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View Full Version : NUD - Timms dark mahogany soprano with 4-1 ratio pegheads



theabsurdman
06-02-2015, 09:24 AM
As a fan of vintage mahogany which I lack the requisite funds to fully indulge, I've been eyeing (and resisting) for over a year, the allegedly next best thing: Mr. Ken Timms' eBay sopranos.

However, recently he listed something too beautiful to refuse (I even paid the BIN price!):

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It's hard to get first-hand info on the Timms sopranos because they are so scarce - I had hoped to see one amongst the recent throng at GNUF2015, but no luck, although I did have a play with somebody's Rob Collins soprano and a 1000 Martin.

First impressions: It's loud! with great note-separation and sweet if not yet as warm as one of my other mahogany ukes, a 1960s no-name Japanese, probably Nagoya Suzuki, possibly due to being strung with Aquilas, of which I'm not a huge fan and which I'm going to swap out for flouros, same as are on the Japanese uke.

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I particularly like the narrow neck profile on the Timms which makes it easy to play for a relative novice such as myself. The nut action is just as as I like it (low) and barre chords are easy to make. No buzzes or other nasties and intonation seems fine.

The geared pegheads are just fantastic - not that I have problem with traditional friction tuners - and they look great. The french polish job looks just as good as it did in the eBay photos and I can see it's definitely going to be an attention-getter at meets.

My only verrrry slight reservation is with the action: 3mm @ fret 12, which is just slightly higher than I'm used to, and which looks like it can't be lowered further (I understand just like the Vintage Martin of which it is a faithful copy). I initially found myself catching the A string on the up-strum, doubtless due to my poor technique which I was able to eventually adjust. I've also read that flouros are likely to be less "grabby" than Nylgut, so hopefully the string change will also help with this.

In summary, I'm more than happy and consider the price not excessive for a hand-crafted instrument which feels "organic" in the way that a mass-produced instrument usually doesn't.

I'm going to record some chords etc. before I change the strings and if anybody's interested will post the samples compared with 2 other good sopranos I have strung with Aquilas: A Mainland mahogany, and a Hamano H-100s. I'll also do a comparison with my Japanese uke after I've done the change. I Might also chuck in my 1900-ish Favilla Marca Aquila, which is the nearest I own to a vintage Martin. ;)

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pluck
06-02-2015, 10:32 AM
I got one of these myself a couple of weeks ago. I don't mind the nylguts though they still seem to be stretching out a bit. I like the feel of fat strings & the jangle too. I assume that the strings are still stretching and that the pegheads aren't slipping in any way. The tuning adjustments seem to be getting less as time goes by. I find that the action is a bit higher than my Kiwaya laminate but I did experience some occasional buzzing on the Kiwaya so there's that. I've gotten used to the action on the Timms and now when I switch to the Kiwaya it seems strangely low. Anyway, as much as I loved my Kiwaya, the sound of the solid wood is really nice. I had been sitting on the fence between the Timms and the Kiwaya KS-4 but the pegheads tipped the scale towards Timms. The first day or two it seemed like the head of the uke was a bit heavier but I don't notice it any more. I'm entertaining fantasies that this will be the end of UAS for me. Hope so. We will see.

Good luck with yours!

Ukulele Eddie
06-02-2015, 12:47 PM
Congratulations. I have one, too. Mine isn't the darker stain -- I agree that it looks awesome. Mine does have Pegheds which I'm really happy about. Still experimenting with strings. Found it too strident with the stock Aquila Nylguts. Put on Fremont Blacklines, which sound great for strumming. I'm less impressed with them for fingerstyle. But since I'll use the Timms primarily as a strum machine, I may not be too quick to try other strings. Will definitely want to try Aquila Reds and Southcoast Mediums (or whatever they're now called ;-).

theabsurdman
06-02-2015, 12:53 PM
Congratulations. I have one, too. Mine isn't the darker stain -- I agree that it looks awesome. Mine does have Pegheds which I'm really happy about. Still experimenting with strings. Found it too strident with the stock Aquila Nylguts. Put on Fremont Blacklines, which sound great for strumming. I'm less impressed with them for fingerstyle. But since I'll use the Timms primarily as a strum machine, I may not be too quick to try other strings. Will definitely want to try Aquila Reds and Southcoast Mediums (or whatever they're now called ;-).

I have Fremont Blacklines on my Marca Aquila. Was planning to put either Martin M600s (as are on my Japanese uke) or Living Waters on the Timms.

Camsuke
06-02-2015, 01:26 PM
Nice choice, these Timms ukuleles are excellent instruments and the Pegheds are a great addition.

Ukejenny
06-02-2015, 04:34 PM
Beautiful instrument!!!

jksk8in
06-02-2015, 06:06 PM
Congrats on a beautiful uke! I was holding out for a dark stained Timms, but caved when he listed a 17 fret soprano on Ebay last month. He rarely makes these, and I just had to have one! I am absolutely loving it! Some would argue that a longer fretboard affects top vibration and sustain, however I would have to say this is quite negligible. I ditched the Aquila strings for Living Waters, which to my ear highly improved note separation for finger picking. Great strings for strumming too. Comparing it to my Kiwaya KTS-4, I would have to say the two are quite similar, but the Timms may have an edge in regards to playability for me. I sometimes play a bit heavy handed, which tends not to compliment the thin frets and low action on the Kiwaya.

theabsurdman
06-03-2015, 03:36 AM
Congrats on a beautiful uke! I was holding out for a dark stained Timms, but caved when he listed a 17 fret soprano on Ebay last month. He rarely makes these, and I just had to have one! I am absolutely loving it! Some would argue the longer scale affects sustain, however I would have to say this is quite negligible. I ditched the Aquila strings for Living Waters, which to my ear highly improved note separation for finger picking. Great strings for strumming too. Comparing it to my Kiwaya KTS-4, I would have to say the two are quite similar, but the Timms may have an edge in regards to playability for me. I sometimes play a bit heavy handed, which tends not to compliment the thin frets and low action on the Kiwaya.

Interesting. I 've heard a lot of people say that the Kiwaya KTS-4 is the closest modern uke to a vintage Martin style 0.
When trying to ID my 1960s no-name Japanese uke, I was toying with the idea it might be an old Kiwaya, but I'm now leaning towards a Nagoya Suzuki or some other high-quality Japanese tourist uke imported into Hawaii. I got it from a guy in California. Whatever it is, it looks and sounds fantastic.

sam13
06-03-2015, 04:41 AM
Congrats on a beautiful uke! I was holding out for a dark stained Timms, but caved when he listed a 17 fret soprano on Ebay last month. He rarely makes these, and I just had to have one! I am absolutely loving it! Some would argue the longer scale affects sustain, however I would have to say this is quite negligible. I ditched the Aquila strings for Living Waters, which to my ear highly improved note separation for finger picking. Great strings for strumming too. Comparing it to my Kiwaya KTS-4, I would have to say the two are quite similar, but the Timms may have an edge in regards to playability for me. I sometimes play a bit heavy handed, which tends not to compliment the thin frets and low action on the Kiwaya.

Very interesting that you have these instruments as I have been looking at the KTS-4 and considering a Timms as well ... but would be very interested in hearing more about the 17 fret soprano ... is this a Super Soprano ... a Concert Neck?

Also what is the string separation like for finger style playing? I have a Keli'i and the string separation is very good ... wider than a LoPrinzi SS my friend DownUpDave has.

Thanks.

sam13
06-03-2015, 04:42 AM
I have Fremont Blacklines on my Marca Aquila. Was planning to put either Martin M600s (as are on my Japanese uke) or Living Waters on the Timms.

Lovely Uke ... really like the dark Mahogany.

jksk8in
06-03-2015, 10:44 AM
Very interesting that you have these instruments as I have been looking at the KTS-4 and considering a Timms as well ... but would be very interested in hearing more about the 17 fret soprano ... is this a Super Soprano ... a Concert Neck?

Also what is the string separation like for finger style playing? I have a Keli'i and the string separation is very good ... wider than a LoPrinzi SS my friend DownUpDave has.

Thanks.

My 17 fret Timms is a standard soprano, (13 1/2" playing scale joined at the 12th fret) with the same Martin style O body of his traditional 12 fret models. The nut width is standard at 1 3/8" with 10mm spacing between strings at the nut. The Kiwaya has identical nut width, string spacing, and neck profile, but with much thinner/lower profile fretwire. I find both very comfortable for finger style playing, but prefer the beefier fretwire of the Timms for my occasional heavy handed playing. You can't go wrong with either uke, but I am a little partial to the Timms for my style of playing.