View Full Version : Latest build

09-26-2011, 02:16 AM
Here are a few pics of our latest build, our first tenor uke:

Scale length: 430 mm
Top: cedar
Back/sides: cherry with bubinga stripe
Neck: cherry with bubinga stripe
Heel tip: IRW with bubinga cap
Peghead veneer: santos/morado and bubinga
Tuner knobs: koa
Nut: ebony
Fretboard: bubinga with dark pearl dots, morado inlay at the end
Bridge: IRW
Saddle: bubinga, steel hardened
Bridge pins: IRW with pearl dots

First impressions are very good. The combination of the warm cedar and the bright cherry tone have resulted in a remarkably well balanced voice across the whole range, even up to the 15th, 16th, 17th fret (high c, c#, d). Others have said it sounds very much like a guitar. OK, that's fine with me.

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I'll post more pics and some sound samples in our logbook soon.

Pete Howlett
09-26-2011, 02:45 AM
Very nice - I like the bridge styling. Cedar is a bit of a no-brainer for builders becasue it never fails to please whatever combination of back/sides you have. You have to do the video now :) In fact I think this should be mandatory if you are going to post a show and tell here

Michael Smith
09-26-2011, 06:56 AM
Very elegant lines on this uke. I like the shape of the heal cap especially.

Good Work!!

Steve vanPelt
09-26-2011, 09:17 AM
Erich, that is one sexy uke. The wood combos look great. Is that a little tighter radius on the top than we've seen from you before?

09-26-2011, 12:01 PM
Thanks all.

Pete, this cedar has worked very well for us so far. The nice thing is that it lets the sound of the back/side wood come out so nicely. The concert pineapple with rosewood back/sides has a darker, fatter rosewood sound, whereas the tenor with cherry back/sides is brighter, more balanced and differentiated - whereby the tops are made from consecutive sheets from the same billet.

Regarding the video, were you thinking a presentation, show-and-tell video, or "how I made this uke"? The former is not a problem, but there's no footage for the latter so I'd have to disappoint you there.

By the way, everyone, we got the cherry for the back and sides from Pete - so kudos to you, sir, for this really beautiful wood.

Some of you may recall that we had some issues with the back, which turned out slightly too narrow at the waist so that the sides and back no longer fit together correctly. The solution I came up with was to sqeeze the sides together at the waist while gluing the back on. Easier said than done, but we managed to get everything to fit well enough to get a good solid joint. The result was that we had an aerodynamic, tapered waist. I read somewhere a long time ago that it would be good to have the wood under tension, but couldn't really imagine why. Well in this case it sure is - if this thing ever gets left in the car, who knows where the pieces will end up........

Steve, if you mean the waist and shoulder radius, yes it's a little tighter than before. But what's really new is that top and back are radiused for the first time. We did this based on the descriptions in Cumpiano for hand radiusing: radiused the braces and clamped on using flexible slats. Unfortunately my head didn't do the geometry first so the back ended up flatter at the waist than the upper and lower bout. It's OK, but I know better next time that the waist radius has to be a little tighter than the bouts. On the top I left the upper bout a little flatter so it turned out similar to the waist. On the back I radiused all the braces to 700 cm (about 23 ft). I never felt so dumb in my life. I was saying just last year with the fun build how the waist radius had to be tighter (and the wood margin wider) in order to get an even longitudinal curve on the back. So anyway the radius on the back is a little flatter at the waist, but that's OK - the tapered waist makes up for it.

More soon.

09-26-2011, 12:16 PM
Hi Erich. The uke looks good, I'm eager to hear it. Soundclip on boxnet is usually better than youtube for sounds.

But, two questions. The cedar doesn't look like I'm used to. Is it rift sawn perhaps? Do you know where it's from? And the third of my two q:s... Steel hardened bubinga, what's that?

Pete Howlett
09-26-2011, 01:14 PM
I am amassing a stock of cherry for when we can no longer use tropical hardwoods on our instruments.

09-26-2011, 09:36 PM
Sven, the topwood is lebanese cedar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedrus_libani) - probably from Lebanon, but it also grows elsewhere along the Mediterranean coast. And yes, you're right, it is not quartersawn - whether rift or flat I'm not sure, but the grain is off the quarter by about 10-15 degrees. I know, I know, but it's just so pretty, and sounds good and even has this nice aroma to it.... We do have some very promising quartersawn WRC, which we'll be getting to soon.

Now to the "steel hardened bubinga". The bubinga we have is already quite hard, similar to rosewood and likewise fairly brittle. So OK, what you can do to increase the hardness is either you heat it to just below the smoking point with your bending pipe or iron and then cool it on a frozen steel pipe. Do that a few times and some woods will end up as hard as glass, but you'll often have scorch marks. Or you can burnish the wood with your burnishing iron or some other piece of steel. Keep pressing it down as hard as you can, as if you needed it to be 10 percent smaller (more compact) that it is now. When you reach the point where it won't go any further and your arms are just aching.... you're done. Voilą, steel hardened bubinga (or other hardwood).

09-26-2011, 09:42 PM
Thanks Erich - meant no criticism about rift sawn wood. If it sounds good it's a good choice. And I was thinking of WRC when I compared the grain.


09-26-2011, 10:18 PM
I didn't take it as criticism - on the contrary, I'm glad you brought it up. I'm sure flawless quartersawn wood has it's merits, but we have a pile of wood that we need to use as best we can. We'll see how the cedar tops in this tenor and the concert pineapple hold up over time - up to this point all is well.

BTW, the cherry and koa we got from Pete is all perfectly quartered. Thanks again, Pete.

Liam Ryan
09-26-2011, 10:46 PM
I like that bridge. It's visually dynamic. I think it's important to have your own style. I'm still working on mine but you are doing well Erich.

Very nice.

Vic D
09-27-2011, 05:13 AM
Very nice, Erich. Lovin, the bridge and headstock veneer. I've had this package ready to mail to you for a couple of months now, it'll get there eventually. Wait, the wife said she's gonna go see how much it is to ship it if I'm not going to go to the dentist lol... the cheapest extraction around here is 190 bucks so no... not until I sell a couple of ukes. So if it's not too much I'm gonna mail it today. I'm delirious, pay no attention.