View Full Version : If you like CBUs you might like this one...

07-17-2010, 11:38 PM
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This started out as a small cedar cigar box with a nice flip-up top (now the back of the instrument). The top flipped up lengthwise and was attached at the end with brass hinges. Alas, the sound of the box was not at all impressive - due perhaps to the very thick sides and top. I didn't like the sound of the bottom of the box either, although it was solid cedar and just about the right thickness to make a top out of it.

Anyway, so we pulled everything apart (as usual) and then started pimping it up with new pieces

mystery wood top - maybe helium mahogany, but not certain - the grain and figure are reminiscent of mahogany, but it is extremely lightweight, softer than mahogany and, as you can see, very light in color.
bubinga back - we added a thin strip of sapele on each side to get a good tight fit after the bubinga lost a bit of width in the heat!
cypress neck - really super lightweigt and easy to handle, but doesn't have all that much sustain
sapele heel cap with a rosewood stripe
bubinga headstock - hope you like it
bubinga fretboard with sapele underlay and rosewood inlay at the 11th/12th frets
rosewood nut, rosewood bridge, bubinga saddle
tuners with koa buttons - because they really matched the combination of other woods nicely

The finish is super simple: just tru-oil on the top, back, sides and headstock; just sesame oil on the neck and fretboard. The back needs a couple more finishing coats.

The intonation isn't quite perfect yet, but certainly playable and sounds good in combination with "lighter" instruments like our flamenco guitar.

The only real problem we're having is with fret buzz - the action was closely calculated but ended up a little too low for the fretwire we used. Since the nut did have a drop of glue holding it in place I decided to try putting in a higher saddle first, so I just made another one with a little more height out of the same bubinga. :) Well that fixed the really bad buzzing but there's still a little fine fuzz above the 8th fret, so I'll have some more fret-tuning to do today.


Vic D
07-18-2010, 07:16 PM
Tis a very clean looking uke. Sorry to hear about the sustain, that cypress makes a pretty neck. Are you sure it's due to the cypress? With my first CBU I used a pretty beefy heal block with a tulip neck and it wasn't very loud but had hella sustain and tone... very beautiful really. What's the heal block/ neck assembly like on that one? I imagine this uke sounds pretty good, Got a vid or sound file?
BTW, the neck looks pretty beefy, which is probably an obstacle delusion brought on by the small box. What's the thickness and width at the nut and about the 10th fret, and what's the thickness of the fretboard? Hope you don't mind me asking. I like CBU building, great opportunities for experimentation.

07-18-2010, 10:51 PM
Vic, the neck block is a piece of the same cypress (about 10 mm) inside the box. I don't know how much difference that makes, but I guess it's all about shaping the tone from the wood... We're not quite there yet, but we're working at it.

You're right about the neck. Personally I think it's a tad too wide, both at the nut and at the joint, but I was convinced by the guys that it was better to go a little wider than the Brasiliana because of the dreaded MFFs (monster fat fingers), which become even more of an issue with the shortened (sopranino) scale of 300 mm. Of course it does look kinda dorky on the tiny little box, but I have to say the playability is good and doesn't require quite as much finger contortion as the narrower Brailiana fretboard.

Hear are the measurements of width (at the fret) and thickness (including the fretboard):

at the nut: 37.5 mm / 18 mm
at the 10th: 42 mm / 23.5 mm
at the joint/14th: 44 mm / 45 mm (with the heel and heel cap)

The fretboard is 5 mm thick (2.5 mm bubinga on top of 2.5 mm sapele).

I'm not at all sure the cypress is the main or only factor affecting the sustain, I just remember that it tends to have a quick, clean attack but not that much sustain. I did do a sound check yesterday and got about 5-6 seconds on open strings and about 3-4 seconds on fretted strings, with a pretty even decay.

I'll send you a sound file if I can figure out how to do it on here. I've been saying for so long: This place is about music but all you can post is pictures (or links to some other place with videos and sound files). I'd be glad to make a video, but it would just take time - a little mp3 I could have done in a few minutes. I wish there were a Files or Recodings section for the profiles.

Matt Clara
07-19-2010, 12:26 AM
Nice looking CBU!

07-19-2010, 11:53 AM
Love it! Hope you solve your buzzing!