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3232 N. Vermilion Street, Danville, Illinois
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The word "ukulele" is Hawaiian for "jumping flea". The story goes that a Portuguese immigrant jumped off a ship into the water while playing one, and the Hawaiians watching dubbed him - and the instrument - the ukulele!
Sopranos are smallest, and generally work well for small hands and new students. Their small scale and compact body are also popular with people on the go, and they are usually the uke you'll spot being played on the beach, or while the owner walks around town.
So if the other sizes are siblings, we'll say the Baritone is the hanai (adopted) brother. It's very similar to the others, but is tuned DGBE like a 4 string guitar. It has the longest scale of all, and is a little smaller than a 3/4 size guitar. These instruments are more popular in Hawaiian music from the early part of the last century.
Ukulele construction is similar to that of a guitar, but generally uses less bracing because of the small size of the instrument. They can have 4, 6 or 8 strings, but the extra strings are pairs with the same 4 note course. The most common wood used in high-end ukulele building is the Hawaiian koa tree, which is known for it's density, resonance and, most notably, it's beautiful golden curls in the grain of the wood. Makers like Kamaka, G-string, Kanile'a and Po Mahina use koa to build instruments that are both sonically and aesthetically pleasing. With the depletion of koa forests, other types of wood are becoming popular in 'ukulele construction, like mahogany, mango, and cedar, but they don't hold the same desirability as the traditional koa uke. With a shrinking supply of koa for ukulele, prices of koa instruments in the past decade have risen sharply, and the trend will only continue.
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3232 North Vermilion Street
Danville, Illinois 61832
B & J Music