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Thread: Build Thread: Custom Guilele by Jonathan Dale/Jupiter Ukulele

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
    Posts
    3,879

    Cool Build Thread: Custom Guilele by Jonathan Dale/Jupiter Ukulele

    Technically, this is a "short scale parlor guitar" but the specs are squarely in baritone guilele territory. I'll get to those shortly. But first, a little history...

    I have admired guilele (guitalele? guitarlele? couldn't we have picked a single term?) from afar for several years now, particularly the playing of folks here like Dr. Bekken and camsuke. But I never gave it much thought for myself as I completely gave up guitar in my mid-twenties due to RSI issues. I just couldn't work my computer job and play guitar too. Even now, my uke playing is severely limited. But a UU thread back in January got me surfing for 6-strings, and the realization struck me that if I can play tenor and baritone ukes, there really shouldn't be any reason I couldn't play a similarly scaled 6-string without undue stress. At that point, the hunt was on, and since you're here, you know where this is headed.

    I had stumbled across the Jupiter Ukulele (http://jupiteruke.com/) site several times before, probably most recently during the hunt for super tenors that led to the Bonanza build. This time I noticed the parlor guitars built off a baritone uke body and thought, hmm, he does 19" scale and 6-strings, why not both?

    I thought one reason "why not" might be the scale length, figuring the scale length of the parlor guitars must surely be something insane ( :-) ) like 23", but when Jonathan informed me the usual scale of those is the modern baritone 20", I knew we might have a shot. After a few email exchanges, he agreed it sounded like a neat challenge. The game was afoot. Well, not quite yet. Turns out, Jonathan was at his winter home in Florida, and his workshop was hibernating back in Pennsylvania. So it would be several months before work could commence, and if all went well, several months of build time after that. That timeframe actually sounded great to me as it would give me time to save up and would give me time to figure out what I really wanted. (I've posted in other threads that I acquired a used Cordoba Mini and Cordoba C1m 1/4 size to help dial that in.)

    Fast forward to the present, Jonathan is back north, I've done my experiments, and we exchanged some more emails to arrive at the following spec sheet:
    1. Baritone ukulele body - standard for parlor guitar and I wouldn't want any bigger anyway
    2. 6 string 'guitar' neck, 19 inch scale - my preferred bari scale, confirmed once again by the Mini vs C1m comparison
    3. Sycamore Back & Sides - other choices included black walnut and big leaf maple, but I like the finished look of this better and an extra bonus is "this wood started with me and a chain saw." How cool is that?
    4. Pennsylvania Red Cedar top - other choices included redwood and Port Orford cedar but again I like this better visually and the local aspect is appealing. Tonally this should be between the other two which should fit the wider guitar range well.
    5. Side sound port - I have to say my experience with these so far has been somewhat inconclusive but it can't hurt
    6. Radiused fingerboard - again, can't hurt and may help those RSI issues
    7. Piccaso headplate - so far pretty normal, but if you've read many of my posts over the past few years, you'll know that doesn't describe me, so here goes. I'll post a pic below of an example but suffice it to say this is a Jonathan Dale original design and ain't nobody gonna have another like mine
    8. spiral rosette - another innovation from Jon so why not?
    9. MiSi pickup - I haven't been getting pickups in ukes for quite some time as I don't play out and recording with a microphone has proven better/easier lately. But what the heck, go big *and* go home?
    10. Nut width - not on the official spec sheet, but should be in the neighborhood of 1-3/4" maybe 1-13/16"


    I got clearance from Jonathan to start this thread, so he'll probably be checking in from time-to-time. And I'll post update pictures as they become available.
    Ukelele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - Bb, SC SMU
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    KPK pineapple SLN-GCEA
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG-C Lava
    Guitars:
    Cordoba C1m 1/4, TI CF127, G
    Cordoba Mini M, SC F# EFS
    Jupiter #47, TI CF127, G

    Jim's Blog

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
    Posts
    3,879

    Default Design choices

    These pictures are not my build, but just to give a sense of the design choices: https://imgur.com/gallery/W2NV3GE
    Sycamore back/sides:

    PA red cedar top:

    Picasso headplate:

    Spiral rosette:
    Ukelele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - Bb, SC SMU
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    KPK pineapple SLN-GCEA
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG-C Lava
    Guitars:
    Cordoba C1m 1/4, TI CF127, G
    Cordoba Mini M, SC F# EFS
    Jupiter #47, TI CF127, G

    Jim's Blog

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Willamette Valley Oregon
    Posts
    217

    Default

    I am quite excited for you Jim. I have eyed Guileles for some time now but haven’t had the opportunity to have one in my hands. It will be a joy watching as things progress.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    Posts
    7,082

    Default

    As our teachers always told us, homework is important, and you have proven that. What a fantastic instrument you and Jonathan have envisioned - I can’t wait to see the results.
    Kathryn

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Orleans,MA
    Posts
    2,651

    Default

    Thanks, Jim. I always enjoy checking in on build threads. That spiral rosette is pretty cool.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Gloucester, UK
    Posts
    459

    Default

    This is such a smart way to go about it, Jim. How many times do we see custom ukes come up for sale because they turn out to not be what the buyer was looking for? You've really taken your time and done your research, exciting times!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    697

    Default

    Good for you Jim!! This sounds like a great build project. I love sycamore!! Ever since my first flamenco style guitar with sycamore back and sides I've been hooked on that wood species. Sadly that guitar is long gone, but I'm always on the watch for it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Eastern Pennsylvania / Jupiter Florida
    Posts
    71

    Default

    Thanks to Jim for starting this thread. I always like to have something a bit experimental 'on the bench', as that is the way I learn new things. I have done a 19" scale XL tenor, so I have 19" fret slotting jigs around, and I have built parlor guitars with a 20-3/4" scale based on a baritone body, so making a 19" scale parlor should be an interesting marriage.

    I was going to be bending the sides today, but when I started to set things up late yesterday, my heat blanket shorted out, blew the circuit breaker and fried the controller. Manure happens. Off to do other things while I await replacement parts like back braces, getting the top in shape, going over to the FabLab to use the laser cutter to cut rosette jigs for the larger baritone sound hole. There is always something ...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
    Posts
    5,127

    Default

    Jim.......you always put a lot of thought into your custom builds and this is no different. I love sycamore as well, had an all sycamore Mya Moe tenor which sounded great. I think the choice of a cedar top is perfect, the two woods together will smell great.and sound marvelous. Well done buddy
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Near Lake Okeechobee, Florida
    Posts
    283

    Default

    Jim,

    I live near Jonathan Dale's winter residence in Florida, and for the past couple years, I've paid him a visit or two each winter to play his ukuleles.

    His ukuleles are fine instruments. I'm considering ordering one myself.

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on the final guilele!
    Last edited by bacchettadavid; 05-02-2018 at 04:58 AM.
    "Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once -- for how count heart-beats plain / Unless a company, with hearts which beat, / Come close to the musician, seen or no?" - Robert Browning, "Balaustion's Adventure"

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