View Full Version : NGD: Jonathan Dale/Jupiter Ukulele #47, Custom Guilele

Jim Hanks
08-25-2018, 05:04 PM
Much has already been written about this instrument in the build thread:

But I'll recap the specs here from the top down:
-Picasso headplate
-Open geared tuners
-Zero fret
-Neck width 1.80" / string-to-string width 1.63"
-Casuarina fretboard with 12" radius
-19" scale neck joined at 14th fret, 17 frets total
-Pennsylvania red cedar top
-Spiral shell rosette
-Sycamore back and sides
-Koa binding, BWB purfling
-Side port
-Compensated saddle, string through bridge
-Misi pickup

Strings are Thomastik Infeld CF127 tuned to Terz.

Visually, this instrument exceeds all expectations. The build is quite tidy and light. There are so many textures and colors but somehow it all fits together in a "of course, how could it be any different" kind of way, if that makes sense. Details abound from every viewing angle. This is easily my "busiest" uke and arguably best looking, though there are a couple of other viers for that title.

In the hand, the shallow "D" shape to the neck, slight radius on the fretboard, short baritone scale, and "just right" string spacing combine to make a very comfortable playing experience. (The string spacing is slightly wider than the C1m and slightly less than the Mini.)

Sonically, the instrument has very good volume, resonance, and sustain "for days". Fresh off the workbench, it's already a very pleasing sound, but it also feels like it still has room to grow. It will be fun seeing how it develops over time. In Terz tuning, the tone seems very "balanced", not too bright or too warm. Even in E tuning it wasn't "muddy", but I do prefer the sound of the G tuning on this size body, and the strings are at a better tension, though they were surprisingly not as loose as I thought they'd be in E.

This brings me to the one aspect I'm not 100% sure of yet. The saddle compensation was determined with this string set but assuming E tuning. In G, the intonation of the wound strings is not quite as good, about 15-20 cents flat on the tuner at the 12th, though the harmonic is right there over the fret. Strange. I'm not sure what can be done about this, but I'm inclined not to do anything. It doesn't seem very noticeable to my ear in practice and single notes can be bent/vibratoed up to pitch and even sharp if needed. And of course, the simple solution is to use the lower tuning. It might be worth trying a low tension set to get G with less tension than the TI just to see what that would do. But really I've written far too many words about it already. It's not that big a deal and I don't want this to overshadow the rest of the package.

Jon was great to work with, providing lots of updates along the way and asking input on all relevant aspects of the process. From my side, it felt like a true collaboration. I would not hesitate to recommend Jupiter Ukuleles to anyone wanting a unique, well built, and great sounding "uke" - whether it has 4 or 6 strings.

There are a good number of pics in this album:

But I'll post a few here next.

Jim Hanks
08-25-2018, 05:08 PM

Jim Hanks
08-25-2018, 05:14 PM
Comparison pics with Cordoba C1m 1/4 on the left and Cordoba Mini on the right

Jim Hanks
08-25-2018, 05:18 PM
Congratulations Jim, what an amazing looking instrument! :D I look forward to hearing this beauty :D
Thanks! I shot a quick comparison video today. Just need to get it edited a bit and posted. I'm hoping to do that tomorrow.

08-25-2018, 06:16 PM
I have been following all along, it turned out beautifully Jim. Congratulations and a thank you for letting all of us enjoy it with you. Can’t wait to hear it also.

08-26-2018, 01:51 AM
That really is impressive looking. Normally I don't like that much bling but you are right when you said it all comes together perfectly. Nice collaboration Jim, must of be a fun project. Sounds like Jonathan Dale is an engaging luthier to work with.

08-26-2018, 07:25 AM
Hi Jim! It is great to finally see my litter-mate here. It looks gorgeous.

08-26-2018, 07:52 AM
That's a beauty Jim. Eager to hear a sound sample. Congrats!

BTW, that is an odd, though minor intonation blip...……..

Jim Hanks
08-26-2018, 08:10 AM
Hi Jim! It is great to finally see my litter-mate here. It looks gorgeous.
Thanks. I wonder where the #46 guitar went? Looks like the #49 concert might be available:

Jim Hanks
08-26-2018, 05:48 PM
First look video up:


08-27-2018, 01:42 PM
Lovely sound, Jim, I love how those bass strings add to the richness. It ain’t bad to look at either. Super job on your custom guilele. Congrats!

Jim Hanks
08-27-2018, 01:51 PM
The Jupiter has such rich tonal qualities, it's like comparing "chalk & cheese" next to the Cordobas
Haha! As I was playing them all back to back, there were two thoughts that came to mind, one was how "muted" the C1M sounded. I had been pretty pleased with it and have recorded two projects with it that I'm not going to redo now, but it is clearly outclassed. The second thought was how much I still liked the reentrant sound on the Mini. I think my daughter has dibs on that one, but I'll probably relegate the C1M to some form of EFS tuning.