A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 21, 2016
“How long does it take to tune a 12-string guitar?"/"Nobody knows.”

The classic musical instrument joke is:

Q: How long does it take to tune a 12-string guitar?
A: Nobody knows. It’s never been done.


The joke has been cited in print since at least 1998, when it was told about several different instruments.


Google Groups: alt.support.dystonia
Gina/humor
Gene
5/19/98
(...)
A “Chang” is a Central Asian instrument (from countries such as Uzbekistan). It’s something like a hammered dulcimer with a damper pedal.

How long does it take to tune a chang?
Nobody knows.

Google Groups: sci.lang
nails & harp strings (was: A Chomskyan Musical Organ?)
yar...@my-dejanews.com
8/19/98
(...)
A quote from the wonderful Welsh triple harpist Robin Huw Bowen:
“How long does it take to tune a harp?
No one knows . . .
It’s never been done.”

Google Groups: alt.guitar
12 string tuning???
Jim Price
12/7/98
How long does it take to tune a 12 string?
Nobody knows!

The Mudcat Cafe
Subject: RE: hammered dulcimer- how difficult to learn?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 04:01 PM

How long does it take to tune a hammered dulcimer?
...Nobody knows......

Google Groups: rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz
JOKES (was Re: Pat Metheny: Zero Tolerance For Silence)
juvenal
4/9/00
(...)
How long does it take to tune a banjo?
Nobody knows.

Google Groups: rec.arts.marching.drumcorps
OT Some Musician Jokes
Jazzman
11/6/04
(...)
How long does it take to tune a hammered dulcimer?
Nobody knows.

Google Books
The Best Musicians’ Jokes
By Bruno Kassel and Carlo May
Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications, Inc.
2005
Pg. 91:
How long does it take to tune a chang?
Nobody knows.

Google Groups: alt.polyamory
it’s hard not to be too excited
ElissaAnn
2/25/06
(...)
Q. How long does it take to tune a harp?
A. Nobody knows yet.

Google Groups: uk.music.guitar
Musical jokes…
JNugent
8/24/06
There are load of them currently being posted in the jazz guitar NG. I thought this one would raise a smile here:

Q:  Approximately how long does it take to tune a mandolin?
A:  Nobody knows, it’s never been done.

Twitter
Mick_Shrimpton
‏@Mick_Shrimpton
How long does it take to tune a 12-string guitar? ...Nobody knows…
1:11 PM - 7 Jul 2009

2010, Southwest Review, “The New Old-Timers” by Wes Davis, pg. 89:
Some of these jibes are directed at the peculiarities of the instrument itself: “How long does it take to tune a banjo? . . . No one knows yet.”

Google Books
Folk Soul: A journey into European folk music and dances between the past, the present and the future
By Luca Turchet
Lulu Publishing (Lulu.com)
2013
Pg. ?:
How long does it take to tune a hurdy-gurdy? Nobody knows!

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Wednesday, September 21, 2016 • Permalink