View Full Version : Ukulele top made from 2 woods.. maybe 2 variants of spruce?

04-29-2018, 10:40 AM
Has any one come across a ukulele where the top of the ukulele is made from 2 different woods? This would be the opposite of book matched!
Or do the building challenges to make the structure robust unsurmountable ? Or the resulting sound not worth it?
Just curious..

04-29-2018, 01:10 PM
Compass Rose made some tenor ukuleles with tops from 2 different woods.


Rick Turner from Compass Rose used to a regular around here for a while but we haven't heard from him for a couple of years.

04-29-2018, 02:22 PM
KoAloha has been making the Naupaka model for some time which has Koa and Mango for the soundboard.


It’s funny...I dislike mango as a fruit—so I would avoid buying a mango ukulele...but in truth there is no logic in that reasoning!

Pegasus Guitars
04-29-2018, 07:36 PM
I've made a number of ukes using 1 type of wood for half of the T/B/S and another for the other half. Might as well throw in a different shape too. Fun to make something different. Using standard building practices you still get a decent sounding instrument. I call them "Hapa" instruments.

Ken Franklin
04-29-2018, 10:14 PM
Harry Fleishman has made a lot of instruments with different woods for each half of the top. Don't know if he's made any ukes though.

04-30-2018, 07:12 AM
Thank you for the quick responses! I tried to google different wood ukulele tops but did not get this awesome content!

I am thinking of a Purple Heart back and sides with a Sitka + Adirondack spruce top.
Or maybe combining Adirondack with another wood..
Or maybe having 2 different woods for back and sides as well..

Hmm.. this technique for building makes it so much harder to finalize the wood selection :-D

Koaloha is interesting cause they do 2 woods across back and sides vs just the front! The demo on the HMS is purely strumming..

I wonder if finger picking takes a hit when a ukulele is built this way?

Pete Howlett
04-30-2018, 11:42 AM
What do you hope to achieve? If there was any 'real' merit in this we'd see more people doing it. I've said many times before - the ukulele has such tight parameters it's practically impossible to affect any great change that would be significantly noticeable bye doing novel stuff like this. As Bob said - fun to make something different....

04-30-2018, 12:15 PM
Fun is definitely is part of it!

If one is ordering a custom ukulele and wants something that cannot be sampled any where..

Having a custom Koa that sounds like a Koa one can buy for the big "K" makes little sense to me personally.

Being able to select aspects of it that make it fun from a tone perspective are very interesting to me...
I am just doing my due diligence before trying by posting it here.

@pete what according to you is the best use of getting a custom ukulele? Serious question!

I am new to all of this.. and I find the variation in tone really satisfying to my ears... analogous to how trying different flavors can be satisfying to the tongue.. I got a cello banjo cause the tone and sound is very unique and very nice to my ears.
That said.. I really do not know why people get custom ukuleles made.. Is it just the fit and finish/look as per desire?
Actually this might be better discussed in a separate thread!

I though the custom Purple Heart that Ken Middleton showcased on youtube was very interesting!

04-30-2018, 12:26 PM
Pretty much the whole concept behind the Rebel Alchemist is to mix woods in different combinations.

Here's one from the previous series: https://www.theukulelesite.com/rebel-alchemist-custom-tenor.html

And if you're on Facebook, you can see a sneak peek of the new ones here: https://www.facebook.com/therebelguitars/photos/pcb.2027935187483335/2027935150816672/?type=3&theater

Pete Howlett
04-30-2018, 12:51 PM
I honestly don't think it matters what you build em from. I no longer do the customer custom thing. I let others do it far better than me. I just build what I build and they seem to turn out right.

05-01-2018, 07:27 AM
I think the mixes may be more about the look and the feel than actual tone? I think Rebel was right to call it the alchemist, because it seems to me as much magical thinking is involved as actual science.... Fun is a big part of it, as the original poster noted. Pointless, perhaps, but then so is a rosette. :)

Michael N.
05-01-2018, 09:03 PM
It's more than the actual look. It's highly likely that the two halves of the soundboard will be different density and stiffness. That is almost certainly going to have some impact on the sound. Whether a maker will be able to control or predict the tone might be a different matter. I suppose if they were to build enough examples then things will become somewhat more predictable.
Of course you can forget the idea that one half of the soundboard controls the top two strings and the other half controls the other two. That's not how it works. Don't expect miracles either. This is not going to revolutionise instrument making. It's not going to blow all previous instruments out of the water, that I'm certain of. You could end up with a perfectly nice sounding instrument, that I would not rule out.

Uncle Leroy
05-02-2018, 12:49 AM
I believe KoAloha is doing this with Koa and Mango.

05-04-2018, 09:05 AM
It's highly likely that the two halves of the soundboard will be different density and stiffness.

Not really. Most builders I see are matching similar woods. The OP specifically said variants of spruce. Rebel's mixes have in included koa and mango. Here are the specs, pretty much twins from a density standpoint:



Of course if someone mixes spruce and mahogany, that might get you something. But most of the combos I see are pairing birds of a feather/woods of a bark... Totally agree the results are unpredictable, maybe that's the draw. :))

Michael N.
05-04-2018, 09:52 PM
Oh come on! Similar woods tells us absolutely nothing. You seriously think that there's no density/stiffness variation between spruce (or any wood) of the same type? Your wood-database should give you the range, the range can be quite broad. My near 40 years experience of spruce tells me you are very mistaken. In fact I have some Euro spruce that would fit into the density range of Western red cedar, I have some that isn't far off the density of a temperate hardwood. After all this is wood we are referring to. Climate, soil conditions and altitude will all play it's part. No one in the world of lutherie is ever going to persuade me that those will behave in the same manner.