An unexpected blog post from me whilst on holiday, but had a great day today at the Casa-Museo Del Timple and wanted to share with you.
As I blogged last week, the Timple is an instrument very similar to the ukulele and considered to be one of the many ancestors to the uke, being an instrument taken in to Hawaii by Spanish traders. It has five strings normally, tuned GCEAD and can be found across the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. I am on Lanzarote, and the old capital of the island, Teguise, is considered home to the Lanzarote version of the instrument. In a beautiful old Government building in this cultural capital of the island is a recent and small museum dedicated to the instrument and others in the family.
There are dozens of instruments on display of various scales, including early examples and some modern Timple's with electrics, or solid bodies much like the Eleuke. I was delighted also to find another room in which there are displays of many other similar instruments such as Charangos, Machetes, Bazoukis and, of course, the ukulele. I was even more delighted that the ukulele they had on display was a concert model Ko'aloha ukulele from Hawaii, with a name card that check Alvin Okami from the company! The ukulele certainly gets around!
Towards the end of the tour is a small room showing how the instrument is made - very similar to a uke with five strings, but with a very distinctive arched back that helps project a loud sound from its otherwise small body, the neck too is interesting with far fewer frets and a blank space on the fingerboard for strumming over. All other things considered though, this instrument looks and sounds very similar to a ukulele, albeit a very bright one on account of that extra high D string as the first of the five.
We finished looking around and in a beautiful town with very few English speakers set about trying to find where to buy an instrument using my rather basic grasp of Spanish..., "erm.... Comprar una Timple por favor?... Tienda por la Timple?"... Etc etc. just about getting by we found out there is one traditional luthier left in the town by the name of Antonio Lemez Hernández (at number 8 Calle Las Flores. Teguise if you want to see his workshop as we did!). A particular boutique of local crafts (Artesania) also was proud to stock a range, some costing over €400.
Concerned about damage bringing an instrument home on a flight I went for a basic model. I say basic, it's beautifully made with a solid spruce top and solid mahogany arched back and sides. I'm rather taken with it, and will be putting up a full review on Got A Ukulele when I get back. For now though, take a look at the Museum website Here