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View Full Version : Spruce Top Tenor - Complete



Dominator
09-23-2008, 08:02 PM
Tonight I strung up the spruce top tenor I made specifically to use during my performance at the upcoming Southern California Ukulele Festival in Cerritos on October 4th. Out of the gate the tone is a little brighter than I had expected but it sounds great and will definitely mature over time. Still need to do more work on the saddle as soon as the strings stabilize a bit more.

The spruce top and figured walnut were given to me by Pete Howlett, known as Ukulele Pete, from the Uke Talk forum. This is my first ukulele with a slotted headstock design and, overall, Iím pleased with it but I will adjust a couple of things on the next one to make it even better.

I purposely made the neck on the beefy side to see how it affects my carpal tunnel issues. I can always shave it down later but adding to it would be impossible.

http://www.dominator.ukeland.com/Images/dom_st_1.JPG
http://www.dominator.ukeland.com/Images/dom_st_2.JPG

Some of the specs:
Spruce top with paua abalone rosette with bwb inner and outer rings
Figured walnut back and sides
Curly maple binding top and back
Bwb fiber and maple top purfling
Mahogany bolt-on neck
17Ē scale joined to the body at the 14th fret
19 frets total
Ebony fingerboard with paua abalone combination side and fingerboard markers at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th frets
Ebony peghead overlay with paua abalone logo
Grover 18:1 Sta-Tite gold slotted peghead tuners
Ebony through body bridge
Corian nut and saddle
Worth CH strings
Misi-Acoustic Trio battery free pickup
Top finished in lacquer
Balance of instrument finished in hand rubbed oil and wax

The pics donít really show it but I hurried the oil finish and up close it shows. I needed to get it strung up so I can spend the next week and a half playing it in and getting acquainted with it prior to SCUF. I spent some extra time on the lacquer top and though not perfect it is 100 times better than my first attempt on my number 002 mahogany tenor.

As soon as the strings are settled and I intonate the saddle I will get a sound sample put together.

thejumpingflea
09-23-2008, 08:26 PM
Looks great Dom, very impressive. I look very much forward to the hearing the sound it produces.

Keep it up!

thesoobz
09-23-2008, 08:30 PM
nice uke dom!

how much would you charge to have one of these made?

russ_buss
09-23-2008, 08:37 PM
she's a beauty Dom! have much fun at the socal uke fest. wish we could be there.

Poi Dog
09-23-2008, 08:42 PM
That's just beautiful Dom!

Dominator
09-23-2008, 08:44 PM
nice uke dom!

how much would you charge to have one of these made?

Since I'm not yet building on a full time basis, and haven't established a base price list as of yet, I work out prices on a case by case basis with the people I'm building for. With the Misi-Trio pickup and the slotted headstock etc. this would be in the $1500 range.

Dominator
09-23-2008, 08:46 PM
she's a beauty Dom! have much fun at the socal uke fest. wish we could be there.

Thanks Russ. What happened to the road trip. Here I thought you were all dialed in :(.

russ_buss
09-23-2008, 09:06 PM
Thanks Russ. What happened to the road trip. Here I thought you were all dialed in :(.

sorry man. i know i'm missing out big time. catch you at the next meet.:)

grappler
09-23-2008, 09:08 PM
that looks amazing. 1500 is a decent price for this ukulele, i know i'd buy it if it was on the market. the Misi trio is one selling point for me ofcourse!

always a pleasure to see the end result. :)

Dominator
09-23-2008, 09:13 PM
sorry man. i know i'm missing out big time. catch you at the next meet.:)

No problem Russ. There is always another time. And speaking of another time are you planning on attending the Wine Country Festival the following weekend. I will be performing there also. You can be my roadie ;).

NukeDOC
09-23-2008, 10:08 PM
hot damn thats a beauty! $1500 isnt bad at all for an ukulele like that. any sound samples?

what would you charge for just a neck? hahaha. thats probably the only thing holding me back from building my electric uke.

Pete Howlett
09-24-2008, 12:02 AM
Dom

Glad to see that wood put to a good use. Do you now think you should have ditched that problem child? I've just had to fiddle and fiddle with a stinker only because it was blinged up to the nines :(

14twelve
09-24-2008, 01:42 AM
Wow Dom! That's a really beautiful uke! You must be really proud of it. Good luck at the Uke Festival. I hope you'll have some videos. I'd love to hear how it sounds. :music:

deach
09-24-2008, 02:05 AM
Another work of art!

Dominator
09-24-2008, 05:49 AM
Thanks everybody. I'm looking forward to completing the last bits of tweaking on it and then getting familiar with her :).


Dom

Glad to see that wood put to a good use. Do you now think you should have ditched that problem child? I've just had to fiddle and fiddle with a stinker only because it was blinged up to the nines :(

Thanks once again to you for the kind gesture of providing the wood.

Actually Pete, that other uke ended up in Colorado. An old friend from my home town has it and is quite happy with it. I had actually built him my number 004 mahogany in parallel and when he saw pictures of both he insisted that he get the walnut one. Number 004 is in the hands of one of the best new ukulele players out there, Jon Prown. Spoke to him over the weekend and he's about to record a new track so I can hear how she has matured over the last couple of years.


hot damn thats a beauty! $1500 isnt bad at all for an ukulele like that. any sound samples?

what would you charge for just a neck? hahaha. thats probably the only thing holding me back from building my electric uke.


I will record something as soon as the strings hold pitch better than they are now so I can adjust the intonation. The saddle is flat topped right now and the E string is buzzing a bit.

We can probably work something out on that neck.

Kanaka916
09-24-2008, 06:41 AM
Beautiful Dom, I bet it'll sound heavenly when you get it fully set. I'm very much liking the Mi-Si Acoustic Trio. Any specific reason for choosing that one? I'm looking for one for a G-String Tenor. Thanks much.

Dominator
09-24-2008, 06:51 AM
Beautiful Dom, I bet it'll sound heavenly when you get it fully set. I'm very much liking the Mi-Si Acoustic Trio. Any specific reason for choosing that one?

I've used them before based on things I had heard from others using them. I like the battery free feature and they seem to be very well balanced.

acabooe
09-24-2008, 09:49 AM
Great job Dom,

I am very interested in your process on shaping the headstock.
Could you post, or pm me and tell me how you cut the string slots?
Are there any special jigs that you used to get the string slots symetrical?
I remember that I cut the slots on my first Ukulele by free routing with my dremel, and it didn't turn out as good as I had hoped.
Thanks in advance for the advice.
Aloha
Bob

Dominator
09-24-2008, 10:11 AM
Great job Dom,

Could you post, or pm me and tell me how you cut the string slots?

I made two different prototypes and drilled 1/2" holes at the end of each slot and then used a scroll saw to cut between them. Both times I had trouble cutting straight slots even with new blades. I think part of the problem was the thickness of the material.

For the spruce top tenor I consulted with Kevin Crossett of Kepasa Ukuleles and incorporated his approach. After cutting the 1/2" holes I used a 7/16" brad point bit and carefully cut overlapping holes along the length of the slot. I then slowly and carefully removed the remaining material with a series of rigid sanding sticks of different grits. You just need to be careful not to let the sides of the sanding sticks mess up your nice round profile on the ends. I wrapped tape all around the ends to keep them from getting marred up. Very time consuming but if you take your time the results can be quite good.

I used the Grover Sta-Tite tuners which will put the string hole right in the center of the slot if you have a 1/4" thick outer sidewall.

Pete Howlett
09-24-2008, 10:21 AM
When I did them I made a router jig - I suppose I am going to have to do it again - thanks to the Kamaka Jake model everyone now wants a slotted headstock ona tenor...

Dukami
09-24-2008, 11:50 AM
Very very good work !
I remember the pics a few weeks ago from this uke.
It looks just beautyfull ! Do you have any sound-sample ??

Greetings
Dukami

acabooe
09-24-2008, 02:57 PM
Hey Dom,

Thanks for the reply, it was very helpful. I remember when i did my first one, one slot was wider than that other, but with your advice, I think that I can do better next time.


Pete, may I see a picture of your router jig? I assume that you used a bit with a guide wheel, am I correct?

Thanks guys.
Bob

david98116
09-24-2008, 03:25 PM
beautiful work Dom. Looks like a jewel. Love the look of the walnut.

Ukesista
09-24-2008, 04:19 PM
Looks like a Dream Tenor that I would love to own. Looking forward to hearing you play such a fine instrument :)

pwnoman
09-24-2008, 06:42 PM
wow, seriously that uke looks professional! Can i pay you to make my next uke, lol. Great job it really is a beautiful ukulele :D

E-Lo Roberts
09-25-2008, 06:47 AM
Dom, finally found the luither page. I'm simply diggin' the spruce, ebony, curly walnut, slotted headstock combo! What a great job overall. Once again, you've got me stoked up for another day in the shop! Thanks bro,..

Dominator
09-25-2008, 08:13 AM
Dom, finally found the luither page. I'm simply diggin' the spruce, ebony, curly walnut, slotted headstock combo! What a great job overall. Once again, you've got me stoked up for another day in the shop! Thanks bro,..

Thanks Ernie, good to see you drop in for a visit. Haven't seen you around UU as of late.

DeG
09-25-2008, 05:16 PM
Looks great! I like the fret board markers that are visible from the front and side. I don't recall seeing that on a ukulele or guitar before.

ke leo
09-25-2008, 05:56 PM
Great lookin' uke Dom! Seeya next week at SCUF....Hana Hou!

Dominator
09-25-2008, 08:32 PM
Looks great! I like the fret board markers that are visible from the front and side. I don't recall seeing that on a ukulele or guitar before.

I have them on my Glyph Tenor that I use in many of my videos. They are pointed rather than straight strips of shell. Attached is a pic.

Dominator
09-25-2008, 08:33 PM
Great lookin' uke Dom! Seeya next week at SCUF....Hana Hou!

Make sure you come up and introduce yourself. Even if it looks like I'm pre-occupied or busy just bust on in.

HumbleSounds
09-25-2008, 08:54 PM
Truly incredible Dom. Your pictures send me into daydreams of making my own uke someday. There is a huge swamp mahogany(which is actually a kind of eucalyptus) that fell on my property a couple weeks back. I have a section cut to make a djembe out of, maybe some of it might find its way into a uke or two.

Thanks again for the images truly inspiring.

Island_Uke
08-22-2009, 09:02 PM
How do you give it that little arch on the back?

uluapoundr
08-22-2009, 09:15 PM
Nice uke Dom!

Skrik
08-23-2009, 02:42 AM
That is pretty.

Dominator
08-23-2009, 10:20 AM
How do you give it that little arch on the back?

I'm assuming you are referring to the taper from the heel block to tail block along the length of the back. The sides are tapered before I bend them and the back conforms to the taper when it is glued on.

Spooner
08-24-2009, 10:15 PM
Congratulations Dom!!!

That's might purdy!!!

GREAT work from what I can see! :shaka:

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-25-2009, 08:42 AM
That's real sharp Dominic! Congratz on a fine looking slotted headstock too. There are a lot of things to consider with weight, size, balance, function and making sure the strings clear properly. Looks like you did well. I've recently redesigned mine.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-25-2009, 08:45 AM
Deja-vu! I though I'd seen that before and then I checked the date on the original post. It's early morning here.......

Dominator
08-25-2009, 08:50 AM
Thanks folks.

Nice looking HS Chuck.

It's funny how this thread got active again as of late but unfortunately I have not been in my shop yet this year. Just buried at work. This is the tenor I finished last October and played at the Wine Country Festival. You actually looked this uke over pretty good at your booth. We talked about how I designed the HS with a normal 15 degree scarf joint instead of 12 or 13 more like a classical guitar. The strings just barely touch the HS overlay but string direction is not impacted etc. I redid the design a bit for the next one. The neck blank is glued up if I can ever get out there and start working it.
Regards,

Dominator
08-25-2009, 08:52 AM
Deja-vu! I though I'd seen that before and then I checked the date on the original post. It's early morning here.......

Ha, we were posting at the same time:shaka:.