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View Full Version : New koa top tenor build completed



E-Lo Roberts
05-11-2009, 07:08 AM
Special thanks to Dominator, Chuck, and Pete for taking time out of their schedules to answer my humble questions on this and other builds.

Here are some specs on the completed tenor.

Koa top with paua abalone rosette
Rosewood back and sides
Curly koa and maple binding used for top and back
One piece Mahogany bolt-on neck with carbon fiber struss rod
17” scale joined to the body at the 14th fret
19 frets total
Figured Cocobolo fingerboard with paua abalone dots
Bound neck: curly koa and maple
Koa and Cocobolo peghead overlay over
maple veneer with paua abalone "E" logo
Kamaka "Jake" style slotted headstock
Grover 18:1 Sta-Tite chrome and gold gear slotted peghead tuners
Rosewood bridge with paua abalone tie bar inspired by Chuck's ukes
Bone nut and saddle
Top finished in Nitro lacquer
Back, side, neck finished in Tru-Oil

UKISOCIETY
05-11-2009, 07:10 AM
Wow! Looks great! When can I expect shipment? :D

Dominator
05-11-2009, 07:17 AM
Looks great Ernie. I was just thinking about you over the weekend and wondering why you have been absent from UU. Looks like you've been spending your time wisely. Can't wait to hear what it sounds like.

Mobben
05-11-2009, 07:32 AM
What a beauty.. Great work :)

deach
05-11-2009, 07:42 AM
Really nice!

herbsandspices
05-11-2009, 07:44 AM
Yeah, awesome! I love the inlay in the headstock... and those look like Waverly tuners?

ksquine
05-11-2009, 07:51 AM
Man....slot heads sure are in style these days. The angled ends on yours look really cool

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-11-2009, 07:51 AM
Super nice Ernie. Especially since you probably don't get a chance to see a lot of nice ukes in your corner of the woods. Nice headstock too. Do your strings make contact with the forward ends of the slots?

seeso
05-11-2009, 08:26 AM
Dude, looks great!

Pete Howlett
05-11-2009, 08:49 AM
Great stuff...

E-Lo Roberts
05-11-2009, 09:01 AM
Super nice Ernie. Especially since you probably don't get a chance to see a lot of nice ukes in your corner of the woods. Nice headstock too. Do your strings make contact with the forward ends of the slots?

Chuck, just slightly on the outside strings (high G and A). I wanted to keep the neck angle around 13 degrees for this reason but still allow for some decent string tension on the nut. With the slotted head you can cut back on the angle of the neck a bit because the string sits in the middle of the slot as oppossed to above the headstock on a tuner post. To eliminate the string contact totally with this particular headstock design, I would of had to take the angle to around 11 or 10 degrees which I didn't want to do, or cut the forward slots a little closer to the nuts. Thought about that but didn't visually like the look. I also tried to keep the width of the headstock a bit narrower than others that I've seen. Again, simply a design choice.

bbycrts
05-11-2009, 10:54 AM
Gorgeous!!

GX9901
05-11-2009, 11:24 AM
Chuck, just slightly on the outside strings (high G and A). I wanted to keep the neck angle around 13 degrees for this reason but still allow for some decent string tension on the nut. With the slotted head you can cut back on the angle of the neck a bit because the string sits in the middle of the slot as oppossed to above the headstock on a tuner post. To eliminate the string contact totally with this particular headstock design, I would of had to take the angle to around 11 or 10 degrees which I didn't want to do, or cut the forward slots a little closer to the nuts. Thought about that but didn't visually like the look. I also tried to keep the width of the headstock a bit narrower than others that I've seen. Again, simply a design choice.

I've got two William King ukes with slotted headstocks. On the tenor, all four strings contact the forward end of the slots. On the concert, the outside strings make contact. They do make marks on the finish where they contact the slot end. Besides possibly breaking the strings prematurely at that spot and obviously the "scratched" finish, are there other downsides to this?

Nice job on your builds E-Lo!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-11-2009, 12:14 PM
[QUOTE=GX9901; Besides possibly breaking the strings prematurely at that spot and obviously the "scratched" finish, are there other downsides to this?
[/QUOTE]
Huh? Isn't that enough? The slots are there for the strings to run through, not over. Big kudos to E-lo for attempting a slotted headstock but it IS an obvious design problem.
Again E-lo, you've really done a beautiful job:shaka:

Jimmy
05-11-2009, 12:34 PM
Looks great. I bet it sounds great when you make it yourself :)

grappler
05-11-2009, 02:10 PM
Looks really good there. These slotted head stocks are getting more and more popular

E-Lo Roberts
05-11-2009, 02:31 PM
Huh? Isn't that enough? The slots are there for the strings to run through, not over. Big kudos to E-lo for attempting a slotted headstock but it IS an obvious design problem.
Again E-lo, you've really done a beautiful job:shaka:

Hey Chuck, didn't GX9901 say "all four strings contact the forward end of the slots" on his two William Kings tenors? I don't feel so bad now. Yes, I tried to solve the riddle of the angle vs. contact issues and got close. Please let me know if or when you come up with the right combo to this interesting design problem. If possible I would like all 4 strings to not touch the front end on future builds. Thanks, e.lo..........

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-11-2009, 03:54 PM
Yep, the answer is less of a break angle at the headstock and a greater rake angle at the forward end of the slot. As you said, it's a fine balance to get it right. You also need to pay attention to the location of the tuners and make sure they are not positioned too far forward. The only problem I have with slotted headstocks is that there are limited options for inlay, which is my forte. It's also hard to spray lacquer in the slots and to finish it (sand and buff) properly. Good for you for doing it.

Spooner
05-11-2009, 04:58 PM
VERY VERY nice buddy!

Great design on the headstock inlay too!

Could you throw up some sound samples to help us round out the experience...pweez? :)

GX9901
05-11-2009, 04:58 PM
Huh? Isn't that enough? The slots are there for the strings to run through, not over. Big kudos to E-lo for attempting a slotted headstock but it IS an obvious design problem.
Again E-lo, you've really done a beautiful job:shaka:

Well, I just figured that since William had a significant background in classical guitars, which mostly has slotted headstocks, that he knew what he was doing. The two issues I mentioned are things that I had no problems with, but I did note that they exist. If there aren't any other hidden issues with the strings touching the slot ramp, I'm ok with it. I do see your point though.

E-Lo Roberts
05-12-2009, 03:23 AM
Yep, the answer is less of a break angle at the headstock and a greater rake angle at the forward end of the slot. As you said, it's a fine balance to get it right. You also need to pay attention to the location of the tuners and make sure they are not positioned too far forward. The only problem I have with slotted headstocks is that there are limited options for inlay, which is my forte. It's also hard to spray lacquer in the slots and to finish it (sand and buff) properly. Good for you for doing it.

Chuck, I have a second slotted head uke I just finished. (the "hemp" tenor here on UU Luthier's Lounge). I noticed that it has the correct string clearance at the front slots for all 4 strings. I did a bit of A/B angle checking between the Koa Top uke (here) and the Hemp uke. The Koa uke has a 13 degree angle and the Hemp is 11 degree. The Hemp appears to have enough string tension at the nut, so I'm going to make my next slotted neck at 11 instead of 13. We'll see if this solves the problem for good. Thanks for your observations and comments on my ukes....e.lo.....

Drauff
05-16-2009, 06:24 AM
I have seen this one in person also and man is it beautiful! It plays great too. Excelent craftmanship. keep'em coming Ernie.
Ed

Ukulele Friend
05-16-2009, 07:08 AM
Aloha Ernie,

Beautiful uke! I had no idea you were in to building. (Hope I've got the right "Ernie" in mind...) :D

please leave us all a sound file when you have a chance,
Shawn

http://ukulelefriend.com

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-16-2009, 08:36 AM
I thought 11 degrees would just about do it, that's what's worked for me. The strings angle itself is probably closer to 14 degrees now anyway.
On a standard headstock where the tuners come in from behind, the string angle is always less than the break angle of the headstock, (it varies depending upon where the last winding of the string is) so I wouldn't worry about adequate tension on the nut. I'm sure it's fine but you could measure the string angle and do a comparison.
Again, really, really nice work.

Pete Howlett
05-16-2009, 09:55 AM
I've missed this discussion... I started out making slotted headstocks - here's one from about 13 years ago...

http://i51.photobucket.com/albums/f352/ukulele_pete/ME-6-String.gif

I've always worked on 15 degrees but taken special care with the taper of the headstock, cheek thickness and centre section. It's only because I kept getting asked for them this year that I designed one for a 4 string tenor. The only bummer is having to use guitar tuners but I think I have now got it right..

http://i51.photobucket.com/albums/f352/ukulele_pete/HelsinkiTenor.jpg

The headstock length is 135mm and the width at the top is 62mm - I only use two routing jigs to do this - takes about 10 minutes. I try to get the inside evenly sanded usinf graded sanding sticks that just fit the slots. I then just hope that the 'overspray' copes with the inside. Yes it's hard buffing this out so the fix is to flat sand it then spray with an ultra thin coat to leave a gloss surface without buffing.

And hey Chuck - don't do these - I love to see your inlay and you really are restricted to what you can do...

Timbuck
05-16-2009, 11:05 AM
Come on lad's :)....The slotted type headstock angle starts with the dia: of the tuning peg shafts... a 10 mm shaft (the plastic type) will need a steeper angle than a 6mm dia shaft .. it's all down to tangents and basic trig.:wallbash:

Pete Howlett
05-16-2009, 11:37 AM
The difference between you and us Tim is we don't have to think about it. You engineers think far too much;:bowdown: creatives go by sense of smell...:nana:

Timbuck
05-16-2009, 12:12 PM
Measure twice, and then again and then "double check in all directions" especially for (the most common error) "out of square" if it all check's out that's ok...Then finally "the eye" it should look right... Then cut or drill or machine or whatever ..If afterwards it turns out wrong :mad: then you drop you're trousers and prepare for the worst :eek:...That's the way the late "Dennis Myers" (the best marker out: I ever met), taught me when I was an engineering apprentice under him, in 1958 :old:...He used to say "we are not in a job where we can screw all our mistakes into a ball and throw them into a waste paper basket"

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-16-2009, 12:19 PM
Plastic? :eek:

Timbuck
05-16-2009, 12:27 PM
Plastic? :eek:
I know!...it was just the largest diameter tuner i could think of :D..I've seen them on some cheapo Spanish type guitars..I dont think much of the either.

GX9901
05-16-2009, 06:29 PM
Plastic? :eek:

Gilbert tuners (http://www.specialtytuners.com/ukelele.html) has a plastic (or more precisely Delrin (http://www.specialtytuners.com/details.html)) rollers. Aren't these supposely the best tuners? (or at least very high-end?)

JTY
05-16-2009, 08:16 PM
Nice work E_Lo! looks yummy, love the details, and that Cocobolo fretboard looks wild.

Thanks guys, this thread is very informative, I posted a question ( http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?p=123159#post123159) about this a few weeks ago.. No string breakage due to the headstock so far. As where they contact, its on a gentle roundover, so stress seems fairly low there.. but I do wish the finish didnt have to get grooved.. I'll live with it. :D

E-Lo Roberts
05-17-2009, 05:16 AM
Aloha Ernie,

Beautiful uke! I had no idea you were in to building. (Hope I've got the right "Ernie" in mind...) :D

please leave us all a sound file when you have a chance,
Shawn

http://ukulelefriend.com

Shawn, yes you have the right "Ernie"..hahaha... I'm still under the radar with the building thing. I refer clients at this point who would like a custom ukulele to other builders that have inspired me, i.e. Chuck Moore, Dominator, Pete Howlett, and William King, whose input has help steer me in the proper direction. There is so much to learn once you get the basics down. As far as the sound files goes, I'll try to get some online, but I'm a bit shy and lazy in this area. However, if I make a uke that I intend to sell publicly, I'll force myself to include a youtube video of the uke for sale...e.lo....errrr..ernie to you!..