View Full Version : Musicmaker's Kits Baritone and Concert

02-11-2012, 12:26 PM
I wonder if anyone here has built a kit from Musicmaker's Kits in Stillwater, MN.? The kits look to be made from top quality, solid wood (Spruce/Mahogany) parts and includes a very detailed illustrated instruction manual. Dovetail neck joint! They make a Baritone and a Concert size. Here's a link to check them out? I've already pulled the hammer on a Baritone Kit.


mr roper
02-11-2012, 01:17 PM
Thanks, Hobo. This may be my next kit.

02-11-2012, 02:00 PM
I have not built this kit but I did read the instructions. Now having checked it out it looks like a fun project. When you're finished you'll have something special for sure. That looks like a really nice kit.:drool:

mr roper
02-11-2012, 04:07 PM
There's a discussion and demo of the Musicmakers Dakota Mandolin on youtube. Same design as the ukulele.

02-12-2012, 02:33 AM
This looks like a great kit.

However, in the instructions is talks about making sure that the solid mahogany back MUST BE KEPT IN A DE-HUMIDIFIED place. This goes against everything that I have read about having a relatively humid building environment.
Plus, if the wood is very dry during assembly, won't it then warp when it is moved into a more humid environment (like the climate controlled room when I keep my ukes)?

02-12-2012, 04:33 AM
I think you have it backwards. If the wood is stored in a humid environment and built then the wood is likely to crack and split from shrinking after the instrument is completed if the humidity drops past a certain point. If the wood is stored in a dry environment then the humidity swing would be in the opposite direction and all you would experience is expansion and sound suppression.
In the furniture industry there was an influx of really nice looking furniture from countries like Indonesia back in the 1990's and a lot of wooden cabinets wound up with solid wood components cracking from the humidity drop once the furniture wound up in warehouses and stores here in the US.
I work in a piano rebuild shop and new soundboards for our pianos are stored in a "hot box" prior to being installed in a piano. You can certainly bake out too much moisture so you want to be careful about that.
One more thing about humidity, on the first guitar I ever built which was a maple sides and back classical, I glued the back braces on during a rainy day. The braces were radiused and at a perpindicular angle to the grain of the back and when I looked at the back the next morning after the rain had gone away and the humidity had dropped dramatically the back had reversed the radius of the bracing from convex to concave. So, paying attention to humidity is always important.

mr roper
02-12-2012, 04:38 AM
I don't think a relatively humid environment is recommended. I think I've seen a number of 40%-50%. They must mean that if your air is quite humid you need to dehumidify. It gets very dry in winter in our northern environment with forced air heat so your climate controlled room makes sense. My basement shop holds at about 50% in the winter but I need to dehumidify in the summer.

02-12-2012, 04:41 AM
The bottom line is that a given piece of wood can survive a 50% swing up better than it can a 50% swing down.

02-12-2012, 04:52 AM
When I say 'relatively humid,' I mean compared to the dry, 0 degree Farenheit conditions outside.

I try to keep my workshop space at around 40% (as seems to be the standard for guitar workshops/factories). The rest of the house is sitting at about 20%. I still not convinced that I shouldn't bring the sound board up to the same humidity level before installing (again, the instructions for seem to imply that the wood should be extremely dry - ie: sit it beside an air conditioner).
Wouldn't the best building environment have the same temperature and humidity conditions as the target playing environment?

02-12-2012, 05:16 AM
I've built a number of their kits to review in American Lutherie. A harp, bouzouki, hurdy-gurdy, and banjo. They made good, functional instruments. Since then, they have upgraded to more solid wood, so they ought to be even better. They are good folks to deal with, too.

02-12-2012, 01:01 PM
I've built a number of their kits to review in American Lutherie. A harp, bouzouki, hurdy-gurdy, and banjo. They made good, functional instruments. Since then, they have upgraded to more solid wood, so they ought to be even better. They are good folks to deal with, too.

Thanks for the first-hand experience comments. I really like the looks of their Cumberland Banjo Kit as well.... but, I heard it's a little weak in the volume department. I like the innovative fretboard that converts it to a fretless banjo. Now that is real good idea. The body shape of the concert and baritone ukulele reminds me of a Koaloha Pineapple Sunday in a way – I like it. I'm looking forward to building one.

mr roper
02-14-2012, 02:27 PM
I communicated with Musicmaker's about customizing a ukulele kit. I want to rout for an inlaid rosette and figure that would be hard to do with a precut sound hole. Matt got back to me quickly saying they'd be happy to do a kit without a sound hole.

02-14-2012, 02:52 PM
My communications with Musicmaker's has been nothing short of excellent. My Baritone is arriving tomorrow and I am thrilled to check it out.

mr roper
02-14-2012, 03:06 PM
I was going to order a Concert but I have two nice Lanikai tenors, a Grizzly soprano, a soon to be completed Stemac soprano, and my new Islander concert. I think I'll order the Baritone kit to try that out.

02-15-2012, 07:52 AM
Folks, here's an update on the Musicmaker's Baritone Ukulele kit: The kit arrived today, only 3 days after ordering it. The first thing I noticed when opening the box was the invoice/packing slip had a cordial hand written note from the person who packed the kit, thanking me for the business and inviting me to not hesitate to call if I had questions. Nice.

The box was well packed and components were bundled into packets and sealed in plastic pouches. In particular, the Spruce top and Mahogany back are sealed together in there own plastic pouch. The kit includes a printed 32-page detailed, illustrated, step-by-step instruction manual. The parts are absolutely top-quality – the milling of the many wood components is flawless. I've gone over every piece in the kit and I can't find anything I'm not totally pleased with. It contains everything to build the instrument, including GHS baritone strings and 3 drill bits – everything except glue, sand paper or finishing materials. They also included specially shaped wooden blocks (clamping cauls) to help with difficult-to-clamp parts... something you'd normally have to fabricate yourself.

I'm looking forward to beginning the build when I clear some other projects off the work bench.

mr roper
02-16-2012, 10:11 AM
I just ordered a baritone kit.

02-16-2012, 04:11 PM
Congrat's Mr. Roper. I don't think you'll be disappointed with your decision to go for the baritone kit. Since the price is set to increase on May 31st... we got a deal. Good luck with your build.

mr roper
02-16-2012, 04:23 PM
Thanks, Hobo. I'm looking forward to the Musicmaker's kit. I'm just putting finish on the StewMac soprano now.

mr roper
02-23-2012, 02:48 AM
The kit arrived yesterday. They didn't cut the sound hole just like I asked. The kit should make an interesting instrument, maybe a little heavy. I'll be customizing with binding, inlaid sound hole purfling, fretboard dot markers and a pickup.

03-01-2012, 11:30 AM
Here's a tip for anyone building a Dakota Ukulele kit. I misread the glue up instructions for the correct order of attaching the corner blocks to the side panels. Luckily, I was able to break apart a joint and re-glue in the proper order. You want to be sure the final block to side panel joint is on the bottom bout side panel. There is far less stress when pulling the pieces together. It's nearly impossible to properly glue and clamp the joint if the final joint it is the upper bout.

I talked with Jake the designer of the kit and he suggested bevelling the block tip points so they won't contact the the front and back sound board panels. He said they think that will avoid the possibility of a crack developing in the sound boards. They are going to add this to the instructions in the future. Just thought you would want to know.

03-01-2012, 12:51 PM
This looks really interesting. I'm looking forward to what you think as you get into the project. Please keep us posted!

mr roper
03-02-2012, 11:53 AM
I haven't started the kit yet. Thanks for the tip from Jake on the corner blocks. I have a feeling we got an introductory price because we're the guinea pigs.