View Full Version : Robert O'Brien now has an online tenor ukulele building course with Heidi Litke

09-06-2017, 09:44 AM
Interesting, I just noticed that Robert O'Brien has a tenor ukulele building course online up and running.

Looks like a nice detailed course with Heidi Litke of Red Sands Ukuleles.

"You start with a box of lumber and progress to a finished high quality instrument. You will do it all: thickness and brace the top and back, thickness and bend the sides, make and carve the neck, slot and thickness the fretboard, install frets, learn how to apply a French polished shellac finish etc. Emphasis is on the use of hand tools."


09-07-2017, 10:51 AM
I've watched the entire course. If you haven't yet built a uke its bound to be a great help. Heidi builds in the classical guitar style with the sides tucked into slots in the neck block. I realize some very accomplished professionals build that way, but I'd quit he business if I had to do that. I totally don't get it. Nevertheless, the program easily eclipses the uke-building books that are out there. Robbie O'Brien has filmed so many how-to series that he has it down cold, and they are easy to watch and understandable to most beginners without pretending that any simpleton will be successful right out of the gate. Heidi's every sentence ends on a rising note, as if she's used to teaching children. Its bothersome, but she knows what she's talking about. While she uses many hand tools in the demos, she has all the helpful lutherie gear on hand and I bet every serious student is going to want to collect a shopfull of stuff as quickly as possible. The lowest-tech methods just don't look that attractive in comparison.

Pete Howlett
09-07-2017, 02:29 PM
There is a really highly sought after maker of OM style guitars here in the UK who uses the slipper heel. For why I just don't know. What I do know is, nearly every guitar sooner or later will require a neck reset and you just cannot do it with this style of construction. With today's technologies there is no argument that would persuade me to use this style of neck joint despite getting a masterclass at it from Les Stansell a year ago. I got excited but as soon as I started to go down that road I quickly retracted. It is just not for me. And I concur with John - it just is not something I would entertain for two reasons: bindingand finishing - two really visual and impactful features that have to be right. Over time, no matter how well you do it, the miniscus developed between the heel and the body will grow to a milky line over time and look very ugly. Even if it is a hairline....

I expect Allen to weigh in here because he uses this method. As Bob Gleason said of my first pieces 23 years ago, "We'll see how these hold up..." You gotta respect an observation like that :)

12-21-2017, 10:45 AM
Thought I'd mention that Robbie O'Brien has 10% off all his building courses now through Christmas. use OBRIENXMAS for the promo code.

12-21-2017, 03:02 PM
I probably wasted about that amount in wood learning to build guitars. On the Spanish Heel, I tried the method with the captured sides in the neck. Enjoyed that build, made the guitar in two weeks (no rosette or binding) and it is my favorite guitar. You could always add a couple of dowels from the head block area going to two side blocks at the waist and I doubt you would have to ever worry about a neck reset. I know the big boys use carbon fiber tubes for this but the added weight of the dowels should be no problem.

12-21-2017, 06:59 PM
. So if you are serious about selling, you need to learn how to sell as well as how to make the instruments. I think this could be much more important than worrying about which neck joint you use.

Very good point. I love it when I sell an uke. Not only because of the money I make but also because they are gone and have found loving homes. Ukes can be like kittens; they tend to multiply. My best method: Word of mouth. I've also sold some at art galleries and that is nice but they always take their bite and I don't really like to share. I'm still just a builder and the selling of the things is not really my main intent. As long as they disappear and I can buy more tools and wood I'm happy. I'm not trying to make a living at this. I salute uke makers that do succeed at making a profit in this obviously limited market. Sand on my friends! Good luck!

12-22-2017, 06:26 AM
I agree on the price of the package. This is a bargain when you look at what video games and electronic cost these day. A lot of time I'm sure went into doing this series. Probably some valid points on the Spanish heel both ways.

Nice to see this kind of stuff being offered. I'm tempted to try some builds but could see it GOING wild with ukuleles <g> filling up my house. Also, I 'm not that talented a wood worker.

thanks for Sharing Hodge et al you comments

Pete Howlett
12-25-2017, 04:44 AM
Kenny Hill shared with me this wisdom last year

There are three aspects to luthiery: Making, Finishing and Marketing... Quite a lot of people get the first two but fail on the last.

12-25-2017, 08:10 PM
Ive donate arm rest bevel class it was a great video Robbie has done a great job with these videos.