the 'Wizard of the Strings'
|Roy Smeck, the self-taught
'Wizard of the Strings', was born in Reading,
Pennsylvania in 1900.
an early age, he became fanatical about music,
taking up the banjo, guitar, ukulele, Hawaiian
guitar, autoharp and harmonica. He spent every
spare moment practising his technique and became
one of the most accomplished uke players of all
his twenties, Smeck broke into the Vaudeville
circuit. His routine would include dazzling
displays on each of his instruments in turn, but
it was the uke which wowed audiences the most,
and it quickly became the highlight of his act.
Smeck was as much a showman as a musician, and he
incorporated many visual gimmicks into his
playing - for example, spinning the uke, playing
it upside-down, and blowing across the soundhole!
Smeck's performances survive on record and film,
and it is easy to see why he became something of
a star in his day! As well as his records and
radio broadcasts, Smeck wrote many instruction
books, and had instruments produced under his
name; the Harmony Company sold 'Roy Smeck' ukes
in their thousands.