I have been delaying starting a new Week Focus partially because I wanted to let Lew Dite's information to be available for a bit more time and because I hadn't completed conversations with a few of my planned Week Focus Baritone players. Then, earlier today I got a message from Drea, who inquired...
"I was directed to your blog through some of the folks at Ukulele Underground. I am trying to choose the perfect baritone uke for me and am having a hard time deciding which one to get. I think I would like one that is solid wood and in the price range of around $250. I had liked the mahogany ones but have been looking at some spruce top w/ mahogany sides as well. I just want something with a nice rich sound and feel a little lost in the world of ukulele reviews. Could you help me with any suggestions?"
So fortuitously, this week's focus chose me. I have decided to post some videos based on instruments and not necessarily the players. I personally have two 1960's baritone ukuleles: both in very good shape, one is a Harmony and the other is a Mawell. They both appear to be solid mahogany and are very similar in construction. The main differences between the two is that the Harmony has an arched back, nice edge trimming and a more slender neck. Of these I think the slender neck increases the ease of playability.
The most critical thing that I come across when it comes to playability is the action. [Which is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. A closer action adds to the ease of play but too close and the strings may buzz against frets during rapid strumming. I had the blessing to meet with the ukulele superhero Ken Middleton at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival and he thinks we are a bit to obsessed with low action. The reality is that it will probably take some time to discover what is best for you if you are a novice. So be sure to ask a knowledgable person to take a look for you. I had bought a concert ukulele from The 5th String in Berkeley, California about 18 months ago and they adjusted the action for free with my purchase.]
I hope to post a good variety of ukuleles that I know are readily available. If anyone has specific information corroborating or denying anything I write -- PLEASE share your experience. After I look thru the videos again I may add some to this post. So you may want to check back.