I’ve played guitar for four and a half years, and I still have to think damn hard about which way to turn those little tuner knob things.

So hopefully it’s obvious that I’m not a professional.

For my birthday, I got a ukulele.  I’m not entirely sure what that makes me.  A ukuleleist?  Ukester?

Anyway, new instruments don’t seem to stay tuned for very long.  I added it to the load of guitar equipment I always bring to my music lessons, and my teacher found out that it had lost its tune within twenty-four hours.  Before he could teach me anything, we had to tune it (I’m guessing an instrument that’s out of tune gives music teachers the same kind of twitch that I get from seeing a spelling error).

The poor guy has put up with me since I was twelve, and I’ve done everything in my power to keep him from realizing that I am completely tone-deaf.

I’m pretty sure that lesson blew my cover.

In order to tune something without an actual tuner, you must compare your instrument to one that is correctly tuned.  This requires two things:  1.)  You must be able to tell whether your instrument is tuned higher or lower than the other instrument.  2.)  You must know which way to turn the damn tuner thingy.

Guitar Teacher (henceforth known as the GT):  Okay, match this note.

*Half-second pause*

GT:  Other way.

On second thought, maybe my cover was blown long before this took place.

GT:  Give it here.

Okay, it’s safe to say we’ve done this before.

In any case, we got everything figured out.

GT:  Hey, wanna just have a lesson on the ukulele today, making all the effort it took to lug your electric guitar and amp past a gate and two closed doors without setting anything down in the mud completely useless?

Me:  Sure!

So he started to teach me something that he swore was originally Hawaiian, and that my mom would later swear was originally from an old TV show that she couldn’t remember the name of.  It took me a while to get it, but the GT was very encouraging:

Me:  *clunky muted note followed by screeching noise*

GT:  Good!

It did seem like the half-hour was over sooner than usual, but I’ll attribute that to the ol’ time-flies-when-you’re-having-fun thing.  Plus, I think I got there early.  It’s crazy how fast I walk when there’s a guitar strapped to my back that’s taller than I am.

When the time was up, I had a plan.  Guitar over my left shoulder, amp in my left hand, ukulele tucked under my chin, right hand reserved for opening doors.

GT:  …Need help?

Me:  *muffled*  No, I got it.

GT:  You are awesome.

And so it was that I made my way back to the car, leaning left like a Jefferson supporter who’d forgotten to balance things out while grabbing all their rock star shit.  My right arm is now considerably less-stretched than my left one, but that’s the price you pay.

The life of a ukester will never be an easy one.