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FPK
11-14-2011, 03:48 PM
As I said in one of my earlier posts, I am looking to get a secong real ukulele; but something that contrasts highly with my current instrument in its tone. I know what I want in terms of design, but I don't know who should (when it does happen) build it. My current considerations are: Mike DaSilva, William King, or Glyph (if he ever builds ukes again :( Does anyone have coments on the experience with each of these luthiers? Any others (that aren't exeedingly expensive....) that I might want to consider?


Thanks,

Will

Hippie Dribble
11-14-2011, 03:53 PM
hi Will
Duane Heilman, Tony Graziano, Joseph Heindel, Rick Turner, Bradford Donaldson just a few that come immediately to mind

fabioponta
11-14-2011, 04:00 PM
Will, your question is so much complex, with so many variants... So, you have to put some more information:
1. What size you use/looking for?
2. What price range?
3. What sound you are looking for?
4. What music style you are thinking to play?
5. How many time you have your fist uke?
6. What kind of design format your are looking for?

itsme
11-14-2011, 04:17 PM
FPK, there is no "best" American luthier. There are many, and I'm sure they all have their strong points.

Contact one whose work you like and see what they can do with whatever parameters you want to set. That is the joy of a custom build... you can decide on the woods, design, decoration, whatever you want out of it.

Hippie Dribble
11-14-2011, 04:19 PM
maybe worth mentioning Mya Moe too...they have a wide range of available woods and can customize the build to your specs...could possibly be a little cheaper but there is a substantial waiting list of around 6 months...just something else to consider

coriandre
11-14-2011, 04:24 PM
No one is "best". Just email one with what you want and get a price quote and information.

gyosh
11-14-2011, 04:26 PM
I'm going with a Compass Rose because Rick Turner is . . . well, he's Rick Turner!!!

Uke Republic
11-14-2011, 04:46 PM
So many. Along with whats been mentioned Augustino LoPrinzi and Donna LoPrinzi of LoPrinzi Guitar and Ukulele, John Kitakis and Noah Bonk of Ko'olau Guitar and Ukulele, and of course Mr Devine and Mr Moore who post here regularly. Each of these artist are wonderful in their skills.

ShakaSign
11-14-2011, 05:14 PM
As others have written, there are many excellent luthiers. I second the names of Rick Turner and Chuck Moore and would add Kerry Char and Bill Collings to the list. Additionally, I've never seen their personal creations up close but both Casey Kamaka and Paul Okami of Koaloha have backlogs of several years for their custom ukes. Many of these high end ukes have different looks, sound, playability and prices that it comes down to a combination of how you play, what you play, your tastes and how much you want to spend.

Hippie Dribble
11-14-2011, 05:26 PM
Bill Collings should be in the list.

The Custom Collings I owned is the best sounding uke I ever played
http://artisanguitars.com/collings-ukulele-uc2-with-custom-western-shaded-top-and-rope-purfling/

really mate, whomever luthier you choose, you really can't go wrong :)

Doc_J
11-14-2011, 05:56 PM
In addition to those great luthiers mentioned you might also want to consider Kevin Crossett or Mike Pereira or Peter Hurney or Pete Howlett or Ken Timms or Duane Heilman or Joel Eckhaus or Dave Talsma or Brad Donaldson or Kim Breedlove or Papa KoAloha Okami or Derek Shimizu or ........


We are blessed with such wonderful luthiers.

Steiner
11-14-2011, 08:03 PM
Chuck Moore

mm stan
11-14-2011, 08:12 PM
Best Is expensive...in the thousands, those are dream ukes...but you can't go wrong with really good luthiers too who offer good prices..
MP ukes...Mike Perriera Black Bear Ukes, Duane Hellman, Brad Donaldson.. good luck, hope you find what you want..

mendel
11-15-2011, 02:26 AM
Bradford Donaldson. End of thread.



As I said in one of my earlier posts, I am looking to get a secong real ukulele; but something that contrasts highly with my current instrument in its tone. I know what I want in terms of design, but I don't know who should (when it does happen) build it. My current considerations are: Mike DaSilva, William King, or Glyph (if he ever builds ukes again :( Does anyone have coments on the experience with each of these luthiers? Any others (that aren't exeedingly expensive....) that I might want to consider?


Thanks,

Will

FPK
11-15-2011, 02:49 PM
I didn't mean "best". of course there is no best American luthier.

1. What size you use/looking for?---I would say concert, but most people seem to think of a concert as a much bigger instrument than a soprano. My Tangi is (I think) quite small for a concert (though not thin--the body is pretty wide.). I'd say a small concert--like Glyph's mezzo soprano.

2. What price range?---I am not taking my parents' money at all for this possible project, so it is limited to $1500(though that is not cheap). I play violin, and am thinking that if I busk in NYC every weekend for a while, I will have enough money.

3. What sound you are looking for? ---My Tangi has a mellow, sweet and broad tone (which I love), but as you guys probably know, he was known for bad cosmetic quality. Not only is mine cosmetically challenged, but it also has an out of tune fretboard (it needs a new fingerboard). We already had a nut adjustment, along with a new bridge, but this uke still needs work. In terms of sound, I want a loud ukulele that is somewhere in the middle--a nice broad tone, but with enough clarity to be heard out. Also, I want the highs to really stand out.

4. What music style you are thinking to play?---I play classical and bluegrass violin. I also write a lot of my own stuff, which is a combo of many things. I also do a bunch of other genres (pop, Jazz, etc...). In terms of this, I don't know what to say. I know that I mostly play melodies...that's why I want a uke with a bit more of a tenor-alto range.

5. How many time you have your fist uke?---My dad got it when I 9...we got our 1st cheap uke when I was 6, but this one really got me into playing the instrument at a higher level.

6. What kind of design format your are looking for?---Something like Jake Shimabukuro's headstock, a bit of a more square lower curve (below the sound hole....the lower bout...), and of course, in a smaller size. In terms of woods, I have no clue.

(edited by fpk's father for grammar, spelling and accuracy)

Uke Republic
11-15-2011, 03:06 PM
The standard LoPrinzi concert has a somewhat smaller body than many concerts. They have a host of wood choices and do custom work. We have had them in the past make a Flamenco inspired tenor with a slotted headstock , spruce top and Spanish cypress back and sides. Worth taking a look at for sure.
Sweet and mellow? Maybe Hawaiian mango or perhaps a nice Honduran mahogany .

Kanaka916
11-15-2011, 03:14 PM
I didn't mean "best". of course there is no best American luthier.

1. What size you use/looking for?---I would say concert, but most people seem to think of a concert as a much bigger instrument than a soprano. My Tengi is (i think) quite small for a concert (though not thin--the body is pretty wide..). I'd say a small concert--like Glyph's mezzo soprano.

2. What price range?---I am not taking my parents money at all for this possible project, so it is limited to $1500(though that is not cheap). I play violin, and am thinking that if I busk in NYC every weekend for a while, I will have enough money.

3. What sound you are looking for?-My tengi has a mellow, sweet and broad tone (which I love), but as you guys probably know, he was known for bad cosmetic quality. Not only is mine cosmetically challenged, but it also has a out of tune fretboard (it needs a new fingerboard). We already had a nut adjustment, along with a new bridge, but this uke still needs work. In terms of sound, I want a loud ukulele that is somewhere in the middle--a nice broad tone, but with enough clarity to be heard out. Also, I want the highs to really stand out.
4. What music style you are thinking to play?---I play classical and bluegrass violin. I also write alot of my own stuff, which is a combo of many things. I also do a bunch of other genres (pop, Jazz, ext...). In terms of this, I don't know what to say. I know that I mostly play melodies...thats why I want a uke with a bit more of a tenor-alto range.
5. How many time you have your fist uke?--My dad got it when I 9...Its what got me into playing the instrument.
6. What kind of design format your are looking for?---Something like Jake Shimubukuro's headstock, a bit of a more square lower curve (below the soundhole....I don't know what to call it...), and of course, in a smaller size. In terms of woods, I have no clue.
Check the Custom Luthiers Listing (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?12834-A-Partial-List-of-Custom-Builders) and and 808 Builders Listing (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?16211-808-Builders) for more names and info.

mandrew
11-16-2011, 11:38 AM
Even if there was a "best" luthier, that would be no guarantee that the uke would be the "best". Wood is wood, and no matter how masterful the build, humidity, stress, and other factors will change it over time. What sounds good today can change over the years, for good or for evil. That is not the makers fault, and beyond his control.

mr moonlight
11-16-2011, 12:12 PM
$1500 for a custom uke is a bit on the lower end of the price spectrum. So even though there's a good variety of Luthier's out there that can fit something into that price range, you will probably have to shop around a bit to find one that will build one to your specs and keep you under budget. Jake's uke has a slotted headstock that will probably eat up an additional $200 or so of your budget.

I had a similar budget for my custom uke and I went with a Ko'olau through Hawaii Music Supply. Mainly because I had good experiences buying from them before and trusted their recommendations. It helps since I don't have the ability to play many higher end uke's out here.

localmana
11-16-2011, 01:49 PM
Personally, I think the most practical method of selecting uke is to listen to it. Other than Rick Turner's compass rose, I was impressed by ukes made by Scott Wise.

hmgberg
11-16-2011, 01:57 PM
Personally, I think the most practical method of selecting uke is to listen to it. Other than Rick Turner's compass rose, I was impressed by ukes made by Scott Wise.

I'm in agreement. A few months ago, in a higher-end shop, I played a collection of ukuleles. The Scott Wise I played really stood out among the luthier made instruments. Of course, they were sold out of Moore's and had no Compass Rose ukuleles.

Hippie Dribble
11-16-2011, 01:58 PM
Personally, I think the most practical method of selecting uke is to listen to it. Other than Rick Turner's compass rose, I was impressed by ukes made by Scott Wise.

aaah, a vote for an Aussie!!!! that's what we like!!!! :)

bdukes
11-16-2011, 05:46 PM
I'm in agreement. A few months ago, in a higher-end shop, I played a collection of ukuleles. The Scott Wise I played really stood out among the luthier made instruments. Of course, they were sold out of Moore's and had no Compass Rose ukuleles.
I'm guessing Music Emporium? Every time I leave there I wonder how those Wise's aren't snatched up. They are terrific ukes. At the price point, I give them an edge over Collings.


aaah, a vote for an Aussie!!!! that's what we like!!!! :)
Hey Jon, how about another vote? Had a great Aussie cabernet tonight so maybe a uke from down under isn't too far off!

bbycrts
11-16-2011, 07:04 PM
I've seen Bradford's name come up several times and I can't help but throw my vote out there for him as well! My completely custom (Brad and I worked out every detail together) is my absolute perfect uke - it is everything I hoped it would be and in purity of tone it's even more than I hoped for.

Brad's prices are VERY reasonable - well within your budget. VERY within your budget.

No matter who you choose, the experience of working with a luthier who listens to you, works with you, and creates the piece of art that IS you is amazing. I've had no other experience like it!

ShakaSign
11-16-2011, 07:46 PM
If the Tangi is the only uke you've really played, before going the custom route, I would try to spend some time playing other people's ukes or visiting vendor booths at ukulele festivals. This will give you a better idea of what you want in a uke and help you communicate that when you talk to luthiers. You may even find that a production uke that you love. Since you said you can bus into NYC, you should check out Mandolin Brothers on Staten Island. They have both Collings and Kamaka ukes to try out. Both are in your price range, and you'll learn that a production Collings uke is a wonderful baseline to gauge custom builders against. While you're there, you could even ask them to look at your Tangi fretboard.

If you got your mind set on a custom, your budget is probably not sufficient for a Willing King or Kerry Char. Dave Means of Glyph hasn't updated his web prices since he stopped taking orders. Even if he finishes his backlog and returns to taking orders again, I couldn't see his prices staying at the current posted levels. Additionally, any newly ordered uke will be years away from completion. You could try a Mya Moe. They don't bling-out like a Santa Cruz or Moore Bettah uke, but they are well known for their level of detail on their fretboards.

http://mandoweb.com/Instruments/Ukulele.aspx

erivel
11-16-2011, 10:01 PM
Find a luthier close enough so you can visit the workshop and talk directly to the luthier. Don't worry about how much someone else paid or well known names, if the luthier has gone through a proper training process and has enough experience to open a successful business he or she will be able to make you a great sounding uke.
Long distance transactions do work and can be a lot of fun, but you will learn a lot more by being able to have some face to face discussion and developing a face to face relationship. Plus it is always good to know that if you or your friends have something musical that needs fixing (and you are willing to pay a fair repair cost) you are not far from help.

I agree with this 100%! I chose Peter Hurney because he lives 10 minutes down the street from me. Establishing a relationship with the luithier, seeing their workshop, and hanging out and playing their ukes is a great thing to be able to do before ordering a custom build.

hmgberg
11-17-2011, 06:48 AM
I'm guessing Music Emporium? Every time I leave there I wonder how those Wise's aren't snatched up. They are terrific ukes. At the price point, I give them an edge over Collings.


Hey Jon, how about another vote? Had a great Aussie cabernet tonight so maybe a uke from down under isn't too far off!

Good guess! So, I'm not crazy. Scott Wise makes a nice instrument.

ukeeku
11-17-2011, 08:44 AM
I have another name to throw in. Jerry Hoffman of Boat Paddle ukes
Jerry is a total nerd when it comes to wood and design to make the best sounding, stable, and nice looking ukes.
I had a custom made by him recently and I know a ton of people with them. They are awesome and for $1500 you can get an awesome uke with some basic decorations.

I am not knocking Bradford, great ukes also. I would be just as happy. I have found the difference is Jerry is more new school designs, and Bradford is more old school classic designs. Both good, but different.

I would come to UWC this summer (If you can wait that long) and play a bunch of ukes there to see all the builders and talk uke and help you really figure out what you want.

FPK
11-17-2011, 12:49 PM
My only concern is with the shape. How are luthiers supposed to make the shape I want without the plans? just guess and then send the shape to me to see if I like it? And what about the price of bradford's ukes?

FPK
11-17-2011, 12:55 PM
"Find a luthier close enough so you can visit the workshop and talk directly to the luthier. Don't worry about how much someone else paid or well known names, if the luthier has gone through a proper training process and has enough experience to open a successful business he or she will be able to make you a great sounding uke.
Long distance transactions do work and can be a lot of fun, but you will learn a lot more by being able to have some face to face discussion and developing a face to face relationship. Plus it is always good to know that if you or your friends have something musical that needs fixing (and you are willing to pay a fair repair cost) you are not far from help. "

-I hadn't thought of this yet. We DO have a good amount of luthiers within a half an hour of my house--one is a flamenco guitar builder (he did the tangi bridge), and one is a very good but expensive guy who does alot of guitar stuff named George Youngblood. That, to my knowledge, is about it.--I am still concerned with someone building something that they've never done before though...what if they do the bracing too thick like martin did the first time?.... (I'm saying that half jokingly)

Thanks for all the advice!

Will

Hippie Dribble
11-17-2011, 01:48 PM
Hey Jon, how about another vote? Had a great Aussie cabernet tonight so maybe a uke from down under isn't too far off!

Bill, you'll have to make a sojourn down to my neck of the woods mate, I live in the Tamar Valley region of north Tasmania, which is fast becoming internationally recognised as a premium grape growing region...many recent wins in wine shows for a number of vineyards on these fertile banks...:p

consitter
11-18-2011, 01:18 AM
A fellow that does awesome custom work and has a huge heart...Paul Okami.

Plainsong
11-18-2011, 02:31 AM
Paul has a huge backlog though, and I doubt he's taking new orders for a while.

bdukes
11-18-2011, 08:33 AM
Bill, you'll have to make a sojourn down to my neck of the woods mate, I live in the Tamar Valley region of north Tasmania, which is fast becoming internationally recognised as a premium grape growing region...many recent wins in wine shows for a number of vineyards on these fertile banks...:p

Ahh, the days of wine of ukeses. Just might have to, and don't be alarmed by the bunch of yanks at your door. :)

And back to the original question... Francis is the best American luthier. Nobody's ever heard of him or seen his work, but he's the best.

FPK
11-18-2011, 01:03 PM
Francis Who? does he have a way to contact him?

bdukes
11-18-2011, 02:03 PM
Whoops, had the smiley in the wrong spot. It was an attempt at humor. I apologize. I was trying to point out how difficult it would be to pick a "best" ukulele builder. As others have said before, so much subjectivity at play. So no, there is no way to contact Francis... he is off the grid. Because he doesn't exist.

Dan Uke
11-18-2011, 02:14 PM
Whoops, had the smiley in the wrong spot. It was an attempt at humor. I apologize. I was trying to point out how difficult it would be to pick a "best" ukulele builder. As others have said before, so much subjectivity at play. So no, there is no way to contact Francis... he is off the grid. Because he doesn't exist.

You know a joke's no good when you have to explain it!!! LOL Don't worry, I got it the first time

Nickie
11-18-2011, 03:39 PM
My playing is not at such a level so as to deserve one of these fine works of art, I'm not presumptuous. I live about 10 minutes from the LoPrinzis, and have met them. I was so impressed by thier knowledge, but even more by how darn nice they are. Some of the wood they own is older than Donna. If I ever get to the point where I may be a good enough player (I might not live that long) I would definitely go talk to them 1st. I've never touched an istrument from another fine luthier, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but the LoPrinzis work is so darn perfect, I don't think I'd have a need to look elsewhere.