ukulele shop window in Berlin recently, the one thing that really stuck out for me was the diminutive 4-string Les Paul in the centre of the window display. It turns out that this is an electric tenor ukulele from Germany's very own Risa Instruments.
Risa have for a few years now been producing a very interesting range of professional quality ukes, including minimalistic headless uke solids and steel string electrics. For a number of years they produced an electric with a thinline kidney bean-like body equipped with Danelectro-style lipstick pickups. Now they've gone more traditional and have based their latest electric quite faithfully on the Les Paul, complete with a set-neck. There are soprano and tenor models, and a choice of natural mahogany, cherry sunburst (pictured above), and black finishes. (Incidentally, there is nothing new about the electric steel-string ukulele - Gibson themselves produced such an instrument way back).
They look fantastic, but don't come cheap being priced between €499 and €599. My immediate reaction was that "I want one of these" but then I saw the demo video and was put off slightly:
I mean, he may as well have been playing a guitar. What is the point of using a ukulele?
What appeals to me about a uke, is using different tunings from the guitar and approaching the instrument in a different way allowing for fresh song ideas.
I'd still like one (a tenor... I can't be dealing with the titchy scale of the soprano), but I for sure won't be doing any of THAT.
G L Wilson
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