A Christening

7:30pm, day three, Guild of American Luthiers convention, Tacoma, Washington. Where seemingly well-adjusted folks who make musical instruments poke their phones inside of other maker’s guitars to see how they’re put together…

…ah, Kasha bracing, and a very thin top at right center.

Early evening light bathes the clock tower courtyard at Pacific Lutheran University.

Kimo Hussey, a master of the ukulele from Hawaii, is jamming with Jay Lichty, who makes beautiful ukes and guitars from (as he puts it) “that hotbed of ukulele music, Asheville, North Carolina”. Kimo is playing one of Jay’s ukes, and the night before had given a concert with it.

I’m carrying the first ukulele I built, having just come from the exhibit hall where I have a display table alongside many real luthiers.

[I am so insecure at the exhibition that my table was mostly covered with woodworking tools; I taught folks how to quickly sharpen their planes and scrapers to a high standard, something I do daily in the shop and teach almost non-stop when I work Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events. My uke was wedged over to the side, constantly at risk of being splattered by swarf (a muck of water, iron filings and abrasive particles generated during sharpening on waterstones).]

Kimo and Jay are making great music–swing tunes, pop, rock, you name it. I’d like Kimo to play my uke, but no way I’m interrupting. There’s a lull, my heart rate doubles…but I keep my mouth shut. They play some more. 7:50, time to pack up soon for the evening concert.

If not now, when? There’s a tiny lull, and my voice cracks as I ask Kimo if he’ll play my first uke. He says “you mean you want me to help christen your first ukulele?”. I manage to blurt out yes, that’s it exactly. He says “I’d be honored to help christen your uke”. I try not to let my jaw bounce off the ground, pull it out of the case, and he looks it over closely before starting this:

Wow! I was walking on air the rest of the evening.

One thought on “A Christening

  1. very cool.
    i've also been toying with the idea of making instruments. i would be coming at it from the furniture end of things as well. mostly looking at making basses.
    it's nice to see someone else do it with some success.
    jacques breau

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