I was slow in coming around to the ukulele -- just had so many other instruments I seemed more interested in. Now that a friend made me a beautiful uke, I've discovered just what a neat instrument it is. From the start, I was inclined to clawhammer the thing. While a good many tunes can be clawhammered on the 4-stringer as is -- if only it had another, a lower-pitched string, then a person could really go to town. On an internet auction site I bid on and obtained a very well constructed, inexpensive uke for $4.25 & promptly set about to turn it into a 5-stringer. By the way -- this same auction site had several similar ukes - all for less than $15.
This is a very easy conversion. I simply, and carefully marked the nut and filed three new grooves (used the existing uke's nut's top & bottom-most grooves - as is). Similar treatment was done to the bridge - carefully drilling the additional holes to acept the tie-on nylon strings. I should point out that on my instrument the three new grooves in the nut & bridge nicely miss the existing grooves, so that wasn't an issue. All that remained to be done was to install another tuning gear, put on some strings & that's it. The resulting 5-string uke-jo is very pleasing to play. Altho having double-thumbed on real and not-so-real banjos for a lot of decades, for some reason I never "liked" the feel as my thumb rolled off a metal string -- something to do with my thumb's tendency to "catch" -- and somehow not feeling "natural". This uke banjo, with it's nylon strings exhibits none of this oddness. My thumb slips by the nylon string like butter. For strings I use a combination of weed-whacker line and fishing-line. You'll get lots of purists decrying this stuff, but I love it. Dirt cheap and very hard to tell any difference over "music quality" nylon strings. Here're the gauges. - Thinnest playing string: 30 pound nylon fish-line - Next string: 50 pound nylon fish-line - Next string: 60 pound nylon fish-line - Thickest playing string: .040" weed-whip line - "5th" string: 30 pound nylon fish-line Dennis Havlena - W8MI Mackinac Straits, northern Michigan 8/17/07
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