Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Advice and presentation

  1. #1

    Default Advice and presentation

    Hi there folks! This will be some sort of presentation and "please advice" post.
    I've registered a few days ago but have gone through almost every topic in the forum (ok, not every... :P).
    I'm Sergio, i'm from Spain, and i'm mostly a guitar player who lately has been in the need of using a Ukulele when performing, so step by step i've come to fall in love with this amazing instrument.
    I've been playing until now with a not so good instrument and the time has come to have one built.
    So you can guess i'm through the hardest of the times for a musician...making choices

    I will be working with a luthier i trust (he's a friend and has some experience building guitars i've had the chance to play and enjoy so far) but it's going to be just the third ukulele he builds.

    ok, enough blah blah

    So , the idea as you may all guess is we want to build the best instrument we can ... so far we've decided to go with Cocobolo for back and sides but we're a bit struggling with the soundboard. I've read lots of descriptions on soundboards and based on my experience with guitars i can make myself some sort of idea on what i want, but Ukulele is a very different instrument and have not that much experience on the impact of the soundboard wood.
    I've thought of going with a Spruce Top, but he suggested Cedar or even trying Maple. The thing is that, despite on paper Cedar seems to be warmer, after going through tons and tons of videos i'm not sure i like the way it projects the sound. It sounds a bit compressed to my ears and even a bit boxy (if that makes any sense).

    So, i'm here asking for some advice from you guys who have tons of experience beyond my knowledge.
    I'm looking for a mellow, round, warm sound, with lots of sustain , and in a way that all strings are quite balanced and more or less with the same volume.
    Probably i will go with a Low G setup, and i say "probably" because i come from the guitar world, and based on what i've listened to i find it warmer and more interesting in the low end but with the idea to go "high G" at some point if the instrument is interesting enough and not too bright/hassle in the high end.

    Yes... the holy grail we all want

    My issue here is that every time i listen to a video of a High End or Custom Ukulele i don't mind much the soundboard, they all sound great, so i'm starting to go a brit crazy and the fear of choosing the wrong soundboard is starting to come to my head...

    I think the only woods i don't fancy much are Mahogany and Acacia . I like them for some guitars, but (always based on the videos i've listed to) they seem a bit opaque and some times a bit boxy to my ears(if that makes any sense).

    I forgot to mention it will be a Tenor Size.

    So, sorry for this huge "brick", for my english (i'm not a native :P) and any advice will be much appreciated.

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Cairns, Australia
    Posts
    2,058

    Default

    The tone you get from your instrument is going to be affected by not only the species, but also to just as great a degree the way its braced, the way the back is braced, your choice of strings, and your playing style.

    Personally, I like spruce on tenors, but I have 6 different species of it on my shelves and all of them have a different tone and response as well.

    My advice is not to agonise over this too long. Pick something and build with it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Wales, UK
    Posts
    4,701

    Default

    Red spruce on anything - you can't go wrong. As Allen said, ther is actually more to it than just wood choice. I would have chosen at the outset a ukulele maker to build my instrument though.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    6,811

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Howlett View Post
    Red spruce on anything - you can't go wrong. As Allen said, ther is actually more to it than just wood choice. I would have chosen at the outset a ukulele maker to build my instrument though.
    I agree, I don't want a guitar builder's 3rd ukulele. Get ukulele builder, so you only have to go through this once.
    cocobolo makes an excellent uke, but only if the builder knows what to do. I've seen two cocobolo ukes with mahogany tops and didn't like them at all. My Cocobolo Ukulele is cocobolo all around, and I love the tone.
    Happy ukeing!
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Little River, California
    Posts
    1,569

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ManhattanBlue View Post
    So , the idea as you may all guess is we want to build the best instrument we can ... so far we've decided to go with Cocobolo for back and sides but we're a bit struggling with the soundboard. I've read lots of descriptions on soundboards and based on my experience with guitars i can make myself some sort of idea on what i want, but Ukulele is a very different instrument and have not that much experience on the impact of the soundboard wood.
    I've thought of going with a Spruce Top, but he suggested Cedar or even trying Maple. The thing is that, despite on paper Cedar seems to be warmer, after going through tons and tons of videos i'm not sure i like the way it projects the sound. It sounds a bit compressed to my ears and even a bit boxy (if that makes any sense). Cheers!
    Great that you and your friend are going to build an ukulele. My thoughts: Cocobolo for backs and sides is in my opinion problematic for a couple reasons:

    1) Cocobolo is incredibly lovely looking wood if you like red and figure. I love it. However, over time that wood will change to a dingy brown color resembling something a dog left on your front lawn.
    2) Cocobolo is an oily wood that releases a toxin that can effect people in nasty ways. It can actually cause convulsions in certain sensitive people when working it. I bend it and have not had a problem. Yet.
    3) Cocobolo is being over exploited in certain areas and certificates of origin are often false so it is being restricted.

    Not my first choice in back and side wood. Binding maybe yes. Back and sides no. Why not something more conventional and less toxic. Myrtle, indian rosewood, or walnut or???... Don't obsess over the back and sides. Mostly it is an aesthetic choice.

    As far as the soundboard: Spruce, spruce and spruce would be my three choices for a first effort.

    And lastly, don't obsess too much on the whole thing. It is a friggin ukulele in the end. Just build it and then play it and have fun. This whole thing about warmth and sustain and volume and etc. etc. is a bit of hooey.

    Oh and finally like an above poster pointed out, don't let your friend overbrace the top like a steel string dreadnaught guitar. Brace light. Ukes like light. See my next post on bracing.
    Last edited by sequoia; 10-11-2017 at 07:02 PM.

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks all for the quick and kind responses. I must say i've read so many posts from you ... i am in a position of being able to appreciate the time taken to reply and the value of the answers.

    Some more background on this:
    I decided to give a go to this friend because he's a friend (obvious) , he's been building classical guitars for some years now for a "known name" around here (and most instruments i played from him sounded pretty good at least) and because he offered to do it cheap so we could "experiment" a bit and because he's aware it's just his 3rd uke and in case i wouldn't like the end result he would keep it and have it sold, so , in the worst scenario, i can always go to a real Uke maker.

    I was taught to listen, so i will probably follow your advice and go with a Spruce top. Also i think first impressions sometimes are the best ones and Spruce was there all the time.

    For the bracing , i'm not quite sure about the wood he plans on using, but we have planned a 3 fan bracing as a starting point. I will ask him about this.

    About the neck , I first thought of mahogany but he suggested trying Spanish cedar so it would be light. Ebony fingerboard. And he also suggested using Spanish Heel instead of Dovetail (no particular reason, just what he was comfortable with). We thought of building with a truss rod, just in case it could be needed.

    The reason to choose Cocobolo is that we wanted this to be some sort of experiment too. He's already worked with Cocobolo before and fortunately , no allergies or reactions so far, and we thought of using some exotic woods, so why not giving it a go? Also we had some Cocobolo at hand with its CITES permission (i don't know if this is the proper way to say it was all legal) .
    I told him about the color changing, as i read it in this forum, and he said he'd try doing some research and check if there was some sort of finishing so the wood might not get ugly too quick and keep the color for as long as it could. We had thought of a matte finish.
    But yes, this about the color degradation is something that might change the decision about the Cocobolo in the end.

    The idea is to have the woods chosen by the end of next week tops and most of the design already closed (cutaway/no cutaway, pickup, bindings, fret inlays, finish, tuners...)

    Thanks again !!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
    Posts
    4,014

    Default

    I am not a builder but I will add that the luthier has as much or more influence on tone as the woods used. I have four spruce top tenors build by highly regarded custom builders and they all sound different. Ranging for bright and articulate to mellow and balanced. I have a Webber tenor with Englman spruce top and cocobolo back and it has great midrange and is very loud with huge headroom. I like low G as well and always use a wound G and C string, paired with either florocarbon of nylon(for warmth) E and A strings.

    It sounds like you have given this a lot of thought, go with your choices (I love spruce tops) and you should be just fine. Good luck with everything.
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Posts
    1,298

    Default

    Skip the truss rod. You can put a carbon fibre rod in the neck but no metal, no adjusting stuff.
    Building blog - http://www.argapa.blogspot.com
    Music and atrocities - http://www.goodcopbadcop.se

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Blaine, Washington
    Posts
    1,914

    Default

    I have a Redwood top/East Ind. Rosewood tenor along with a Cedar/Koa. I love the redwood/cocobolo. The luthier who built mine uses old growth cedar possibly 1500 plus years old and the redwood he uses is from the old water tanks being replaced on top of the buildings in New York.

    He loves talking ukes and providing tips on using various wood choices.http://www.griffinukuleles.com His blog is worth a read also. I haven't noticed and color changes in my cocobolo ukes.

    If you want a more mellow tone, go with cedar or redwood. If more brighter, spruce. Welcome to the Forum!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Little River, California
    Posts
    1,569

    Default

    Reading this I get the feeling that your friend knows what he is doing and everything is going to fine (except for the truss rod. Nix on the truss rod. Not needed). However, uke are not really little guitars although in a way they are and guitar builders tend to build little four string guitars. All fine and good except they tend to be used to fairly high guitar stresses that just are not present in an uke. Anyway, he knows what he is doing...

    As far as cocobolo goes, go for it. The color change takes years to show up and it looks great. For awhile. Long enough maybe. I am absolutely a slut for cocobolo but then again I'm a slut for any highly figured/colored wood. I am going to post some pictures later of what cocobolo looks like after it oxidizes. I've got a perfect example. It is not that it just darkens and gets brown, it gets this... brown color that is especially ugly. I'll send pictures... As far as the bracing: just use spruce to match the top.... The choice of Spanish ceder for the neck is perfectly alright and the Spanish heal works if he is comfortable with it. I would say this person knows what he is doing and we should just let em' do it. Good luck and send pictures!

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •