I just bought a vintage mahogany Harmony baritone ukulele on eBay for less than $100, including shipping. It looks to be the same model as the one in this picture but I can’t say for sure. I’m taking a chance of course, since I don't know what it sounds like. But the price was too good to pass up. I think one reason I got it so cheap is that the owner spelled it "ukelele" in the eBay listing and a lot of people who were searching for this kind of thing and spelled it correctly never saw it. I can't wait to get it and see what I can do with it.
What got me started was I was hanging out with some friends at the Occupy Chase protest in Ashland and a passing friend taught me how to play Jump You Fuckers on a concert uke and then we videoed it and put it up on youtube and it's got like 1600 views in a few weeks. It was fun, I liked the way it sounded and it was a nice introduction to the instrument. I'm not really much of a musician so I'm not planning on working any wonders on the uke beyond some nice grooves or moments. And I'm not interested in the ukulele "craze" really. I just liked the sound and portability of my first encounter with one and wanted to explore further.
I started putting the word out that I was interested in finding a decent ukulele and within a day or so two of my friends offered to lend me their vintage mahogany ukes, but I declined. I don’t like to borrow instruments I have no chance of buying. I don’t want to get attached to something I have to give back. But one friend did have a vintage Martin mahogany uke that she was willing to sell me, but it was a soprano which is very small, tiny really. I’m borrowing it right now, but I’ll probably pass on it.
I am still going to get a decent concert size uke (one step bigger than a soprano) and maybe a tenor as well. The baritone I just bought is the largest size, from what I understand. I think the usual tuning is just like the highest four strings on a guitar, but they can also be tuned like a tenor uke or like a tenor guitar, which is what I’m leaning toward. I’ll have to see what it sounds like first.
I’m looking forward to getting to know my way around the basic chords of whatever size uke I happen to be playing and then letting my ear lead me to the kind of sounds I feel like making. I have no clear idea what direction I want to go with this instrument, I’m just drawn to it and I’m going with it.