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VT Fret Works

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A Vermont musician who fixes guitars and works with wood is using his skills to craft custom ukuleles.

Some would say the ukulele is just a toy guitar.  Jesse Cowan is trying to silence that stigma. "I've always been intrigued by it," Cowan said.

He's been making custom Ukuleles for about five years. "I like a challenge.  I like something interesting.  I'd rather struggle trying to do something that's neat, then put out vanilla," he said.

Each one takes at least forty hours of work, and they're made with wood Cowan finds locally. "This is actually a harvested log from the woods from an old piece of maple that was about a five-foot long log that was about four-feet around," Cowan said.

"It's total artistry.  It's an heirloom piece.  It's one of those things I hope to have forever.  It will hang on the wall long after my fingers start working," said Shelby King, a proud ukulele owner.

Cowan is a carpenter, a luthier, and of course, a musician.  He picked up an upright base for the first time about 25 years ago.  The ukulele came a little bit later. "I built my first ukulele not knowing how to play the ukulele.  Once I built my first one, I had to figure out how to play it," Cowan said.

To play it properly isn't as easy as it looks, but "You'll get people playing the ukulele that wouldn't think about playing another instrument," said Dwayne Doner, a ukulele owner.

Reporter Scott Fleishman: How long have you been playing the ukulele?

Blithe Bigelow: Half an hour...  I really like playing it, and I hope to have more experience with it.

"To see somebody's face after you kind of poured your heart and soul into the thing, that's the reward, totally," Cowan said.

A man whose mini music maker is making a loud statement.  

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