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View Full Version : Cocobolo Ukulele Super Concert #001



Jim Hanks
05-31-2015, 02:40 AM
Here it is, SC#001, super concert #001, the "first" concert body with 16" scale from Cocobolo Ukuleles! If you're just here for the pictures, you can check out the album on photobucket (http://s12.photobucket.com/user/jimhanksnc/library/Cocobolo%20Ukueles%20Super%20Concert%20001). (A few are in the next post.)

If you're just here for the player's report, that will have to wait. I've had very little playing time so far. Crazy busy this week. For now, all I'll say is that it is a keeper - sounds good (even with Aquila strings which I am not a big fan of and will be getting some Southcoast, PhD, and/or Living Water to try before too long), feels good, intonates well, and looks INCREDIBLE!

If you're not up for a long story, you can leave now. Still here? Ok, here we go. Wait, why was "first" in quotes? Well, that's gonna take some splainin'. This uke may be brand new, but it already has quite a history. Maybe it should be called SC#001.2. Whatddaya mean 1.2? Read on.

It all started last year when I got a hankering to try longneck soprano. I wanted a KPK pineapple longneck which was about to come out, but it kept getting delayed. I decided to get a Kala SLNG to tide me over. Really liked that little guy, but still got the KPK when they came in and liked it better overall so sold the Kala. Now the Kala has a scale length a little less than 15" IIRC and the KPK is 15.5". I got to thinking, hmmm wouldn't 16" be even mo' better?

Have you ever looked for a 16" scale soprano? They don't exist. Somebody prove me wrong, but I couldn't find one. So I started asking a few builders what they thought of the idea. I found two willing to try and commissioned one. This was last June-ish and by early August, the uke was complete! So excited when the first pics appeared in my inbox! Hmm, wait, doesn't that neck look a little long? Doh! You're right, how'd that tenor neck get on there? Must have used the wrong template. Sorry, dude.

I was torn about that uke as it looked nice and even the cell phone video sample sounded pretty decent, but I decided to pass on it, as I was too disappointed it wasn't what I envisioned. We were going to try again, but by then he was booked up with other projects, the emails got fewer and farther between, and it just become clear that the window had closed.

Forward to October, and I don't recall the exact sequence of events, but I had been looking at the concert ukes being produced by Cocobolo Ukuleles. They were getting good reviews here on UU and from the likes of Fan Guitar in Richmond. And the gallery! Oh man, the looks were right up my alley - the wilder the better. I put in an inquiry to Kevin Keith to see if they would be interested in putting a 16" scale neck on their normal concert body. At first, he wasn't too keen on the idea but after talking with head luthier Silvio decided they were up for the challenge. Sweet!

The build time was expected to be about 8 weeks and I received an in-progress pic in about 4 weeks. Looking good! About 5 weeks later as the uke was nearing completion, disaster struck! Bad news: A hairline crack was discovered in the top; there goes version 1.0. Good news: we made three others in this batch and would you like one of those instead? Hmm, let me think about it for a nanosecond - yes!

So version 1.1 was finished up, shipped right before Christmas, and arrived Jan 9. I was thrilled to open the box and find a gorgeously figured top, fretboard, and head plate with classy solid-colored back and sides. The setup was great, sounded good in the lower frets, but oh no, what's going on with the intonation? Am I hearing things? Can't count to 12? Nope, it is definitely bad. 45 cents sharp at the 12th. Really not useable as-is. Any ideas Kevin? Yup, something happened with the fret template. Unfortunately, there's no way to fix it. Can we build you another one? Well, nobody said being a pioneer was going to be easy. Bummed, but yeah, let's try again. So much for version 1.1.

By now, the word about Cocobolo Ukuleles must be getting out as they are busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest and production stretches out a bit. Took about 16 weeks for version 1.2. (Mostly I put it out of my mind, and I think that's good advice for any "custom" uke customer. Don't hound your luthier!) Anyway, good things are worth waiting for, and it arrived this past week. As I said up top, this is now a keeper. Looks even better than the last and intonation problems have been solved.

I have nothing but good things to say about Kevin, Silvio, and the rest of the team. They are building a quality product for a reasonable price (probably too reasonable) and I wish them all the best. I applaud their willingness to try new things. Who knows what they'll come up with in the future? Maybe a 16" soprano. :cool:

Well, it's been quite a journey! But this is only the beginning. I'm looking forward to finding this uke's voice and seeing what it has to say.

Jim Hanks
05-31-2015, 02:43 AM
Here's a couple pics:
http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a206/jimhanksnc/Cocobolo%20Ukueles%20Super%20Concert%20001/E0D81CD4-80C8-4701-86C4-68C6FA9FA4DE_zpssl0kgckm.jpg
http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a206/jimhanksnc/Cocobolo%20Ukueles%20Super%20Concert%20001/4986A158-8198-40B2-AA4E-33F967D96A58_zps5gkapa4m.jpg
http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a206/jimhanksnc/Cocobolo%20Ukueles%20Super%20Concert%20001/C75B0B91-B244-412E-A9A3-4F2735A35FD7_zpsj9cexjzt.jpg

Down Up Dick
05-31-2015, 03:08 AM
Very, very nice lookin' ukulele, Jim. I'm sure you're gonna enjoy the heck out of it. Happy strummin'. :old:

DownUpDave
05-31-2015, 03:36 AM
Cheers on your pioneering spirit Jim. You know I like a 16" concert as I am in the queue with you for an Ono. Please keep us updated as you play it more and tell us which strings you prefer on it. Congratulations.

Ukulele Eddie
05-31-2015, 03:51 AM
Very cool you persevered and got something you're extremely happy with. Congrats!

I'm confused about one thing, however. As scale determines what we call soprano, tenor, etc. and 15-16 inches is typically called concert, don't quite understand how you would find a "16 inch soprano". In fact, to my mind 16 is just a "longish" concert and does not quite qualify as a longneck soprano.

Regardless, I do think a 16" inch scale concert is a great size (and hard to find). My Cordoba concert was 15 7/8 scale and I thought it was an excellent size.

4stringsinner
05-31-2015, 03:53 AM
Very beautiful ukulele. Being a pioneer is never easy. Cheers to Cocobolo and you.

Mivo
05-31-2015, 05:05 AM
Gorgeous instrument -- really love the wood. Long journey, but you got there in the end! :)

Jim Hanks
05-31-2015, 09:46 AM
don't quite understand how you would find a "16 inch soprano". In fact, to my mind 16 is just a "longish" concert and does not quite qualify as a longneck soprano.
You can readily find ukes with a soprano sized body with scale lengths of 15 (most common "longneck" scale), 15.5 (KPK and Flea come to mind), and 17 (Ohana and Koaloha come to mind). I see no reason 16" wouldn't also work.

FWIW, the other builder willing to give it a go was Sailor Brand, but to my knowledge they have not yet done it either. (BTW, this is not who I commissioned and talked about in the original post. I don't want to call out that builder as my post could be construed as a negative experience. I have no hard feelings against this builder. That project just didn't work out, and I can't see how 'naming names' could serve any useful purpose.)

Doc_J
05-31-2015, 10:08 AM
Congrats Jim! Thanks for complete story. Glad it worked out well. You have a great pioneering spirit and attitude. Your cocobolo looks super!

Ukulele Eddie
05-31-2015, 01:47 PM
You can readily find ukes with a soprano sized body with scale lengths of 15 (most common "longneck" scale), 15.5 (KPK and Flea come to mind), and 17 (Ohana and Koaloha come to mind). I see no reason 16" wouldn't also work.

FWIW, the other builder willing to give it a go was Sailor Brand, but to my knowledge they have not yet done it either. (BTW, this is not who I commissioned and talked about in the original post. I don't want to call out that builder as my post could be construed as a negative experience. I have no hard feelings against this builder. That project just didn't work out, and I can't see how 'naming names' could serve any useful purpose.)

Ah, I somehow mistook your original note to mean you were looking for a "16" soprano" but somehow it wasn't a longneck. Admittedly, I hadn't had coffee this AM. ;-)

sam13
05-31-2015, 02:55 PM
Very cool Jim. Lovely contrast to the wood. Looking forward to a sample. Congrats.

Nickie
05-31-2015, 03:39 PM
Congrats Jim! Cocobolo wood is the prettiest wood I've ever laid my peepers on!

Cocobolo Ukuleles
08-07-2015, 12:45 PM
Well Jim, I think that we are about ready to venture into "Soprano Land".

Are you still interested in a Soprano with a 16" scale, or did you find someone crazy enough to give it a shot for you?

We'd be happy to build you Long Neck Soprano #001!

Jim Hanks
08-07-2015, 01:20 PM
Ooh, that is very tempting! :cool: But I better pass on that for now at least. Now that David Ingalls is building again I need to start setting aside some pennies for that build. I'm excited to see how the sopranos turn out though. I'm sure they will be amazing. :nana:

Ukejenny
08-07-2015, 01:21 PM
Looks and sounds like a lot of fun! Very nice!

Cocobolo Ukuleles
08-07-2015, 01:43 PM
No worries. I will keep you posted about how the sopranos come along. I would imagine that we will be able to entice you soon ;) Now that we've got our scale length dialed in, I am looking forward to mixing and matching some different necks and bodies. We are actually working on a "top-secret" pineapple experiment as well. We always like to mix things up a little bit :)

Camsuke
08-07-2015, 02:23 PM
Congratulations Jim, a real beauty! I'll look forward to a sound sample.

Jim Hanks
08-07-2015, 04:08 PM
Congratulations Jim, a real beauty! I'll look forward to a sound sample.
I know, I know, very remiss in that. Life keeps getting in the way. Sigh.