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Tahitian ukulele: Map

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The Tahitianmarker ukulele (also known as the Tahitian banjo) is a short-necked fretted lute with eight nylon strings in four doubled courses, native to Tahiti. This variant of the older Hawaiian Ukulele is noted by a higher and thinner sound and is often strummed much faster.

Construction

The Tahitian ukulele is significantly different from other ukuleles in that it does not have a hollow soundbox. The body (including the head and neck) is usually carved from a single piece of wood, with a wide conical hole bored through the middle. Alternatively Tahitian ukulele can be carved out of three pieces of wood with the sides being made from different woods, for decoration.

The tapered hole bored through the body is about 4 cm in diameter on the back; at the front it is about 10 cm in diameter. The hole is topped with a thin piece of wood, on which the bridge sits, so the instrument works rather like a wood-topped banjo. Indeed, some of these instruments are referred to as Tahitian banjos. The strings are usually made from light-gauge fishing line, usually green in colour (usually around 30—60 lb).

History

The instrument seems to be a relatively recent invention, popular in eastern Polynesia, particularly French Polynesiamarker. It is reported to have been introduced to the Cook Islandsmarker in 1990 by the band Te Ava Piti as a newly invented instrument.

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