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View Full Version : looking for custom ukulele maker for very unusual shape based on my design.



UkuLincoln
05-12-2015, 09:23 AM
I have some ideas for ukulele designs that don't fit the standard shape or pineapple shape. I'm thinking about getting one of them made.

I've looked at a lot of different custom ukulele makers' websites, and most seem to customize with you picking the wood, inlay, or other things that don't really change the shape.

Any recommendations for a luthier that can do uncommon shapes and still make the instrument sound good?

Thanks for any links to their websites.

Lincoln

wayfarer75
05-12-2015, 09:28 AM
That's a tricky one. The shape of the body is not so simple to change. The bracing and bending sides to fit and all that would have to be different--it's not just a matter of cutting out a differently shaped soundboard. There are luthiers who do different style bodies, like Hoffman and Gary Gill and Black Bear. I think it may depend on the shape you have in mind--maybe someone already does one that's similar.

RichM
05-12-2015, 09:28 AM
Dave Talsma, king of the unusual uke:

http://davetalsma.com/

Or Peter Hurney at Pohaku:

http://www.pohakuukulele.com/

UkuLincoln
05-12-2015, 10:02 AM
Thanks for the responses. I really like the custom bridge and head stock as well as over all look of the Talsma ukulele. Though the bodies still seem to be fairly standard. I understand what you mean wayfarer75. I may end up having to redesign something based on a shape that already exists to make sure the sound is still good. But, I'm hoping to find someone who has pulled off at least somewhat uncommon body shapes.

RichM
05-12-2015, 10:14 AM
You may want Paul Celentano, then. Never played on of his ukes, but he certainly doesn't build standard shapes.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/celentanowoodworks

UkuLincoln
05-12-2015, 11:26 AM
Thanks RichM. I did come across those ukulele on Etsy. I just don't know anyone who has played them. They certainly look cool.

johnson430
05-12-2015, 11:51 AM
ukulincln.
I am curious.
What kinds of shapes are you talking about?

Thanks.
Johnson

wayfarer75
05-12-2015, 12:15 PM
ukulincln.
I am curious.
What kinds of shapes are you talking about?

Thanks.
Johnson

You aren't the only one who is curious.

Icelander53
05-12-2015, 12:16 PM
He better not tell or we'll all be ordering one.

UkuLincoln
05-12-2015, 12:33 PM
He better not tell or we'll all be ordering one.

Hahaha!

I have a few different ideas. I would basically show my sketches and 3D models I made to the luthier and ask them which would likely make the best sound.

I've seen varying degrees of unique body shapes from Boat Paddle and Iriguchi Ukuleles. I'm not expecting to get a great sound out of something if it shaped too strangely.

Hippie Dribble
05-12-2015, 01:14 PM
Lincoln, without wanting to speak for them exactly, I can almost guarantee you that Peter Hurney (Pohaku) and Duane Heilman (Black Bear) can do anything with wood. But it also would depend very much, I imagine, on how much you are about spending. You probably need to tell us more than you seem to be willing for us to be of more help.

UkuLincoln
05-12-2015, 01:38 PM
Lincoln, without wanting to speak for them exactly, I can almost guarantee you that Peter Hurney (Pohaku) and Duane Heilman (Black Bear) can do anything with wood. But it also would depend very much, I imagine, on how much you are about spending. You probably need to tell us more than you seem to be willing for us to be of more help.

I'm basically just looking for the folks that do the most unusual designs, but that still have a good sound. It's kind of like getting a tattoo. I'd want to find someone who already has a style that I like and then ask them to work with me on my idea. I wouldn't want to get a cartoony looking tattoo from someone who is amazing a photo realism, even though they probably could do it.

I'm not in a rush, so it's OK if it takes quite some time to find the right person. I may even be better off just going with a standard shape, but heavily customizing the bridge and head stock. At least then I would think the sound shouldn't be harmed by the design.

Lincoln

Hippie Dribble
05-12-2015, 01:41 PM
All sounds really interesting, for sure!!! From what you've said I think you need to contact Peter Hurney!!!!!

blue_knight_usa
05-12-2015, 01:49 PM
I second Pohaku. Peter's ukes are fantastic, and he is a master at all things wood. Keep in mind unusual shapes for any luthier could be a lot more work so you should definitely make sure you are realistic to yourself on budget.

One important thing to keep in mind is to not shape the instrument so you remove surface area. The more surface area on the upper and especially lower bout the more sound you'll get. Standard shapes can be adjusted, which is why I got the "Concert 10" from Pohaku (and one of his tenors) because of the shape...standard but not really completed standard dimensions.

The good thing is this really isn't like a tattoo because if it turns out really bad you don't need laser treatments to destroy it. A swift stop will do the trick ;-)

Good luck on your journey.

Lori
05-12-2015, 06:45 PM
If you don't mind a plastic uke, you could look into using a 3D printer to construct your prototypes. You would need some sort of a computer file to make it, but you would not be limited by what can be done in wood with traditional methods. You could consult with experienced luthiers on wall thickness, and built in bracing. You might be able to make something in cardboard, and scan it in to get a starting point. It is always good to start in 3D reality, rather than 100% on the computer screen/ drawing board. You make fewer mistakes that way.

–Lori

UkuLincoln
05-12-2015, 07:30 PM
If you don't mind a plastic uke, you could look into using a 3D printer to construct your prototypes.
–Lori

Thanks for the suggestion Lori. I have thought about using 3D printing at least for the body. I've been doing 3D printing to make my inventions and art for about 6 years. I also lecture on it, and even wrote a book about it. I think it would sound better made out of wood and look more like I'm thinking as well.

I already built some of my ideas in the computer to visualize them so I probably will at least make a sopranino at some point. 3D printing objects the size of a ukulele can be extremely expensive. Especially when I would likely have to make multiple iterations of it to get the sound right.

If you are curious to see any of my 3D printed art and jewelry you can see some of it here https://www.shapeways.com/shops/novakingway

I know of a few folks who have made 3D printed ukulele, but I have only heard of 3D printed guitars being for sale. Do you know of any 3D printed ukulele on the market?

Lincoln

kohanmike
05-12-2015, 08:27 PM
Here's a suggestion from left field, I had a custom mandolele made by Bruce Wei Arts in Vietnam after I bought a ready made one for $51 US from his eBay sight. It was not built very well, very rough detail work, but sounded OK. I liked the shape so much I decided to request a custom. In fact, I actually got two, the first one was on it's way (he build it fairly fast, 8 weeks), when I decided to change the finish from natural mahogany to gloss black acacia koa. Both sound good, especially the black koa. I think he did a good job on them, but I then ordered a custom gypsy Django style uke that I think he overbuilt, thick flame maple solid top that does not have the projection or sustain I like, but I'm told to give it time to open up.

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Mandolele chrome.jpg

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Gypsy semi side.jpg

Lori
05-14-2015, 11:57 AM
Thanks for the suggestion Lori. I have thought about using 3D printing at least for the body. I've been doing 3D printing to make my inventions and art for about 6 years. I also lecture on it, and even wrote a book about it. I think it would sound better made out of wood and look more like I'm thinking as well.

I already built some of my ideas in the computer to visualize them so I probably will at least make a sopranino at some point. 3D printing objects the size of a ukulele can be extremely expensive. Especially when I would likely have to make multiple iterations of it to get the sound right.

If you are curious to see any of my 3D printed art and jewelry you can see some of it here https://www.shapeways.com/shops/novakingway

I know of a few folks who have made 3D printed ukulele, but I have only heard of 3D printed guitars being for sale. Do you know of any 3D printed ukulele on the market?

Lincoln

Wow, nice 3D printing! I don't have a 3D printer, but one day, maybe! You are an expert. I figure, you could just make the parts that are difficult to shape in wood (like the sides of the soundbox), and piece it together with a regular uke neck, and cut a more traditional wood top and back. I know there have been experiments with making guitars with cardboard or paper mache. It might be helpful to see if the shape is comfortable to hold, and maybe some info on the sound. Keep us updated. Sounds interesting.

–Lori

UkuLincoln
05-15-2015, 09:55 AM
Wow, nice 3D printing! I don't have a 3D printer, but one day, maybe! You are an expert. I figure, you could just make the parts that are difficult to shape in wood (like the sides of the soundbox), and piece it together with a regular uke neck, and cut a more traditional wood top and back. I know there have been experiments with making guitars with cardboard or paper mache. It might be helpful to see if the shape is comfortable to hold, and maybe some info on the sound. Keep us updated. Sounds interesting.

–Lori

Thanks Lori! I'll definitely post pictures and video if I end up making anything.

Lincoln