View Full Version : For Your Amusement...

Rick Turner
10-27-2011, 03:10 PM
We're finally making our 14 fret "nano-jumbo" concert sized Compass Rose ukes. Here are some pics on the Gryphon Stringed Instruments site. Thanks to Jake and John here in my shop for helping get these out of my brain and into the world.


The body shape is a miniaturized version of a 1934 Super 400 archtop...a gorgeous profile utterly ruined two years later by a well known Kalamazoo company in an attempt to compete with the likes of Stromberg and Epiphone. I love the original shape and have adapted it in a number of sizes for guitars and now ukes. I've got a mold for a 12" lower bout version that is perfect for a baritone uke. For me...

10-27-2011, 03:50 PM
That is a fine looking uke Rick. I hope you sell a bunch of em.

10-27-2011, 03:54 PM
I really like the look. Can notice much change in tone compared to your standard body shape?

10-27-2011, 04:34 PM
Absolutely love the body shape Rick! Nice work!

Ronnie Aloha
10-27-2011, 05:08 PM

I have noticed you're using soundboards that have traditionally been frowned upon such as maple and walnut. Do you brace these differently versus the less dense woods?

Rick Turner
10-27-2011, 05:22 PM
Ukes do not seem to follow the same "tone wood rules" for tops that acoustic guitars do. "Hardwoods"...koa and mahogany...have been the rule for over 120 years. "Local woods" have been the rule...koa, for instance. The harder, denser woods worked thin seem to match well with uke frequency range, and yes, it's a bit different with a low G or high G, a tenor, concert, or soprano. And then, if you want to bring up the "mellow"...you can always go for Western red cedar for a top!

We kind of found our formula for the hardwoods for tops pretty early on. The only one that still gives us pause is the California sycamore because it's stiffness is so all over the map. Walnut was my first alternative top wood, then cherry, then maple, etc., and as long as we take it down thin enough, they all work really well. It's taken us several concerts to trust how thin we do need to take the stuff. It seems that when you reduce the size of the top by 20% or so, you have to reduce the thickness by close to the same amount, and that starts to get scary. But here we are...

As you may be able to infer from my remarks, my main concerns are with tone and then structural stability. I know that we can execute the designs really well in terms of craft and visual appeal, but it seems that the smaller you take these critters, the tighter are the tolerances of thickness of wood and the shaping of bracing. Where you may have had leeway of .030" plus or minus here or there in a tenor without it making a lot of difference in tone, in a concert or soprano, you are suddenly dealing with .010 plus or minus making a discernible difference. Yeah, the smaller they get, the more size matters!

10-27-2011, 05:34 PM
Very, very nice! A pal of mine has a cherry tenor where the fretboard is not resting on or glued to the top. Is this the same? I like that idea.

10-27-2011, 07:10 PM
Absolutely love the body shape Rick! Nice work!
Personally, I prefer a more traditional shape but there’s no denying that this uke is freakin’ gorgeous. She’s a beauty. Congrats to you and your team, Rick.

10-27-2011, 07:16 PM
That one is a real standout. I love a large round bottom. :)

Ronnie Aloha
10-27-2011, 07:21 PM
Thanks for the info on the soundboards. I love that you're bucking tradition and opening new doors. I know how much you value tone so I knew you wouldn't compromise yourself just to have a visually appealing instrument.

10-27-2011, 08:42 PM
Nice job Rick.

Pete Howlett
10-27-2011, 09:12 PM
In 2003 I scaled down a J200 to tenor scale mustache bridge and open book headstock - I called it my J2 :). Cherry back and sides with spruce front, multiple purflin to an ivoroid binding. It sounded absolutely incredible. Have all the jigs still to make another which I may now do...

10-28-2011, 03:49 AM
I had heard these were coming... NOW I have THE Compass Rose that I must own (or its same-scale sister) in 2012. What a beautiful ukulele!

10-28-2011, 05:02 AM
I'm curious about the bridge differences on the Concert vs. the Tenor. On the Tenor, it's a slotted bridge whereas on the Concert, the bridge has through-holes. Is this to lessen the stress on the bridge to top connection, increase the angle of the string-break, just something different or a closely-guarded secret ;).
I know there has been some talk about the virtues of a pin-bridge, and I think I've seen a pin-bridge on one of your maple/walnut Tenors. Just curious if there is a mechanical reason you chose the through-hole on the Concert.

Thanks, Dean

Vic D
10-28-2011, 06:57 AM
If I were to purchase a uke this would probably be it. I too love big round bottoms, they make the world go 'round. Beautiful work as always, Rick.

Rick Turner
10-28-2011, 07:37 AM
I went with the strings-through-holes bridge on the concert because I wanted a smaller footprint and less mass in the bridge, and this was a convenient and clean way to do it. When we do the 14 fret mini-jumbo tenor, I'll probably go with the same approach just to make the two instruments match as well as possible.

The concert also has the cantilevered fingerboard as does the tenor.

I'm thinking of building myself one with flame maple back and sides and spruce top, and I may even go with "f" holes just to keep that jazz guitar thing going.