View Full Version : 'We'll see how long he lasts..."

Pete Howlett
10-24-2018, 02:13 PM
The title of this post is a direct quote from Bob Gleason to Collier Thelen in 1995. Therefore, getting to see a piece I made 21 years ago in almost pristine condition and when there were only guitar tuners available was amazing and somewhat vindicating experience today. The real stuff starts at 3 minutes after which I get down to some serious comparisons and discover I was also able to produce a good ukulele without much knowledge of what one should be 21 years ago! Goes to show it's mostly about putting 26 carefully produced sticks of wood together with care and attention to detail.


What is a testimony to great practice is the lack of 'meniscus grin' at the heel to body and bridge to front joins. Because I didn't have any long-reach clamps and fearing that a repeat of the bridge flying off would occur, (this happened to my first 2 ukes which were built without bridge plates, hence Bob's remark - he did the repairs on these and as a result became a mentor in the early days and over time, a good friend) I used to glue the bridges on before the back went on. I could then 'cap' the heel with the back, Spanish heel style and get a really secure neck to body join. My sprayer would then apply the finish direct from the gun using 'conform' or acid catalyst 2 part lacquer over a paste wood grain filler. Wow - that finish was as good as the day it was sprayed! Bob Hill, my sprayer trained at Jaguar cars when it was British owned and was retired from the car-body finish business when he began spraying for me. Talk about transferring skills....

This was a very special day for me. I was considered in Hawaii early on as a here today, gone tomorrow one hit wonder. Well, after 24 years this piece belies that statement. I had no training in ukulele making, no real knowledge of what they should sound or look like and with generous encouragement from a true and great Patron and a huge sense of self belief I can honestly say, somehow, I got it right shortly after I got out of the starting blocks. Thank you Bob and Collier!

I have some stills I'll add to this post later today when I can transfer them from my iPhone.

10-25-2018, 02:49 PM
outstanding instruments Pete, really enjoyed the video, my marmite cherry still going strong and plays beautifully

10-26-2018, 10:03 PM
I have a friend here in Perth, Australia who owns one of your ukuleles. You sure craft fine instruments sir.