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View Full Version : Bad Vibe Uke - have you had one?



fretie
08-26-2018, 03:55 PM
The tenor was a good looker, for sure. Handsome solid spruce top, solid koa back and sides with some classic figure. Abalone rosette, fret markers and abalone inlay up the headstock. The uke sounded rich and warm right off of the work bench and the tone just got better over time. Two years later, the tenor was a great sounding instrument. But I hated to play it!

Eventually, I gave this gorgeous instrument away to someone that loved to play and did not have any history with the uke.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever had a uke that just kept reminding you of a painful time? How did you heal?

Building my own instrument was so exciting. I enjoyed learning each step and sweated the details, I mean really sweated in the shop as the mercury hit the mid thirties. There were only four of us, all focused to the max as we measured, sawed, glued and sanded. I enjoyed seeing my class mates each morning when we arrived fresh, clean and eager to dive back into uke building. And I had many a fine bus ride home with the guys, covered in wood dust and streaked with sweat, we laughed about our efforts to get each days tasks completed in time so that wed be able to have a playable uke after the two week course ended.

Our instructor, though knowledgeable and experienced as a luthier, guided us clearly at first but as the days went by and the summer heat stoked the intensity in the shop, his patience shrank and kindness diminished. A few days before the course ended, I miscalculated a measurement and this error triggered an explosion from the instructor. Shouting, he berated me in front of my classmates, to the point where I was close to tears as the other students ducked their heads, no one had the courage to tackle our emotionally charged teacher.

Though I felt a strong desire to quit then and there, I stuck it out, finished the uke and did indeed travel home with a fine musical instrument.

But the verbal abuse from my instructor, the put downs from him when, one on one, I tried to address his outburst, seemed to be trapped in the uke. It was hard not to feel the pain of those final days in the shop when I would have liked to be enjoying the completion of the instrument and instead had switched into survival mode in order to be able to finish the course and complete the build.

Some day I would still like to build a uke of my own, one that I can keep and play, one that is filled with good vibes.

Bill Sheehan
08-26-2018, 04:08 PM
Wow, so sorry to hear that you were the object of your instructor's wrath; it sounds like he must've had something unfortunate happening in his life, but that's no excuse for berating you that way. We'll all be anxious to hear when you finish your good-vibe build!

Nickie
08-26-2018, 04:57 PM
Such a bummer!
No matter how testy things get, there is no excuse for a teacher to come unglued at a student.
Could it be that it left such a bitter taste for you that you haven't been able to forgive him yet?
IMHO, you may not be able to proceed until you can. It's worth a try.

kohanmike
08-26-2018, 08:31 PM
I've had experiences with abusive higher ups. I think you should have kept the uke as a tribute to taking the higher road and not lashing back. A quality uke is worth keeping. I guess I don't associate emotions to an inanimate object, but only within myself and to other people. I would just say what an a-hole and enjoy the fruits my labor.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

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Jerryc41
08-27-2018, 12:28 AM
A bad experience like that can stick with you a long time. Stewart Macdonald sells kits that require quite a bit of work, at least when I bought mine a couple of years ago. There is a good video about construction from the former builders of the Mya-Moe, and that's also available from Stewart MacDonald.

fretie
08-27-2018, 04:24 AM
What thoughtful and helpful replies, I am grateful. I had never shared this ‘bad vibe uke’ story with anyone other than my spouse. It is therapeutic to get the story out of hiding and you have given me useful suggestions for putting the experience to rest and moving forward in a positive way.

Rllink
08-27-2018, 09:34 AM
That is really too bad. The luthier/teacher shouldn't be teaching others if he doesn't have the patience. It seems to me that a lot of people think that they can just go out and teach. It takes a special talent. I've never been in exactly those circumstances, but I've felt that way before. My thought on it is to get rid of the ukulele and move on. If it were me, I would write the Luther's name on it, take out on the driveway and take a sledge hammer to it until I got it all out. But then that is just me. Regardless, life is too short to let reminders like that to stay around and continue to make you feel bad.

fretie
08-27-2018, 02:24 PM
That is really too bad.... My thought on it is to get rid of the ukulele and move on. If it were me, I would write the Luther's name on it, take out on the driveway and take a sledge hammer to it until I got it all out. But then that is just me. Regardless, life is too short to let reminders like that to stay around and continue to make you feel bad.

LOL, that image did make me chuckle!

Definitely did not want the reminder but the uke itself was a fine instrument, if I don’t say so myself, so I’m happy that it lives on in another player’s hands.

70sSanO
08-27-2018, 04:52 PM
So sorry about your experience. It is so regrettable that someone who is well versed and an expert in a certain discipline feels compelled to degrade those who do not have the same level of talent immediately.

Did the teacher bring his first build attempt to the class? As traumatic as this was, unless the teacher brought his first build and presented it to the class with pride, there is a real possibility your first tenor was far superior to his. I think you can take some solace from the fact that you built a ukulele that is being played and enjoyed. That in itself speaks volumes.

John

Kenn2018
08-27-2018, 06:40 PM
I think I would be extraordinarily proud at having completed a playable uke, let alone a fine looking beautiful sounding instrument.

I understand how you feel. I had to get rid of some items that reminded me too much of my ex-wives. Painful experiences. Especially the photographs...

Years ago I was a part-time college instructor. There is zero excuse for berating a student for making a mistake. Showing them how to avoid making it again is the only acceptable action.

fretie
08-28-2018, 04:51 AM
It was indeed satisfying to have made a handsome good sounding tenor. And I did play it, off and on, but eventually, like your ex-wives reminders Kenn, the uke had to go.

I play mostly soprano but feel a tenor still has its applications especially in the high volume meetup group setting so I have ordered a good value, according to Barry of ‘Got a Ukulele’ but low priced VTab spruce top, solid mahogany tenor. I am hoping it has some of the sound quality of my other tenor. Moving forward, I think the idea of forgiving my uke instructor is a helpful suggestion that I intend to act on.

It’s been good to get this experience out in the open, hear your responses and through this process get some closure of this bad vibe uke experience.

Graham Greenbag
08-28-2018, 08:04 AM
The tenor was a good looker, for sure. Handsome solid spruce top, solid koa back and sides with some classic figure. Abalone rosette, fret markers and abalone inlay up the headstock. The uke sounded rich and warm right off of the work bench and the tone just got better over time. Two years later, the tenor was a great sounding instrument. But I hated to play it!

Eventually, I gave this gorgeous instrument away to someone that loved to play and did not have any history with the uke.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever had a uke that just kept reminding you of a painful time? How did you heal?

Building my own instrument was so exciting. I enjoyed learning each step and sweated the details, I mean really sweated in the shop as the mercury hit the mid thirties. There were only four of us, all focused to the max as we measured, sawed, glued and sanded. I enjoyed seeing my class mates each morning when we arrived fresh, clean and eager to dive back into uke building. And I had many a fine bus ride home with the guys, covered in wood dust and streaked with sweat, we laughed about our efforts to get each day’s tasks completed in time so that we’d be able to have a playable uke after the two week course ended.

Our instructor, though knowledgeable and experienced as a luthier, guided us clearly at first but as the days went by and the summer heat stoked the intensity in the shop, his patience shrank and kindness diminished. A few days before the course ended, I miscalculated a measurement and this error triggered an explosion from the instructor. Shouting, he berated me in front of my classmates, to the point where I was close to tears as the other students ducked their heads, no one had the courage to tackle our emotionally charged teacher.

Though I felt a strong desire to quit then and there, I stuck it out, finished the uke and did indeed travel home with a fine musical instrument.

But the verbal abuse from my instructor, the put downs from him when, one on one, I tried to address his outburst, seemed to be trapped in the uke. It was hard not to feel the pain of those final days in the shop when I would have liked to be enjoying the completion of the instrument and instead had switched into survival mode in order to be able to finish the course and complete the build.

Some day I would still like to build a uke of my own, one that I can keep and play, one that is filled with good vibes.

IMHO you made a good choice when you decided to give the Uke to someone else, the instrument was giving you misery and it will give them joy.

Your Teacher behaved badly and your experience set me thinking about some events in my own life. I think that most of us have had unpleasant things happen to us at some time or other and been marked by them, what we sometimes forget though are the good things that have happened to us. As a young man I drove fairly well but occasionally I did do some things that in hindsight weren’t that sensible, I’m alive today because other road users cut me some slack by driving in a way that accommodated my actions. Today I drive in a way that, as best I can, accommodates the stupidity of others; I try to cut strangers some slack and wish them well. The result of that is much less anger, lower blood pressure and no accidents involving me.

I suggest to you that you cut your teacher some slack. He behaved badly but who of us hasn’t got stressed out and done something regrettable. Choose to set aside your sense of injury and then remember a situation where someone else has been good to you. IMHO that’s the best way to respond, but it’s not necessarily the easiest (I know that ‘cause I struggle with it at times). As it happens I do have a Uke that gives me bad vibes and I never play it, a couple of years ago I bought it mail order and the dealer lied to me about the set-up - the promised work hadn’t been done. (Edit. I did the necessary work myself and it took me quite a few hours to sort the Uke out.) That abuse of trust still upsets me; however I will now follow my own advice by cuting someone (the dealer) some slack, consigning the event to history (difficult, but it’s something from the past and now best forgotten) and just get on with making music on the Uke.

Good luck and may you find what heals you.

robinboyd
08-28-2018, 07:21 PM
I'm in a situation where I bought a uke over the internet without the ability to inspect it. It seemed OK when I got it, but I found that it had issues ranging from high action at the bridge to some nut slots that were too deep, uneven frets, and just generally shoddy workmanship. I didn't want to send it back because then I would have paid a lot of money in postage for no benefit whatsoever. I took it to my local luthier, who refused to touch it because it was THAT poorly built. Eventually my local guitar shop fixed the frets and the nuts for me after I fixed the saddle myself, but it cost quite a lot of money. With some new strings, I finally have a playable instrument. I have really mixed feelings about it, because it caused me so much stress, but on the other hand, I finally have a playable instrument, and after investing so much in it, I'm determined to enjoy it rather than just on-selling it for a fraction if what I put into it.

fretie
08-29-2018, 05:21 AM
I'm in a situation where I bought a uke over the internet without the ability to inspect it. It seemed OK when I got it, but I found that it had issues ranging from high action at the bridge to some nut slots that were too deep, uneven frets, and just generally shoddy workmanship. I didn't want to send it back because then I would have paid a lot of money in postage for no benefit whatsoever. I took it to my local luthier, who refused to touch it because it was THAT poorly built. Eventually my local guitar shop fixed the frets and the nuts for me after I fixed the saddle myself, but it cost quite a lot of money. With some new strings, I finally have a playable instrument. I have really mixed feelings about it, because it caused me so much stress, but on the other hand, I finally have a playable instrument, and after investing so much in it, I'm determined to enjoy it rather than just on-selling it for a fraction if what I put into it.

Ouch, yes, this does qualify as a ‘bad vibe uke’!

Pretty narly when a luthier won’t even touch an instrument because he thinks it is so badly constructed!

I can imagine how frustrating it is to sink money into a uke, beyond its actual worth.
(If it makes you feel any better, my bad vibe uke, was worth around a grand and not only did I not recoup that amount but I just spent more cash, albeit much less this time, buying another tenor to play. K’ching!)

Hopefully your heavily repaired uke plays well now and you can enjoy how it sounds without constantly being reminded of your unexpected expenses.

robinboyd
08-29-2018, 02:43 PM
Ouch, yes, this does qualify as a ‘bad vibe uke’!

Pretty narly when a luthier won’t even touch an instrument because he thinks it is so badly constructed!

I can imagine how frustrating it is to sink money into a uke, beyond its actual worth.
(If it makes you feel any better, my bad vibe uke, was worth around a grand and not only did I not recoup that amount but I just spent more cash, albeit much less this time, buying another tenor to play. K’ching!)

Hopefully your heavily repaired uke plays well now and you can enjoy how it sounds without constantly being reminded of your unexpected expenses.

Thanks. Glad you didn't suffer financially because of your ordeal.

I am able to enjoy playing my uke now, and I think it sounds good, but you can be the judge of that. What do you think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUhHWNeQr4s

robinboyd
08-29-2018, 03:21 PM
Try this video instead. There is a section where I don't sing starting at around 1:15...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUhHWNeQr4s