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View Full Version : NUD: Emil Bader (S&J Crafts) Milo Concert Pineapple



robinboyd
07-20-2017, 04:04 PM
Please excuse my very amateur write up of this uke. I am by no means an expert. I’ve added a short video as well, so you can see my very inexpert playing along with the fluffed bit in the middle.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnCU09gJVXc

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In order to give you an understanding of where this uke came from, I need to give you a little backstory. A bit over a year ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Hawaii with my wife and I asked for suggestions about a good uke to buy while I was there. One of the suggestions from a UU member was a handmade uke from Emil Baderof S&J Crafts, which was within my budget and looked awesome. However, I was unable to go and have a look at any of his ukes in person, and I decided to get one that I could try before I bought it instead. However, I followed Global Creations, which is the only stockist of Mr Bader’s ukes, on Facebook. Just recently, they posted a photo of an absolutely gorgeous Milo Pineapple model that I just had to have, so I bought it over the phone and had them ship it to me. It was only $210 plus $65 shipping to Australia!

Firstly, I want to mention that Sharon at Global Creations was an absolute pleasure to deal with. She was totally on top of the whole process and she packed the uke meticulously so there was no chance of it being damaged in transit. I wholeheartedly recommend them if anyone is thinking about buying from them in the future. It is also possible to buy directly from Mr Bader, but I just happened to see a uke that struck my fancy on the Global Creations website.

Now, from this point on, I’m going to be a bit picky. I just want to make it clear at the outset that I love this ukulele and for the price I paid, I consider it to be an exceptionally good buy.

Having unwrapped the uke, there were a few things that struck me. Firstly, it is just as gorgeous as the photos. That Milo wood looks fantastic. It has a flat back, rather than the rounded ones that are in vogue these days, but I don’t mind that. It comes with friction tuners, which took a bit of getting used to, but I don’t mind them. Looking a bit more closely, though, you can see that the join between the two bits of wood on the sound board is a little bit off centre, and there is a strange rounded bit on the top left section of the body, where it looks like Mr Bader had an accident with the sandpaper. There are also a few matt spots in the varnish, such as on the top right of the body. Also the nut has quite deep slots, which means it catches my hand a bit when changing chords at the top of the neck, almost as if I were playing with a capo. However, these are relatively minor faults, and given that I only spent $210 plus $65 shipping on this uke, I can’t expect it to be built like a Kamaka or Moore Bettah.

I gave it a bit of a strum, and found that I had a strong dislike for the strings. I’m not sure what they were, but they were black re-entrant strings with a wound C string. The G string seemed a bit too thick, so I wonder if they were actually a linear set that was used as a re-entrant set. The C string was really rough and squeaky, making it difficult to slide along it. Anyway, I took them off and put some re-entrant PHD fluorocarbon strings on it. The fretboard looked very dry, so I put some “lemon oil” on it while I was at it, which totally changed the colour of the fretboard, but in my opinion, improved the look quite a bit. Once the new strings were on it, I found that it had a beautiful tone and sustain that went on forever. The intonation is not too bad. Nearly perfect on the E and A strings, and just a little bit sharp on the G and C strings. The action is pretty good at the nut, but gets a bit high closer to the bridge. The bridge is removable, so I might see if I can get it filed down at some point, or do it myself. I don’t have the confidence to do it myself just yet, but I’m doing a bit of research, so we’ll see.

Then I found that I was getting some weird sympathetic resonance whenever I play a high G, whether I played it on the G string or the E string. Chords with 2 Gs in them when played with an open G string, such as G, Em, and Cm, sounded absolutely terrible. It was like a rattly muffler in a car. The rattle seemed to go on forever. Far longer than the sustain of the note itself. I was absolutely devastated and posted on UU looking for solutions. I tried a bunch of things, but changing the strings again seemed to do the trick. I put on some Aquila Bionylons that I had lying around. In general, I don’t like the sound as much as the PHDs, and they threw off the intonation a little bit, but they fixed the problem. Now it’s just a matter of finding a set that fix the problem and sound great too.

Anyway, to sum up, although this uke does not have a perfect finish, has a few (fixable) issues with the action and took a bit of fiddling around with the strings, it looks and sounds absolutely beautiful, and it was an absolute steal for the price. I’m very satisfied. However, if this was my first uke and I wasn’t able to fiddle around with strings and action, etc., I might be a little bit put off.

Here is a short list of the pros and cons.

Pros:

Beautiful tone
Beautiful looks
Rare wood
Hand-made
Low price
Pleasant people to deal with

Cons:

Slight imperfections in the finish
Need to adjust action a little bit
Intonation is not perfect, but not too bad
Issues with strings and weird resonance issue

bird's eye view of my ukelele
07-20-2017, 07:19 PM
great vid and TOTALLY gorgeous uke!!!!!!! so glad you got the buzz sorted, it sounds truly amazing now!

mountain goat
07-20-2017, 07:42 PM
Congratulations Robin. Emil builds beautiful instruments.
I bought a mango concert pineapple from him in 2011 as a Christmas present for my daughter.
She still loves it. :)
Here's to many years of enjoyment with it mate.
It's lovely.

LimousinLil
07-20-2017, 07:56 PM
That is such a pretty uke, Robin ... and it sounds gorgeous. So pleased you got the "teething problems" sorted.

robinboyd
07-20-2017, 07:57 PM
Congratulations Robin. Emil builds beautiful instruments.
I bought a mango concert pineapple from him in 2011 as a Christmas present for my daughter.
She still loves it. :)
Here's to many years of enjoyment with it mate.
It's lovely.

Thanks Mate. I didn't know you had bought one of his ukes. I've already got a mango, so I avoided those this time. The Milo is really different to my mango uke, which is great!

LimousinLil
07-20-2017, 07:58 PM
That uke looks and sounds gorgeous, Robin ... so glad you got the teething problems sorted! (And I had no idea that there was such a thing as an "action measurer"!

robinboyd
07-20-2017, 08:01 PM
great vid and TOTALLY gorgeous uke!!!!!!! so glad you got the buzz sorted, it sounds truly amazing now!

I found it very difficult to choose between that one and this one in the end. By the way, this one is still available ;)101658

Booli
07-20-2017, 11:37 PM
That uke looks and sounds gorgeous, Robin ... ...

I agree and I am very happy for you. :)

However that saddle looks HUGELY tall.

A rule of thumb as per Chuck Moore is that when the saddle sits in the slot on the bridge, there should be as near as possible an equal amount of saddle height above the bridge to the amount of saddle that sits in the slot, i.e., near 50/50.

Too much saddle height above the edge of the bridge that faces the nut and you run the risk of the front of the bridge being compromised due to the forces of string tension that are essentially pushing the saddle TOWARDS the nut at all times...

...and too little saddle height above the edge of the bridge and you run into the possibility that the arc of the vibrating string will touch the top of the bridge and then buzz, which will also reduce volume and sustain.

Please keep in mind that this may all be variable from one uke builder across different models, as well as different from one uke builder to the next, since the instruments' designs can vary quite a bit.

The 'string action ruler' will allow you to get the action where it needs to be.

@Val, a 'string action ruler' looks like this below and is used by folks that do a setup on a uke and want it to be at an exact, repeatable height:

https://tinyurl.com/ycnth2sg


Best of luck with the new instrument Robin! :music:

robinboyd
07-21-2017, 12:19 AM
However that saddle looks HUGELY tall.



I agree. When you look closely, you can actually see it getting pulled forward by the strings. The ruler is in the mail ($6 from eBay). I'll fix it ASAP. Until then, I've loosened the strings to prevent damage.

Croaky Keith
07-21-2017, 12:44 AM
Glad you like it, sounds nice, a bit like mahogany. :)

I measure my string height with a plastic ruler that I cut the excess of the end, a steel rule would also work. ;)

robinboyd
07-21-2017, 12:47 AM
Glad you like it, sounds nice, a bit like mahogany. :)

I measure my string height with a plastic ruler that I cut the excess of the end, a steel rule would also work. ;)

Yeah. If one of those fancy things was going to cost a lot of money, that's what I'd do too, but $6 is not a lot. I might as well get one and do it right.

bird's eye view of my ukelele
07-21-2017, 04:52 AM
I found it very difficult to choose between that one and this one in the end. By the way, this one is still available ;)101658
oh gosh, that is very lovely too!

Pueo
07-21-2017, 08:47 AM
Congratulations on a nice ukulele at a great price!
I have two Milo ukuleles Emil built for me.
Milo wood is very special and more rare than koa,
and was often reserved for the ali'i (chiefs).
It is also the most prized wood for making to'ere, which are the traditional log drums featured prominently in Tahitian music. My Milo concert is LOUD in a good way.
Glad you have it a sorted and best of luck getting it all set up just how you like it.

robinboyd
07-21-2017, 05:35 PM
Congratulations on a nice ukulele at a great price!
I have two Milo ukuleles Emil built for me.
Milo wood is very special and more rare than koa,
and was often reserved for the ali'i (chiefs).
It is also the most prized wood for making to'ere, which are the traditional log drums featured prominently in Tahitian music. My Milo concert is LOUD in a good way.
Glad you have it a sorted and best of luck getting it all set up just how you like it.

Thanks for the info. I already love it, and I think I will love it even more once I take the saddle down a little bit.

robinboyd
08-04-2017, 09:48 PM
Just to update you guys, I've been taking the saddle down bit by bit over the last few days. The action started out way over 3.5 mm at the 12th fret. After taking more than 2 mm off the saddle, I have got the action down to somewhere between 2.75 and 3 mm. (The guage is really hard to read). It is a whole lot easier to play now and still sounds great. I might try taking it down a smidge more at some point, but it will certainly do until I'm ready to change strings again.

turtledrum
08-05-2017, 12:38 AM
Robin, what a looker! I'm so happy for you and very very impressed with the care you've taken to get things right. Wishing you beautiful playing with this one! :)

mm stan
08-05-2017, 01:23 AM
You scored Robin, I don't think you could get a milo uke anywhere else or even the wood for that price,
It sounds nice too, happy strummings

robinboyd
08-05-2017, 04:31 PM
And now I've found that one of my frets pokes up under the A string so I'm getting fret buzz... I thought they were even, but I was checking down the middle of the fret board, not over on one side. I know this is fixable, but it's really frustrating. It really shows you the value of buying a uke that has been set up properly.

mm stan
08-05-2017, 10:53 PM
Id take it to a luthier to get a full set up and crown the frets

robinboyd
08-05-2017, 11:12 PM
Id take it to a luthier to get a full set up and crown the frets

Yep. I'll give them a call tomorrow and see what I can arrange. The prices they have quoted on their websites seem a bit much, but that's for a guitar, so I'm guessing they would do a uke for less.

Booli
08-06-2017, 10:18 AM
Id take it to a luthier to get a full set up and crown the frets

I agree.

A luthier or guitar/uke repair expert, with experience and the right tools should be able to remedy a tall fret issue with ease and in a short time.

robinboyd
08-06-2017, 11:53 PM
It's sitting at the shop right now. Fingers crossed. With a bit of luck we can get that issue cleared up and then I can start to play it!

robinboyd
08-09-2017, 07:40 PM
And I got the uke back from the shop and while they took the fret down a bit, it's not enough and they haven't fixed the problem. My wife picked it up, so I wasn't able to check it till it got home, but I'm livid! Now I have to go back in again, and I just don't have time!

mountain goat
08-09-2017, 07:44 PM
Robin,
I would strongly recommend you take it to Paul Mineur in North Hobart.

robinboyd
08-09-2017, 08:06 PM
Robin,
I would strongly recommend you take it to Paul Mineur in North Hobart.

Should have done that to begin with. It was Modern Musician that worked on it. However, having talked to MM, they have talked me through what it needs to properly fix it, and said they would deduct the cost of work done up to this point from any future repairs, so I will probably take it back to them. I can't afford this :(

Booli
08-10-2017, 01:43 AM
Robin - I am deeply concerned about the incomplete 'fix' and empathize with your frustration.

I truly hope that it can be resolved the second time around.

If it were me, I'd want to observe the work being done, and to make sure it was being both expedited in their work cue, as well as for them to realize that failure to completely resolve the problem is unacceptable, as well as the fact that any damage done is their responsibility, especially since this is a one-of-a-kind custom ukulele from Hawaii. I'm all for giving second chances, because we are all human, but if they handed it back to me scratched up or still not fixed, I'd have real trouble remaining quiet and civilzed.

I dont know about the laws in AUS, but in the USA if you pay for work via credit card, and the work is done wrong, poorly or damage is inflicted by the repairman, you can do a chargeback, which gets your money refunded as well as penalizes the merchant with fees, which if they are incompetent, they deserve.

I have always been suspect of buying expensive or custom things sight-unseen, and maybe this is something that should have been seen and resolved during inspection by the luthier before it was sent to you.

Whatever the end result, I would make sure that the luthier is aware of the ongoing saga of disappointment - maybe he will reimburse you for the work you are having done locally?

I dont know anything about the luthier, but if I was creating something such as a musical instrument, you bet I'd go over it with a fine-tooth comb, twice at least before it got packed and shipped...

Also, what is the likelyhood of the raised fret happening as a result of climate change during transport, or due to a difference in relative humidity from where the uke was built to the relative humidity at your house?

Righteous indignation, hell yes, but I intend to ruffle no feathers nor offend, I am just concerned is all, so please dont think bad of me. I am only trying to help. :)

robinboyd
08-10-2017, 03:03 AM
Robin - I am deeply concerned about the incomplete 'fix' and empathize with your frustration.

I truly hope that it can be resolved the second time around.

If it were me, I'd want to observe the work being done, and to make sure it was being both expedited in their work cue, as well as for them to realize that failure to completely resolve the problem is unacceptable, as well as the fact that any damage done is their responsibility, especially since this is a one-of-a-kind custom ukulele from Hawaii. I'm all for giving second chances, because we are all human, but if they handed it back to me scratched up or still not fixed, I'd have real trouble remaining quiet and civilzed.

I dont know about the laws in AUS, but in the USA if you pay for work via credit card, and the work is done wrong, poorly or damage is inflicted by the repairman, you can do a chargeback, which gets your money refunded as well as penalizes the merchant with fees, which if they are incompetent, they deserve.

I have always been suspect of buying expensive or custom things sight-unseen, and maybe this is something that should have been seen and resolved during inspection by the luthier before it was sent to you.

Whatever the end result, I would make sure that the luthier is aware of the ongoing saga of disappointment - maybe he will reimburse you for the work you are having done locally?

I dont know anything about the luthier, but if I was creating something such as a musical instrument, you bet I'd go over it with a fine-tooth comb, twice at least before it got packed and shipped...

Also, what is the likelyhood of the raised fret happening as a result of climate change during transport, or due to a difference in relative humidity from where the uke was built to the relative humidity at your house?

Righteous indignation, hell yes, but I intend to ruffle no feathers nor offend, I am just concerned is all, so please dont think bad of me. I am only trying to help. :)

There are a few things to think about here

Firstly, having spoken to the guy who worked on it, it looks like he took my desire to not spend too much to heart and only worked on the immediate issue. He said that he would have to work on all the frets if he was going to do a proper job of it because they are all a bit uneven. He said that he's happy to deduct the cost of the initial work if I go ahead with this. It hasn't been damaged at all, and the issue is that they didn't want to go too far when I was looking to save a bit of money. You can also get a chargeback here, but I don't think this issue warrants that. It looks like we'll be able to resolve it. It will just require quite a bit more work on the fretboard.

I knew that I was taking a risk buying this sight unseen and if I'd been able to inspect it, I probably wouldn't have bought it. Oh well. I had heard good things about this luthier from a few different sources, and IF we manage to get these issues sorted, I actually think I'll have a really good instrument. It's just really frustrating. Like I was saying over PM, it really does remind me of my old Alfa Romeo...

I'm really not sure whether to approach the luthier. I didn't buy it directly from him, but through a vendor. However, I have been in contact with him before, and I found it quite difficult to communicate with him. I don't think English is his first language, and we had quite a bit of difficulty understanding each other. Because of that, I'm not sure that contacting him would be helpful. It would probably just create more confusion and distress for both of us.

I honestly have no idea about whether the raised fret could be a humidity issue. We have humidity of between 50% and 70% here, so I don't think the humidity at this end would be the problem. Who knows what it was exposed to during transport, but it was so thoroughly wrapped in bubble wrap that I don't think it could have done too much damage. I'm starting to wonder whether oiling the fretboard caused problems though. It looked very very dry when I got it. It seems plausible that soaking up the oil might have pushed out the fret.

Booli
08-10-2017, 03:41 AM
There are a few things to think about here

Firstly, having spoken to the guy who worked on it, it looks like he took my desire to not spend too much to heart and only worked on the immediate issue. He said that he would have to work on all the frets if he was going to do a proper job of it because they are all a bit uneven. He said that he's happy to deduct the cost of the initial work if I go ahead with this. It hasn't been damaged at all, and the issue is that they didn't want to go too far when I was looking to save a bit of money. You can also get a chargeback here, but I don't think this issue warrants that. It looks like we'll be able to resolve it. It will just require quite a bit more work on the fretboard.

I knew that I was taking a risk buying this sight unseen and if I'd been able to inspect it, I probably wouldn't have bought it. Oh well. I had heard good things about this luthier from a few different sources, and IF we manage to get these issues sorted, I actually think I'll have a really good instrument. It's just really frustrating. Like I was saying over PM, it really does remind me of my old Alfa Romeo...

I'm really not sure whether to approach the luthier. I didn't buy it directly from him, but through a vendor. However, I have been in contact with him before, and I found it quite difficult to communicate with him. I don't think English is his first language, and we had quite a bit of difficulty understanding each other. Because of that, I'm not sure that contacting him would be helpful. It would probably just create more confusion and distress for both of us.

I honestly have no idea about whether the raised fret could be a humidity issue. We have humidity of between 50% and 70% here, so I don't think the humidity at this end would be the problem. Who knows what it was exposed to during transport, but it was so thoroughly wrapped in bubble wrap that I don't think it could have done too much damage. I'm starting to wonder whether oiling the fretboard caused problems though. It looked very very dry when I got it. It seems plausible that soaking up the oil might have pushed out the fret.

Ok. No worries brother!

All you said above makes good sense to me. Sorry if I overstepped in my thinking out loud.

I get upset when I see bad things happen to good people.

It will be a glorious day when you can play it soon and put these issues into the rear-view, and focus back into the music.

robinboyd
08-10-2017, 01:07 PM
Ok. No worries brother!

All you said above makes good sense to me. Sorry if I overstepped in my thinking out loud.

I get upset when I see bad things happen to good people.

It will be a glorious day when you can play it soon and put these issues into the rear-view, and focus back into the music.

I've let the vendor know that there is an issue. I haven't made any demands, but they can talk with the luthier, and who knows what they'll decide to do about it (if anything).

robinboyd
09-14-2017, 05:00 PM
Well the music shop decided not to charge me for any extra work, which was extremely generous considering not only involved fret leveling, but also building up the nut slot for the A string. Fingers crossed that it all works now. It's been really stressful, but in the end, it may have all been worth it. My advice to any prospective buyers now that I've been through this is to be prepared for stress, frustration, and extra costs, but in the end, you might just end up with a nice-sounding instrument.

mountain goat
09-14-2017, 05:33 PM
Good news, Robin. Hope you enjoy it now.

robinboyd
09-27-2017, 08:25 PM
Well, after about a week I started to notice fret buzz on a different fret. I took it to a luthier named Paul Mineur on the recommendation of Mountain Goat and others. He said "it is so poorly made that I don't want to touch it. I could spend hours on it, and it would just develop more problems." So there's my answer. It's a wall hanger (although I don't really feel like displaying it, so I suppose it's very expensive firewood). I'm a bit pissed off.

LimousinLil
09-28-2017, 03:37 AM
That's a shame, Robin!

Nickie
09-29-2017, 07:55 AM
Congratulations, nonetheless, it's beautiful. It sure reminds me of how my Cocobolo Ukulele looks, with that sapwood stripe down the middle. I have a wallhanger too, so I sympathize with you.

Croaky Keith
09-29-2017, 11:41 PM
So there's my answer. It's a wall hanger (although I don't really feel like displaying it, so I suppose it's very expensive firewood). I'm a bit pissed off.

As would I be.......sorry it's turned out badly.

mountain goat
09-29-2017, 11:48 PM
what about just getting Paul to make a new nut? (and adjust the saddle accordingly)
at least to make the instrument playable?

mm stan
09-30-2017, 07:31 AM
Take it to a luthier who specializes in ukes for a second opinion, some luthiers prefer not to work on ukes..

1931jim
09-30-2017, 10:22 AM
PM sent to you Robin.

robinboyd
09-30-2017, 04:49 PM
Take it to a luthier who specializes in ukes for a second opinion, some luthiers prefer not to work on ukes..

It would be nice to have that luxury.