Sunday, 10 October 2010

Risa LP-style electric ukulele
When Bertram posted his photo of the 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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  1. I have exactly this model and the point of playing it like a guitar is because I only know ukulele chords and very few guitar chords. Likewise, because of an accident with my left arm and hand some years ago, I have problems getting my hand around the neck of a full size guitar and the fret spacings are too big. The smaller neck and the fret spacings on the ukulele work perfectly (for me). Mine is tuned to GCEA (low G)which produces a nice low-pitch melodic tone. I agree however, that it's not for everyone and definitely not the "traditional" ukulele enthusiast. All that being said, I'm now in the process of having a 4 string, solid body, 3/4 size, Fender-style, tenor guitar being built to my own specifications. I think the end result will be "interesting".



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