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View Full Version : Which commercial ukes compare with kit ukes?



RickOlson
04-24-2015, 09:58 AM
I've been considering building a soprano from one of the kits. I know that there will be unplanned cosmetic enhancements in a first build, but I'm curious about the typical playability and sound that people get from a kit. Can someone suggest commercial ukes that are similar to the result of building a Stewmac, Hana Lima, or LMI kit if reasonable care is taken during the build?

And because of Stewmac and Hana Lima kits are so different, is there likely to be much more variation in the playability of the Hana Lima, or is it mostly the cosmetics that would vary because the build is more complicated.

Thanks for the help--

mzuch
04-24-2015, 12:29 PM
I built both the Stew-Mac and Hana Lima kits at the start of my lutherie voyage some years ago. The differences are not in sound or playability, but in the difficulty of the build. The Stew-Mac kit involves assembly of serviced parts with many tasks already done, such as cutting the rosette channel; bending the sides and carving the neck. The Hana Lima kit contains all the dimensionalized wood you will need to do those things yourself. The kit that is right for you depends on your woodworking experience, availability of tools and level of patience.

Photojosh
04-24-2015, 01:13 PM
Any difference in wood quality between the two? Top thickness?

jcalkin
04-25-2015, 09:40 AM
Any difference in wood quality between the two? Top thickness?

The thickness of the top, back, and sides of the Stew-Mac kit I have on hand is .060". I wouldn't want it any thinner than that. I've never seen a Hana Lima kit. The original question was comparing kits to commercial ukes. A solid wood kit should turn out like a similar solid wood commercial uke, and the same for ply/ply. Whether or not the kit turns out as good as the commercial version is largely in the hands of the builder. Or perhaps how nice/crappy the commercial uke is. I've only owned ukes that I've made, so I have no basis for any comparison of commercial/kit quality.

Photojosh
04-25-2015, 09:44 AM
Whether or not the kit turns out as good as the commercial version is largely in the hands of the builder.


Well that's terrible news! I'm doomed then.

(I kid).

lauburu
04-25-2015, 10:21 AM
I have used a Hana Lima kit and the quality of the wood is very good. If this is your first build, I'd choose a spruce top as WRC is quite soft and dents very easily.
As far as playability is concerned, that's more to do with the builder than the kit.
Miguel

jcalkin
04-25-2015, 04:13 PM
Well that's terrible news! I'm doomed then.

(I kid).

Glad you're kidding. You'll do fine.