PDA

View Full Version : Thinking about a bespoke ukulele



Steve in Kent
05-19-2018, 03:27 AM
I have currently got a KoAloha KTM-00 but have got itchy fingers for a bespoke one.

So far the specification I am thinking about is...

Macassar ebony back and sides
Cedar top, (but open to spruce)
Slotted headstock, (but open to paddle with planetary geared tuners)
Ebony fretboard and bridge, (open to either tie or pin)
Fretboard bound with maple
Ebony faceplate on the headstock
Maple binding
Pickup, (totally open here, suggestions would be most welcome)

(And I know this is almost a copy of the Pono ETSH5, but they are few and far between, especially in the UK).

So, any comments would be most welcome as this is going to be a once in a lifetime thing.

Steve

Xtradust
05-19-2018, 06:19 AM
I think it's a great idea. If had a custom ukulele made, it would be a Koaloha. Honestly, I have never played a Koaloha that I would rate less than 10. Even the new batch of Opios are wonderful with the spruce top being a standout, imo.

I have a Sceptre, which due to it's shape, should sound like a $50 "flying V" or the Alien Head uke I bought. But it projects further and sounds every bit or more beautiful than any other K brand I've played. Which is really amazing.

If you're looking to order a special ukulele, I think the guys at Koaloha can definitely build what you're hoping for. :)

(PS, I don't have any ties to this company)

DownUpDave
05-19-2018, 06:40 AM
Getting a custom built ukulele made to your specifications is a wonderful endeavour that everyone sholud do if they can. I have 4 ukueles in my herd that I have "bespoke", lovely term, and each one means a lot to me. I own other customs I bought used and they ar excellent but the bespokes hold a special place in my heart

First and most important is to pick your builder, do your home work and research the ones you have heard about, you may discover news ones. A few tips to help you along the way. Have a clear idea of what you want and why. The WHY should always be sound retaled first, playability second and looks third. As you say the one you are detailing is an exact copy of a Pono model (I have owned that same model and it sounds wonderful). Are you basing your choice on the Pono sound samples from HMS? Builders have a signature sound, play an all koa tenor Kamaka, Kanilea and Koaloha, each sounds different.

If you have a sound in mind, warm, loud with much sustain and resonance then communicate that to the builder and ask his opinion about what woods to use. He is the expert and knows what is can get out of each type of wood. My best advice is to ask questions to the builder and really listen to his answers, give him room to work his magic. My first custom was a LfdM tenor and I said to Luis I want something guitar like in sound, full open and resonant, something good for country, rock and pop music. He said sitka spruce over rosewood, I said ok. It is my best sounding tenor among a number of high end customs.

Good luck and have fun

JJFN
05-19-2018, 07:02 AM
Thinking about a bespoke ukulele?

Thank You for increasing my vocabulary. I had to immediately Google the word bespoke. Great term.

Steve in Kent
05-19-2018, 07:09 AM
I think it's a great idea. If had a custom ukulele made, it would be a Koaloha. Honestly, I have never played a Koaloha that I would rate less than 10. Even the new batch of Opios are wonderful with the spruce top being a standout, imo.

I have a Sceptre, which due to it's shape, should sound like a $50 "flying V" or the Alien Head uke I bought. But it projects further and sounds every bit or more beautiful than any other K brand I've played. Which is really amazing.

If you're looking to order a special ukulele, I think the guys at Koaloha can definitely build what you're hoping for. :)

(PS, I don't have any ties to this company)

I'd like to ask KoAloha, but I'm in the UK and shipping and customs adds a lot of cost.

Steve in Kent
05-19-2018, 07:33 AM
Getting a custom built ukulele made to your specifications is a wonderful endeavour that everyone sholud do if they can. I have 4 ukueles in my herd that I have "bespoke", lovely term, and each one means a lot to me. I own other customs I bought used and they ar excellent but the bespokes hold a special place in my heart

First and most important is to pick your builder, do your home work and research the ones you have heard about, you may discover news ones. A few tips to help you along the way. Have a clear idea of what you want and why. The WHY should always be sound retaled first, playability second and looks third. As you say the one you are detailing is an exact copy of a Pono model (I have owned that same model and it sounds wonderful). Are you basing your choice on the Pono sound samples from HMS? Builders have a signature sound, play an all koa tenor Kamaka, Kanilea and Koaloha, each sounds different.

If you have a sound in mind, warm, loud with much sustain and resonance then communicate that to the builder and ask his opinion about what woods to use. He is the expert and knows what is can get out of each type of wood. My best advice is to ask questions to the builder and really listen to his answers, give him room to work his magic. My first custom was a LfdM tenor and I said to Luis I want something guitar like in sound, full open and resonant, something good for country, rock and pop music. He said sitka spruce over rosewood, I said ok. It is my best sounding tenor among a number of high end customs.

Good luck and have fun

Thank you for your reply, I have already researched a luthier, and am talking to him about woods etc. But your suggestion about telling him what sound I want is great.

Steve

Steve in Kent
05-19-2018, 07:34 AM
Thinking about a bespoke ukulele?

Thank You for increasing my vocabulary. I had to immediately Google the word bespoke. Great term.

You're welcome:)

Jim Hanks
05-19-2018, 06:40 PM
The first question to answer is what goals are most important to you - tone, playability, aesthetics, etc. I know you say this is a "once in a lifetime" thing so your temptation is to say, "well, this has to be perfect in every way". But the truth is that every instrument is a conglomeration of compromises and no one instrument can be "all things to all people" - or even all things to one person. So that's my commment - start with the goals, communicate those to your luthier (or even as you are "interviewing" among luthiers, i.e. how might they fulfill your particular goals), and then try not to sweat the small stuff.

hollisdwyer
05-19-2018, 10:12 PM
Being involved in the creation of a musical instrument, even in a small way, is a wonderful experience. May you have as good an experience as I have had with the Luthiers that I have worked with.

ripock
05-19-2018, 10:52 PM
Just to offer a different viewpoint, I'll tell you what I did. My priorities were completely at variance with the advice you received above. My first and only priority was aesthetics. Luthiers are anal-retentive freaks due to their chosen calling. Nothing is leaving their shoppe that isn't properly intoned. They have that end of the project under control. So you need to take care of your end of the project by knowing how you want it to look. In this regard, I drew up a list of everything I wanted in a ukulele and approached my luthier. Then a period of negotiation ensued wherein we hammered out the details. The luthier will tell you what options are cost prohibitive, what options are not feasible in terms of woodcrafting, and what options are acceptable.

I found it useful to have not only specifics in mind, but also broader ideas. If you approach a luthier with broader, vaguer ideas, they can offer input. For example, I told the luthier that my ukulele was intended as a linear-tuned instrument. With that info, the luthier could offer ideas on tone woods.

Rakelele
05-20-2018, 12:52 AM
So what you are saying is that you are ordering a custom ukulele from a specific luthier? Then it would probably be wise to have his input as to your wood choices etc. Does he even have the woods you specified, or else, is he able to get them in sufficient quality and properly dried? And is he experienced in working with these woods? I would think that a hard and dense wood such as Macassar Ebony needs a lot of consideration.

Also, since it seems important to you to not having to import an instrument from overseas: why not use regional woods instead of importing exotics? Some of the best instruments in the world are made with European Spruce, and I'm sure there are other domestic tonewoods that make for a fine alternative.

This being said, I think the combination of Macassar Ebony and Western Red Cedar makes for a fantastic instrument. I own a Pono ETSHC (without the Abalone purfling, but with a cutaway), and it is one of my all-time favorite instruments that stands on its own next to some very fine custom ukuleles.

Steve in Kent
05-20-2018, 07:00 AM
Just to offer a different viewpoint, I'll tell you what I did. My priorities were completely at variance with the advice you received above. My first and only priority was aesthetics. Luthiers are anal-retentive freaks due to their chosen calling. Nothing is leaving their shoppe that isn't properly intoned. They have that end of the project under control. So you need to take care of your end of the project by knowing how you want it to look. In this regard, I drew up a list of everything I wanted in a ukulele and approached my luthier. Then a period of negotiation ensued wherein we hammered out the details. The luthier will tell you what options are cost prohibitive, what options are not feasible in terms of woodcrafting, and what options are acceptable.

I found it useful to have not only specifics in mind, but also broader ideas. If you approach a luthier with broader, vaguer ideas, they can offer input. For example, I told the luthier that my ukulele was intended as a linear-tuned instrument. With that info, the luthier could offer ideas on tone woods.

Nice to receive a different slant on the subject...

Thank you,

Steve

Steve in Kent
05-20-2018, 07:02 AM
So what you are saying is that you are ordering a custom ukulele from a specific luthier? Then it would probably be wise to have his input as to your wood choices etc. Does he even have the woods you specified, or else, is he able to get them in sufficient quality and properly dried? And is he experienced in working with these woods? I would think that a hard and dense wood such as Macassar Ebony needs a lot of consideration.

Also, since it seems important to you to not having to import an instrument from overseas: why not use regional woods instead of importing exotics? Some of the best instruments in the world are made with European Spruce, and I'm sure there are other domestic tonewoods that make for a fine alternative.

This being said, I think the combination of Macassar Ebony and Western Red Cedar makes for a fantastic instrument. I own a Pono ETSHC (without the Abalone purfling, but with a cutaway), and it is one of my all-time favorite instruments that stands on its own next to some very fine custom ukuleles.

I know I keep listening to this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FikKhJ2glww)

Steve in Kent
05-20-2018, 07:03 AM
I almost want a sound that is halfway between my Pono MCD and my KoAloha KTM-00, if that makes sense.

kohanmike
05-20-2018, 07:12 AM
I have all my custom ukes made by Bruce Wei in Vietnam (I'm in Los Abeles) and I agree that detailing everything is very valuable, but listening to feedback from the builder is quite important. The last one I had made, I asked for all spalted mango, but he suggested it have flame mango for the body, that spalted on the body would not be as stable or have as much resonance. I went with it and I have to say, it came out great, excellent projection and resonance, and looks beautiful.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars

Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. http://www.theukc.org
Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos (https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos)

Jerryc41
05-20-2018, 12:54 PM
I have currently got a KoAloha KTM-00 but have got itchy fingers for a bespoke one.

Steve

As soon as I saw your title, I knew you were from England. We don't hear "bespoke" much here, but it is rather common on English TV shows. Your specs look interesting. Let us know how this develops.

Steve in Kent
05-25-2018, 08:45 AM
Well, things are moving on.

Talking almost daily, trouble is every time we talk I think the price goes up :)

So far then

Macassar ebony back and sides (Definite)
Cedar top, (but open to spruce) (Still discussing, having trouble getting Port Orford Cedar here)
Slotted headstock, (definite)
Ebony fretboard and bridge, (Definite)
Fretboard bound with maple (Definite)
Ebony faceplate on the headstock (Definite)
Maple binding (Definite)

Added

Additional soundhole in upper bout
Carbon fibre rod in neck for increased strength
Radiused fretboard, 20" radius

Just waiting for the quote to hit me.....

Plus what I think is great is that he sent me the link to his wood supplier so I could choose the Macassar Ebony blank that I like, cool.

DownUpDave
05-25-2018, 11:06 AM
Well, things are moving on.

Talking almost daily, trouble is every time we talk I think the price goes up :)

So far then

Macassar ebony back and sides (Definite)
Cedar top, (but open to spruce) (Still discussing, having trouble getting Port Orford Cedar here)
Slotted headstock, (definite)
Ebony fretboard and bridge, (Definite)
Fretboard bound with maple (Definite)
Ebony faceplate on the headstock (Definite)
Maple binding (Definite)

Added

Additional soundhole in upper bout
Carbon fibre rod in neck for increased strength
Radiused fretboard, 20" radius

Just waiting for the quote to hit me.....

Plus what I think is great is that he sent me the link to his wood supplier so I could choose the Macassar Ebony blank that I like, cool.

You have made great progress. The top gives the greatest influences on sound as I am sure you already know. Do you like a brighter or warmer tone is what it boils down to, cedar being warmer. I also find spruce has more sustain while cedar's notes decay faster.

olphart
05-26-2018, 05:40 AM
Yup, sounds just like my Pono ETSH5 PC. I could be convinced to sell so i could get a Koaloha tenor



I have currently got a KoAloha KTM-00 but have got itchy fingers for a bespoke one.

So far the specification I am thinking about is...

Macassar ebony back and sides
Cedar top, (but open to spruce)
Slotted headstock, (but open to paddle with planetary geared tuners)
Ebony fretboard and bridge, (open to either tie or pin)
Fretboard bound with maple
Ebony faceplate on the headstock
Maple binding
Pickup, (totally open here, suggestions would be most welcome)

(And I know this is almost a copy of the Pono ETSH5, but they are few and far between, especially in the UK).

So, any comments would be most welcome as this is going to be a once in a lifetime thing.

Steve

Steve in Kent
05-26-2018, 06:31 AM
Yup, sounds just like my Pono ETSH5 PC. I could be convinced to sell so i could get a Koaloha tenor

Shame that we are on different continents.

Jerryc41
05-27-2018, 01:19 AM
Shame that we are on different continents.

Not a problem. The continents are continuing to drift. Be patient!

Steve in Kent
05-27-2018, 01:40 AM
Not a problem. The continents are continuing to drift. Be patient!

Might be able to play f#dim7 to E and back again by then.

Steve in Kent
05-27-2018, 09:27 AM
What do you guys think of using a slotted bridge?

Jerryc41
05-27-2018, 09:51 AM
What do you guys think of using a slotted bridge?

Not my favorite style. I prefer through-top with pegs, or through-top with little beads inside the uke.

Steve in Kent
05-27-2018, 10:53 AM
Not my favorite style. I prefer through-top with pegs, or through-top with little beads inside the uke.

I think I am with you there, tie through is robust.

Jerryc41
05-28-2018, 03:04 AM
I think I am with you there, tie through is robust.

I read an interesting article about the advantage of a glued-on bridge. There is a lot of string tension on the uke, and if it takes a jolt, the bridge is the weak point, and it will pop off. If the bridge is screwed on, or the the strings go through the top, the stress will be relieved in some other area of the uke and cause more serious damage. Re-gluing a bridge is no big deal.

Steve in Kent
05-28-2018, 03:33 AM
I read an interesting article about the advantage of a glued-on bridge. There is a lot of string tension on the uke, and if it takes a jolt, the bridge is the weak point, and it will pop off. If the bridge is screwed on, or the the strings go through the top, the stress will be relieved in some other area of the uke and cause more serious damage. Re-gluing a bridge is no big deal.

Very interesting slant on the tie through.

I knew the bridge was specifically made as the weak point, just didn't think it through that the tie through negates that, of course.

Jerryc41
05-28-2018, 03:47 AM
Very interesting slant on the tie through.

I knew the bridge was specifically made as the weak point, just didn't think it through that the tie through negates that, of course.

I like the neat appearance of the pegs and tie through.

Steve in Kent
05-29-2018, 03:47 AM
Is it worth $140 to have a bound fretboard?

Jerryc41
05-29-2018, 03:53 AM
Is it worth $140 to have a bound fretboard?

Not on a $90 uke. : )

Steve in Kent
05-29-2018, 04:10 AM
Not on a $90 uke. : )

Wish it was $90

Found a nice ukulele from a US supplier, but as it's got abalone it's a nightmare to sort out the export.

Steve in Kent
05-29-2018, 04:12 AM
Also, not having gone this route previously, what happens ifI have taken the luthier's advice, but then I'm not happy with the sound?

Jerryc41
05-29-2018, 04:28 AM
Wish it was $90

Found a nice ukulele from a US supplier, but as it's got abalone it's a nightmare to sort out the export.

A woman in our uke group ordered a uke from a builder in England. It will be mailed to her granddaughter who is attending school in England. When she goers for a visit in a couple of months, she'll get it and bring it home with her. Maybe you should fly over here and pick it up in person. :D

I'm surprised ordering from here is that complicated. I thought rosewood was an export/import problem, not abalone. Life can be unnecessarily complicated.

Steve in Kent
05-29-2018, 05:09 AM
A woman in our uke group ordered a uke from a builder in England. It will be mailed to her granddaughter who is attending school in England. When she goers for a visit in a couple of months, she'll get it and bring it home with her. Maybe you should fly over here and pick it up in person. :D

I'm surprised ordering from here is that complicated. I thought rosewood was an export/import problem, not abalone. Life can be unnecessarily complicated.

Importing abalone to the US is no problem as it not under CITES, it's a US thing.

Strangely, if it was for human or animal consumption it's OK without a permit.

When are shellfish and fishery products exempt from Service import/export requirements?
Imports and exports of certain shellfish and non-living fish products are exempt from Service
requirements if they are for human or animal consumption and the species is not listed as
injurious (50 CFR Part 16) and does not require a permit under 50 CFR Part 17 (endangered or
threatened species), or 50 CFR 23 (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(CITES)).

Jim Hanks
05-29-2018, 05:59 PM
Is it worth $140 to have a bound fretboard?
Not to me, but when you're talking "bespoke" the question is always "how much is it worth to you"


Also, not having gone this route previously, what happens ifI have taken the luthier's advice, but then I'm not happy with the sound?
A few thoughts. First is that "the sound" can be greatly affected by string selection. But hopefully if you've communicated your desired tonal preference and the luthier is on board with it, this won't be an issue anyway. But also you can check ahead of time on any return policy. Oftentimes if the build isn't "too custom" they'll take it back confident they can sell to someone else.

Pirate Jim
05-29-2018, 11:55 PM
The old play before you buy thing can't apply to something that is made to order especially for you. I can guarantee that the uke will not sound the same on day one as it will on day 3650 (ten years), nor will it look the same. You will get better at playing, find the strings you like and the wood will age as it does naturally. So which day out of the 3650 are you going to choose to pick to work out if you should keep it or if you like the sound? Do you think you are going to be in the same ukulele place in 10 years as you are now?
There really is no point i buying a custom built uke if you are going to decide you don't like it as soon as you open the box. Obviously if it has a physical defect it needs to be sent back for repairs or money back, but the sound is something that is going to change over time as you improve your skills and learn which strings you like and how to make the uke sound the way you want it to sound.
A new custom uke can be treated like a special kitten which is never going to be able to be trained much and will be a nice companion but wont take you anywhere, or it can be treated like a frisky colt to be broken in and become a useful form of going somewhere musically as well as being your faithful companion for years and years. In fact this probably applies to every new musical instrument that you can ever buy.

:agree: 10char

Pirate Jim
05-29-2018, 11:58 PM
Is it worth $140 to have a bound fretboard?

As others have said, it's all extremely personal. I LOVE a bound fretboard, I would definitely pay for it in a custom. Others don't care as long as the frets are dressed properly. What do you like? Can you get to a shop and try out ukes with and without bound fretboards?

Steve in Kent
05-30-2018, 01:20 AM
The old play before you buy thing can't apply to something that is made to order especially for you. I can guarantee that the uke will not sound the same on day one as it will on day 3650 (ten years), nor will it look the same. You will get better at playing, find the strings you like and the wood will age as it does naturally. So which day out of the 3650 are you going to choose to pick to work out if you should keep it or if you like the sound? Do you think you are going to be in the same ukulele place in 10 years as you are now?
There really is no point i buying a custom built uke if you are going to decide you don't like it as soon as you open the box. Obviously if it has a physical defect it needs to be sent back for repairs or money back, but the sound is something that is going to change over time as you improve your skills and learn which strings you like and how to make the uke sound the way you want it to sound.
A new custom uke can be treated like a special kitten which is never going to be able to be trained much and will be a nice companion but wont take you anywhere, or it can be treated like a frisky colt to be broken in and become a useful form of going somewhere musically as well as being your faithful companion for years and years. In fact this probably applies to every new musical instrument that you can ever buy.

I know a lot can change over the years, but what if something like the sustain is really not there at all, or it sounds really tinny, or something that you feel just will not improve?

DownUpDave
05-30-2018, 01:35 AM
I know a lot can change over the years, but what if something like the sustain is really not there at all, or it sounds really tinny, or something that you feel just will not improve?

You need to do your homework. You need to have listened to at least a few of this luithers insrruments to know he produces the sound characteristics that you like. Again I always tell the luthier the type of sound I like, warm, loud, open with good sustain. But this is the gamble you take if the luthier is very small scale with not many examples.

Steve in Kent
05-30-2018, 07:56 AM
You need to do your homework. You need to have listened to at least a few of this luithers insrruments to know he produces the sound characteristics that you like. Again I always tell the luthier the type of sound I like, warm, loud, open with good sustain. But this is the gamble you take if the luthier is very small scale with not many examples.
Yes, he is small scale, but he's sent a great reply stating he always gets it peer reviewed by both players and other luthiers.

Rakelele
06-01-2018, 08:42 PM
Sounds like you do not fully trust in the outcome of your luthier's endeavour. Most makers - big companies as well as small custom shops - will have a signature sound. Their sound may be affected by the choice of woods, but it will still typically sound like an instrument from brand X or luthier Y.

My personal approach would be to choose a builder according to samples of his work you like, not because he agrees to build something that will look similar to another brand. If you like the Pono ETSH, then why not just get that one? They do have their very own signature sound, so you'll know what you will be getting. Buying an instrument without holding and playing it takes a lot of confidence as it is when ordering from an online dealer, but it's even tougher to know the outcome of an instrument that hasn't even been made yet. Ordering from a custom luthier is always a jump in cold water, even more so with an unknown maker with little sound samples and reviews or known owners you could ask in confidence.

DownUpDave
06-02-2018, 01:24 AM
Sounds like you have the same doubts and fears as everyone else.
I suggest a change of attitude to the activity.
Instead of thinking about buying a magic jewellery box that has the little ballerina dancing which costs Xk, treat the activity more like an exciting musical experience. Like booking a holiday to the Greek Islands or similar. Get off the bulletin boards and start planning your trip. Work out the tunes you are going to play and start learning them so you can play them the day you get the uke out of the box. Plan to play your favourite tunes for the first week of ownership and delay the visual inspection until you are happy with the way the set list sounds. Just like you would go into training to get fit for a hiking holiday. About a week after playing your favourite set list, then get out the mirror and torch and look for glue drips and admire the pretty figure in the wood. Then post some photos here and, if you are happy to, post some sound or video of you having a great time with your new uke. During the long wait for completion and delivery, occupy yourself with learning tunes and making a set list to play, when you get a doubt, look up another tune to learn. If you visit the maker take a uke and play him or her the tunes so he or she can start to think about set-up and your personal style, without annoying the maker.
Most makers have issues with first time custom uke buyers because they have these same doubts and don't know how to deal with them without being annoying. You need to force yourself to relax and let the maker enjoy the experience as well. Posting comments on UU is just going to put more pressure on the maker. You have done enough and the information has been presented, I recommend you give the UU thread a rest until you have the uke and are enjoying playing it.

True words of wisdom, I fully agree with everything Bill1 has said. I ordered my first custom after only playing ukulele for 3 months, stupid really. But the wait time was one year so I set a goal to practice diligently and have a number of songs under my belt I could play when I picked up the instrument. No instrument will meet every one of our expectations percectly, everything in life is a trade off. Step away from the screen and enjoy the process of having an instrument built for you and you alone.

Steve in Kent
06-02-2018, 07:43 AM
Sounds like you do not fully trust in the outcome of your luthier's endeavour. Most makers - big companies as well as small custom shops - will have a signature sound. Their sound may be affected by the choice of woods, but it will still typically sound like an instrument from brand X or luthier Y.

My personal approach would be to choose a builder according to samples of his work you like, not because he agrees to build something that will look similar to another brand. If you like the Pono ETSH, then why not just get that one? They do have their very own signature sound, so you'll know what you will be getting. Buying an instrument without holding and playing it takes a lot of confidence as it is when ordering from an online dealer, but it's even tougher to know the outcome of an instrument that hasn't even been made yet. Ordering from a custom luthier is always a jump in cold water, even more so with an unknown maker with little sound samples and reviews or known owners you could ask in confidence.

Difficult to get the ETSH over here in the UK.

Let one slip through my fingers because I was out when the eBay auction finished, and I forgotten until I'd got home.

Well, maybe I have done something wrong here, but I am talking to two luthiers.

One is an unknown, but has been in the luthier business a while, just not with ukuleles.

One is very well known with great references.

So one is very safe option, one is leap in the dark.

Being contrary I really fancy going for the unknown, but then again...

ukuleleabe
06-02-2018, 07:52 AM
Just wanted to add that I think it’s a great idea to get a custom uke. I’m planning out my own at the moment, and although they are expensive, they are well worth it.

Steve in Kent
06-02-2018, 08:11 AM
I am 90% sure of going with the well known ukulele luthier.

I'll let you all know when I have ordered it.

I'll also ask if it's okay to get some photos of the build to post on here.

Would that post be better as a new post on this forum, or the luthier forum?

Or just as a continuation of this thread?

ukuleleabe
06-02-2018, 08:15 AM
I am 90% sure of going with the well known ukulele luthier.

I'll let you all know when I have ordered it.

I'll also ask if it's okay to get some photos of the build to post on here.

Would that post be better as a new post on this forum, or the luthier forum?

Or just as a continuation of this thread?

I would love to see progress pics! Maybe a new post is best? I'm not sure where would be best. I'm new here.

ukantor
06-02-2018, 08:30 AM
Steve, I haven't read all of this thread, but what I have seen gives me the impression that you do not know just what you want, and are unsure whom to trust with building it.

I can't help you with the first part, except to say that you really need to be clear about what it is you want to have built.

On the second part (who is to build it) my opinion is that I would avoid any builder who does not have a good track record of making ukuleles. I have heard too many sad stories of experienced guitar makers who turn their hand to making a ukulele, with a result that proves to be less than satisfactory - or even downright awful.

I've no doubt that some makers of other instruments have made a fine job of building a ukulele, but spending your hard earned cash with someone who has little or no experience of ukes is a gamble I would strongly advise against.

John Colter.

DownUpDave
06-02-2018, 08:45 AM
When I am having a custom uke built I start a thread here in Uke Talk titled "Build in Progress". I put the builder name in the title ie "LfdM Build in Progress". Everyone enjoys seeing pictures as the uke progresses through the different stages.

Pete F
06-04-2018, 12:48 AM
I've been reluctant to post on this thread up to now. I've had some experience with 'bespoke' ukuleles, and I would say proceed with caution, especially if you are in any way unsure of what you want. I've had two built for me: one from a UK builder who is a very experienced luthier (who builds other instruments as well as ukes) and the other a US company who had perhaps one of the best reputations. Both instruments I do regret buying now.

The UK one is terrible really; the bindings came loose almost immediately, the wood boards I selected were not used, the fretboard is just not right for me and the instrument came pre-dinged. I hated it - it's gone now.

The US one is okay - I can live with it. Build quality is 'okay' along as you don't scrutinise it too closely. The issue I have is that I do not like the 12" radius fretboard that runs at the same radius all the way up the neck. This is something I learned about some time after owning it: some other builders start the radius at 12" at the nut end, and run it out flatter to 24" at the upper end of the fretboard. Example Collings and Kinnard to name just two do this, and I get less barre-chord issues with this run-out radius. Trouble is, I had no experience of this until I bought the 'dot-dot' and it affects my playing and enjoyment of the instrument. I'm hanging onto it because I do like the tone, and hope I get better at playing it one day, or until a nice Collings comes up in the UK.

In a nutshell: unless you are very experienced and know exactly what you do and do not need in a uke, don't go custom/bespoke as you may well regret it.

Steve in Kent
06-04-2018, 01:57 AM
I've been reluctant to post on this thread up to now. I've had some experience with 'bespoke' ukuleles, and I would say proceed with caution, especially if you are in any way unsure of what you want. I've had two built for me: one from a UK builder who is a very experienced luthier (who builds other instruments as well as ukes) and the other a US company who had perhaps one of the best reputations. Both instruments I do regret buying now.

The UK one is terrible really; the bindings came loose almost immediately, the wood boards I selected were not used, the fretboard is just not right for me and the instrument came pre-dinged. I hated it - it's gone now.

The US one is okay - I can live with it. Build quality is 'okay' along as you don't scrutinise it too closely. The issue I have is that I do not like the 12" radius fretboard that runs at the same radius all the way up the neck. This is something I learned about some time after owning it: some other builders start the radius at 12" at the nut end, and run it out flatter to 24" at the upper end of the fretboard. Example Collings and Kinnard to name just two do this, and I get less barre-chord issues with this run-out radius. Trouble is, I had no experience of this until I bought the 'dot-dot' and it affects my playing and enjoyment of the instrument. I'm hanging onto it because I do like the tone, and hope I get better at playing it one day, or until a nice Collings comes up in the UK.

In a nutshell: unless you are very experienced and know exactly what you do and do not need in a uke, don't go custom/bespoke as you may well regret it.

Thank you for the heads up Pete.

Great info about the radiused fretboard, better to have flat than 12" all the way along then.

Also pm'd you, of course.

Steve

Jim Hanks
06-04-2018, 03:31 AM
Great info about the radiused fretboard, better to have flat than 12" all the way along then.

Well, that's one opinion. Mya Moe does (did) 12" radius and apparently there are 2500+ people happy with that

Steve in Kent
06-04-2018, 03:50 AM
Well, that's one opinion. Mya Moe does (did) 12" radius and apparently there are 2500+ people happy with that

Is that 12"radius for the whole length?

Pete F
06-04-2018, 04:17 AM
Yep, that's correct Steve. It is a very personal thing of course.

Steve in Kent
06-04-2018, 06:53 AM
Well, that's the deposit paid.

I suppose it's going to be the start of the build thread soon.