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View Full Version : NUD: Lichty Port Orford Cedar/Franquette Walnut Modified Baritone (22.25" scale)



2xbass
02-14-2017, 09:11 AM
I don't usually do "new uke day" posts but couldn't help myself with this one. In fact it was hard not to post it until I had it in my hands. FedEx arrived with my new beauty this morning and I just gave it a quick run through and am about to change the strings.

First off, here are three links with camera work courtesy of Corrie Woods:

Construction photos (http://lichtyguitars.com/2016/12/21/modified-baritone-ukulele-construction-u117/)

Finished photos (http://lichtyguitars.com/2017/02/03/custom-baritone-ukulele-u117/)

Video of Jay playing the uke (https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F10 1396093233842%2Fvideos%2F1534956006544503%2F&show_text=0&width=560)

The audio clips at the second link are, if I recall correctly, with Thomastik CF30 and CF35 and Hannabach High Tension 815SS.

The video has the uke strung up with D'Addario (EJ45 I think) 4th and 5th for the basses and Oasis GPX+ 2nd and 3rd strings for the trebles.

I'm just about to restring it back to Thomastiks on the bottom but with Hannabach Super Low Tensions on the top.

Let me just talk a bit about the experience of working with Jay. He's a craftsman and a gentleman. He's truly a real pleasure to work with. Most importantly for me, he's not afraid to experiment. The fact that he's a great player as well as a luthier was a huge bonus in all our discussions. There were many things to get figured out and Jay was always very helpful, suggestive, and patient with the many details I would go back and forth on.

The basic premise for this uke was a regular baritone size body with a 22.25" scale giving 16 frets to the body plus a cutaway. I've been playing a Pono Baritone Nui with 23" scale in preparation for getting the uke from Jay but the Nui body was just too damn big for me.

I also wanted a completely pristine top with no fixed bridge, no soundhole, and a cantilevered fingerboard. I figured one large or two smaller soundports and Jay did the most awesome thing and gave me four and even made them progressively smaller along the body.

I chose the woods based mostly on transparency of tone and balanced response across the range with some warmth. The finger rest is Snakewood and Jay made the strap buttons from the same wood.

I feel truly spoiled by this instrument and look forward to playing the heck out of it.

Doc_J
02-14-2017, 09:58 AM
Congratulations! That's a fabulous baritone. Thanks for posting.

Jay's baritone ukes are something special. At 22.5" that's a long scale length.

DownUpDave
02-14-2017, 10:00 AM
I have been anxiously awaiting your NUD, although I am spoiled because you had shared the build progress with me. Jay really and truly seems like a great guy to have build such a unique and special instrument for you. Congratulations and thanks for doing the HUD so others can enjoy this superb creation

Osprey
02-14-2017, 10:07 AM
Wow! All around wonderful. Great looking and sounding ukulele. I am envious. I recently started playing some Baritone and
I love it.

Camsuke
02-14-2017, 10:31 AM
Bravo mate, that is a killer ukulele, congratulations.

2xbass
02-14-2017, 11:17 AM
At 22.5" that's a long scale length.

It's all relative. My regular instrument is double bass - 42" scale length. I sadly sold my LFDM tenor last Saturday and although I still have a couple of electric tenors I've come to realize that tenor is just too damn small for me. I had a Pono Baritone for a while and also found it a bit too small. I think this length is perfect for me and also this uke has a 1.5" nut which also gives me a bit more room. I'm definitely spoiled now having 16 frets to the body. I'm not sure I can ever go back to anything shorter.

Ukulele Eddie
02-14-2017, 12:36 PM
Gorgeous! Jay is truly a wonderful person and an exceptionally skilled luthier. My favorite combo in a person. ;-)

2xbass
02-14-2017, 04:12 PM
I put Thomastiks back on the bottom and Super Low Tension Hannabach 815SS on the top and it's sounding great. Still a little high tension but I'm not sure I can find any lower tension than this. I may have to try the Southcoast HML-WBs and see they go.

Probably the two most astounding things about this uke are the playability and how easily it speaks, and the clarity of each string.

Alytw
02-14-2017, 04:23 PM
Very nice! Congrats.

Camsuke
02-14-2017, 06:20 PM
I put Thomastiks back on the bottom and Super Low Tension Hannabach 815SS on the top and it's sounding great. Still a little high tension but I'm not sure I can find any lower tension than this. I may have to try the Southcoast HML-WBs and see they go.

Probably the two most astounding things about this uke are the playability and how easily it speaks, and the clarity of each string.

I tested all these strings recently on my Kinnard Kiku 20" scale length. Even though manufacturers label strings as low or super low tension, I quickly realized that overall weight plus individual string weights varied quite a lot. What one manufacturer calls super low tension, can vary greatly from what another will label the same way.
Overall weight in lbs are as follows.
Hannabach Super Low Tension =85.61 lb
Savarez 520 Low Tension = 83.39 lb
Dogal Diamante Extra Soft = 77.44 lb
La Bella 2001 Light Tension = 74.74 lb

2xbass
02-14-2017, 06:32 PM
Campbell, thanks for that info. I was looking at some of the other La Bella strings like the 413P, the 500P and the 900 series but couldn't find tension info for any of them but I see La Bella does supply it for the 2001 series.

I don't know whether you can see this but I created this spreadsheet to help me calculate the tension for various strings: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-1wmZMkfftONw4rU8J6fJ_TWTvHGU5Lxxt-sttavcLQ

The problem for me is finding low tension basses that are polished. The Thomastiks are already pretty low as it is.

sam13
02-14-2017, 06:38 PM
Superb Ukulele. Stunning visully and sounds fabulous. Congratulations.

Nickie
02-14-2017, 06:54 PM
Wow, just wow! That is one amazing uke. That's one of a kind, right? It sounds killer!

Camsuke
02-14-2017, 07:12 PM
That is a wonderful chart, I should take a leaf out of your book and get started on my own, having all that information available on one page is a great idea & extremely helpful.

It's an interesting thing with regard to polished basses. I find for me, they are almost essential on the ukulele but not quite so important for the guitar. The higher usage of movable 4 finger chords on ukulele means there can be a greater opportunity for unwanted string noise, the guitar is slightly more forgiving and offers a wider range of alternate positions to play notes and use different fingerings to minimize excessive squeaks.

I'll follow your string journey for the new bari with great interest, hopefully you'll find the perfect recipe to make it sing.

bonesoup
02-14-2017, 11:42 PM
Wow, congrats 2x! Now that is a work of art. From the front you think it's a solid body and then you slowly rotate it and voila. Beautiful lines and a harmony of wood and metal.

Very interesting string discussion too.

Mezcalero
02-15-2017, 04:19 AM
Man what a beautiful looking and sounding instrument. I especially love the tailpiece. Thanks for the spread sheet as well. I have just started playing around with baritone scales and I haven't found the string combination that I like yet. Nice to have some more choices for mixing and matching until I can find the feel and tone I am looking for!

2xbass
02-15-2017, 05:32 PM
Wow, just wow! That is one amazing uke. That's one of a kind, right? It sounds killer!

Oh yeah one of a kind but I was inspired by a few things. The idea for the scale came from LFDM and that killer baritone he had at HMS last year. Luis has a larger body to go with the scale but I'm just fine with the standard baritone size body. I was also inspired a bit by the Batson guitars.

One thing I didn't mention... Jay's standard fretboard radius is 7.5" which seemed crazy to me since I was used to 16" on my Pono. I went to a guitar store and played some of the Fenders and other guitars with radii close to that and they seemed pretty tight but OK. Now playing this Lichty, I am already so used to the radius and it makes it so much easier to play the kinds of things I play. I went back to my Pono and it feels really flat!

2xbass
02-15-2017, 05:36 PM
It's an interesting thing with regard to polished basses. I find for me, they are almost essential on the ukulele but not quite so important for the guitar. The higher usage of movable 4 finger chords on ukulele means there can be a greater opportunity for unwanted string noise, the guitar is slightly more forgiving and offers a wider range of alternate positions to play notes and use different fingerings to minimize excessive squeaks.

When the instrument arrived with the (unpolished) D'Addarios on the bottom I tried them but they were way too noisy for me. Maybe I would just need to adjust my technique more but I'm a lot happier now with the Thomastiks on there. Oasis doesn't supply tension data for their strings but I estimate the total tension was about 81 lbs with the strings that it arrived with. What I've got there now should be about 72 lbs. If I tried the Dogal Diamante Extra Soft and D'Addario EJ46 Lightly Polished Normal Tension I could get the tension down to under 64 lbs. I've also asked Matt at SBM for other suggestions.

Robin Harrison
02-16-2017, 04:55 AM
What a beautiful thing it is !
Well done......I have a Lichty Tenor (with 19" scale) and it is the one that gets played most.
They are different, aren't they.

DownUpDave
02-16-2017, 05:55 AM
Robin, 2X bass lives in Ottawa and I had invited him to the New Uke Party I had a few months. I told him you were attending and you would be bringing your Lichty. I knew he had this baritone on order with Jay and although your Lichty made it very tempting it just didn't work out. As we discussed I will have another gathering soon and hopefully he can attend with his new super baritone.

2xbass
03-01-2017, 03:50 PM
I put Dogal Diamante Extra Softs on the top and Pro Arte Lightly Polished on the bottom two strings and the uke just loves them. Noticeably less tension but actually more taut under the fingers than the Hannabach Super Low Tension + Thomastik Chromes I had on before. The sound is brighter than before, especially in the basses, which is not usually what I want, but it's clearer and more balanced across the four strings. Definitely a step in the right direction. Thanks for the tip on the Dogals, Campbell!

Robin Harrison
03-02-2017, 02:52 AM
Noticeably less tension but actually more taut under the fingers
This seems like a contradiction.......or possibly I'm not understanding the terms .
Thanks for any explanation/help.....I'm one of the many trying to sort strings out !
Robin

2xbass
03-02-2017, 03:05 AM
Yes it does seem contradictory which is why I noted it specifically. Here's what's happening:

a) According to the figures the tension is quite a bit less. From 71.64 lbs down to 63.72.

b) The uke definitely likes it more. It sounds more open and has more sustain especially on the first string.

c) Yet the strings roll around less and it's easier to play faster passages. Especially because of the very tight radius on this instrument, it is easier to roll the top string off the fretboard sometimes. It's harder to do that now with the new strings.

2xbass
03-02-2017, 03:28 AM
I should also add that I think the Pro Arte Lightly Polished produce significantly less finger noise than the Thomastiks. They're also copper colored because they polish off all the silver plating and look pretty cool. :)

DownUpDave
03-02-2017, 01:23 PM
I should also add that I think the Pro Arte Lightly Polished produce significantly less finger noise than the Thomastiks. They're also copper colored because they polish off all the silver plating and look pretty cool. :)

Thanks for pointing these out. I am always on the look out for different wound strings. I was not aware of these, just checked them out on strings by mail, I like the fact there is normal, hard and extra hard. Nice to have diameter and tension choices, gonna try some.

2xbass
03-11-2017, 06:48 PM
Unfortunately I have to report that I did not stay with the Dogal Diamentes and the Pro Arte Lightly Polished. I loved the low-tension feel of them under the fingers but they were just too bright for my liking. I really can't get away from the wonderfully dark sound and strong fundamentals of the Thomastik CF strings and went back to CF30 and CF35 on the bottom. The tension is very slightly higher than the Pro Arte Lightly Polished (19.26 and 18.99 lbs for the Thomastiks vs 18.86 lbs for both the Pro Arte) but it's negligible. Where most of the tension was coming from was the trebles. Instead of going back to the Hannabach 815 SS Super Low Tension 2nd and 3rd strings (which were at 17.08 and 16.3 lbs) what I did instead was try the Super High Tension 1st and 2nd strings. The tension (at 13.35 and 11.2 lbs) is actually lower than the Dogal 2nd and 3rd strings (at 13.76 and 12.25 lbs). It's a little loose right now but still stretching so should get just a little bit tighter.

DownUpDave
03-12-2017, 03:22 AM
I went ahead and ordered the D'Addarios Pro Arte Lightly polished, both normal and hard 3rd and 4th wounds. My Kinnard baritone could use some brighting up in DGBE tuning so these might work out fine for me.

2xbass
03-12-2017, 04:49 AM
Yeah that's exactly what I was thinking they would be great for. I love the feel of those strings.

Camsuke
03-12-2017, 04:18 PM
I would love to hear the results, any chance of a little sound sample?

DownUpDave
03-13-2017, 11:52 AM
I would love to hear the results, any chance of a little sound sample?

I'm with Campbell.......we need a sound sample:drool:

2xbass
03-16-2017, 06:52 PM
Yes I do need to try to get a few samples up and moreso because I changed strings yet again. I ended up going to the top four strings of a guitar set. Specifically strings 1 and 2 of Hannabach 815 Silver Special and then the Thomastik CF27 and CF30 (strings 3 and 4). As you might guess, the tension is a little sloppy but not as much as I thought it would be because although the scale on this instrument is 22.25", with the floating bridge and the extra string length between the bridge and the tailpiece, the effective length is really over 24".