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Astein2006
09-29-2018, 07:28 PM
I'm going to commission Fred Shields to build me a tenor after deciding not to buy a production uke. I have some questions on wood pairings and wanted to get some advice. I already have a Kamaka soprano(Koa) and a solid mahogany concert. I am looking for something different and not just the classic uke sound. I don't want to use "guitar-ish" as a description but I want it to lean toward that way. I want a nice sweet balance between warmth with some brightness. I primarily strum. Currently I am considering these wood pairings. I am open to comments and suggestions. Thanks
Cedar top/Cherry back and sides
Cedar top/Walnut back and sides
Cedar top/rosewood back and sides
Spruce top/rosewood back and sides
Cherry top/rosewood back and sides

ripock
09-29-2018, 08:16 PM
If you're going for something different, these woods seem less than adventurous. For example, I am getting a tenor in London plane wood, laburnum, and walnut, and I wasn't even trying to be different. I personally would just ask Fred what wood choices there are and then pick the most obscure woods. A builder of Fred's renown will tell you if it'll work or if the woods are inappropriate for the purpose. Fred will also be able to suggest woods that will offer you that balanced sound you want. Fred's the professional and you're going to be giving him a thousand or two...so you may as well get him involved.

Obviously, because of my twisted personality, I would suggest something like a kula body with a sycamore top...however, if I had to choose from the options you listed, I think the cedar/walnut has my vote

kohanmike
09-29-2018, 09:45 PM
I've been thinking about having a new tenor made using myrtle I saw from a Pacific northwest supplier. The samples shown on the web site are very interesting, grays with greenish and purplish colors that I really like. Found this description online; the sound density and hardness ranges between Mahogany and Rosewood, its tonal response has much clarity and sustain, often compared to Mahogany and Koa.

http://www.pacificcoastwoods.net/ukelele.html

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 9 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

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hollisdwyer
09-29-2018, 10:21 PM
The woodsets on your existing instruments I would define as producing a tone towards the warm end of the spectrum. Of the possible combinations you listed in your original post I would recommend the Spruce/Rosewood if you wanted a guitar-ish brighter sound. Rosewood being a very hard species will reflect the sound well (that’s the job of the back and sides) and a Spruce top (there are many varieties, ask your Luthier about what he recommends) will ring like a proverbial bell. If you also care about looks, I advise you go the extra few hundred for a master grade woodset.
Other ‘brighter’ woods you might consider are ebony, cocobolo, African Blackwood or Zircote.

Jerryc41
09-30-2018, 01:19 AM
Although I like cedar tops, I think it will be a challenge to make "something different and not just the classic uke sound." Fred should know something about getting a different sound.

If you want something different in appearance, you might to bevel side where the forearm contacts the uke and also the same thing in the cutout area. Builders usually cover that area with a dark wood. This one has the bevel on the lower bout but not on the cutout.

112414

Doc_J
09-30-2018, 01:46 AM
The woodsets on your existing instruments I would define as producing a tone towards the warm end of the spectrum. Of the possible combinations you listed in your original post I would recommend the Spruce/Rosewood if you wanted a guitar-ish brighter sound. Rosewood being a very hard species will reflect the sound well (that’s the job of the back and sides) and a Spruce top (there are many varieties, ask your Luthier about what he recommends) will ring like a proverbial bell. If you also care about looks, I advise you go the extra few hundred for a master grade woodset.
Other ‘brighter’ woods you might consider are ebony, cocobolo, African Blackwood or Zircote.

I agree with Hollis. Tough to beat spruce/rosewood. That being said, Beansprout Ukes by Aaron Keim is also advocating Port Oreford Cedar/grafted Pistachio as an excellent pairing. Domestic Pistachio is harder than ebony, with lots color and interest.

Jim Hanks
09-30-2018, 02:44 AM
Spruce is the usual recommendation for guitarish sound but I think it depends greatly on the builder whether you end up with something that is mostly bright or one that also balances in warmth like you say. I find cedar to have a good balance, but again, depends on the builder and there are many kinds of cedar: WRC, POC, AYC, etc.

As has been mentioned, tell Fred your desired sound and see what he recommends.

hollisdwyer
09-30-2018, 02:54 AM
I agree with Hollis. Tough to beat spruce/rosewood. That being said, Beansprout Ukes by Aaron Keim is also advocating Port Oreford Cedar/grafted Pistachio as an excellent pairing. Domestic Pistachio is harder than ebony, with lots color and interest.

I agree with Hodge re the fantastic looking Ukes that Aaron is building now with POC and Pistachio. Jim also makes a good point about the different Cedars that are available. Allen McFarlen(Barron River Guitars & Ukes) is currently building me a new a Tenor using Alaskan Yellow Cedar as the sound board. Allen told me that the AYC is much harder than Western Red Cedar and will therefore produce a brighter sound. I don’t know where POC sits on the warm/bright spectrum.

DownUpDave
09-30-2018, 03:06 AM
As usual I agree with Doc and Hollis and Jim :p

Freds price is about 1/5 what Aaron is charging at Bean sprout. I have a Fred Shields, Brenda has 3, Joseph has one and Kathryn has a "few". He usually likes to use local or common woods. Spruce top with a walnut back and sides will get you a good sounding instrument . He likes those woods, I have an all walnut super soprano pineapple of his, great instrument for the price.

If you like a warm sound then go with cedar and walnut as you listed above. Cedar and cherry would be interesting.

SoloRule
09-30-2018, 04:10 AM
My FS ukes are :
Tiny tear drop size uke : Poplar wood
Thin body concert : Koa
Oval shape concert : Cedar with mahogany side and back (It belongs to Kathryn now)
Pineapple concert : Cherry
When doing a custom order uke, wood is just one part of the fun. You also need to select style and shape. Fred creates many unique shape of ukulele . He is extremely accommodating. It's best to seek his opinion. Only the builder knows what kind of wood he has on hand that sounds the best and fit your needs.

Astein2006
09-30-2018, 04:19 AM
My FS ukes are :
Tiny tear drop size uke : Poplar wood
Thin body concert : Koa
Oval shape concert : Cedar with mahogany side and back (It belongs to Kathryn now)
Pineapple concert : Cherry
When doing a custom order uke, wood is just one part of the fun. You also need to select style and shape. Fred creates many unique shape of ukulele . He is extremely accommodating. It's best to seek his opinion. Only the builder knows what kind of wood he has on hand that sounds the best and fit your needs.
It's funny. Ive been emailing him back and forth trying to get him to give me a few choices for wood combos(top/back/sides) but he really hasn't done that even though I've told him what sound im looking for. He has just listed some tone woods and what basic sound they provide. Nothing as a combination. So maybe I'm asking the wrong questions.

SoloRule
09-30-2018, 05:42 AM
It's funny. Ive been emailing him back and forth trying to get him to give me a few choices for wood combos(top/back/sides) but he really hasn't done that even though I've told him what sound im looking for. He has just listed some tone woods and what basic sound they provide. Nothing as a combination. So maybe I'm asking the wrong questions.


Give him a call. He is 80 years old. Has been building for many years. He is better with phone communication I think

Astein2006
09-30-2018, 09:36 AM
I'm now leaning heavily towards a spruce top. just deciding on cherry or walnut for back and sides. any thoughts...anyone?

Astein2006
09-30-2018, 10:09 AM
Give him a call. He is 80 years old. Has been building for many years. He is better with phone communication I think

Thanks Brenda. I wanted to know how the fit and finish on your FS is? Also how would you describe the action and intonation? Thanks for your input.

TobyDog
09-30-2018, 10:55 AM
I recently ordered a backpacker uke from Mr Shields. I feel very fortunate to be able to get one of his instruments while he is still making them. He's certainly of an age where he probably does not need to be dealing with customers. He is doing us all a great favor by making his quality instruments available at REALLY reasonable prices. Thank you Mr. Shields!

SoloRule
09-30-2018, 12:16 PM
Thanks Brenda. I wanted to know how the fit and finish on your FS is? Also how would you describe the action and intonation? Thanks for your input.

This is a custom built instrument. I donít think you need to be concerned about fit and finish and action and intonation etc...like you would with mass production instrument. However , Be careful of the wood choice. You need to understand what wood combo sounds best! I can not say enough that the luthier knows best. Do not guess and assume the wood you have in mind will sound good. Listen to the luthier. Letís him tell you whatís the best combination! You need to trust your luthier .

DownUpDave
09-30-2018, 12:31 PM
Just to add to what Brenda said because I own one and have personally played all of hers, we live 30 minutes away from each other.

Understand that Fred makes a custom uke for under $500 so it is an oil finish than is satin but well down. His craftmanship is excellent but these are simple instruments without bling. Usually no bindings and defintely no purfing. You can specify binding which is recommended for a soft wood top.

I will make a choice for you.......spruce and walnut. As I said before this combo has been used for decades in guitars and ukes with good results. The top gives 90% of the sound, the back colors it somewhat. Cherry back might sound similar. As Brenda said ask Fred

Astein2006
09-30-2018, 01:54 PM
I recently ordered a backpacker uke from Mr Shields. I feel very fortunate to be able to get one of his instruments while he is still making them. He's certainly of an age where he probably does not need to be dealing with customers. He is doing us all a great favor by making his quality instruments available at REALLY reasonable prices. Thank you Mr. Shields!

From everything I know so far I feel VERY fortunate to getting an instrument from this man. Very lucky indeed.

Astein2006
09-30-2018, 01:58 PM
Just to add to what Brenda said because I own one and have personally played all of hers, we live 30 minutes away from each other.

Understand that Fred makes a custom uke for under $500 so it is an oil finish than is satin but well down. His craftmanship is excellent but these are simple instruments without bling. Usually no bindings and defintely no purfing. You can specify binding which is recommended for a soft wood top.

I will make a choice for you.......spruce and walnut. As I said before this combo has been used for decades in guitars and ukes with good results. The top gives 90% of the sound, the back colors it somewhat. Cherry back might sound similar. As Brenda said ask Fred

Thats pretty much what Mr. Shields said. I decided on Spruce/Cherry because I already have some dark wood ukuleles and wanted some different coloring. Mr. Shields said that walnut and cherry are pretty similar in sound so I'm going with cherry for something different. He will use maple binding on the top and bottom with a cherry veneer on the head. I am not into bling anyways. Simple is good in my book.

DownUpDave
09-30-2018, 02:00 PM
Thats pretty much what Mr. Shields said. I decided on Spruce/Cherry because I already have some dark wood ukuleles and wanted some different coloring. Mr. Shields said that walnut and cherry are pretty similar in sound so I'm going with cherry for something different. He will use maple binding on the top and bottom with a cherry veneer on the head. I am not into bling anyways. Simple is good in my book.

Excellent choice, congratulations. Now the hardest part.......waiting for it to be built and delivered

Astein2006
09-30-2018, 02:02 PM
This is a custom built instrument. I don’t think you need to be concerned about fit and finish and action and intonation etc...like you would with mass production instrument. However , Be careful of the wood choice. You need to understand what wood combo sounds best! I can not say enough that the luthier knows best. Do not guess and assume the wood you have in mind will sound good. Listen to the luthier. Let’s him tell you what’s the best combination! You need to trust your luthier .
Mr. Shields thought spruce was the way to go given my description of what I wanted in sound. As soon as he said that I knew that was the right choice. Then he gave me the choice of back and sides(walnut or cherry) since they are similar in tone. In this case it was just what I wanted for color. So you are right and I did listen to his suggestion. Took awhile to get to those decisions since I had a hard time describing what I wanted to hear. But eventually he got me and knew what woods to use.

Astein2006
09-30-2018, 02:03 PM
Excellent choice, congratulations. Now the hardest part.......waiting for it to be built and delivered


So true as I stand here with my other uke, strumming and dreaming of my future Fred Shields Tenor....

kvehe
09-30-2018, 02:40 PM
Welcome in advance to the Fred Shields Club. :D

SoloRule
09-30-2018, 03:37 PM
Congratulation....it is a great choice indeed.
Look forward to reading your NUD when you received it.

Kenn2018
09-30-2018, 04:03 PM
Congratulations! It should be a fine instrument. I have a walnut/spruce tenor that sounds excellent. The spruce projects and enhances the sustain a lot.

SA Condor
10-01-2018, 05:30 AM
Awesome choice!! Fred built me a Curly Redwood with Walnut back and sides super concert. I love it! He really is nice to talk to. I have a friend who just commissioned a Uke from him and he and I have been emailing back and forth again . . . ;)