I plan on continuing my upright bass lessons at the university next semester. I took lessons before and a problem for me, mostly as I live so far from campus, is getting enough time practicing. Cost is an issue (isn't it always?) as well as just the size and weight of an upright bass. Speaking with my last instructor about this a year ago I got a fretless bass guitar and it's nice for practice at home (if I would just sit down and play, that's another issue) and I think it's been helpful. I'm thinking I might want to invest in something that is smaller yet, not just for myself but for my nephews. I'll play for my nieces and nephews when I kidsit and visit, my nephews took an interest but the bass guitar is too big for them. (My nieces seemed less interested, one did take piano lessons though.) Here's the constraints I'm looking at: - Cheap. I'm thinking under $100 or $150, anything more than that my options open up a lot and finding something is not a problem. I also want to keep the price low as my nephews have been known to break things. Breaking a $100 instrument is much easier to handle than a $300 one. If broken then I'll send my brother a bill for $50 and get a new one, I'll consider it half my fault for letting the kid play and half for my brother letting his son play. - At least four strings tuned EADG. A six string guitar is fine. Something like a ukulele or banjo might be neat. The instrument doesn't have to come tuned EADG so long as I can tune it that way myself. I'm not concerned that it's an actual bass instrument, any octave is fine. - Small but not too small. I'm looking for a real playable instrument, or as close to one that I can get for the price constraint. Miniature novelty instruments need not apply. - Bonus points for something unique (cool uncle points) or playable with a bow (more practice for me). Things I've considered are a child's guitar or "starter" viola, either can be found for about $80. The guitar would be EADG on the top four string but have frets. I think I can tune a viola as EADG, tuning that C string might be a problem though, and it can take a bow. I've seen cellos tuned to EADG but that's too big, unless it's an electric or shrunk down in other ways but that gets expensive quick. Perhaps the wisdom of this is something I need to consider. Translating this skill from something so small to something much larger might be confusing. I will say that my instructor has said I need to work on keeping time and music reading. I'll practice bowing and other techniques on a real bass when I'm on campus. At a minimum such an instrument would be nice for entertaining my nephews.