View Full Version : Back to Front: a case for appreciating a ukulele's back.

10-14-2015, 06:04 AM
We have all seen and drooled over them, beautiful ukulele backs. Tone wood with gorgeous grain, curl, flame, you know the kind I mean. I have master grade koa on the back of my handbuilt uke which its spruce top can't hold a candle to.

We hang our ukes on the wall, or place them in a stand or store them safely in their hard cases, all the time seeing only the front of the instrument. That stunning grain, curl, flame, hidden away from admiring eyes.

So what can we do to showcase this invisible but fabulous feature of our ukuleles? While we are at a meetup, should we casually swing the instrument around when we sit and chat during the breaks thus showing off the wood on the back of our jumping fleas? Coming home, purposely stand or hang the uke backwards, risking putting pressure on the neck and strings so that we can admire the uke's back?

What is the answer to appreciating the often stunning wood that makes up the other half of our instrument's body?

10-14-2015, 07:10 AM
My three favorite tenors are one cedar top and two spruce top, not too splashy as you say. The backs are ranging from lovely to gorgeous. One is Amazon Rosewood, another is Macassar Ebony and gorgeous the third is Cocobolo with a sap strip down the middle.

All are kept in a hard case so I know what you mean and how you feel, the backs are invisible. I make a point to turn the ukes over as I take them out of the case to admire the backs. But here is the funny thing, once playing the only thing I really notice is the sound, sheet music, and the fretboard occasionaly.

Guess we need to buy an all koa uke with 5A master grade super curly wood.

10-14-2015, 08:21 AM
What is the answer to appreciating the often stunning wood that makes up the other half of our instrument's body?

I've thought of this too. Although I have never done it I thought of possibly putting it on a stand near a strategically placed mirror. :)

10-14-2015, 10:01 AM
What is the answer to appreciating the often stunning wood that makes up the other half of our instrument's body?

Easy...buy ukes with an equally beautiful top:)

10-14-2015, 11:29 AM
You could play it over your head like Jimi Hendrix; then your audience will see the back.
-Vinnie in Juneau

10-14-2015, 02:28 PM
Brian1, not a bad idea...the mirror carefully placed....LOL

Yeah, Cdnsouthpaw, I agree, having a gorgeous front is probably the most logical way to go. But when it came to my first (and probably only) uke build, the course instructor convinced us that the spruce top, though much less stunning in appearance than many other woods, would result in an awesome sounding soundboard.

Of course, as Dave says, once you start playing we quickly forget about the looks.

And yet, here in the virual meeting place of the forum, we do pay a lot of homage to looks, ain't it so?

10-14-2015, 02:40 PM
I fell in love with my martin because of the back. I think this was the fifth one I tried an the guy grabbed one from the back pulled it out and got a glimpse of that behind and damn..... I think some ppl are back people... if you catch my drift.

I like the secretiveness of it, only ppl who know me can see her behind.... ;)

But I agree sometimes you want to show it off.... maybe like a suspended hangar could work? a ukulele mobile perhaps?


10-14-2015, 03:07 PM
Yeah, that's a beauty alright, kwall!

I like that idea of a uke mobile, could require a place with a lofted ceiling though, eh?! LOL

Humm....maybe we should have a thread where we just post photos of uke backs only...yup, no fronts, no sides, not even a headstock.....!

bird's eye view of my ukelele
10-14-2015, 04:27 PM
UU member and seasonista doug frink makes beautiful ukuleles

thanks to ginny, another seasonista, who won his number 11 uke in season 108, and oh soooooooooooooo kindly gave it me, who had fallen deeply in love it! i have the honour of owning and playing this lovely instrument

i keep meaning to show the back, in the vids i make with it... but every time i forget!

thanks to this thread i've been inspired to make this little vid, AT LAST showing the wonderful wood on the back

(the uke's soundboard and neck are incense cedar, the back, sides, fingerboard and everything else are manzanita. the whole thing is dreamy!)


10-14-2015, 04:37 PM
What I do is just get a premium koa top!
back of Kanile'a K-2 CP satin...
thing is, the top's better!

10-14-2015, 04:44 PM
Hey! That's a great looking back!

No tops on this thread though, please! Hahaha...just kidding...very beautiful koa, both back and front!

Jim Hanks
10-14-2015, 05:49 PM
My favorite looking back (and front) is the Cocobolo seen here:

10-14-2015, 09:39 PM
Here are four:



The first photo, top to bottom: a Woodley White, Koa; a Michael Zuke, Tulip Magnolia; and an Alan Carruth, Osage Orange.

Second image is a Beau Hannam, in Rosewood. Note the demonic reflection ...

10-15-2015, 12:41 AM
haha,....Steve, very nice!

thanks for showing us your 'backs'....the demon, well, he's just a bonus!