting that wear and tear is a fact of life that adds character and uniqueness to your instrument. I bought it and I'm going to play it like I mean it.

I agree with the above quotes. I'm not hurting my ukes on purpose, but I don't treat them as museum pieces either. of course, none of my ukes are really expensive or exclusive either.

I did decide not to take my Islander to Florida with me next month though, I'll take my Kala as it already has a scratch or 3, it's cheaper.

Teek
04-17-2012, 11:11 AM
I take care of my stuff and ask others to do the same. My nice ukes live in cases to mitgate easily avoidable damage. Three live out. If any get damaged while I'm playing them, well ok, crap happens. If I hand one to someone else, I ask that they cover a belt buckle with their shirt and take off bracelets and heavy watches if they are new to an instrument or clumsy. I think that is just foresight and caution, as I am the one that will live with the damage and they are the one that will walk away. I don't travel much and so don't travel with a good uke. I don't play that much and don't play out so never worry about this. My grandfather did and was a band leader and his 1920s Martin guitar was a mess when he died. On my people-friendly ukes, it's Oh well. I took two of them to babysit an 8 and 10 year old. Both were a little bit careless, but I was prepared for that. It's more important that people get to try them out, especially musically inclined children.

On the way to the car the kid who was carrying the Dolphin whacked it onto the chain link gate post. Then on the way from my car to the house via my husband (I left it there overnight because of full hands), it again was whacked against a gate, so it now has five little edge chips and the bridge is lifting. I know that people will be careless, and I can see the chips from my desk. It's just a uke. If it was someone beating or abusing my animals that would make me go ballistic. The uke just reminds me that it got to get down off the wall and have an adventure. That's how I got all of my own dings, cracks, bruises and chips on my own body. ;)

OldePhart
04-17-2012, 12:06 PM
That's how I got all of my own dings, cracks, bruises and chips on my own body. ;)

BWAAA-HAAA - love this. It's so true. I've earned pretty much every one of my scars.

NatalieS
04-17-2012, 02:07 PM
Personally I think one of the coolest things about old ukuleles is their "lived-in" appearance: the glossy spots on the fretboard showing where favorite chords were played time after time... the worn finish on the body... the little scurry of scratches on the soundboard from repeated strumming. I hope my uke eventually gets there.

Chris Tarman
04-17-2012, 04:46 PM
I play my instruments AND I take care of them. I have 2 Martins and a Gibson that are around 80 years old, and another Martin that is 50-60 years old. They weren't pristine when I got them, but I take care not to damage them more. I play those more than any of my other ukes. I don't mind if they get strum wear or the odd nick or scratch. That's what happens to instruments that get played. I don't play out on uke, really, other than the occasional open-mic or jam now and then, but I might take those vintage ukes if I was pretty sure that nothing horrible would happen (as it is, I generally take my Mainland Mahogany soprano because it has a pickup). I would NOT take them busking on a street in iffy weather conditions. But I have other ukuleles that I would do that with. I take my Flea camping, but I would NEVER take a Martin! That's one of the reasons I have so many ukuleles!
Yes, instruments are tools. But some of them are more like precision surgical instruments than they are like hammers. Use the tool that is appropriate for what you're doing, and treat it accordingly.