View Full Version : New uke: T minus 2 hours

06-12-2008, 05:10 AM
ARGH! The wait is killing me!!!! I pick up the birdseye maple concert Uklectic at the Uke in June event starting in a couple of hours. I can't take much more of this waiting!! It's almost worse than waiting for it to arrive shipped!

What will it look like in person? How will it feel? How will it SOUND? Will the guy who built it be cool? I can't take this anymore! Hurry-up and get here 8pm! :eek:

06-12-2008, 06:29 AM
Deep breaths. Take deep breaths. :)

06-12-2008, 02:46 PM
uke shred the time away.

06-12-2008, 07:45 PM
Instead of opening a new thread, I think I'll just keep this one going. I'm back from the Uke in June event, and it was awesome. Where do I start? Juha of Bastardos Sympaticos (http://www.myspace.com/losbastardossympaticos) didn't even wait for me to get inside before informing me that Pete Howlett (http://www.uklectic.com/Pete_Howlett_ukulele_maker.html) had something there waiting for me.

I think I abandoned my husband at that point, and found Pete talking with Bosco and Honey. They were testing out some ukes, probably Honey's new da Silva, and when the conversation broke I said "What I really want to see are those uklectics!" - Which of course is the code phrase you need to get your uklectic.

Now the story takes some twists and turns. Because there was a raffle of a Bugsgear Eleuke to fund the event, Juha didn't want me flashing around the Uklectic, turning everyone off of the Eleuke. So I was sent into the bathroom to test the goods. Pete was concerned about the pickup since he hadn't gotten a chance to properly test it. He used it with a tuner and that's about it. So I plugged into my little Honeytone, and nothing. Nada. It felt lovellllllly to play, but was silent. My heart sank.

I then plugged into the Eleuke, and got sound..two...three....four.... silence. The amp seemed fine, it was the POS cable that was supposed to be so great! We found some more cable lying around, and yup, that was the problem! The Uklectic was in fine working order but that's all I could tell about it because I had to hide it away!

But that torture is nothing to what the Helsinki Soprano buyers had to go through. This was a one-off limited edition Howlett made just for 14 members of the Finnish Ukulele Network. Search to find the pics I posted, I need all of the picture quota for my own pics this time.

Pete unloaded the box and there were 12 (2 members would get them later) ukes wrapped in bubble wrap so that you couldn't see them. All grouped on the table like it was Christmas morning..... and they weren't allowed to be opened yet! In fact, as of when we headed out at midnight, they STILL weren't allowed to open them yet! Could any of yall have coped with that??

So, with the big unveiling still to come, it was time to do some socializing. I said Hi from Seeso to Bosco and Honey, and they so didn't see that coming. I think we should now all call Seeso the Human Jukebox. They told me what we all already know - how awesome Seeso is. But seriously, Bosco and Honey were great and they played a great set and even my anti-uke husband was so impressed. We're both musically inclined as well. We could both sit down and practice and come up with something.... if we had that discipline. And that's what was so impressive to him, that they had the strength to get out there and travel the world and make great music. It's impressive to me too, and it's romantic. And of course it's always great to see non-uke people there and totally won over and buying the cd's. I think they sold a fair few tonight.

Pete Howlett is an awesome guy, and if you're looking for a luthier, consider his work. He currently is researching a sustainable wood project since koa is insanely tough to get, and so he brought along a soprano made from London Plain. It was stunningly good. Easily the best acoustic most of us will ever play. At any rate, he played a great blues set, and is really underrated as a great performer besides being one of the top 5 (IMO) ukulele luthiers.

Another uke I got my hands on was the Boat Paddle Kiyak tenor. It's a really nifty little instrument, but it's not really my thing. I don't think it has a buzz problem, but it was buzzy the way I play, and it was tough to hold. It's possible to get a cool sound from though, and it's really kind of cool looking in person. The pics online make it look like Rosemary's Baby.

I forgot to mention Bastardos Sympaticos' set, and they were even more "on" than last time.

It was just a great night, and Helsinki has a kickin' ukulele scene. Now then, on to specs and pictures!

My Howlett concert Uklectic: Birdseye maple top and head with spanish cedar neck and body. Camel bone nut and saddle, gotoh gold tuners, ebony fretboard and binding to the top. MOP markers on the fretboard and side. Passive artec ukulele pickup. Gloss finish. I got all this for less than a standard model, so I don't think I'll advertise the price. Suffice to say it's the best ukulele I'll ever have for as little money that it would be possible to pay for such a beast. It's an absolute work of art.

I thought my next uke would be a Koaloha, but now? After this one, and having played the London Plane? I'm not so sure... But that's good because my UAS is absolutely saturated.

And finally, the pics:





06-12-2008, 07:47 PM
And continuing..




And my setup: Uklectic with it's groovy strap, plugged into (with a working cable this time) a Roland Microcube, and custom Beyerdynamic dt990 headphones:


06-12-2008, 07:51 PM
The current family:


And my favorites:


And the collection so far. We have Bosco & Honey, Pete Howlett, Juha (Bastardos Sympaticos), and Sepi (http://ezfolk.com/audio/bands/697/). Too bad I came up with this idea AFTER Uni and her ukulele were here. :(

06-12-2008, 07:57 PM
So how does Brian sound? Whatever you want him to sound like. I can term it as natural. Not overly bright, not overly dark, just right down the middle. It's possible to just plug into the mic and have the uke's natural sound without it sounding like you just plugged into the mic.

And the playability - wow. The Flea is awesomely setup, and the Uklectic is setup in a similar way, except that the neck is better designed so it's even slicker. Hard songs become easier now. :D

But seriously, he'll do whatever you want. You want classic uke? You got it. You want to rock? You got it. Want a smooth jazz sound? You got it. It's only as limited as the amp, which is scary to think of where that statement is going to lead me. ;)

06-13-2008, 01:03 AM
Wow, the Howlett Uklectic is just gorgeous, Plainsong. Gorgeous!


So glad you were able to meet and hear Bosko and Honey. I only hung out with them for a couple of days, but I really miss them. Thanks so much for relaying my message of hello. I'm sure they were taken aback!

06-13-2008, 01:09 AM
I'd have to buy two of those. One to look at while I played the other.

06-13-2008, 02:37 AM
omfg that uke is niiiiiiiiiice and the whole family!! :'(

06-13-2008, 03:18 AM
It looks and feels like it cost a cool thousand or two. But you know that Risa Uke'ellies? Cheaper. My concert koa flea (plus its case and shipping)? Cheaper. That Koaloha concert that's on my possible list for next uke? Way cheaper.

And it's so balanced! No one string speaks up before the others. It's one of those that you pick up and it inspires you with a confidence that it's gonna be alright.

To sum it up - from my cold dead hands. ;)

Bosco and Honey were great and I only regret I didn't have any cash on me to buy a cd and sticker!! :( I'm gonna go head to their website and see if they have a place where you can donate or buy a cd.

Honey was the most impressive to have come from not ever having played an instrument. But they both had to fight the crappy mic system and trying to make those ukes play over some loud jerks there at the pub. I wonder if having pickups in those ukes for such situations wouldn't be a bad idea.

My husband said that he'd switch to uke if he could play like Bosco. :D

It was just a magical night meeting awesome people and it ended with what might end up being the best uke I'll ever own.

06-13-2008, 04:31 AM
Oh damn! Bosco and Honey's cd isn't for sale online!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! :(

06-13-2008, 05:48 AM
Cool looking Uklectic there. It looks like the pickup jack is still offset to the right? I was under the impression that Pete uses a combo pickup jack/endpin on Uklectics now.

I wonder if the pickup quality has improved. I got a used one (early build, I think) that has this plastic pickup jack (more accurately, the piece surrounding the jack is plastic). The quality of the pickup leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully the newer ones have better pickups because it's a very nice instrument.

06-13-2008, 07:37 AM
Yeah, I think this is a newer pickup because it's not at all as the one you described. The port is gold-plated metal, but it is still offset to the side. This may be something Pete is still playing around with, although he did just install it before heading out here.

This pickup sounds great as well. I wonder if he'd install a better one for you if you sent it to him. The success of the instrument is so dependent on how good the pickup is, what a letdown it would be if you got "dirty" or unbalanced sound.

06-13-2008, 07:48 AM
Hmm, is yours active of passive? Mine's a passive.

06-13-2008, 09:04 AM
Mine is passive. It's pretty unbalanced with the C & E dominating the sound even with adjustments from a Baggs Paracoustic D.I. Someday I might try to change the pickup to a Mi-Si or something, but probably not for a while.

06-13-2008, 05:15 PM
I wonder what happened to that uke in its life before it reached you. The reason I say that is because Pete had me thoroughly test the electronics before taking my money. I don't think he would willingly let a uke go that sounded like you describe (and I know what you mean because my Kala suffers it, which is a mystery because that's acoustic).

Either that, or it did suffer that problem and he simply didn't hear it. I had to have my ears tested before I got my custom in-ear monitors so I know how my hearing is. :)

I even pulled it out after I read your post and got a second opinion from Mr. Plainsong. From the Roland microcube there wasn't any such problem either in playing chords or good test songs like Stairway. Stairway is a good test for this. On my Kala, I've got to pluck the fretted strings extra hard in the opening riff just to get them to sound balanced.

It also sounds markedly better than the Risa, but with the extra body there, it should. Using subjective words that don't mean much of anything, I'd call the sound very sweet.

One day you gotta replace the pickup. I know it's not sexy when compared to buying a new uke, but that instrument deserves to be heard!

I read your blog and mine also seems to be setup differently, although that is down to whatever the first owner requested, so that's much less of a mystery. Ukes of mine that are (or were) slick: The Koaloha soprano, the koa concert Flea, and this uklectic. Medium was the Pono tenor and tenor surf fluke, and medium-high is the Kala tenor. I haven't had one yet that was crazy-high.