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ichadwick
04-06-2009, 12:45 AM
Anyone know anything about Norman ukes? I know the company makes guitars, but are the ukes just rebranded laminates?

SamWise
04-06-2009, 01:14 AM
I don't know, but I'd like to find out. I consider Normans to be the out and out best bargains in guitars. My friend bought a solid cedar top Norman which is as good as many guitars 2 or 3 times the price. Read some Harmony Central reviews, and you'll find them VERY highly rated.

Norman is a sub-brand of Godin, who also own Art and Lutherie, Seagull, and some other brands I forget, and AFAIK, all their guitars are made in Canada. I'd be surprised if the ukes were different, as it's kind of a brand value for them.

ichadwick
04-07-2009, 09:01 AM
Well the person who told me it was a Norman uke had it all wrong. It was a NORTHERN ukulele, the creation of J. Chalmers Doane (http://www.chalmersdoane.com/). These nifty, triangular ukes were designed for the Canadian ukuleles-in-the-classroom programs of the 1960s-70s (and 80s?), and made in Japan.

This one was only in fair condition, but at $30 was too nice an ornament to resist (shown here with a Fluke for comparison). It also came with a somewhat tattered but original soft gig bag.
http://www.ianchadwick.com/essays/ukulele/northern_01.jpg
The fretboard was broken at one time at the 12th fret, and poorly reglued:
http://www.ianchadwick.com/essays/ukulele/northern_fret_01.jpg
It has had things stuck to it and removed (note the 'F' on the front) and suffered minor cosmetic damage on the back:
http://www.ianchadwick.com/essays/ukulele/northern_back_01.jpg
Here's the headstock. Notice how the strings thread through holes:
http://www.ianchadwick.com/essays/ukulele/northern_head_01.jpg
I think it's easily repairable, though, and I will pursue that sometime soon.

When I saw it, I felt like one does at seeing a ratty-eared old tom cat in the pound, one you know will never find another home if you don't take it in. So rather than let this uke sit on a pawn shop wall until it dried out and fell apart, I brought it home. This does not qualify as an act of UAS, though. It was an act of charity.

Ahnko Honu
04-07-2009, 09:10 AM
Here's a modern reasonable fact simile:
http://cgi.ebay.com/BLOWOUT-NEW-2009-DARK-BROWN-LARGE-UKULELE-FREE-BAG_W0QQitemZ220390796651QQihZ012QQcategoryZ16224Q QtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1713.m153.l1262? _trksid=p1713.m153.l1262
http://www.saletime.net/ukulele_oblong_brown_06.jpg

UkuleleHill
04-07-2009, 09:47 AM
I like this one myself, not to thread jack... http://imagehost.vendio.com/bin/imageserver.x/00000000/usamusicsupply/ukulele_oblong_boga_06.jpg

Ahnko Honu
04-07-2009, 09:50 AM
I wonder how they sound?

UkuleleHill
04-07-2009, 09:51 AM
Thats what I was wondering...

SamWise
04-07-2009, 10:42 AM
I want one. Seriously.

Still, shame about Norman. If Godin start making ukes under any of their labels, I'll be interested, but if Norman make the best entry level guitars, I'd love to see what they would make uke wise.

SamWise
04-07-2009, 11:37 AM
I just happened to rewatch UKISOCIETY's "The Safety Dance: An Historical Appreciation" video, and I note that he too has one of these.

Ahnko Honu
04-07-2009, 01:37 PM
Gadzooks that was a hilarious video :rotfl:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocPydgAAQng&feature=channel_page
I wonder of we can talk Alan into doing a review of his Northern Ukulele?

SamWise
04-07-2009, 01:51 PM
Probably, but I don't think he's been reading this thread - it wouldn't be like him not to chime in about a uke he owns.

thejumpingflea
04-07-2009, 02:16 PM
James Hill played one I think:

http://www.ukulelejames.com/ukes.htm

Second from the bottom

UkÚDan
04-07-2009, 04:32 PM
Here's my goofy review of my Northern JCD 2 Ukulele:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo_ngNuNJpY&feature=channel

The uke sounds good to my ears, best with Martin strings. I now tune it ADF#B, re-entrant. My dad bought it for me in 1977 or 1978. It had always been tuned low A. I believe that it's solid mahogany top with laminated back and sides, laminated rosewood fingerboard. Mine has a really good touch for a 30 years + uke.

SamWise
04-08-2009, 12:09 PM
It appears that MCMTRT also has one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbyVUP9TQLw&feature=channel_page

Kaneohe til the end
04-08-2009, 12:23 PM
my music teacher has a northern. the strings were all busted, so i took it to work to fix it. the strings go over and under the headstock then down to the bridge pegs. weirdest stringing thing ever.




plus i hate bridge pins.

ichadwick
04-09-2009, 03:29 AM
Thought I might want to find another so I could cobble together one out of the parts from two. I found another one at a store out-of-province, incomplete, but not sure it's really worth buying. After all, it's more of a novelty than a player for me.

UKISOCIETY
04-09-2009, 06:56 AM
Probably, but I don't think he's been reading this thread - it wouldn't be like him not to chime in about a uke he owns.

That reminds me, I own a Northern!!
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2087/2505831916_136f7675f8.jpg?v=0

Short review: built like a tank, sounds great. The straight headstock design was a mistake. The strings get caught in the holes and tuning can be difficult. Overall though - it sounds good so it IS good!
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2199/2505831960_8b0e2a54bf.jpg?v=0

Ahnko Honu
04-09-2009, 08:09 AM
That reminds me, I own a Northern!!
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2087/2505831916_136f7675f8.jpg?v=0


Is her full name Eileen Dover? ;)
Do you have to thread the strings thru the pukas (holes) in the head or can you bypass and go straight from nut to tuning keys?

ichadwick
04-14-2009, 01:01 AM
Here's a little history, from Warren, a member of the Corktown Ukes forum, slightly edited by me for clarity:


Northern also made a traditionally shaped concert model based on the Martin concert uke.

The Northern ukuleles were made in Japan and imported into Canada from the mid '70s through to the early 80s by a company called Northern Audio Musical Enterprises, or N.A.M.E.

This company was owned by a gentleman named Harry Dunnett, who collaborated with J. Chalmers Doane on these instruments.

Both the triangular-shaped and the concert-shaped ukes were imported under the Northern brand.

Mr. Dunnett sold N.A.M.E. in the early '80s, at which time a number of the Northern ukes were acquired by luthier Paul Saunders.

Anyway, they are remarkably good-sounding instruments for a "cheap" ukulele.

UKISOCIETY
04-14-2009, 02:29 AM
Is her full name Eileen Dover? ;)
Do you have to thread the strings through the pukas (holes) in the head or can you bypass and go straight from nut to tuning keys?


You must go thru the holes, because the neck is straight. It doesn't bend at the nut like normal ukes. If you bypassed the holes, the strings wound hover above the nut:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3595/3440827801_cd4bb4f32f.jpg?v=0

Stringing through the holes also adds to the amount of string you need. I tried Kala reds (maybe they were soprano sized) and the C and E strings wouldn't reach the tuners after strung through the holes

wee_ginga_yin
04-14-2009, 02:54 AM
Modern man tries to solve all his problems by logic and thinking.
Primitive man tries to solve all his problems by dancing... and often with more success.

You've got your rain dance, your fertility dance, and of course your safety dance. The peace of every nation depends on people dancing. If you give up dancing the next thing you know somebody hits you with a terror attack.

I was surprised that no Americans know how to do the safety dance any more. If they want to get out of the present economic crisis then they are going to have to dance their way out of it. Dancing is the only solution.

You got to get up to get down.

Ahnko Honu
04-14-2009, 08:25 AM
You must go thru the holes, because the neck is straight. It doesn't bend at the nut like normal ukes. If you bypassed the holes, the strings wound hover above the nut:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3595/3440827801_cd4bb4f32f.jpg?v=0

Stringing through the holes also adds to the amount of string you need. I tried Kala reds (maybe they were soprano sized) and the C and E strings wouldn't reach the tuners after strung through the holes

WOW Thank you very much! That side view of the neck & head explains everything. I guess the straight one piece neck & head along with straight sided body must have cut the production cost down quite a bit making this ukulele much more affordable for the masses (of Canadian school children). Very cool piece of 'ukulele history. Thanks again.

UKISOCIETY
04-14-2009, 08:37 AM
WOW Thank you very much! That side view of the neck & head explains everything. I guess the straight one piece neck & head along with straight sided body must have cut the production cost down quite a bit making this ukulele much more affordable for the masses (of Canadian school children). Very cool piece of 'ukulele history. Thanks again.

Canada has been very kind to the ukulele and having a Northern Ukulele in my collection is a great reminder of that. This one is a JC-2, and I understand they made JC-1, 3, 4 and 5, with the quality increasing with the #. This no. 2 is a great player and a fun conversation piece. That is, if it's a conversation with people that don't blanche after you tell them you play ukulele! ;)