View Full Version : Looking to order a custom baritone, mainly for strumming. Ideas?

07-09-2017, 10:42 AM
I'm looking to commission a custom baritone. My priority is one that has a clear strumming sound, as opposed to the somewhat big and muddy sound you sometimes find on instruments that otherwise sound extremely good when fingerpicked. (I am definitely ready to accept the tradeoff that the uke I'm looking for might not sound as good when playing individual notes.)

So far I only have two makers in mind, and it depends on how much money I'll have in about a month. Bruko, if I don't have the money (I also generally like Bruko, so I may use them anyway) or Ono or Covered Bridge if I can scrape up the money. I'd also be curious to hear other suggestions for makers who could do it in the low thousands or, preferably, under a thousand.

Anyway, does anybody have any suggestions for wood combos? (Like every musician, I am aware that wood combo only makes a small difference, so consider that before responding with a post about how wood actually only makes a small difference. I'm looking for feedback on the small differences that wood *can* make.)

I'm not only looking for suggestions re: top, back & sides but also fingerboard, if anybody thinks that makes a difference!

Jim Hanks
07-09-2017, 02:09 PM
Well, you can't go wrong with Ono or Covered Bridge - if you can convince CB to do a bari. Can't go far wrong with Bruko either, though I don't think they are in the same league as the other two - and really I'm not sure it would be that different than your Favilla. When I got my Bruko bari you could have any body wood you like as long as it was mahogany. :)

07-09-2017, 02:33 PM
Jim - I contacted CB and he said that in 6 months or more, they will be offering baritones. He says they're working on a prototype now!

At the moment I'm leaning toward Ono, though Bruko is cheap and novel. They said the same thing to me about mahogany for the back & sides. If I go through them, I think I will either get spruce or cedar for the top, and I'm trying to gauge which would be better for a clear rhythm sound.

Jim Hanks
07-09-2017, 03:11 PM
I didn't know Bruko did different tops on baris. I'd go with cedar if that was an option. It sounds like either Ono or CB would be at least a year out so maybe the answer is "both" - Bruko "now" and save up for the other - and go ahead and get on their build list.

07-09-2017, 03:16 PM
The number ONE factor that makes an instrument a good Strummer above all others by a Country Mile is, excellent intonation.

When you strum your hitting all the notes at once and there is nowhere to hide poor intonation. I like excellent intonation when picking too yet it doesn't sound quite so bad if the intonation is out a fraction.


07-09-2017, 04:18 PM
I am a HUGE Ono fan! You can't go wrong with David's work. Another custom option would be LoPrinzi. I just picked up a spruce/koa baritone that is a dream to play. With a background in classical guitar, it has a smooth shallow neck that, IMHO, is extremely easy to play. As far as sound goes, I would speak with the luthier you choose and ask for their recommendation based upon your playing style. In my experience I have found spruce to be the brightest/cleanest sound. I really like it on the large body of a baritone. Cedar would also be a nice choice.

07-17-2017, 02:34 AM
Thanks to everyone! Barnes, I haven't thought about LoPrinzi, and didn't realize they do custom builds. That is very great news and I will definitely look into them. That would have special meaning to me, since my dad's guitar is a LoPrinzi. Had not thought about them for ukes until now!

Ukulele Eddie
07-17-2017, 03:31 AM
I have owned, played others, and enjoyed both Ono and Covered Bridge ukes. I consider them both great values. I'm not sure Covered Bridge offers a baritone, but perhaps they do. In any case, based on my personal experience I believe Ono is a step above Covered Bridge in the execution details. Another factor to consider, is Covered Bridge tend to have a thicker, chunkier neck. Some people like this, some don't. Good luck choosing and let us know what you get.

07-17-2017, 11:46 AM
I prefer reentrant tuning for strumming. Although I do strum my Baritone, I find I don't like it as much strummed as my dGBE tuned tenor. OTOH, I prefer the linear tuning of the Baritone for finger picking.

07-17-2017, 03:03 PM
I think Boat Paddle, now Hoffmann, makes very nice baritone ukuleles. Actually all their uke are nice.


Edie added: If you YouTube Flea Bitten Dogs, David Henry Spangler plays one and it gives you a good idea of the tone.

07-17-2017, 08:28 PM
If you're considering custom I would consider Beau Hannam, Eric Devine, Marc Roberts and Jay Lichty...all expensive but worth the money...may be a long wait list though.

07-18-2017, 12:21 AM
If you're considering custom I would consider Beau Hannam, Eric Devine, Marc Roberts and Jay Lichty...all expensive but worth the money...may be a long wait list though.

I'd add Pete Howlett to that list too.

07-18-2017, 02:55 AM
I'd add Pete Howlett to that list too.

I believe Pete is now only taking orders for tenors (he has some concert and baritone orders still to fulfill, but going forward it will be only tenors)

07-18-2017, 03:13 AM
I've got a 2nd hand, wonderful mahogany baritone from Dave Talsma. It has a radius fretboard, neck attached at the 16th fret, and a 21" scale. A very easy player, incredibly light and resonant.


07-19-2017, 04:56 PM
Thanks to everyone who provided feedback.

I will be getting my next uke from Donna LoPrinzi and it will be custom! A baritone made of spruce and rosewood, Model A style, and with as short a scale as she can make without compromising intonation.