PDA

View Full Version : My first: A Blackwood and Australian Native Olive tenor



Dan Gleibitz
11-01-2016, 03:41 PM
I've finished my first ukulele! Well, almost... I need to redo the neck finish due to some late reshaping, fix the fretboard dots, a little bit of fret work and nut/saddle adjustment. But it's basically done, strung and playable.

Top & sides are Native Olive aka Doral aka Privet Mock Olive. Back, binding fretboard and bridge are Tasmanian Blackwood. Neck is Silver Wattle. Brass saddle, nut and fretwire. Gold Grover tuners. Enya PVD strings with low G from Martin guitar set.

I've made too many mistakes to count, and learnt a lot during this build. There are several things I'm not happy with - gappy binding on the back, the messed up end graft where I forgot to change the router depth for binding, pretty much everything about the headstock (measured wrong, cut wrong, rough inlay, sanded through the laminated plate on the back, stuffed up tuner locations...).

That said, I enjoyed the build process and I'm happy with how it looks (a bit handmade) and plays, and most importantly with how it sounds. It's a bit unusual with pronounced low end, midrange bark and warm but clear highs. I'm not sure how much of this is due to the body shape/soundhole combination and how much is due to the brass saddle. I'll swap in a bone one soon and compare.

Any advice or criticism is welcome. I have a thick skin!


http://i.imgur.com/ZsdBrAB.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/ebuZ4tZ.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/qek6ze4.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/3r5MIMk.jpg

Dan Gleibitz
11-01-2016, 03:43 PM
A few more pics:

http://i.imgur.com/fCTb47t.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/NGNmE10.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/6xmfsme.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/7RknH1Y.jpg

And finally, a big thank you to all the helpful people here who directly or indirectly helped/inspired this project! You're awesome.

johnson430
11-01-2016, 03:45 PM
Hey Dan.
You should be proud of yourself.
I look forward to seeing a blog of your next build.
Thanks for sharing.
Will we get a sound sample?

Michael Smith
11-01-2016, 04:43 PM
Nice work Dan. I like the dark back and binding with the lighter sides and top. I haven't seen that done a lot. Looks good.

Yankulele
11-01-2016, 04:46 PM
Looks great, Dan. Beautiful wood. Beautiful work.

Nelson

DebRocks
11-01-2016, 05:07 PM
Nice work Dan. I like the dark back and binding with the lighter sides and top. I haven't seen that done a lot. Looks good.

Very handsome. I too like the dark back and bindings, with the lighter sides and top. Maybe I missed it but is Tilly the name of the uke or did you make it for someone named Tilly!;)

Dan Gleibitz
11-01-2016, 05:51 PM
Thanks all for the kind words.


Will we get a sound sample?

Yes I'll try to get something together soon. I want to do a comparison between the brass & bone saddles.
#2 is already underway. I'll blog its progress here (now that I have a bit more confidence of completion) when I really get going on it. I need to lay off for while, spend a couple of weeks trying to be the perfect husband after being all-consumed by this for the last 5 weeks. #2 will the opposite/evil twin: blackwood top and sides, native olive back and binding, figured silver wattle fretboard and bridge.


Maybe I missed it but is Tilly the name of the uke or did you make it for someone named Tilly!;)

A bit of both. Tilly is our little Jack Russell (http://i.imgur.com/H8RIsfI.jpg) who passed away recently, leaving a big hole in our home/hearts. So it's in memory of her. Building it kept me busy which helped with the grief. If you squint at the headstock logo you might make out the back of her head, one little ear flopped over as she gazes out over the farm she loved. The inlay is made of various stones collected from that farm.

It was either this or a tattoo. :D

sequoia
11-01-2016, 07:05 PM
Really nice uke... I'm always blown away by some of the first ukes people do on here. My first uke did not look even close to that good. (There were "issues" with symetery OK?). Looking forward to seeing number 2. And 3 etc. etc.

kohanmike
11-01-2016, 09:32 PM
Great design, you have yourself a terrific style indicator of your work.

greenscoe
11-01-2016, 11:12 PM
This is a really good looking uke for a first build: I think you were very ambitious incorporating so many features that usually come later. As you have stated, uke making can become all absorbing and a long journey in search of better and better instruments. Its great to hear you think it sounds good.

My only observation would be on your box shape. The upper bout has wide and flat shoulders (very noticeable from the back) which you may like. It's a matter of personal preference and for me, a rounder upper bout would match the round lower bout.

Dan Gleibitz
11-02-2016, 12:20 AM
Thanks for the encouraging comments! Need more criticism though.


My only observation would be on your box shape. The upper bout has wide and flat shoulders which you may like. It's a matter of personal preference and for me, a rounder upper bout would match the round lower bout.

Good eye, and I agree. The design was heavily influenced by... oh fine, stolen from Taylor's gorgeous GS line of guitars. I simply squared the top in order to make the neck alignment easier because that was a bit of a stress for me prior to building. As it turns out, all my stresses were over the wrong things, so I probably shouldn't have worried. Next mold I make will be concert sized and a bit more unique. More curvy.

As for overly ambitious, I guess so. I wanted to learn as many new things as I could, and honestly never expected to get this far without catastrophe. All the woodwork I've done since school had involved a nail gun or chainsaw.


Really nice uke... I'm always blown away by some of the first ukes people do on here. My first uke did not look even close to that good. (There were "issues" with symetery OK?). Looking forward to seeing number 2. And 3 etc. etc.

Thanks. But the photos are perhaps too kind. Here's what you may not have spotted:
* The lower bout is wedge shaped, ~3mm narrower at the back than the front. This is from inaccurate side bending. I glued the top first so I could use the spreader clamps to get it pretty true. But I had to remove the spreader from the lower bout to glue the back as it wouldn't fit out the soundhole. The extra side wood pushed up into the waist which is slightly asymmetrical from the back.
* I calculated the side profiles correctly for the back radius but missed one of my marks when I measured them onto the top side. So that side is deeper than the other at the waist. Oh, and I didn't bother with a radius board, I just eyeballed it then clamped the back on.
* Measured the neck wrong and made it far too flared. I corrected this a bit yesterday but it still looks a little off.
* Found I'd sanded a pit into the bottom of the neck under the second fret. Figured I'd fix it by sanding the same into the fretboard.... whaat? By the time I realised the fretboard needed to be square and the neck shaped to match I'd done enough damage that the inlay is offset a tad.
* Traced an estimate of my headstock shape (not the one I'd carefully drawn in 3D but the one I drew freehand that night) onto the back of the piece instead of the front. That left it some 10mm short. And my freehand was way too narrow. It looked comically small. There's a reason I bent that 2mm binding around it, and it's not that it was fun to bend!

Like I said, it's got a lot of homemade about it!

[Apologies for the novella length post]

greenscoe
11-02-2016, 01:15 AM
Dan you are too honest/too hard on yourself-don't you think we have all made lots of mistakes that don't get mentioned/don't show on photos? The point is that you know what mistakes you have made and where you need to improve and that's what's important. This is a healthy attitude to have and beats self deception every time if your objective is to become a good instrument maker even if you only do it as a hobby.

Vespa Bob
11-02-2016, 06:21 AM
I agree with everything that has been said so far, your uke looks great, only you will notice the faults. Having said that, now that I am about ready to ship my latest uke to its new owner, all the mistakes are jumping out at me and making me real nervous! I think you were courageous in including inlays and bindings in your first effort. Perfection is something we will never reach, so long as we know we are doing our best, is all that matters.

Bob

cml
11-02-2016, 08:32 AM
Great job Dan :)!

I'm sure you learnt a lot during the build, I know I did. Looking forward to build no 2, but for me it'll be sometime come spring.

pritch
11-02-2016, 03:14 PM
I would be proud if I could build something like that. Your "knuckle duster" bridge made me samile when I recognised it from the other thread. :)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
11-02-2016, 06:41 PM
Looks pretty sweet to me, for a first uke or a 10th one. The beauty of building ukes these days are the resources of the Internet and especially forums such as this. I'd be embarrassed to show my first ukes here from 30 years ago. Nice work! :)

Dan Gleibitz
11-03-2016, 03:20 AM
Thanks guys.

Cml, as you know your build thread was a great source of information and encouragement. Checking your progress each day was great fun for me each morning. I hope you'll do the same next time.

Chuck, I'm humbled by your kind words. One of your amazing ukes is on regular rotation via YouTube in my house - the one with the dancing girl played by Kalei Gamiao here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6ftIeHvs_xk
I love those performances and the uke. Totally agree about the internet. It doesn't matter whether I'm trying to fix a dishwasher, track down a drive train rattle in my car, patch a bit of drywall or code split in node.js, there is somebody out there who has done it and can help. Democratisation of knowledge is IMHO the greatest achievement of the last 20 years and it's only just started.

It's pretty powerful for the kids of today/tomorrow. The way they soak up information and learning combined with the availability of information makes me think they really will build a better future.

I forgot to ask whether anybody else here (Aussie probably) has used Native Olive, and how they found it? I really enjoyed working with it. I found it light but very durable (can barely dent it with a thumbnail), easy to bend and finish; to my eye rather pretty though it doesn't carry the light the way the Acacia species do. But how is it as a tonewood?

Dan Gleibitz
11-05-2016, 05:09 PM
Will we get a sound sample?

https://www.instagram.com/p/BMc2I7ahoYM/

I replaced the knuckleduster saddle with bone which improved string balance and removed some weird harmonics. Now if I can just squash that buzz I'll be happy.

Dominator
11-05-2016, 06:50 PM
https://www.instagram.com/p/BMc2I7ahoYM/

I replaced the knuckleduster saddle with bone which improved string balance and removed some weird harmonics. Now if I can just squash that buzz I'll be happy.

Sounds Great to me. Good work, and your playing is good too.

Ukulele Eddie
11-05-2016, 08:41 PM
Very impressive for your first uke. You might have some talent for this. ;-)

I've never heard of a brass saddle before. Look forward to an A/B sound sample.

johnson430
11-06-2016, 07:53 AM
https://www.instagram.com/p/BMc2I7ahoYM/

I replaced the knuckleduster saddle with bone which improved string balance and removed some weird harmonics. Now if I can just squash that buzz I'll be happy.

Dan,
Thanks for doing the sound sample. As others have stated, you and the uke sound great. You should feel very proud of yourself. This was a great accomplishment.

Rrgramps
11-06-2016, 12:55 PM
Very nice looking ukulele, Dan. Not an ordinary, but extraordinarily first or tenth build or later. The woods you picked are incredible, can't believe you had those on hand. SM and LMI don't have that unique of a selection. You've got the luthier gene.