It’s just a week before I head into the recording studio to record the first batch of Small Change Diaries songs. We currently have 21 one to choose from, 19 songs and two instrumentals. In recent times Jessica Bowie and I have been increasingly collaborating on writing and it’s working out really well.
Today I began to consider which ukuleles I am going to use for the recordings. Everything will be recorded acoustically and each instrument has a very specific character. It’s been a great opportunity to review my growing collection and to start restringing those who will be used during the recording sessions.
I learned years ago from Martin Simpson the importance of changing strings and although this is not my favorite pastime, new strings can make a massive difference to the sound. I blogged on this previously and on how specific instruments work really well with certain strings. My Shimo Comet 3 sounds brilliant with a set of Hilo low G tenor strings which have a wound G and C. Sadly these are not made any more so I have scoured the planet to but up as many sets as possible! The Collings concerts seem to work best with Aquila Red strings and also the Living Water sets with a low G Orcas. Dean at Ukulele Mania has become a great source for these and the Japan to Leeds pipeline is in full flow these months.
I increasingly realise the importance of investing in the best possible instruments I can afford and on some rare occasions investing in the best instruments I really can’t afford! The Shimos are in my view the very best of the best sonically and I’ll be using the Comet 3 in the SCD recording sessions. My Collings pre-production ukulele will also be on hand and this is one of the sweetest sounding instruments I have ever played. The third instrument I’ll be taking is the koa Kanilea tenor that is very different sounding and of the many ukuleles I bought in Tokyo from Dean. I keep the high G on this and it sounds great.
There are ukuleles and ukulele shaped objects. The former are a joy to play and increasingly sound better over a period of time. Even the top end ones are not crazily expensive compared to many other musical instruments. Also unlike my band member, Garry Jackson’s double bass, ukuleles are highly portable and light to transport!
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