Meet the World’s Largest Playable Ukulele!

I'm not exactly sure how I found this. Oh wait, yeah I am. So, I setup an automatic eBay search to tell me whenever a Tangi ukulele gets posted. Why would I do that? Hmm.. maybe you haven't heard of the miniature Tangi ukulele? This thing makes the Kala Pocket Ukulele look like an upright bass.

So, I MUST have one, thus the automatic search.

Well, you can imagine my surprise when my eBay search net caught a whale instead of a minnow. Yup, besides making the world's smallest ukulele, Tangi also makes the world's largest playable ukulele. Look at this freaking thing!

Tangi Giant Ukulele
Tangi Giant Ukulele

It makes an upright bass look like... well, I guess it would still look like an upright bass.  But, this thing is HUGE!  What's more, it's for sale on eBay (click the picture).  But, get ready for disappointment, unless you are some sort of debutante or one of the Koch brothers.   A cool five grand is what it's going to take to get your hands on that baby.  Plus, you still need to drive to Hawaii and get it.  Yes, drive.... floating car.  Duh.  Anyway, here's some more details on this monster.

It weighs 40 lbs and is 6 1/2 feet tall.  Tangi made the ukulele in 1996 for Tangi Tully's birthday.  It took 27 Tangi employees a full month to build it.  This giant ukulele is completely tunable and playable.  The tuners were custom machined.  The body of this massive ukulele is mahogany and the fretboard and bridge are ebony.  The white inlay is made of ox bone and the inlay is mother of pearl.  In short, this isn't a cheap decoration.  This is a freaking work of art.  Now, give me money so I can buy it.

Video: When You’re Young and In Love – Stephin Merritt

As you probably all know, I'm an unabashed Stephin Merritt groupie. Magnetic Fields, Gothic Archies, you name it. I like it all. I just can't get enough of his gloomy pop melodies. So, of course I was going to buy the new record, Obscurities.

This was right around my birthday, that I went looking.  And, sure enough, when I tried to purchase the CD, Amazon warned me that someone might have already bought it for me.  Eh?!  Huzzah!  Turns out it was my sweet peach of a wife.  Anyway, the whole record is pretty good, but two songs, in particular, really stand out.  The first is the more electronic version of "I don't believe you" (a folkier version having been released on the "I" record).  The second highlight of the record is a previously unreleased song called "When you're young and in love".  And, that's the song I can't get outta my blasted head.  So, I attempted to exorcise it through ukulele video.

Since I couldn't find any chords for this song already posted out there, I came up with the following arrangement.  The only questionable chord in there is Dm7.  But, I didn't have the CD handy when I did this so I couldn't really compare it.  When I listen to it again, I'll update these chords if that Dm7 sounds goofy.

When You're Young and In Love
by Stephin Merritt

Tabs by Ukulele Guy

C   - 0003
G   - 0232
Am  - 2000
Em  - 4432
F   - 0201
Dm7 - 2213 

        C                        G
You can teeter on the brink of a precipice
Am                 Em
Ov'r an infinitely deep abyss
F                    C
And somehow not even notice this
                         G
When you're young and in love

        C                   G
You can grow a little older every day
Am                     Em
Watch your stupid life wasting away
F                     C
Somehow everything is a-ok
                         G
When you're young and in love

                F
But when you're not,
             C
The poisoned fangs of time
   G
Become quite plain
            F
When you're not,
          C
It almost seems a crime
Dm7       G
Not to go insane

You can whirl and twirl on the world's carousel
Hurdle round and round, and feel quite well
Never even knowing you're in hell
When you're young and in love

You can know the world has nothing left to give
Be condemned to die, content to live,
And be happy--if and only if, you're young and in love

But when you're not,
The poisoned fangs of time
Become quite plain
When you're not,
It almost seems a crime
Not to go insane

You can teeter on the brink of a precipice
(A precipice!)
Ov'r an infinitely deep abyss
(A deep abyss!)
And somehow not even notice this
When you're young and in love

You can grow a little older every day
(Old, every day!)
Watch your stupid life wasting away
(Wasting away!)
Somehow everything is a-ok
When you're young and in love 

Ukulele Video: Lisa Hannigan ‘Knots’ (it’s like skittles bukkake)

I just randomly stumbled across this video recently.  It looks like it was also featured on NPR, so I'm not sure how I missed it there.  Anyway, it's Lisa Hannigan (who I might need to learn more about).  She has an amazing voice and she's Irish.  So, that's a win/win.  Oh yeah, and she plays ukulele!

I guess they filmed this video in Dublin and they did it in one take.  Once you see the video you'll see why she might have been reluctant to do a second take.  It seems like they start off having the different paint represent different instruments but then it sorta goes haywire.  Anyway, it's a nice little song, even if the ukulele isn't the main component.

Swagerty Treholipee Paddle Repair

As I mentioned in an earlier swagerty post, I have a Treholipee that has a broken tuning paddle.  As I also mentioned in that post, I got an e-mail (from a fella named Larry) describing how he fixed a similar problem.  I wanted to post it here (with Larry's blessing) so other enterprising folks can make use of this info.

If you recall, Larry managed to pick up a Treholipee for a $1 at a garage sale (for this, I will always be jealous of him).  His Treholipee, like mine, is missing a string as well as a tuning paddle.  Now, Larry is using fishing line to replace his strings.

Here's a handy tip for you and all those fellow Uke fans out there who
need replacement strings. Nylon fishing line of various weights works very
well once you let it stretch in a few days (and it costs a WHOLE lot less!).
It just takes a little patience needing to retune a few times. Pete Seeger
talked about replacing banjo strings with nylon monofilament fishing line
starting with 10 lb. test through 50 lb. test depending on the diameter
needed.

If you don't fancy fishing line, though, you can get Worth tenor ukulele strings in lengths of 46" and that should work for you.

Anyway, back to the task of fixing the broken tuning paddle.  Larry has found himself with a surplus of chopsticks.  And, he was able to find a chopstick of the appropriate diameter to fit right in the hole for the Treholipee tuning paddle.  Check out this rad picture:

Treholipee Improvided Paddle Repair
Treholipee Improvided Paddle Repair

Now all he has to do is cut it to length and stain it black.  I should mention that another suggestion I got on paddle repair was to use a clay mold of one of the other paddles and possibly cast it out of plastic.  If I can get motivated, I might try that out and I'll let everyone know how it goes.

When I got my first Treholipee I was a little unsure about how to tune it.  I've since found out that the Treholipee was meant to be tuned as a "tenor ukulele, tenor banjo, plectrum banjo, tenor guitar or baritone uke."  Larry, being a banjo player, went this route:

I decided that I did'nt need to learn new chords if I would simply string it like the top 4 strings of my banjo, open G (DGBD). Good idea, but much too low. Some strings buzzed. A little research showed that some uke's are tuned to an open C but not the same as a banjo open C. I put a capo on my banjo at the 5th fret and found that GBEG was the open C tuning that would let me take advantage of my knowledge and still play this sweet little instrument like a pro. All of my wife's doubts were swept away when I serenaded her with "Tonight you belong to me".

Awesome!



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Time to hurt some feelings – Portland Man by Ukulele Guy

I'd like to consider myself as a fairly nice guy.  I mean, I'm not a totally sociopath at least.  I honestly want other people to be happy and whatnot.  But, all that said, I can definitely tell you that as I age (poorly) I find that I have less and less tolerance for douchebaggery.  Odd... for some reason my spellcheck is telling me that douchebaggery isn't a word.  Clearly this thing is faulty.

Anyway, despite all of my best intentions.  I often find myself writing "mean" songs.  Some of the oldest Volumen songs (and nearly all the PWT songs) are mean to some person or other.  I guess I just can't help being an asshole.  But, on the opposite side of it.  It never hurts to take yourself less seriously, right?  I mean, I'm more than willing to have it thrown right back in my face.

So, why all the setup?  Well, being a "weirdo" into "weird music" I have lots of "weird" friends (surprisingly enough).  Well, I love all of those weirdos and the weirdos that they introduce me into in other town. But, in my journeys and tours (especially in Seattle and Portland) I've noticed a particular kind of (slightly disingenuous) weirdo.  So, I attempted to document this character in song.  I probably should have written another verse or two, but you know how I roll.  I'd rather just blast a song out and then never look back.  So, let's blast away, shall we?

If you feel like playing along.  Here's the tabs.  NOTE:  In my head the parentheses are a call and response type of thing.  So, I'm hoping my brother will sing those parts for me if we manage to play this live ever.

 

Portland Man by Ukulele Guy

A
He got tight pants (high waters)
C
white belt (doesn't matter)
D
He got a squiggly design on his v-neck shirt
C                         D7
5 o'clock shadow and his feelings are hurt

A
He's got principles (I believe him)
C
LAST YEAR HE WAS ALMOST TOTALLY VEGAN
D
He heard about your favorite band before you did
C D7
you read it in mojo (he already knew it)

twirly C             A
He's a..... Portland man
twirly C   F G
Portland man
He's a..... Portland man

twirly C D7
A
He's got lady friends (ad infinitim)
C
longboards (oh, he'll ride 'em)
D
he knows a little place that has the best soy latte
C                          D7
he's got perfect hair, and glitter on his body

He rocks facial hair (with irony)
he digs mp3 piracy
his cigarette brand? (american spirits)
you like his messenger bag? don't get near it

chorus

He's a...
C                                  E7
adorable hipster, but he's gaining weight
F                           G
because that pabst blue ribbon tastes so great