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sequoia
11-14-2015, 05:28 PM
There was a thread on here earlier about the making the sides less deep on ukuleles. The "thin uke". A lot of discussion ensued. My friend who is a "real luthier" (unlike me who is an amateur) believes it doesn't make a difference in sound. So I set out to build an experimental uke that pushes the idea by making a ridiculously thin uke half the depth of my usual ukes.

Body depth at the waist is exactly 1 1/4 inch(!). Taper is 3 16th" head to to tail over 12 inches (tenor). Radioused back the same as standard. It is braced exactly like my 2 12" model and uses the same wood so there will be a good A B comparison. Below pictures of the raw box after routing in the binding. Strange looking I agree. There were also interesting consequences to the build which I will cover when the thing is finally done.

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Nice clean purfling and binding if I say so myself. This is also an issue with thin sides. More about that later.

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Gratuitous picture of the rosette. Can you OCD builders spot the flaw? Look at 8 o'clock. W/B/W/B???

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jcalkin
11-15-2015, 01:47 AM
Sequoia, can I ask a favor? Stop apologizing for being an amateur. I think most of the regulars here will vouch for your work at this point, not to mention the intensity of your interest. Just post your stuff. Folks small enough to go looking for the flaws in others work don't count for much.

Pete Howlett
11-15-2015, 01:50 AM
It took me a long time to spot it.

UncleMoon
11-15-2015, 02:06 AM
That's a great looking piece. Bet it'll be a real hoot to play.

sequoia
11-15-2015, 06:43 AM
There have been a number of unforeseen problems with this build as I went along. As in, hmmmm didn't see that problem coming. I woke up this morning and realized there is going to be yet another problem: Namely there is no way to get a bridge clamp in there as the transverse bracing blocks the way. Guess I will deal with that when the time comes.

And OK John, I will quit pleading amateur status. False modesty is always false, but when I see some of the work you guys do I do feel like an amateur feeling my way along.

DennisK
11-15-2015, 04:27 PM
I woke up this morning and realized there is going to be yet another problem: Namely there is no way to get a bridge clamp in there as the transverse bracing blocks the way. Guess I will deal with that when the time comes.
Hide glue rub joint can be done without internal support. Sand the bridge on the box to get a perfect fit, warm everything up, and rub it in place with a generous quantity of glue until it vacuum clamps itself. Be careful not to push down very hard and flex the soundboard either when sanding or gluing, since you can't support it from the inside..

sequoia
11-15-2015, 05:15 PM
Be careful not to push down very hard and flex the soundboard either when sanding or gluing, since you can't support it from the inside..

I hear you Dennis. Don't want to deform the top...This is what I'm looking at. (note the picture is looking north to south from the neck end and is distorted. That is actually the lower bout).

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I spent a little time thinking about fishing a support post in there and gave up that idea as impracticable. Two other options are: 1) using three cam clamps and clamping down gently and saying a hail Mary or two or, (2) screwing the bridge on and gluing. Being the purist that I am, I'm not wild about screwed on bridges and believe they do nothing to enhance the sound. Plus, this is an experiment and the reference uke does not have a screwed on bridge.

Just one of many structural challenges that came with this thin uke experiment. Nothing like actually doing something to find out why it was not a good idea in the first place.

DennisK
11-15-2015, 05:32 PM
There's also actual vacuum clamping. Maybe see if another builder in your area has one they'll let you use just this once?

Timbuck
11-15-2015, 08:47 PM
There have been a number of unforeseen problems with this build as I went along. As in, hmmmm didn't see that problem coming. I woke up this morning and realized there is going to be yet another problem: Namely there is no way to get a bridge clamp in there as the transverse bracing blocks the way. Guess I will deal with that when the time comes.

And OK John, I will quit pleading amateur status. False modesty is always false, but when I see some of the work you guys do I do feel like an amateur feeling my way along. This appears to be a job where the "fishing line bridge clamp" is needed.
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT6556.jpg

Sven
11-15-2015, 10:15 PM
Phwew, I was just about to write that. But here it is drawing and all. In fact I'm gonna make me one of those. It would fit my way of building.

Timbuck
11-16-2015, 12:23 AM
beat you to it this time Svenie :nana:

Michael N.
11-16-2015, 01:31 AM
I glue bridges on without the use of clamps, providing the soundboard hasn't got too much flex in it. In fact I don't even do the rubbed joint. I just hold the bridge in position for a few minutes with gentle finger pressure. Not had one single failure yet. Sizing the soundboard and bridge helps.

Vespa Bob
11-16-2015, 03:58 AM
Every time I visit this forum, I learn something new, thanks!

Bob

sequoia
11-16-2015, 06:10 AM
This appears to be a job where the "fishing line bridge clamp" is needed.

Brilliant Ken. Thanks.

Hluth
11-16-2015, 08:30 AM
Go bars with light pressure and the body backed up with radius dish.

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Moore Bettah Ukuleles
11-16-2015, 08:47 AM
This appears to be a job where the "fishing line bridge clamp" is needed.
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT6556.jpg

I've never used it for bridge attachment but I use the same sort of thing for repairing cracks in old ukes (with small cleats behind it.) I use thin steel guitar strings.

chuck in ny
11-16-2015, 03:13 PM
guys have been doing casual gluing with titebond and other yellow glues for decades, zero pressure. of course it only works on the horizontal where gravity keeps the pieces together. you gently rub the pieces back and forth until there is a squeeze out, then set the precise position. there would be some theoretical increase in strength using clamps and proper pressure. whether there is a practical difference one way or the other, ?. it would be easy enough to do a test of small wood blocks glued both ways. gluing is a crap shoot anyway. i've never tested the precise clamping pressure you are supposed to have and just know you don't give it too much pressure and overly squeeze out and set clamp pressure by torque feel the same way we work on cars and machines to tighten nuts and bolts. i doubt anyone else gets precise about pressure. mostly i rely on good glue product.

erich@muttcrew.net
11-17-2015, 08:06 PM
This appears to be a job where the "fishing line bridge clamp" is needed.

Indeed, Ken. I made one years ago based on your drawings.

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Haven't used it in quite a while though, having switched to the rubbed joint fraction. But it does make a nice conversation piece.

My rubbed joint is with hot hide glue, not Titebond. You brush a thin layer on both surfaces and rub them until the joint "grabs hold" - let dry well, done.

Tigershark
11-18-2015, 08:02 PM
You can make up magnetic clamping cauls, I use them all the time. Get some heavy duty magnets from ebay and epoxy them to wooden or acrylic cauls. They work great, I use them to repair all kinds of cracks and braces.

sequoia
11-21-2015, 10:26 AM
Finally the thin uke is built and ready for finishing. Side depths: 1 3/16" at the neck, 1 1/4" at the waist and 1 5/16" at the tail. 1/8" taper over 12" which is exactly proportional to my regular ukes which are 2 1/2" at the waist with a 1/4" taper...Get back with y'all in 2 or 3 weeks when I know how the thing sounds.

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chuck in ny
11-21-2015, 11:11 AM
what you have there is a travel ukulele. it's a totally valid way to build the instrument. i'm interested in the playing results and would half guess you have a small loss of resonance with the thin build. enough to matter, undoubtedly not, just some small difference. i've thought the matter out some and am going to go with howlett's formula of standard depth minus 3/8". you're doing a fine experiment there.

Kekani
11-27-2015, 10:31 PM
i'm interested in the playing results and would half guess you have a small loss of resonance with the thin build. enough to matter, undoubtedly not, just some small difference.
I disagree. The difference, while not substantial, is more definitive than miniscule.
Admittedly, it'll probably be more evident when two are side by side, or when there's a good reference ie: the builder is doing the comparing between his/her own instruments.

Things change when thinning, resonance being just one of results that differs. All things being equal, and with wood it never is, Sequoia is bound to find this out as well. Maybe moreso than me.

For reference, mine was/is minus 1" at the blocks, everything else being the same.

sequoia
11-28-2015, 08:33 AM
Last of the finish going on today and then 10 days to dry and harden up. Final sand and polish and string it up.

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Messy business that French polish, but that is just part of the fun. You might notice the cabinet scrapper in the background. I've been using this more and more with good effect. I don't use it on the whole finish, but for getting rid of small runs and blebs that I have missed. The best way to deal with these things is to not let them happen in the first place or catch them quick. However, they do happen. The next day I take the super sharp scrapper and very lightly and very carefully take the top off the run until it is just level with the surface and then come along with some 600 wet sandpaper and lightly level off. None of the dreaded "fish eye" effect and the surrounding finish is undisturbed. Run gone. No runs, no drips, no errors.

Also you will notice in the picture that I am hedging my bets on how it is going to sound. Hello electric ukulele. Just in case.

hawaii 50
11-28-2015, 09:24 AM
I disagree. The difference, while not substantial, is more definitive than miniscule.
Admittedly, it'll probably be more evident when two are side by side, or when there's a good reference ie: the builder is doing the comparing between his/her own instruments.

Things change when thinning, resonance being just one of results that differs. All things being equal, and with wood it never is, Sequoia is bound to find this out as well. Maybe moreso than me.

For reference, mine was/is minus 1" at the blocks, everything else being the same.

Hey Aaron you mean this one...:)

https://vimeo.com/146812304

chuck in ny
11-28-2015, 10:49 AM
I disagree. The difference, while not substantial, is more definitive than miniscule.
Admittedly, it'll probably be more evident when two are side by side, or when there's a good reference ie: the builder is doing the comparing between his/her own instruments.

Things change when thinning, resonance being just one of results that differs. All things being equal, and with wood it never is, Sequoia is bound to find this out as well. Maybe moreso than me.

For reference, mine was/is minus 1" at the blocks, everything else being the same.

do you have an idea at what point resonance begins to diminish? we had a video of one luthier who made his instruments 1 7/8" and claimed that in blind tests people liked the thin build. then pete howlett is going 3/8" under so it's a little more svelte but still substantial.

Kekani
11-28-2015, 05:07 PM
do you have an idea at what point resonance begins to diminish? we had a video of one luthier who made his instruments 1 7/8" and claimed that in blind tests people liked the thin build. then pete howlett is going 3/8" under so it's a little more svelte but still substantial.
Unfortunately, I didn't build a number of them in stages. I went with an uneducated guess.

Len linked the latest (only) recorded thinline of mine. On the same Vimeo page, Aaron (Crowell) recorded the first in my current series of Spruce on Koa on Koa on Koa (which the Thinline is the same). Conveniently, both are strung the same as well. Different players at different times, but you CAN tell the difference between the two.

Since Len is familiar with how Andrew records, maybe he can add some comments on the differences, especially since he saw it up close anyway. I have my own comments, but again, I'm the builder, so I should notice. But that's not what matters in the end - its the player.

sequoia
11-28-2015, 06:20 PM
The reference uke awaits. This uke is about as good a sounding uke as I can make. Solid sounding mids, no obnoxious high end, big bass end and just really well balanced. Can be driven hard and put away wet. A little guitarish sounding, but this is the future of ukuleles in my opinion. This uke purrs. The comparison test uke is built exactly the same or as near as I can do it. Same top wood from the same billet and only sawn a couple inches away. Sides and back from the same timber. Bracing exactly the same. Maybe we will settle this question once and for all. Hypothesis: Sides be damned, it is top all the way. Resonance? Irrelevant. Right.

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hawaii 50
11-28-2015, 07:15 PM
Unfortunately, I didn't build a number of them in stages. I went with an uneducated guess.

Len linked the latest (only) recorded thinline of mine. On the same Vimeo page, Aaron (Crowell) recorded the first in my current series of Spruce on Koa on Koa on Koa (which the Thinline is the same). Conveniently, both are strung the same as well. Different players at different times, but you CAN tell the difference between the two.

Since Len is familiar with how Andrew records, maybe he can add some comments on the differences, especially since he saw it up close anyway. I have my own comments, but again, I'm the builder, so I should notice. But that's not what matters in the end - its the player.


Hey Aaron..i am not good at doing comparisons,Andrew better with the words than me.....but your uke sounded great....the tone was deep like I like it and the clears were there too.....and your uke was loud to not what you would expect looking at the depth of the body

I can not hear a real big difference with the tone of a slim body or a regular body...Noa at Ko'olau built 2 thin body ukes in the last 6 months that sounded as good as his regular ukes

like your uke(Oya) the Ko'olaus sold in a few day too.....:)

hawaii 50
11-28-2015, 07:15 PM
Unfortunately, I didn't build a number of them in stages. I went with an uneducated guess.

Len linked the latest (only) recorded thinline of mine. On the same Vimeo page, Aaron (Crowell) recorded the first in my current series of Spruce on Koa on Koa on Koa (which the Thinline is the same). Conveniently, both are strung the same as well. Different players at different times, but you CAN tell the difference between the two.

Since Len is familiar with how Andrew records, maybe he can add some comments on the differences, especially since he saw it up close anyway. I have my own comments, but again, I'm the builder, so I should notice. But that's not what matters in the end - its the player.


Hey Aaron..i am not good at doing comparisons,Andrew better with the words than me.....but your uke sounded great....the tone was deep like I like it and the clears were there too.....and your uke was loud to not what you would expect looking at the depth of the body

I can not hear a real big difference with the tone of a slim body or a regular body...Noa at Ko'olau built 2 thin body ukes in the last 6 months that sounded as good as his regular ukes

like your uke(Oya) the Ko'olaus sold in a few day too.....:)