Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Neil Young || Was He a Bari Player?

              Sunol Hike 11-7-14, 7.3 Miles, W tree

I see many people taking advantage of the "Season of the Uke" part of the Ukulele Underground site to develop their playing skills or to just plain share great songs. I recently saw a few tunes showing off some Neil Young tunes. I listened to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and enjoyed the Deja Vu album that my brother Doug Lindroos bought back in the 70's. But, I heard a different side of Neil than I noticed as a teen. Pabrizzer is always sharing songs that are delicious and build my music library.

So I wanted to do some exploration. I bought a Heart of Gold DVD from a local Frye's store. It features a much older Neil with many new songs and a group of his talented friends. It is mainly acoustic and shows of his amazing talents as a song writer and seasoned musician. I learned that Neil owns and plays Hank Williams' old guitar. He likes to collect used guitars because they carry stories in them.

I wanted to learn more so I headed to YouTube for more info where I found something quite interesting from a lengthy interview on the Howard Stern Show. Early in the interview Neil states that his father gave him an Arthur Godfrey ukulele when he was 6. When AG and ukulele are mentioned in the same sentence it definitely leads me to jump to a conclusion -- that perhaps Neil started off with a baritone ukulele. Neil said that he mastered the uke.

So, I went a little further, and asked my good Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz friend, Sandor (Shawn-Door) Nagyszalanczy his opinion. Sandor is a collector and historian of the ukulele for the last 30 (or so) years. He responded to my inquiry...
The guitar, banjo and uke company "Vega" made a line of three baritone ukuleles, all of which were connected with Godfrey: the regular bari, a "deluxe" version, with fancier appointments, and the "Solo Lute" which had a longer scale, big square fret markers, and a brown sunburst finish. I've never seen or heard of them making smaller (tenor or soprano) ukes. Although Godfrey played mostly a custom cutaway baritone, at one time, Gibson did make him a special tenor uke with a built-in pickup. It was offered for sale on Ebay years ago.
So, it may have been a bari-uke! I welcome Neil to clear up the question.

Jeff West
Humble Uker
Humble Baritonics

1 comment:

  1. I bought the Silver & Gold CD and love the title track. I found a nice link to it and added it in the DGBE Songs on the page tab above.