There’s actually quite a lot to talk about tonight (this morning? I’m going to call it tonight. I think it’s safe to assume the time period at which night turns into morning is ‘after the bar closes’, and the one I just left is open until 2 am, which means I have at least 30 minutes before I have to change my time of day greeting. ūüôā )

I was supposed to go to a free punk concert in Boyd Park today, but the weather forecast was calling for heavy rain in the afternoon, so I ended up skipping it. On the one hand, I’m sad about that. It didn’t actually rain. We had a light misting of rain around 6 pm, which is when the free concert was scheduled to end. But, Boyd Park is not exactly in my back yard, so I didn’t want to trek all the way there only to get rained out an hour in, before any of the best acts would have come on.

So, on the one hand it sucks that I cancelled plans based on weather that never happened, but on the other, it feels like it might have been a kind of fate in its own way, as it means I was here when my new ukulele arrived (I KNOW, another one!)

In my defense, it’s an acoustic-electric that was actually the first one I was determined to own, but it was also one I felt I could wait for, so I was planning to put it on the birthday/christmas list. Well, Mom asked me about that a week or so ago (we start early around here), so I was going over my ‘stuff I want’ list, checking the websites to see if things were still available, and I found, much to my dismay, the¬†left-handed¬†ukulele that I wanted so badly was no longer available on amazon, or musician’s friend, or guitar center, or reverb, or even ebay. It was listed as ‘unavailable’ and ‘can no longer get from manufacturer’ on all of these sites, which leads me to believe my beautiful left-handed ukulele has been discontinued. In light of that, I googled further, and I found ONE website that still had one. ONE, having clicked several pages into the google.

So, I decided to bite the bullet and grab it while I actually could, because it was pretty obvious that by the holidays, that ukulele was going to be one big missed opportunity for me. I’m going to have to pinch the pennies for a bit now – no Friday Night Sushi, for example-but in the end, having a left handed ukulele with a built in tuner is worth that to me, since it’s not as if I can very well say ‘oh well, I missed out on that one, but there are these other HUNDREDS to choose from (Bitter? No, Righties, not bitter, just jealous.).

Well, I opened it up, plugged it into my crappy amp, and found the sound kept cutting out. It wasn’t the amp. It wasn’t the cable. It was only happening when I bumped the cable with my arm, yet none of the screws were loose. ¬†I posted on an uke forum asking for advice on how to repair it, explaining exactly that in some detail. It has been tested with several amps and cables, etc…and, I included the brand and serial number. ¬†To which I got one reply that I hadn’t given enough information and they needed info on the specs….seriously?!

Guys, can I take an interlude for a second here to say – in all seriousness – if you don’t have a fucking brain, don’t reply to my posts. I listed the EXACT MODEL of the ukulele. You have MORE THAN ENOUGH information to get whatever spec info you need on it without wasting a post asking whether or not the thing has an active or passive pickup. ¬†LOOK AT THE FUCKING SPECS AND FIND OUT; that’s why I provided the exact serial number instead of just saying ‘Ibanez lefty uke’, which tells you nothing.

Ahem, for the record it IS an active pickup. It runs on 2 3V lithium batteries. Would I have opted for a passive pickup if I had all the choices in the world? Yeah, running out of batteries sucks, and my fender Hellcat has an active pickup in it to which the battery door is virtually impossible to open, so I’m not really a fan of them in general.

However, for me to tell you ‘it cuts out ONLY when I brush against the cable, then I wiggle the cable and the sound comes back’, and your response is to check the batteries…well, it’s a shortcut of a sort, to be fair: I now know you’re a twit and I no longer have to put any stock into a word that comes out of you, because I’m talking about jiggling a cable, and you’re wondering if the thing is getting juice. OBVIOUSLY, IT IS: this is really, REALLY basic mechanics. The most likely culprit if the sound ONLY cuts out when you bump into something is that something is loose, and an educated guess would be to assume first that it’s likely a wire of some sort, if you’ve already checked the screws.

AHEM, so that’s my rant about that. If you don’t have any mechanical sense, don’t try to answer tech questions. If you don’t have relevant information to provide, don’t say anything at all. And, if I’ve given you all the information necessary to look up the specs on the instrument, just do that instead of asking me. I appreciate that you’re taking time out of your day to post 5 words (oh wait, that didn’t take any time out of your day at all…), but if those five words are neither helpful nor entertaining, STFU. I have no patience for time-wasters.

Anyway, I unscrewed the uke where the cable connects to take a look inside. I didn’t see anything that appeared out of order, but with the rubbery wrapper over the wiring, it’s not like I could really see all that much. I wiggled the wires around a little and screwed it back together. Apparently the ‘poke at it’ method worked (either that or my fingers are made of magic), because so far that tiny little wiggle seems to have completely corrected the issue. ¬†Will it last forever? Unlikely. If I’m right about it being a loose wire (Occam’s Razor, thanks.), then wiggling things around will have moved it, but not made it magically not loose anymore, so that’s something I have to keep an eye on.

I emailed the company I purchased it from about the issue (before I started poking at it), and asked if they would be willing to offer a partial refund to cover the cost of repairs. ¬†I wasn’t anticipating much, but a pittance to show good faith would have been nice. Instead they basically said ‘my tech looked at it’ and ‘Ibanez has a lifetime guarantee, so if it’s not the batteries, they’ll deal with it.’ ¬†The reply was polite enough, but your tech CLEARLY didn’t look at it very closely, because the problem was pretty significant at unboxing. It would have been very hard NOT to notice it.

And, wtf is with the ‘did you check the batteries?’ tactic. ¬†I swear this is the musical instrument equivalent of the IT “did you try turning it off and then on again?” ¬†Ahem, sorry, I guess I still feel a bit ranty, since, I mean, really. It has batteries? NO SHIT.

Well, whatever, I fixed it on my own anyway, thanks to everyone I talked to on the matter being completely useless, my ‘poke at it’ method seemed to work just fine for now. Am I thrilled that it wasn’t perfect being brand new? No, but it can’t be found anywhere else at the moment, so I’ve got to make the best of it.

Ibanez UEW20LSME. Left-handed concert acoustic-electric ukulele. Spalted Maple with single cutaway and built in tuner.
Ibanez – Nut and saddle are plastic, so there is room for an upgrade here. Grover tuners.
So, it’s a very glossy body, which is n’t actually my preference but there were far too many advantages to make that kill the appeal for me. As I’ve said, lefties don’t have very many choices about that. Luna makes one, and while I have nothing against Luna instruments (at all! They’re actually quite nice!), comparing that specific instrument to this specific instrument, for me, the choice was clear.

UK300T preamp. Active electronics run on 2x 3V batteries. Built in Tuner.
I found that leaving the treble and bass alone resulted in what I felt was a really shrill sounding uke, at least with my cheapo Rogue amp. I’ve found turning up the bass and down the treble a bit mellowed out the sound quite a lot, which I find more appealing.

When you first plug in, the tuner turns on, which – yes – does mute the sound going to the amp. That’s not an imperative feature for me, but it’s a nice little bell and/or whistle.

The lowest action of any ukulele I own. Very playable, but it actually took me a minute to acclimate since the action is lower than all of my others.
The action is VERY low. It’s quite comfortable to play, but by far the lowest action on any of my ukes, and because of that it took me a minute to get used to it.

Overall, I’m happy with the uke. It’ll sound a lot better once I have an amp better suited to it, but really, it’s what I expected, and in spite of my having to repair it, it’s set up well and easy to play.

So! With that in mind, here’s a (exceptionally poorly played) sound clip. ¬†Really I just plucked around a bit both with and without the amp so you can hear the difference. Please remember that my amp cost $20. Also, understand that my playing here is unreasonably bad. I didn’t feel like thinking of something to play and going back to re-record just for a sound test.

So, in the process of my googling repairs, and looking outside, a bit annoyed that I had to miss a free punk concert when the weather was gorgeous, I wandered over to the ukulele reddit (not a happy place for me, since my one and only post there became overwhelmed by one retarded know-it-all with a website who is way more of an asshat than you would expect of an ukulele player, which left a bad taste in my mouth and I abruptly unsubscribed. Fuck reddit.) because I was looking for an answer and  quickly.

I didn’t end up actually keeping my question up for more than 20 minutes, and deleted it as soon as I’d self-repaired the uke issue, BUT the benefit of having gone over there was seeing an announcement that there was going to be an ukefest concert down in Asbury Park, and that the entry fee was only $13. I could totally swing that!

So, even if I didn’t end up getting to go to the free punk concert, the result of my not going was that I DID get to go to an ukulele concert at night down at The Saint in Asubury Park, which I will talk about more tomorrow, since it’s now 2:30 in the morning (see, it became morning during the time I was writing this post. Funny how that happens), and I’m too tired to go into any detail right now.

Until Next Time, seriously, done buying ukuleles for a while! Accessories, though…that’s another story.