January 12, 2006

And now here's something we hope you'll _really_ like...

by Chris Randall

Okay, I've been a professional musician for over 15 years, and I didn't think there was anything left to surprise me. But check this out: I ordered some new bass strings from Elderly Instruments last week. I've never ordered from Elderly before, even though I knew that the company existed. But I wanted a set of the black nylon Tru-Bass Rotosound strings, and they were the only place in the United States that carried them that wasn't a mass-market retailer (e.g. Musician's Friend and their ilk; I never buy from those sorts of companies if I can find someone else that has the product I'm looking for.) What I didn't know, and didn't discover from Elderly's... well... elderly web site, is that this company is serious business.

To wit: a rather largish color catalog came with the order. This catalog is actually significantly bigger than the 30-odd Musician's Friend catalogs I get every year. It's as big as any four of them put together, and it is chock-fucking-full of weird shit. They have a $130 professional concert-grade penny whistle. They have several harmonicas that cost multi-hundreds of dollars. But where Elderly comes out on top, far ahead of any other retailer I'm aware of, is ukuleles. Now, I was born in Hawaii (Army brat, doncha know...) so the uke has a special place in my heart. Not special enough that I ever devoted more than, say, two thought cycles to its existence, but special inasmuch as it's from Hawaii, and I'm from Hawaii, and that's kind of cool.

If you click that link above, you'll be whisked away to Ukulele Heaven. Elderly actually has, in stock (free shipping for orders over $99) one hundred and eight different NEW ukuleles. Never mind their vintage used models. I had no idea there was a market for vintage ukes, but come to find out, Elderly has a 40s Martin 3-M soprano for a mind-bending $3200. Or take the 1929 National resonator ukulele for the skull-crushing sum of $3950. Now, I realize those are US dollars, and what with the Chinese dumping all their t-bills, they aren't worth the paper they're printed on, but even so, that's a lot of coin for a four-stringed instrument not made by Stradivarius.

So, do yourself a favor and order the Elderly Instruments paper catalog. It is full to the brim with strange instruments. Dulcimers, harps, concertinas, autoharps, some really stellar guitars, and, of course, ukuleles.




Jan.13.2006 @ 8:14 AM
Wow, great to see Elderly featured here. I grew up in the Lansing, Michigan area, which is somewhat of an unassuming location for such a store. It's located in an old school house from the 1940's era - multiple stories, brick exterior, and lots of weird little rooms inside.

Without a doubt, it is truly a guitar players heaven. You won't be bombarded with bad 80's era rock from an overhead soundsystem, nor will every other player in there be plugged into a Marshall half-stack cranking out their version of "Smoke On The Water." There generally IS a flurry of activity in there, and a guitars covering every inch of floor space.

The sales staff is knowlegeable and professional. They'll give you the straight shit, and will tell you to save up for a better model if the guitar you're eyeing is a POS. They also have a fairly robust repair and reconditioning service. I don't recall any of my friends ever being pressured to buy (I'm not a guitarist myself, but still love to go there).

While I no longer live in the area, nor do I have anything to do with the store, I'll echo CR's recommendation to pick up a catalogue, or if you're in the area (a stretch for many readers, perhaps, but you never know), stop in for a bit.


Jan.13.2006 @ 8:56 AM
Yeah, Elderly's a fun read. I also recently received a print catalogue from Lark In The Morning (link [www.larkinam.co...]">link [www.larkinam.co...]), printed on news print, no less. Talk about interesting reading! If you've been wondering where you can get your hands on a new Oceanharp (link [larkinthemorninct.as...]">link [larkinthemorning.co...]) or perhaps a Crwth (link [larkinthemorninct.as...]">link [larkinthemorning.co...]) Lark in the Morning is the place for you.

Actually their print catalogue is a facinating read for the ever-so-brief but informative blurbs they write about each of their instruments. Also, their page layout that seems to group together completely unrelated instruments makes every page an adventure. That is, if your idea of adventure is looking at a catalogue of obscure instruments.


Jan.13.2006 @ 10:23 AM
i was just seattle and came across the lark in the morning store. its pretty cool. odd string instruments for not that much money. the side effect is that i didn't feel that many of the instruments are built to last.

another great spot for odd instruments is thump music but as of right now i can't get on their website.

link [www.thumpmusic.co...]">link [www.thumpmusic.co...]




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