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Eyeguy
02-28-2012, 05:37 AM
In a like sized uke, is there a noticeable difference in tone with the premium koa option over standard koa, or is it more a cosmetic upgrade?

Thanks

wickedwahine11
02-28-2012, 05:59 AM
There actually is a school of thought that the standard grained koa sounds better than the premium curly. At any rate, any upgrade in koa grain would probably be purely cosmetic, not tonal.

grandpoobah
02-28-2012, 05:59 AM
Totally cosmetic. Often the standard koa sounds a bit better.

That said.. tone is very dependent on the quality of the luthier and not how pretty the wood is.

coolkayaker1
02-28-2012, 06:25 AM
I feel more confident playing with curly koa--stick my chest out and smile more and my playing volume is louder and prouder. When I look good, or my uke looks good, I play better.

That said, it's all cosmetic. I'm a mental case.

janeray1940
02-28-2012, 06:30 AM
There actually is a school of thought that the standard grained koa sounds better than the premium curly.

I tend to agree with this, although my experience is pretty limited. When I was shopping around for my first Kamaka concert uke I was able to try a premium koa and two standard koas. The premium was certainly pretty to look at, but was really underwhelming sound-wise.

Drew Bear
02-28-2012, 06:46 AM
Cosmetic. However, I think it was Rick Turner (luthier) that observed that most buyers (wholesale & direct) claim they want the best sound, but usually "listen" with their eyes. This trend is aided by the fact that quality instruments can be both visually and acoustically excellent.

IMO, premium Koa in a high quality uke helps retain resale value.

the.ronin
02-28-2012, 06:48 AM
This brings up a question – is “curly” the same concept as “bear claw” on say spruce top guitars?

As I understand it (maybe just a myth or some misinformation so please take with a grain of salt), the bear claw marks suggest that the original tree was under duress creating pressure which results in these patterns in the wood (e.g., another tree fell on it or something). (So, no, a bear wasn’t actually clawing at the tree – it just looks like that hence the name.) Since the wood was under pressure, the logic goes, the wood is more dense in comparison to the same type of wood that was never under pressure. Since it is more dense, it has better tonal qualities.

So I guess two questions then – is the curly pattern on “curly koa” the same concept as “bear claw” on sitka spruce? If so, and if you believe in the bear claw concept, then curly koa would theoretically have better tonal qualities.

Just thinking aloud here.

hapuna
02-28-2012, 06:48 AM
From my experience what has been said above seems correct. It seems the standard koa is lighter and really resonates well. The premium seems heavier and denser. Now after they both open up I don't know but the standard seems to generally play better. That said its hard to beat the look of curly koa!!

SailingUke
02-28-2012, 06:58 AM
Great question, you also need to factor in the build.
Some builders will change the build with a premium wood affecting tone and playability.

Gadzukes!
02-28-2012, 07:04 AM
From my experience what has been said above seems correct. It seems the standard koa is lighter and really resonates well. The premium seems heavier and denser. Now after they both open up I don't know but the standard seems to generally play better. That said its hard to beat the look of curly koa!!

Technically, the heavier wood is more likely to be resonant, although there are obviously a lot of factors in play. Otherwise, the best sounding ukes would be made out of balsa wood. Now there's a travel uke!

Gadzukes!
02-28-2012, 07:05 AM
My understanding is that if you're using the uke with a pickup, the acoustic sound of the uke isn't nearly as important since the pickup itself has so much more to do with the sound. Can anyway confirm or deny this?

GX9901
02-28-2012, 09:50 AM
Everything else being equal, I think you're paying for the looks of premium, or curly, koa. When I bought my Kamaka HF-3, there were about 10 of them at the shop. I got to play them all and there was one that I thought was the best sounding, but had really uninteresting looking wood. There was also one that had pretty nice curly koa, probably approaching 3A, that I really wanted to get. But no matter how much I tried to like it, it was the worse sounding one out of the 10, so I had to pass on it. I didn't buy the best sounding one either, due to the boring looking wood, and ended up choosing one that was maybe 3rd or 4th best sounding, but maybe 2nd or 3rd best looking one. So based on personal experience, I would agree that plain koa would actually sound better. But I'm one of those guys who would be willing to pay for premium koa just for looks.

foxfair
02-28-2012, 11:37 AM
It depends on how it is built.... with right bracing the plain koa can sound really good but with wrong method it will sound just "meh". Same as curly. Every piece of wood has its own character after its life.

OldePhart
02-28-2012, 12:45 PM
Purely eye candy. (As some have pointed out, maybe even a slight decrease in actual sound quality, though most of us probably couldn't detect it.)

While I love to gaze at nice wood (and fancy bindings, etc.) as much as anyone...at the end of the day I'm all about playability and tone. Anything that doesn't add to those had better not add significantly to the cost of the instrument or it won't end up in my stable.

I remember one time I found a really nice limited edition G&L electric guitar in my favorite local shop. I really loved the way it played but, because it was a signed and numbered limited edition, it was priced way above what I was willing to pay for it. When the shop owner pointed out Leo's signature as if that made it something special and justified the price I laughed and told him to "scrape the signature off and let me pay what the guitar is worth." He wasn't amused. LOL


John

Eyeguy
02-28-2012, 01:16 PM
Thanks folks for all the sage advice - I do appreciate it.

hapuna
02-28-2012, 02:38 PM
If you read many of the comments on this BB you could form an opinion that pretty wood helps improve the resale price of a uke that sounds good (it does have to sound good first). So if you are a person who keeps buying and selling ukes, maybe there is some value in getting the prettier woods.
If they were the same price you would be exactly right. The problem is premium wood carries a premium price. I have 2 koas for sale and minus the pickup from the premium(making them the same) the premium is $400 more. It takes someone that is very excited about great ukuleles to pay that extra amount just for the looks.

Hippie Dribble
02-28-2012, 05:59 PM
no difference in tone at all that you could easily quantify between premium and standard wood. I sure appreciate the aesthetic appeal of highly figured wood grain but the prices have really gone wild with this over the past few years. No probs for those who can afford it I guess. But sonically, tonally, it's a moot point. You could take either Susan Boyle or Norah Jones out for dinner or to a jam...they both sing like angels! Just comes down to which one you want on the end of your arm...

Chris Tarman
02-28-2012, 06:17 PM
no difference in tone at all that you could easily quantify between premium and standard wood. I sure appreciate the aesthetic appeal of highly figured wood grain but the prices have really gone wild with this over the past few years. No probs for those who can afford it I guess. But sonically, tonally, it's a moot point. You could take either Susan Boyle or Norah Jones out for dinner or to a jam...they both sing like angels! Just comes down to which one you want on the end of your arm...

Hmmm... Can I take Norah Jones' half-sister out for dinner?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4RZaszNhB0&feature=related
My wife knows I have a thing for Norah Jones. I doubt I could slip this past her...

mr moonlight
02-29-2012, 05:42 AM
no difference in tone at all that you could easily quantify between premium and standard wood. I sure appreciate the aesthetic appeal of highly figured wood grain but the prices have really gone wild with this over the past few years. No probs for those who can afford it I guess. But sonically, tonally, it's a moot point. You could take either Susan Boyle or Norah Jones out for dinner or to a jam...they both sing like angels! Just comes down to which one you want on the end of your arm...

I'd say it's even a bit more than that. When you finally are able to obtain that high-end one uke to rule them all instrument it's more of a long term commitment than dinner or a jam. It's more like, "who would you rather wake up next to every morning and sing you to sleep every night; Susan Boyle or Norah Jones?" So, yeah, if you love that curly koa, go for it.

It's definitely worth it to keep saving to get that perfect sounding and looking instrument. Of course in the end, it's all about what your wallet can handle.

mschway
02-29-2012, 06:43 AM
Figured wood looks great, but a good quarter-sawn straight grained piece with minimal runout can be worked thinner to maintain the same tensile strength. The surfacing process won't cut across the grain as often as it would with a curly figure. Thinner top means less mass and it'll be more resilient. A curly top has grain running all over the place and cutting across the grain is inevitable, resulting in a weaker piece unless it's milled thicker.

There's a reason that the best luthiers split their wood braces rather than re-saw them. They're trying to insure there's no runout. Same thing applies to curly soundboards.

Jus' my $.02 ....

mm stan
02-29-2012, 07:12 AM
Of course there is, To get both, I'd choose a straight grain top and curly back and sides ...t's a compromise...if you can afford it in your wallet, and your concious of not thinking about it..

Paul December
02-29-2012, 07:46 AM
IMO The difference in sound quality between the two is being overstated.

dakamaainahaole
03-27-2012, 11:30 PM
...It's more like, "who would you rather wake up next to every morning and sing you to sleep every night; Susan Boyle or Norah Jones?" ...

Im goin thru that with a decision in buying either Kanile'a or Kamaka (6 string tenor)... the Kamaka most likely being str8 wood and the Kanile'a being curly... with the whole UV additional curing thing they do... BUT like you said... im thinkin Kamaka so i could wake up n say "I own a Kamaka!!!", similiar question on whether to or not too get a pickup installed on it... too many decisions!

CTurner
03-28-2012, 04:04 AM
You could also say, "I own a Kanile'a!!!" :o

Rick Turner
04-16-2012, 06:01 PM
"Technically, the heavier wood is more likely to be resonant, although there are obviously a lot of factors in play. Otherwise, the best sounding ukes would be made out of balsa wood. Now there's a travel uke!"

Wow, there's a statement not based on truth!

The density of wood (or other materials) is unrelated to resonant "Q". Totally unrelated... Spruce is very resonant. Western Red Cedar is very resonant. Both have very high stiffness to weight ratios. Lignum Vitae...a wood so heavy it sinks in water...is very high in damping...the opposite of resonant. Gimme a break here... Please don't perpetuate myths through simplistic thinking. Just because SOME dense woods are resonant...think Honduras rosewood, for instance...doesn't mean that weight (OK density) means resonant.

You want something heavy (dense) that sucks up vibration and deadens it faster than you can think? Try lead...

What you're saying is about 90 to 150 degrees purely wrong...not quite 180 off. Do the homework. Don't be lazy. Tell the truth or say nothing at all.

bynapkinart
04-16-2012, 06:52 PM
"Technically, the heavier wood is more likely to be resonant, although there are obviously a lot of factors in play. Otherwise, the best sounding ukes would be made out of balsa wood. Now there's a travel uke!"

Wow, there's a statement not based on truth!

The density of wood (or other materials) is unrelated to resonant "Q". Totally unrelated... Spruce is very resonant. Western Red Cedar is very resonant. Both have very high stiffness to weight ratios. Lignum Vitae...a wood so heavy it sinks in water...is very high in damping...the opposite of resonant. Gimme a break here... Please don't perpetuate myths through simplistic thinking. Just because SOME dense woods are resonant...think Honduras rosewood, for instance...doesn't mean that weight (OK density) means resonant.

You want something heavy (dense) that sucks up vibration and deadens it faster than you can think? Try lead...

What you're saying is about 90 to 150 degrees purely wrong...not quite 180 off. Do the homework. Don't be lazy. Tell the truth or say nothing at all.

I agree that you're right, but I don't think you have to scold the poster Rick. After all, we all see the use of dense woods in instruments, and most of us can tell why they're being used. Macassar Ebony, for instance, is a very hard wood that makes for a nice tight sound if paired with a nice soft soundboard like Cedar. Rosewood makes for a punchier uke, as does Walnut. Most of us have experience with these dense woods and, for the most part, the woods currently being used by luthiers are paired or used in a way that complements the tone of the instruments. Koa and Mahogany, for instance, are dense woods and they are used in probably about 75% of the best ukuleles out there.

Certain (let me emphasize the certain) dense woods really work with ukulele designs. With the smaller body size, you're certain to lose low end compared to a guitar, so building a spruce and maple steel string tenor would just be so thin it would be rendered almost unusable. BUT...maybe instead of using tonewoods that give Jumbo guitars more top end, you use a wood combo that makes a smaller-bodied OOO sized parlour guitar sound deeper than it should, like Mahogany. Use nylon, CF, or gut strings with that wood on a ukulele and you get a much richer, deeper and balanced sound than wouldn't be possible if all you were doing was scaling down a guitar.

A medium-dense wood like Koa or Mahogany can add a lot of body to a ukulele, as long as the designer braces and shapes the body accordingly. A very hard wood like Ebony or Rosewood can give a ukulele much more energy and give it a powerful tone when it is paired with a softer soundboard. Saying that all hard woods are bad tone woods is kind of like saying all American-made cars are gas guzzlers...my Saturn would disagree with that!

Also, I know how good of a luthier you are Rick, and I really hope to get a Compass Rose at some point in the future. I'm not trying to sit here and act like I know more than you, because I don't. I don't build instruments for a living. And while I wasn't the poster that you were criticizing, I don't think this is the appropriate place to be ripping someone up for simplistic thinking.

Hell, it's simplistic thinking that got us all here, right? "Hey this instrument is light, sounds great, is easy to play and hard to master, and is made of Koa! It's so simple! I'll buy 8 please...."

keliiyama
04-16-2012, 08:05 PM
Nice to see you post again Rick! UU was not the same without your candor. I was looking for you to chime in on this topic since you know what your talking about. I'm just happy it wasn't me getting spanked.......this time:)

If it were me, and it was between select koa and premium curly koa, I would go with the premium stuff. Sometimes it is about the 'bling' factor. And it's still gonna sound great. Depends really on the luthier most of the time........

Mahalos!

garyg
04-17-2012, 02:13 AM
"Technically, the heavier wood is more likely to be resonant, although there are obviously a lot of factors in play. Otherwise, the best sounding ukes would be made out of balsa wood. Now there's a travel uke!"

The density of wood (or other materials) is unrelated to resonant "Q". Totally unrelated... Spruce is very resonant. Western Red Cedar is very resonant. Both have very high stiffness to weight ratios. Lignum Vitae...a wood so heavy it sinks in water...is very high in damping...the opposite of resonant. Gimme a break here... Please don't perpetuate myths through simplistic thinking. Just because SOME dense woods are resonant...think Honduras rosewood, for instance...doesn't mean that weight (OK density) means resonant.

You want something heavy (dense) that sucks up vibration and deadens it faster than you can think? Try lead...



Thanks Rick, this statement has been made various times by various posters in various similar threads and never made sense to me. It always seemed that in "resonant" woods that all other things being equal, a less dense piece would have greater resonance than a denser figured piece.

oudin
04-17-2012, 03:29 AM
Wood density has nothing to do with it. Tonal vibrations have only to do with the love vibrations the tree recieves in it's life and death. Loving caring souls who eulogise the tree's death sow the power and energy of love into the wood. Likewise when the luthier stops to smell the roses, when he works from love rather than duty, when he meditates in the morning sunlight, he sows loving energy into the wood. When an ukulele like this is played, loving souls can hear it and connect with the instrument spiritually.

reckomstance
04-17-2012, 04:08 AM
Koa can be spectacular looking and if you enjoy looking at it, you might consider spending the extra for the premium curly koa. I can't imagine being able to predict how well an instrument sounds by looking at the figuring in the wood.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-17-2012, 07:10 AM
I can't imagine being able to predict how well an instrument sounds by looking at the figuring in the wood.

Well then you've got something to learn. Visual clues can tell you a lot if you really study the wood and know what going on.
BTW, When I'm choosing the koa for an ukulele, the consistency and pattern of the curl is far more important than how much curl the wood has. Fiddleback koa, for instance, where the bands of curl are tight and evenly spaced is a much better choice than crotch curl, where the wild grain grain is all over the place. I've seen some novice builders choose crotch curly koa based exclusively on looks. Not only will it not sound as good as it could but the seams are likely to open up in time. The degree of curl is a seondary (or "thirdary") consideration after stiffness and density (or weight). Being able to choose the right wood for an instrument gives a luthier a real advantage from the start. A good builder will have a lot of experience in this regard.

Dan Uke
04-17-2012, 07:38 AM
Let's stop speculating and listen to the pros. As much as I want to believe I know something, it's nothing compared to the pros.

Some of the comments should be part of sh** that ukulele players say. LOL

reckomstance
04-17-2012, 07:44 AM
Well then you've got something to learn. Visual clues can tell you a lot if you really study the wood and know what going on.


Thanks for the education Chuck and I'll watch out for that crotch curl. ;) You build some of the prettiest Ukes I've ever seen. Would it be fair to say that you use the premium curly koa quite often?

coolkayaker1
04-17-2012, 07:59 AM
3654036541

I have a fiddleback solid koa on my non-custom Kiwaya master tenor, and it's reassuring to hear Chuck describe it as good to work with and stable. When I first saw this ukulele, I didn't even know that it was koa--thought maple or something--because everyone ordering ukes tends to pick the curliest, gnarliest koa they can find, so that's what we tend to associate with "good koa". . So, it's striking a balance btw what will work, and what the customers demand, I assume.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-17-2012, 08:13 AM
3654036541

I have a fiddleback solid koa on my non-custom Kiwaya master tenor, and it's reassuring to hear Chuck describe it as good to work with and stable. When I first saw this ukulele, I didn't even know that it was koa--thought maple or something--because everyone ordering ukes tends to pick the curliest, gnarliest koa they can find, so that's what we tend to associate with "good koa". . So, it's striking a balance btw what will work, and what the customers demand, I assume.

I would call that tiger curl, not fiddleback. But the curl is consistent and I would certainly use wood that like, all other things being equal.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-17-2012, 08:18 AM
Thanks for the education Chuck and I'll watch out for that crotch curl. ;) You build some of the prettiest Ukes I've ever seen. Would it be fair to say that you use the premium curly koa quite often?

Thanks for that. Most of what I have on my web site would be considered premium curl. I consider web site maintenance as my "other job", the one I hate going to. Most of my ukes, premium koa or not, never get on it.

Rick Turner
04-17-2012, 08:24 AM
Man, the truth hurts, doesn't it?

As far as I'm concerned, those who don't know what they're talking about should not be posting myths, and if I see it, I'm going to call it.

This discussion of truth in lutherie is not a hold-hands Kumbaya party folks. This should be a place for reality and quick rebuttal of statements that are clearly wrong. I don't even understand where some of these statements come from...not from the large body of knowledge that's out there on lutherie, resonance, qualitative (and measurable) assessment of timbers. It's just magical wish-it-were-true thinking passed off as deep truth. Sorry, I don't go for it, and I don't mind being the messenger. You can hate on my message all you want, but I only say that which I can back up.

BTW, some of the most interesting work in contemporary violins is with balsa as the primary wood. Check out Joseph Curtin, winner of one of the $500,000.00 McArthur Genius Grants for his work combining balsa and carbon fiber in making what are considered great violins. Also note that Australian luthier Greg Smallman...arguably one of the top classical guitar makers in the world...uses that same combination in his lattice braced guitars.

So don't go bagging on balsa, either!

imabuddha
04-17-2012, 08:44 AM
I consider web site maintenance as my "other job", the one I hate going to. Most of my ukes, premium koa or not, never get on it.

Thank you for doing that other job. Although I'd enjoy seeing all of the ukes you've made I'm happy to drool over those you spend the time & effort to share. :drool:

mm stan
04-17-2012, 11:36 AM
yes straight grain will always to me have a better sound...any other types of curly or knots alter the sound as
they say...so why does flamed, curley sell better..purely asthetics and customer demand..

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-17-2012, 11:53 AM
yes straight grain will always to me have a better sound..

No, this isn't true. You can't make blanket statements like that. You are forgetting about the most important qualities of a good tone wood including, weight, strength, stiffness, density....... All those things being equal, THEN we can have a discussion about the grain and color, and how those characteristics may or may not influence the sound.

OldePhart
04-17-2012, 11:55 AM
Just my $0.02 here - I really appreciate the posts from folks like Rick and Chuck! Those posts illustrate why there is such a difference between instruments by well-known experienced luthiers and those by some beginning or wannabe luthiers who have good intentions, work ethic, etc.; but just simply don't have the experience to back it up.

In previous centuries craft guilds insured that novices went through a proper apprenticeship where they could make their early mistakes under the eye of a master. These days, anybody can hang out their shingle and as a result sometimes the value of the real masters' works is not recognized (I'm thinking of another thread where somebody is getting a "custom" uke built for them that isn't going to cost them any more than a factory uke and they are sure it's going to be just as good as a Compass Rose or Moore Bettah).

When I was trying to learn to play the mandolin I "witnessed" the sometimes tragic results of the "free market" in luthiery. Some 19 year old kid in Canada started building mandolins using "the exact measurements" of an early and much adored Gibson. Everybody raved about his first couple of mandolins. People were sending him outrageous sums (we're talking several thousand dollars) just to get on his waiting list. This kept up even after he fell further and further behind - often going back to people who had already put up deposits asking for more money before he would "proceed" on their instruments.

Then...the handful of people who had received their several thousand dollar mandolins started experiencing collapsed tops... (And this part is my main point.) The kid had just measured the tops from the holy grail mandolin and carved the tops on his mandolins to match - he didn't have the experience to determine whether a particular piece of maple was going to be able to stand the strain of 8 high-tension strings pressing down on it. When I dropped off the forums after losing interest in the mandolin (well, not so much losing interest as realizing that it was making my oncoming carpal tunnel flare badly) the tally was something like 20% of the handful of mandolins that he'd delivered over the previous two years had experienced catastrophic failures. Now...understand...we're not talking about failures of $300 instruments, or $1000 instruments, we're talking about instruments that were several thousand dollars.

Okay...we return to your regularly scheduled "let's all hold hands and dance in a big circle" posts... LOL

John

mm stan
04-17-2012, 12:35 PM
No, this isn't true. You can't make blanket statements like that. You are forgetting about the most important qualities of a good tone wood including, weight, strength, stiffness, density....... All those things being equal, THEN we can have a discussion about the grain and color, and how those characteristics may or may not influence the sound.
Aloha Chuck,
Yes you are right..but I was having those things in consideration already ie, weight thickness strength stiffness and density...when I was choosing straight grain over the curley..
But glad you mentioned it...I was lazy in my response....

reckomstance
04-17-2012, 01:25 PM
All of this is very interesting to the non-pro and things we need to know when buying high end ukes. Sure there's a demand for premium koa on it's looks alone. I wonder if the K-brand builders select premium wood with the same attributes that Chuck has mentioned above, or do they grab the pretty curls from the wood rack at random?

IOW, are the K-brands intent on building great sounding ukes when they know that they'll sell anyway, based on the name brand and nice looking wood?

Rick Turner
04-17-2012, 02:40 PM
You beginning luthiers and lutherie fans are incredibly lucky these days. Much of the experience we older guys got (I'm basically talking any luthiers over the age of about 55) was very hard earned, and the only reason why the "state of the art" advanced as much as it did from about 1968 onward was because we all shared our experience and misadventures with one another. Now you've got dozens of books on lutherie; you've got StewMac and LMI and Allied Lutherie and All Parts and other great sources of tools and supplies; and, for better or worse, you've got the Internet where the only peer review and outside editing is from guys like Chuck and Aaron (both of em!), Paul, Timbuck, and the other experienced uke builders around here, and on all the guitar, banjo, and mandolin builder on other forums. If we don't peer review what we see, then the mistakes will just be perpetuated and we'll be worse off than before Internet forums came to be. Too many participants of lutherie forums absolutely hate that there is a hierarchy of experience and knowledge. It's supposed to be a level playing field. It's not, and I'll take the word of someone who has built a reputation, who has handled thousands of instruments, who has put in their 10,000 hours, and who has experienced and solved failures along the way.

I am still not above failure...a top made too stiff, a top made too weak...especially when trying new or different cuts of wood or a new design. We built a side port only (no front soundhole) redwood topped 14 fret Compass Rose recently for a frequent poster here, and when we strung it up, I said, "No good, cut the top off and let's do it differently". With careful analysis, we figured out what went weird, and radically changed the bracing pattern. This particular redwood is much stiffer along the grain than across, and eliminating the soundhole made the whole instrument longtudinally stiff. We figure it out and fixed it and learned more. Now it kicks butt. And that's after around 300 ukes...

Wood, like any other material, has a range of properties. Get "the Wood Handbook" put out by the USDA. Soak up the concepts in there. Learn the differences among stiffness, tensile strength, compression strength, density, etc. and then pay attention to the fact that wood is NOT "isotropic", it is "anisotropic", and each species and each piece is different laterally from longitudinally. Then take a good look at the "traditional" wood choices...you'll see that they make sense.

If you're really into all this, study up on David Hurd (ukes), Al Carruth (guitars), Roger Siminoff & Dave Cohen (mandolins) and Carleen Hutchins and Joseph Curtin (violins). These people all really know something or two or three about how it really works. They don't all totally agree, but if you pay attention to their work, you'll be far ahead of the game. Don't narrow your focus only to ukes, either. There's a whole world of great stringed instruments out there from which to learn.

Rick Turner
04-17-2012, 02:46 PM
And I'm not going to comment on what the "K brand" builders do or don't do. I do sometimes build out of spectacular flame figured koa, my own main uke is one of those, and I love it. In a blind test, I would probably prefer one of our Adirondack spruce topped ukes, but what the hell, the koa one is just so cool...

clayton56
04-17-2012, 11:44 PM
remember Koaloha generally uses plain koa and most here consider the sound excellent.

I read that koa has a lot of variation in hardness depending on the grain. My .02 is that the harder woods reflect more and the softer seem to absorb. I have several ulawood top ukes with a variety of back woods. As the woods get harder, the sound is more forward and penetrating. The softest is the ulawood back with ulawood top and it's the prettiest sounding, but when mixed with other instruments it tends to disappear. My curly koa is not the sweetest but it stands out more. I think that's the idea behind rosewood guitars vs. mahogany. Better reflection of the vibrations created by the top translates into more volume, bass, and centered tone.

reckomstance
04-18-2012, 03:04 AM
Originally Posted by Moore Bettah Ukuleles

I've seen some novice builders choose crotch curly koa based exclusively on looks. Not only will it not sound as good as it could but the seams are likely to open up in time. The degree of curl is a seondary (or "thirdary") consideration after stiffness and density (or weight).

Hmm, after reading about this, in addition to being attractive some say that crotch wood can be very hard. Well, I have more to learn. ;)


"Crotches are an extreme form of compression wood. They are caused by the forces exerted within the tree to support a main branch where it joins the trunk, and of course the bigger the branch, the more the compression. The compression decreases as one moves away from the point where the branch meets the trunk, so crotch wood frequently exhibits an extreme degree of grain variation. The compression process that strengthens the tree so it can support the branch causes the wood fibers to twist and compress, creating various figures and grains that can be very beautiful. Unlike burls, crotches have grain that, while quite distorted, is basically the same grain as the other wood in the tree and does not tend to the extreme swirls and eyes of burl wood, but even so, crotch wood can be wonderful to behold. Crotch wood is typically harder and more dense than a straightgrained portion of the same tree."

hawaii 50
04-18-2012, 07:56 AM
in responce to oudin...

i wish i could of put down in words what you just did ...beautiful....but the top luthiers know what they are talking about...you got to respect them...

hawaii 50
04-18-2012, 08:02 AM
responce to ouden


i wish i could put down in words what you just did..beautiful//// but the top luthiers know what they are talkng about..got to respect them....

Rick Turner
04-18-2012, 08:46 AM
OK...I have to call bull.... again...

Actually, the inside of the crotch of a tree, whether it's a branch coming off the main trunk or the trunk itself splitting into two trunk sections is NOT in compression, it's in tension... Think of it like breaking a wishbone. Opposite the crotch itself will be sections of the tree that are in compression.

And this is that "stop and think about it" thing... This is basic engineering; it's about tension and compression. Think about the real stresses on the tree, and don't just parrot something you've read somewhere. Before making a statement about lutherie...or trees...stop and think...please. Pretty please!

Otherwise this tide of misinformation just keeps flowing...as it has been here...

And, by the way, according to logger and lutherie wood supplier Bruce Harvie (Orcas Island Tonewood), the flame figure in maple (at least...) is genetic, it is not caused by compression. He's cloned Western big leaf maple trees with flame figure, and the little saplings show the figure way before any compression weight can have anything to do with it.

And Bear Claw figure spruce is not from bears' claws. And Bird's Eye maple is not from birds pecking on the trees. And so on...

Man, I'm going to be a very cranky luthier if I keep reading the weird stuff...

OldePhart
04-18-2012, 11:29 AM
Man, I'm going to be a very cranky luthier if I keep reading the weird stuff...

Heh, heh. It's almost comforting to know it happens even to you guys! I just lost a "battle" at work on a design issue - way too technical to interest anyone here but the bottom line is that a bunch of folks who know enough to think they understand the issue are dead set on doing the project the fast way (and we're talking about saving a couple of days work on a month's long project) but they haven't the in-depth knowledge to even understand the long-term issues I tried to raise.

Oh well, I have a whole chain of emails I can use for CYA when it bites us in the backside in six months or so. It won't be the first time. You'd think they'd have learned by now that I'm God's gift to software... LOL

The sad thing is it's not even some obscure, arcane little trade secret type thing. What they are doing is 180 degrees out from well-established common practice. It's so bizarre that when I realized what they were advocating (and what one of them had already coded) I was completely taken aback that anyone would even briefly consider it a viable approach.

So, it's kind of nice to know that other folks run into the same kind of exasperation on the job - even on a dream job like yours. :0

John

Plainsong
04-18-2012, 10:25 PM
We even had the same thing back in the day with horses. Horses with Roman noses are dumb, avoid horses with a swirl in their coat here or there, it means they're crazy, legs with white socks will go lame... insane stuff that has nothing to do with anything if you just apply a little bit of common sense. People who think a swirl in the fur has anything to do with the intelligence of an animal are the same people who think birdseye figuring was actually made by birds. :)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-19-2012, 07:40 AM
We've gotten a bit off track. I've built close to 500 koa ukuleles. Koa is all I work with. I stand by my assertion that certain visual clues can lead me to make some pretty educated guesses about the tonal outcome. It certainly won't tell you everything, or maybe not even much at all, but it's one of the things I look for when choosing wood. If nothing else I can eliminate a lot of wood based primarily on visual inspection. That's the first clue I have to go by when choosing rough timbers.

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 08:00 AM
And it is Chuck's kind of experience that really counts. Yes, when you've handled literally thousands of pieces of wood, looked at them, sawed them, flexed them, tapped them, scratched them, you do get an educated intuition.

For another way to judge wood, Google "Lucchi Elasticity Tester".

ukola
04-19-2012, 09:57 AM
I don't see a point in slamming people on these forums for making an errant statement. Correcting them is good but why be nasty about it. All that does is make a person feel bad, prevent further communication, and drive off interest.

saltytri
04-19-2012, 10:26 AM
Maybe I'm not an old timer here but please bear with some thoughts intended as helpful perspective for a noob. Rick Turner, by his own admission, sometimes edges toward being almost a little bit cranky. But he is one of a small number of posters here who have paid all of their dues and then some. In my mind, he gets a pass for the way he sometimes puts things. That he bothers to contribute at all is of tremendous value to us. If you doubt that this might be true, pick up one of his Compass Rose ukes and play it. This happens in my house pretty much every day and it's an inspiration.

Plainsong
04-19-2012, 10:32 AM
I don't see a point in slamming people on these forums for making an errant statement. Correcting them is good but why be nasty about it. All that does is make a person feel bad, prevent further communication, and drive off interest.

What is it on UU that makes people so easily offended? Do we always have to agree with every single post? Isn't it ok to disagree and point out the reason why. No names were called. No threats were made, no insult was flung then no specifics as to why they disagreed. And in a case where someone comes in and says, with proof that we are all aware of, that they have more experience and this is why x is y... why is that offensive?

Please everyone, stop being so offended.

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 10:46 AM
I am offended when people who clearly do not know what they're writing about post "opinions" as "facts" that have absolutely no basis and are, all too often, 180 degrees away from the facts and the truth. I don't understand why I or anyone should give such under-qualified posters a pass on this stuff. If they were my students in an academic setting, they'd get failing grades for posting these remarks. I'm just telling it like it is without treacle.

Look, it's easy enough to get to the truth on many of the issues re. wood, lutherie, etc., but it takes putting in your time; it takes doing your homework. If you're even on this forum, you obviously have access to a computer, the Internet, and search engines. Use what you have at your fingertips! Only the lazy parrot unexamined statements and try to come off like experts here (as well as on other Internet forums). None of us should have to tolerate the lazy whose comments just perpetuate myths.

Seek expertise. You'll notice that among the experienced luthiers around here, there is a great deal of agreement on most of the subjects that come up. Now why would that be? Oh, it's that 10,000 hours thing...

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 10:54 AM
I'd like to point out that a lot of this stuff isn't even a matter of "opinion"...it's verifiable science. There are real engineering principles and materials science happening here. It's not all woo-woo, New Age wish-it-were-true.

For instance, the issue of tension vs. compression... For instance, the fact that density does not equal resonance. Yet these are two subjects about which "authoritative" posts...which were completely wrong...were written in this very thread. Am I the only one to notice this stuff?

No, we don't know how to measure everything...quite yet...but it's coming, and we're closer than we were 25 years ago. Meanwhile, we can stand on the shoulders of a lot of luthiers, engineers, and scientists who have made the road to understanding much easier. It just takes a little bit of work.

mm stan
04-19-2012, 11:58 AM
Aloha Rick,
isn't your opinion and or an opinion of someone else's you've taken from with may have flaws....is that possible...
unless you are God... no offense nor disrespect man.. drop the snarky I know it all attitude..show some forum
ettiquette and respect for others....just saying.. Live Aloha Brah...
If you have indifferences in opinion, It would be nicer to PM that person and discuss
the matter..and not be condesending on the forums..
We value your knowledge and sharing, but hey be cool man!!

benjoeuke
04-19-2012, 12:26 PM
The world would be a better place if everybody played the ukulele... but not if everybody built them!
sorry, couldn't resist...
Aloha to you all :)

imabuddha
04-19-2012, 12:36 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sONfxPCTU0

foxfair
04-19-2012, 12:43 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sONfxPCTU0

Nope, we are in the tight spot. :)

36630

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 12:47 PM
OK, guys, you would clearly rather not have misinformation corrected here. You like your myths. You don't want experienced luthiers telling it like it is. Someone might get their feelings hurt. You want the comfort of murky logic, and damn the messenger who brings the truth. I get it. Everyone gets a passing grade, everything is wonderful, everything you read here is true, and to be judgmental is evil...

Look, I've not been talking about opinions with these two subject. I've been correcting bad information. And the weird thing is that I seem to be the only luthier here doing so, even though I know darned well that some of the others know what they're doing...but they spend more time over in the luthiers' section than here where maybe the Uke Talkers could use some better information.

How mature are you folks? You can't handle corrections? You must have hated getting bad grades for bad work in school. You're essentially asking me to give B+ grades for F quality comments in posts. Did you ever have truly great but tough teachers in school? You should have; I did, and I learned from them. You don't like it when I call bull on stuff that is just plain wrong? You'd rather have the big hold hands and sing Kumbaya moments 24/7? I'm not attacking personalities here; those posting bad info are probably wonderful people, but what they're saying is just plain wrong. I'm attacking bad information. I'm trying to stimulate thought and the understanding of the underlying principles of instrument design...and sorry, but I do know what I'm talking about...or I shut up and don't talk about it except to my peers, students, and employees, all of whom seem to soak up truth and facts.

The next time a string breaks, try blaming it on compression. And you must love the sound of those very dense lead chimes...very resonant!

What a world, innit? Good luck... I think I'll just let this crap go from now on. Those who don't want to understand lutherie can spout all the misinformation your fingers can type.

Plainsong
04-19-2012, 01:00 PM
No wait, there might be some sensitive people here, especially on Everyone's Offended Night(tm) at UU, but I'd venture that most of us don't mind getting corrected. Sometimes you learn the wrong thing from experience. Such as having two ukes one curly, one straight and the straight sounds better, and that's the limit of the experience. You have a universe's more wealth of experience there. No one I doubt argues that... and if they do, they're idiots.

But it is human nature to just say your piece without treating it like a research paper and doing your homework first. You're right, we should research more, but people are people, and sometimes it's just not a priority... Especially if we just figure if we're wrong, it's no biggie, someone will correct us and we learned something.

For my part, I don't mind learning I'm wrong, but I think where feathers are getting ruffled is the smack down that seems to be coming with it. Ok, so the theory on curl and straight was wrong. Alright, cool, we learned something. It doesn't make us bad people. It sounds like you're really getting stressed, and there's no need to. Just tell us we're wrong and why, and it's all good. If someone keeps insisting on being an idiot, just put them on the ignore list. You'll never have to read a post of theirs again, unless someone quotes it.

We shouldn't be getting graded. Anyone should be able to point out an error in facts, but it just ends there. It doesn't have to be so stressful. :)

imabuddha
04-19-2012, 01:09 PM
Alright, cool, we learned something. It doesn't make us bad people. It sounds like you're really getting stressed, and there's no need to. Just tell us we're wrong and why, and it's all good. If someone keeps insisting on being an idiot, just put them on the ignore list. You'll never have to read a post of theirs again, unless someone quotes it.

We shouldn't be getting graded. Anyone should be able to point out an error in facts, but it just ends there. It doesn't have to be so stressful. :)

:agree:

Thanks for sharing your wisdom, but don't take this place too seriously.

mm stan
04-19-2012, 01:31 PM
Aloha Rick,
We value your opinion greatly Rick, but we may have ours, no matter who is right...who really knows, like history
in school and some things we know now wasn't true..and we now know otherwise.it's you delivery too man, there are
many ways to say things and not bash and belittle people...so you assume you are right that is good for you..
I am different and humble and brought up learning respect and until I know for sure otherwise won't question people. Can You tell me for sure that curley grain wood is the same as straight grain..if so you on a higher pedestial than I.. Don't take this in a wrong way, I like to have discussions..it doesn't bother me.. I like to read
and do research too....but I don't take everything word for word...hope things are cool man..keep on learning
and updating your beliefs and be open minded...MM

Markr1
04-19-2012, 01:45 PM
I agree with you 100% You said what I've been wanting to say for days now I just thought I would keep my trap shut till now. What Stan said about the God thing is exactly what I was thinking after reading some of Mr turners posts. One think I have learned From all this is that I would never have someone with an attitude like that build a uke for me.
I don't see a point in slamming people on these forums for making an errant statement. Correcting them is good but why be nasty about it. All that does is make a person feel bad, prevent further communication, and drive off interest.

OldePhart
04-19-2012, 02:27 PM
I agree with you 100% You said what I've been wanting to say for days now I just thought I would keep my trap shut till now. What Stan said about the God thing is exactly what I was thinking after reading some of Mr turners posts. One think I have learned From all this is that I would never have someone with an attitude like that build a uke for me.

Heh, heh. And I would prefer to have someone like that build a uke for me! It's one thing to be strongly opinionated based on nothing...and a very different thing to have a strong opinion based on years of experience and hundreds of instruments built! Give me the guy who is going to stand up for what experience tells him is accurate to build my instruments, please!

I'm so sick of the way everything is going towards reducing, minimizing, and devaluing excellence. Mediocrity is the new standard to strive for - as long as everybody's nice it really doesn't matter...yada, yada. Don't grade Johnny's paper with a red pen because it might make him feel bad. Never mind whether Johnny can read or hold down a job...as long as he feels good about himself everything is okay. I've been in the workforce forty years, often in supervisory roles though I have learned the extra money isn't worth the headaches, and I can tell you that it is no exageration that people entering the workforce today, whether out of high school or out of college, are by and large darned near useless compared to those entering just twenty years ago. It's not their fault - no one has ever demanded that they excel at anything. No one has ever taught them to excel. In this country we've come to not even value excellence. And we wonder why by and large the best products come from overseas. It's not because of unions, it's not because of big bad corporations; it's because decades ago we stopped demanding that people do their best, whatever that was. Now, we take pot shots at those who rise head and shoulders above the crowd because they're "messing up the curve" for the rest of us.

Makes me want to puke.

Okay, rant over. :)

John

Markr1
04-19-2012, 02:36 PM
Regardless of what you just said I still wouldn't buy a uke from him due to his attitude.
Heh, heh. And I would prefer to have someone like that build a uke for me! It's one thing to be strongly opinionated based on nothing...and a very different thing to have a strong opinion based on years of experience and hundreds of instruments built! Give me the guy who is going to stand up for what experience tells him is accurate to build my instruments, please!

I'm so sick of the way everything is going towards reducing, minimizing, and devaluing excellence. Mediocrity is the new standard to strive for - as long as everybody's nice it really doesn't matter...yada, yada. Don't grade Johnny's paper with a red pen because it might make him feel bad. Never mind whether Johnny can read or hold down a job...as long as he feels good about himself everything is okay. I've been in the workforce forty years, often in supervisory roles though I have learned the extra money isn't worth the headaches, and I can tell you that it is no exageration that people entering the workforce today, whether out of high school or out of college, are by and large darned near useless compared to those entering just twenty years ago. It's not their fault - no one has ever demanded that they excel at anything. No one has ever taught them to excel. In this country we've come to not even value excellence. And we wonder why by and large the best products come from overseas. It's not because of unions, it's not because of big bad corporations; it's because decades ago we stopped demanding that people do their best, whatever that was. Now, we take pot shots at those who rise head and shoulders above the crowd because they're "messing up the curve" for the rest of us.

Makes me want to puke.

Okay, rant over. :)

John

saltytri
04-19-2012, 02:37 PM
Heh, heh. And I would prefer to have someone like that build a uke for me! It's one thing to be strongly opinionated based on nothing...and a very different thing to have a strong opinion based on years of experience and hundreds of instruments built! Give me the guy who is going to stand up for what experience tells him is accurate to build my instruments, please!

John

Well said. I think I'll go play some Levon Helm songs on my Compass Rose.

foxfair
04-19-2012, 02:45 PM
Being technically excellent isn't equal to point the wrong answer out without consideration. Knowing yourself as a professional technician is totally different from wearing the "professional" reputation agreed by 75% to 90% of other people in the same industry.
I am an engineer to support technical issues in a big company, and I face to weird user problems/emails every day. Should I laugh at them because they dont understand the technical details, or single them out because their questions are usually poorly formated? And grade them as dumbass GTFO while my company pay the salary to do my job? Think twice, nope, maybe more. How you treat people and people treat you the same back.

Aloha, keep strumming.

joejeweler
04-19-2012, 03:10 PM
Man, the truth hurts, doesn't it?

As far as I'm concerned, those who don't know what they're talking about should not be posting myths, and if I see it, I'm going to call it.

This discussion of truth in lutherie is not a hold-hands Kumbaya party folks. This should be a place for reality and quick rebuttal of statements that are clearly wrong. I don't even understand where some of these statements come from...not from the large body of knowledge that's out there on lutherie, resonance, qualitative (and measurable) assessment of timbers. It's just magical wish-it-were-true thinking passed off as deep truth. Sorry, I don't go for it, and I don't mind being the messenger. You can hate on my message all you want, but I only say that which I can back up.

BTW, some of the most interesting work in contemporary violins is with balsa as the primary wood. Check out Joseph Curtin, winner of one of the $500,000.00 McArthur Genius Grants for his work combining balsa and carbon fiber in making what are considered great violins. Also note that Australian luthier Greg Smallman...arguably one of the top classical guitar makers in the world...uses that same combination in his lattice braced guitars.

So don't go bagging on balsa, either!


"Technically, the heavier wood is more likely to be resonant, although there are obviously a lot of factors in play. Otherwise, the best sounding ukes would be made out of balsa wood. Now there's a travel uke!"

Wow, there's a statement not based on truth!

The density of wood (or other materials) is unrelated to resonant "Q". Totally unrelated... Spruce is very resonant. Western Red Cedar is very resonant. Both have very high stiffness to weight ratios. Lignum Vitae...a wood so heavy it sinks in water...is very high in damping...the opposite of resonant. Gimme a break here... Please don't perpetuate myths through simplistic thinking. Just because SOME dense woods are resonant...think Honduras rosewood, for instance...doesn't mean that weight (OK density) means resonant.

You want something heavy (dense) that sucks up vibration and deadens it faster than you can think? Try lead...

What you're saying is about 90 to 150 degrees purely wrong...not quite 180 off. Do the homework. Don't be lazy. Tell the truth or say nothing at all.



Really???? (bold highlighted in first quote above)

........as far as i gather YOUR opinion is the only one that matters,...to YOU! The FACT that you leaped to assumptions in a long "deleted" thread (by moderators) wherein YOU assumed the ukes i had mentioned some problems with HAD to be the ones i had listed in my signature. (and i made it a point NOT to name the builders)

You were WRONG, and i called you on it,.... and i got insulted much as the poster here did! As i said, the ukuleles listed in my signature were among my FAVORITES,.and was the only reason they were there.

Thanks Rick,.....you're still at it, spreading the love as only you can do. You got what you wanted,...i hardly ever post anymore,....but your belittling and condecending attack on the poster really pushed me to respond. Arrogance is not one of your hidden assets,.....comes across loud and clear.

Why do a whole lot of work, take lots of pictures, and try to draft a concise and informative post,......only to have you assume the worst and be totally WRONG to boot!

keliiyama
04-19-2012, 03:57 PM
I really feel that Rick is trying to keep things straight. He comes from a time where things were black and white. Where you were accountable for your actions. He's been making some the world's greatest guitars for about 50 years. He's only commenting as a luthier who's trying to keep facts fact. What his post have done for me is to really watch what I say. Make sure I don't say untrue statements pretending them to be facts. That's the point that Rick was commenting on. We all do this on some degree on things we are passionate about. And the rest my friends is personality. Rick is Rock and Roll. I know his post are not the most kind and gracious, but that's Rick. I am in NO way like him, but I respect his knowledge and mastery. To the person who started this with his comment, congratulations! You got Rick'd. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna get Rick'd too.

joejeweler
04-19-2012, 04:03 PM
I really feel that Rick is trying to keep things straight. He comes from a time where things were black and white. Where you were accountable for your actions. He's been making some the world's greatest guitars for about 50 years. He's only commenting as a luthier who's trying to keep facts fact. What his post have done for me is to really watch what I say. Make sure I don't say untrue statements pretending them to be facts. That's the point that Rick was commenting on. We all do this on some degree on things we are passionate about. And the rest my friends is personality. Rick is Rock and Roll. I know his post are not the most kind and gracious, but that's Rick. I am in NO way like him, but I respect his knowledge and mastery. To the person who started this with his comment, congratulations! You got Rick'd. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna get Rick'd too.

Fair enough ,......were it fully the case. But what about the situation i decribed above wherein Rick is the one making wrong assumptions and casting his "majic" imput as "if" it were in fact the case?

The sword cuts both ways.

BTW,....i'm not saying Ricks comments regarding resonance and other wood properties are wrong,.....just that there are nicer ways to convey the message. In my case he was wrong in all his assumptions,.and thought nothing about the consequenses of his words.

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 04:05 PM
Hah!

Is there no one who wants to discuss the two technical issues here? Sorry, but these things are simply not a matter of opinion, they're a matter of fact. We're talking objective vs. subjective. Proven engineering concepts vs. uninformed misinformation. It's not about my opinion, however I make the point.

Density does not equal resonance.

The crotch section of a tree is not (usually) in compression.

Those concepts are really simple, and they were presented incorrectly. Enough said? I've not read one person rebutting my statements...it's all about hurt feelings because I dare point out errors. The emperor has not clothes... Sorry... Get a towel...

foxfair
04-19-2012, 04:11 PM
Hah!


Density does not equal resonance.

The crotch section of a tree is not (usually) in compression.


You could save 8 pages of meh comments in this thread, if you post above sentences at first.
I have no hurt, sad, happy nor angry feeling about your other words. Stop thinking about the weight of your words and the earth is not spinning around you only.
And it is fine to admit you sometimes have done something wrong.

mm stan
04-19-2012, 04:11 PM
I really feel that Rick is trying to keep things straight. He comes from a time where things were black and white. Where you were accountable for your actions. He's been making some the world's greatest guitars for about 50 years. He's only commenting as a luthier who's trying to keep facts fact. What his post have done for me is to really watch what I say. Make sure I don't say untrue statements pretending them to be facts. That's the point that Rick was commenting on. We all do this on some degree on things we are passionate about. And the rest my friends is personality. Rick is Rock and Roll. I know his post are not the most kind and gracious, but that's Rick. I am in NO way like him, but I respect his knowledge and mastery. To the person who started this with his comment, congratulations! You got Rick'd. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna get Rick'd too.

A persons viewpoint is not always the facts....even if he/she had 100 years experience.....no matter who he/she may be......ask a lawyer ha ha

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 04:30 PM
OK, why still do I see no further discussion of the facts here? Stan, are you saying that I'm presenting a viewpoint?

I say I'm presenting facts. What do you have in rebuttal?

Would you like to debate on the side of density=resonance? How about compression vs. tension? Any takers?

Is there anyone here with any kind of engineering background who would like to chime in?

Let's get real... Can we just let go of ignorance? Or is that a bad word? To be ignorant is not the same thing as being stupid, by the way. It is merely not to know...it is not to be unteachable.

And, Joe, you gave a very strong impression that you were strongly criticizing the work of some great luthiers whose instruments you wanted to hack up and "improve" through your listing of the makers whose instruments you own in your signature line. That was extremely ill-considered considering the ranting criticisms you were presenting as you were claiming to know how to make better ukes...though you'd never made one. I am so glad that you never bought an instrument of mine. You did your damnedest to insult several of the regular poster/luthiers over at the other forum. They, I know, wish you'd never touched their instruments; I got the private messages...

Markr1
04-19-2012, 04:50 PM
Where's Eugene and his popcorn at?? I think this thread is about to blow!! Lol.

mm stan
04-19-2012, 05:02 PM
Aloha Rick,
I am still being cordial....who's facts are you presenting...yours that makes it your view point....are you an engineer?
Let me say this....all woods and species from different cuts will produce different sounds...would you agree to that??
So many variables and you can pinpoint each one....good for you..
Yes Rick name calling now...nice....you stooped that low...I thought we were just having a discussion....keep it civil..

Nickie
04-19-2012, 05:03 PM
Wow, it's rather warm in here...

foxfair
04-19-2012, 05:13 PM
Hmm yum yum....

36640

joejeweler
04-19-2012, 05:21 PM
OK, why still do I see no further discussion of the facts here? Stan, are you saying that I'm presenting a viewpoint?

I say I'm presenting facts. What do you have in rebuttal?

Would you like to debate on the side of density=resonance? How about compression vs. tension? Any takers?

Is there anyone here with any kind of engineering background who would like to chime in?

Let's get real... Can we just let go of ignorance? Or is that a bad word? To be ignorant is not the same thing as being stupid, by the way. It is merely not to know...it is not to be unteachable.

And, Joe, you gave a very strong impression that you were strongly criticizing the work of some great luthiers whose instruments you wanted to hack up and "improve" through your listing of the makers whose instruments you own in your signature line. That was extremely ill-considered considering the ranting criticisms you were presenting as you were claiming to know how to make better ukes...though you'd never made one. I am so glad that you never bought an instrument of mine. You did your damnedest to insult several of the regular poster/luthiers over at the other forum. They, I know, wish you'd never touched their instruments; I got the private messages...

On one thing we can agree then,....i also am glad i don't own one of your ukes. Not saying that to be mean,....just don't want to support a man i don't agree with how he treats and speaks to others. I never insulted anyone either, but the "facts" are:....... sometimes an important area in a build gets overlooked by the builder.

I've had a uke now for over a year from a well known builder that was only his 3rd made (made 11 or 12 years ago)....and he forgot to build in ANY saddle slot setback compensation for proper intonation. I made a special saddle that provides the needed compensation, but have left the bridge in its original position as a testament to the fact we are ALL only human. We ALL make mistakes,......even you from time to time. (even ME!)

We don't expect perfection from a builder, but certainly an item like i mention above, or the case i mentioned in the deleted thread wherein a builder sent me a NEW uke with an uneven saddle slot AND a twisted plastic spacer under the saddle,.....these mistakes are important to proper and optimum functioning and worth double checking. Even there i didn't ID the builders,......yet i believe you called me on it as insulting the entire luthier club. You even called into question as to whether i was making it all up, and fortunately i had saved some pics of the uneven saddle slot (with tipped plastic spacer) that some acknowleded would have been beneficial to have posted earlier.

One item i've adjusted in the past was simply to increase the string break angle over the saddle on 2 custom ukuleles. The knot holes on the soprano style bridges (one is a concert scale) weren't as deep as the could have been, and i carefully deepened them by hand while protecting the top. This increased the break angle over the saddle greatly, and what once were strings that could easily be slid sideways at the saddle now are firmly putting downward pressure and can't be easily slid to the side.

The volumn increased dramatically, btw. This was easy for me to spot and fix,.....but missed by the builders.

Not sure what other forum you are referring to, btw,....where you said i insulted someone???

BTW,.....any work i did on an already built uke was for experimental (prototype) purposes. I pointed that out in EVERY case. My dime invested in the instrument,.......after all.

OldePhart
04-19-2012, 05:32 PM
Yes Rick name calling now...nice....you stooped that low...I thought we were just having a discussion....keep it civil..

Uhhhh...speaking of keeping it civil - I went back through the last few of Rick's posts and couldn't find anywhere that he called anybody names. Mischaracterizing your opponents posts to demonize them isn't exactly civil, either. :)

John

Markr1
04-19-2012, 05:35 PM
Oh John, You didn't just go there did you??

Dan Uke
04-19-2012, 05:39 PM
Drop this subject like a bad habit

OldePhart
04-19-2012, 05:40 PM
Is there anyone here with any kind of engineering background who would like to chime in?

It wouldn't help, unfortunately. Those of us with "hard science" backgrounds don't need to be convinced and those without those backgrounds have been trained not to recognize that absolutes even exist.

mm stan
04-19-2012, 05:40 PM
Uhhhh...speaking of keeping it civil - I went back through the last few of Rick's posts and couldn't find anywhere that he called anybody names. Mischaracterizing your opponents posts to demonize them isn't exactly civil, either. :)

John
Aloha John,
How would you interpret this then....Let's get real... Can we just let go of ignorance? Or is that a bad word? To be ignorant is not the same thing as being stupid, by the way. It is merely not to know...it is not to be unteachable.

OldePhart
04-19-2012, 05:43 PM
Uhhhh...speaking of keeping it civil - I went back through the last few of Rick's posts and couldn't find anywhere that he called anybody names. Mischaracterizing your opponents posts to demonize them isn't exactly civil, either. :)

John


Oh John, You didn't just go there did you??

Go where? Show me where Rick called somebody names...if I overlooked it I'll gladly apologize to Stan, but I don't see anywhere that Rick called Stan or anyone else a name!

mm stan
04-19-2012, 05:46 PM
Isn't my name there John....I can see it...
Stan, are you saying that I'm presenting a viewpoint?

I say I'm presenting facts. What do you have in rebuttal?

Would you like to debate on the side of density=resonance? How about compression vs. tension? Any takers?

Is there anyone here with any kind of engineering background who would like to chime in?

Let's get real... Can we just let go of ignorance? Or is that a bad word? To be ignorant is not the same thing as being stupid, by the way. It is merely not to know...it is not to be unteachable.

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 05:48 PM
Tension vs. compression.

Density and resonance.

Care to discuss? Sorry, but these are actually measurable conditions and properties; they are not "a viewpoint".

And it's the "why" of a statement like "all woods and species from different cuts will produce different sounds" that interests me, not just a blanket, easy-shot comment. Sure, they're all different; I agree; so what? Where does that get us in a quest for understanding? Agreeing with such a bland assertion does little to advance the state of knowledge, and it's emblematic of a true lack of curiosity. What are the definable properties of these different species and cut orientations that make for sonic differences? There are some pretty good answers out there for those willing to dig a bit deeper than just accepting and perpetuating worn out cliches.

OK, maybe it's just a bunch of magic... Or is there really such an anti-intellectual climate here that facts are eclipsed by mythical thinking?

I'm actually having some fun here. This is quite a sociology experiment...

OldePhart
04-19-2012, 05:50 PM
Aloha John,
How would you interpret this then....Let's get real... Can we just let go of ignorance? Or is that a bad word? To be ignorant is not the same thing as being stupid, by the way. It is merely not to know...it is not to be unteachable.

I'd interpret it exactly the way it's written. "Can we just let go of ignorance?" That's not calling someone ignorant, it's saying let go of ignorance. Don't value myth over verifiable facts. We all are ignorant on some things - don't ask me to operate on someone's brain unless you're hoping to collect on their life insurance. There is no shame in ignorance as Rick tries to point out in the rest of that quote - the only shame is in refusing to learn.

If I have myths about brain surgery, and a brain surgeon corrects me, then wouldn't it be smart for me to let go of my mythical knowledge and be enlightened by someone who has actually performed brain surgery? DOesn't the brain surgeon have a right to be exasperated if I ignore the facts he's shown me and I continue to espouse my myths as if they were fact? There is no shame in my not recognizing the myths as myths, that's simple ignorance and easily corrected. There is a certain amount of...yeah, call it shame...in continuing to espouse my "viewpoint" about brain surgery after the brain surgeon pointed out where I'm factually in error!

If Rick had said, "Stan, you're ignorant" I'd be all over his case - but he hasn't done that. He's pointed out some easily verifiable facts and pleaded with people not to continue perpetuating myths. Pretty reasonable except we're all so trained that anything absolute is somehow evil. I don't know about you but I don't plan on standing around on any train tracks - I don't have to be hit by a train to recognize that trains do run on the tracks and my body is going to lose any contest with the train! The train is a verifiable fact and it would be willfully ignorant of me to ignore that.

JOhn

jinsk90
04-19-2012, 05:54 PM
As far as I'm concerned all Rick wanted to do was talk about facts, and people took it personally.
Is Rick arrogant? I'm sure he has a little swagger, he is one of the best in the world. And to be one of the best in the world, you do need a little arrogance.
And I agree with him about people throwing out incorrect inforation, it needs to be corrected.

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 06:00 PM
Is gravity...that force which has my ass firmly plunked down in my chair here...a "point of view" or "an opinion"?

I'd argue "no". What else have you got? Are you magically floating above your chair? Maybe if you're in outer space...literally or figuratively.

By the way, your ass and mine are in compression as we sit here...if I reach my arm out, the top of my arm and the muscles and tendons on the upper portion of my arm are in tension. The cables on the Golden Gate bridge are in tension. The towers are in compression. Care to argue those assertions? Boy, I hope not or we're in deep doo-doo here...

mm stan
04-19-2012, 06:02 PM
Aloha Rick,
I'm just saying there is so many inconsistancies in the wood structure from different cuts to different woods to make a qualified assessment....too many variables as you mention...
no magic here or otherwise....just logical thinking, not mythical.... Glad you are having fun here...me too

jinsk90
04-19-2012, 06:06 PM
I'm sure these guys can some what tell which piece of woodcis good. Chuck also mentioned he has a clue based on experience. From what I understand these guys actually buy the specific wood they want to use after examination.

mm stan
04-19-2012, 06:09 PM
Aloha John...
I read things different from you...no need to go on further...

OldePhart
04-19-2012, 06:12 PM
Aloha Rick,
I'm just saying there is so many inconsistancies in the wood structure from different cuts to different woods to make a qualified assessment....too many variables as you mention...


I think Rick would probably agree there are a lot of inconsistencies in wood structure. But what's driving him (and me) nuts is that people are saying stuff that is verifiably wrong and muddying the waters much more than need be. One of the very specific things he's trying to correct is that someone said "crotch wood is under compression." That's verifiably false. Crotch wood is typically that wood at the top of where a tree branch and trunk meet. (Tree branches grow upward from the trunk, even on most fir trees where the branches may sag back down at the tips, and that makes the "crotch" the top part.) That wood is undeniably and provably under tension, not compression. Therefore, the statement that "crotch wood is under compression" is simply false...it's not just a different viewpoint...it's verifiably false in the real, falling down or getting hit by a train hurts, world. :)

John

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 06:15 PM
I do not agree that there are too many inconsistencies to make a qualified assessment. Any good builder learns how to evaluate the wood with which he or she will build. And, if you'd followed my posted comment about the Lucchi Elasticity Tester, you'd know that there are tools and methods for qualitatively measuring wood. And if you'd seen and followed up on comments I've made about Al Carruth, David Hurd, Roger Siminoff, Carleen Hutchins, Dave Cohen (and there are more), you'd know that there are NOT too many variables. We can measure and evaluate and learn to use these numbers to fairly well predict acoustic response. Experienced builders internalize this kind of thing...their fingers and ears become pretty well attuned to what to use and how to use it. This is the now-accepted explanation of the genius of Stradivari...the guy "had it"...and knew how to first choose good wood, and then adjust graduations and shape the carving of his arches to achieve consistently great results.

Once again, I challenge you all do do the homework; put in your 10,000 hours before simply repeating what you for some reason happen to like that others have said or published. Use your own brains. Question it all, and you'll find that a lot of the common knowledge is true...and there's a lot that isn't.

I point to the myth of the absolute tonal superiority of dovetailed necks in the guitar world, for instance. They're not...

OldePhart
04-19-2012, 06:24 PM
I do not agree that there are too many inconsistencies to make a qualified assessment. Any good builder learns how to evaluate the wood with which he or she will build. And, if you'd followed my posted comment about the Lucchi Elasticity Tester, you'd know that there are tools and methods for qualitatively measuring wood. And if you'd seen and followed up on comments I've made about Al Carruth, David Hurd, Roger Siminoff, Carleen Hutchins, Dave Cohen (and there are more), you'd know that there are NOT too many variables. We can measure and evaluate and learn to use these numbers to fairly well predict acoustic response. Experienced builders internalize this kind of thing...their fingers and ears become pretty well attuned to what to use and how to use it. This is the now-accepted explanation of the genius of Stradivari...the guy "had it"...and knew how to first choose good wood, and then adjust graduations and shape the carving of his arches to achieve consistently great results.


Hey Rick, not sure if that was directed at my post above - if it was let me clarify that I was agreeing that there are inconsistencies, not that those inconsistencies are too complex for an experienced luthier to evaluate. That's kind of the whole point - some folks have the experience to evaluate the various complexities represented by any given piece of wood and the rest of us don't. I think that's why so often many people want to generalize and they end up coming up with some really bizarre things that just don't pass the sniff test.

John

Hippie Dribble
04-19-2012, 06:25 PM
Where's Eugene and his popcorn at?? I think this thread is about to blow!! Lol.

Wow, the corn has just started spitting Mark...about to do some buttering up :) Just gone to fetch the beanbag.

I'm sssoooooo busting to chime in but somehow I've managed to avoid being in a controversy for once so I'm gonna keep it that way.

This thread degenerating like this reminds me that Bob Dylan has an apt line for just about every situation in life...

"Most likely you go your way and I'll go mine"

(The Bible has a few goodies too but I'll spare y'all that for now) :p

imabuddha
04-19-2012, 06:28 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUI36tPKDg4

OldePhart
04-19-2012, 06:29 PM
Of course, it's almost a tradition in it's own right for musicians, especially to espouse myths.

If you think the ones about wood are bad, you should see / hear the ones about electronics in electric guitars and, especially, guitar amps. Whooo mama don't get me started on how many millions of dollars musicians have wasted on those myths.

JOhn

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 06:32 PM
Don't forget that peanuts are not nuts; they're legumes...yeah, beans...whatcha got in that beanbag, Eugene?...and bean counters are often nuts...and beans are the musical fruit...and that Eric Clapton is reading Beano on the cover of the Bluesbreakers album he did with John Mayall, John McVie, and others...

Hippie Dribble
04-19-2012, 06:40 PM
Don't forget that peanuts are not nuts; they're legumes...yeah, beans...whatcha got in that beanbag, Eugene?...and bean counters are often nuts...and beans are the musical fruit...and that Eric Clapton is reading Beano on the cover of the Bluesbreakers album he did with John Mayall, John McVie, and others...

um...lots of little foamy bauble thingies... I think there's more than a few in my head too but don't tell anyone :)

Nickie
04-19-2012, 06:41 PM
'avoid horses with a swirl in their coat here or there, it means they're crazy'

I grew up on a large horse farm, and I never saw a horse without a swirl in its hair, right at the rear flank.

coolkayaker1
04-19-2012, 06:42 PM
'avoid horses with a swirl in their coat here or there, it means they're crazy'

I grew up on a large horse farm, and I never saw a horse without a swirl in its hair, right at the rear flank.

I disagree.

(kidding!)

Markr1
04-19-2012, 06:47 PM
I was going to bed Eugene but I think I may have to stay up and watch these 2 heavyweights fight it out.they have turned on each other now. That's the thanks oldfart gets from rick for trying to stand up for him....s
Wow, the corn has just started spitting Mark...about to do some buttering up :) Just gone to fetch the beanbag.

I'm sssoooooo busting to chime in but somehow I've managed to avoid being in a controversy for once so I'm gonna keep it that way.

This thread degenerating like this reminds me that Bob Dylan has an apt line for just about every situation in life...

"Most likely you go your way and I'll go mine"

(The Bible has a few goodies too but I'll spare y'all that for now) :p

Nickie
04-19-2012, 07:02 PM
This has really been interesting. I've learned a lot reading this thread. I just hope that no one stays pissed off...

I studied wood in school, and was a Certified Arborist. I did a lot of work with trees. But I've never built a darn think out of wood. I do know that it is a living breathing thing, and no good luthier could deny that, all physics aside, that some amount of love has to go into the work.

I trust my luthier... I have no choice. And he's very good, and I'll bet he puts a lot of love into his work.

I experience a lot of ignorance from non-Hospice nurses in my area about what we do. I don't mind it, as long as they're willing to listen and learn. It's when they continue to allow voodoo myths about our work to rule their mind, then they piss me off. Stubborn=stupid. Just saying.

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 07:07 PM
One of my now-cliche'd comments on guitar, bass, and, yes, uke players is that "they listen with their eyeballs..."

Hence, we builders often have to appeal to the visual sense before we go for the aural.

I don't make payroll unless we recognize that. After all, "We got to move these refrigerators; we got to move the color TV's..." So as a builder, I try to please both sides as much as possible. The visuals will hopefully entice one to play it. Then I hope the sonics close the sale.

Dan Uke
04-19-2012, 07:10 PM
If many of these comments were made in Luthier Lounge, the posts would be mocked and ridiculed but in Uke Talk, it's encouraged to voice your opinion. Give me a break!!

This isn't like my kid's soccer league where everyone gets a trophy for participating.

Now back to your local programming.

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 07:18 PM
Nickie, wood is a living breathing thing until you cut the tree down; and then the tree, and thus wood, is scientifically dead. Simple as that; it doesn't bring nutrients up from the roots; it doesn't grow; it has only the cycles of wetter and drier caused by ambient humidity. Dried wood is no more alive than an Egyptian mummy, though it does have more practical uses and is structurally much better!

Another myth...feeding the wood...

Yes, hydrate it a tiny bit. Yes, oil it either very lightly with a drying oil like walnut or tung oil or with a non-drying mineral oil formula. But that's not "feeding" any more than wiping your 20 year dead aunt Mildred's brow with coconut butter after opening her coffin would be "feeding" her. Might shine up her wrinkly brow, but...

One of the biggest issues with "bare" fingerboard wood is the transfer of acids from sweat via fingers. The acids will break down the wood fibers. So it's not a bad idea to periodically clean and lightly oil that wood. That will make the wood look better, and it will also block the negative effects of acids in sweat.

geetee
04-19-2012, 07:44 PM
In a like sized uke, is there a noticeable difference in tone with the premium koa option over standard koa, or is it more a cosmetic upgrade?

Thanks

Yes, it is cosmetic.

pakhan
04-19-2012, 07:51 PM
In a like sized uke, is there a noticeable difference in tone with the premium koa option over standard koa, or is it more a cosmetic upgrade?

Thanks

Lots has been said about the possible (or not) differences between standard and premium koa. Quite apart from the wood is the effort put in by the builder.

I am sure lots of builders put in the same effort for standard and premium ukes, but is that the same for workshops? In fact if you think about it, the premium models are just as stated, premium. These are showcase ukuleles, they need to be as good a ukulele as possible. I think that it is not inconcievable that more effort and time goes into a premium model over standard. Does that translated to a better sounding uke? Possibly. (or not)

Rick Turner
04-19-2012, 08:04 PM
Terence, one of the things that I always loved about the Martin Guitar Company's scores of years worth of guitars is that there was very little difference in basic craftsmanship from the simplest "17" series on up to the "45's". They had one basic standard of clean craftsmanship. Maybe the got a bit more into "tuning" the upper models, but to tell the truth, if you look inside a mid '30's Martin '28 or '42 or '45, you'll see the same quality of work...and glue squeeze-out...that you see on the 17's and 18's. The differences are in wood appearance and trim.

We try for the same. I don't allow the craftsmanship to get worse on cheaper ukes. The same employees who build my "A" models build the "B" and "C" models. In production, it's really hard to get people to work to several different quality levels. You'd literally have to set up different production lines with different levels of training and supervision standards. So the effort on the higher price models is in that trim...does the builder have the chops to do well mitered trim? How about gap-free fancy purflings? Inlay work? But when it comes to fingers meet the strings, they all should be the same in terms of playability and action.

pakhan
04-19-2012, 08:11 PM
Terence, one of the things that I always loved about the Martin Guitar Company's scores of years worth of guitars is that there was very little difference in basic craftsmanship from the simplest "17" series on up to the "45's". They had one basic standard of clean craftsmanship. Maybe the got a bit more into "tuning" the upper models, but to tell the truth, if you look inside a mid '30's Martin '28 or '42 or '45, you'll see the same quality of work...and glue squeeze-out...that you see on the 17's and 18's. The differences are in wood appearance and trim.

We try for the same. I don't allow the craftsmanship to get worse on cheaper ukes. The same employees who build my "A" models build the "B" and "C" models. In production, it's really hard to get people to work to several different quality levels. You'd literally have to set up different production lines with different levels of training and supervision standards. So the effort on the higher price models is in that trim...does the builder have the chops to do well mitered trim? How about gap-free fancy purflings? Inlay work? But when it comes to fingers meet the strings, they all should be the same in terms of playability and action.


Yup absolutely- two things you alluded to, most likely the more experienced guys work on the higher end stuff and possibly more tuning and fussing. Would this, sorry could this make a difference in tone? I've played the various vintage Martins and there are more better than average -42s and -45s than -28s but that could be due to the care of the instruments!

Plainsong
04-20-2012, 12:56 AM
'avoid horses with a swirl in their coat here or there, it means they're crazy'

I grew up on a large horse farm, and I never saw a horse without a swirl in its hair, right at the rear flank.

Swirls on the neck, chest, between the eyes can happen, but there are a lot of people who think they're indicators of behavior. Then they treat that horse differently, and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thinklikeahorse on YouTube has a great epic rant about these people. :)

Nickie
04-20-2012, 04:56 AM
Nickie, wood is a living breathing thing until you cut the tree down; and then the tree, and thus wood, is scientifically dead. Simple as that; it doesn't bring nutrients up from the roots; it doesn't grow; it has only the cycles of wetter and drier caused by ambient humidity. Dried wood is no more alive than an Egyptian mummy, though it does have more practical uses and is structurally much better!

Another myth...feeding the wood...

Yes, hydrate it a tiny bit. Yes, oil it either very lightly with a drying oil like walnut or tung oil or with a non-drying mineral oil formula. But that's not "feeding" any more than wiping your 20 year dead aunt Mildred's brow with coconut butter after opening her coffin would be "feeding" her. Might shine up her wrinkly brow, but...

One of the biggest issues with "bare" fingerboard wood is the transfer of acids from sweat via fingers. The acids will break down the wood fibers. So it's not a bad idea to periodically clean and lightly oil that wood. That will make the wood look better, and it will also block the negative effects of acids in sweat.

Thanks, Rick. I understand. But since it was once living, it bears some respect and reverence, no? Thanks EVERYONE for your input and diplomacy! Uke players got class!

saltytri
04-20-2012, 05:26 AM
"Density does not equal resonance" and the properties of dead wood.

This one of the subjects at hand, putting aside the commentary on approaches to the discussion. So, one of the things that has been rattling around in my head is the effect of epoxy pore fill upon the properties of tonewoods. CPES can permeate the structure of the wood. System Three Clear Coat seems to contain fewer volatiles and is more viscous but it can go right through a .080" panel. The extent of wicking varies with the porosity of the wood and maybe upon other properties as well for all I know. The benefits to structure and finish are easy enough to understand but what effect do these coatings have upon the tonal properties of the wood? Why debate the sound of one species versus another or figured versus unfigured wood if we soak the wood fibers with epoxy?

Rick Turner
04-20-2012, 06:37 AM
Ken Parker thinks that epoxy sealing wood improves stiffness to weight, and that therefore he can carve plates thinner.

Geoff Traugott has been epoxy sealing Brazilian rosewood for a number of years now to stabilize it. His guitars sound incredible.

I've not noticed any sonic problems, and we do seem to be able to go a bit thinner. We're using one light coat of Smith CPES followed by a coat of Smith L&L (laminating and layup) epoxy as a pore filler. I don't think that filling pores with epoxy is any worse that filling them with plaster...which is what traditional pore filler is.

As for trees and wood...I have the utmost respect for both; they literally sustain my life, and I understand that as trees, there was life in there. I also think that careless use of language with regard to wood leads to incorrect care of the end product...as in the "feed the wood" advice. You're not feeding it; you're cleaning it; you're neutralizing harmful acids; you're maybe adding a thin layer of protection; and you're making it look pretty. Those are reasons enough to oil and/or wax fingerboards bridges and any other unprotected exterior surfaces.

jinsk90
04-20-2012, 07:28 AM
Rick, what is your opinion on instruments "opening up" over time?

saltytri
04-20-2012, 07:39 AM
Ken Parker thinks that epoxy sealing wood improves stiffness to weight, and that therefore he can carve plates thinner.

Geoff Traugott has been epoxy sealing Brazilian rosewood for a number of years now to stabilize it. His guitars sound incredible.

I've not noticed any sonic problems, and we do seem to be able to go a bit thinner. We're using one light coat of Smith CPES followed by a coat of Smith L&L (laminating and layup) epoxy as a pore filler. I don't think that filling pores with epoxy is any worse that filling them with plaster...which is what traditional pore filler is.



Thanks. I'll stop imagining things that aren't.

Rick Turner
04-20-2012, 07:55 AM
Wooden instruments do open up over time. The changes drop off more or less logarithmically, but anyone who has ever witnessed an instrument strung up for the first time and then monitored it over a week or so has no doubt about it. The older the instrument, the more subtle the changes. There are a few scientific explanations, and then there's a lot we don't understand yet. There's also no money for research projects in this field that I know of, so it may just be a matter of experience that "proves" it to us. I will tell you that I do not know one single luthier or serious guitar or uke collector who doubts the opening up phenomenon. The doubters all seem to be folks with mid-quality instruments who have not handled much of a range of quality and age.

When you work in a good retail guitar/uke store, you handle literally thousands of instruments. When I last did repair work in a major retail store (Westwood Music in LA), I worked on over 250 Martins in one year...and that was just the Martins and did not include handling all the acoustic instruments in the story inventory. When you play that many good instruments and get to monitor them with clients or just play the ones in inventory, you notice things about tone and responsiveness that most guitar and uke players never get to experience. And a lot of this has to be experienced as a player...things like response to touch do not show up to listeners in blind testing...other than that the player may play better. It's easy to dismiss these effects if you've never heard and felt them, but among real players and luthiers there is remarkable agreement.

hawaii 50
04-20-2012, 01:02 PM
i am so happy rick turner and company building my new compass rose...

GreekUke2012
05-12-2012, 11:17 AM
I agree that it's a cosmetic quality, that being said you shouldn't acquire your next instrument on how it looks in a magazine but how it feels in your own hands and how it sounds with your own personal playing style


Tenor- Martin t1k
Concert- Martin c1k
Soprano- Martin s1

PedalFreak
05-12-2012, 11:51 AM
I think this goes along with what Rick said earlier...I had read an interview once with James Goodall, and they asked him about using highly flamed Koa for an acoustic guitars top, and whether that makes a guitar not sound as good. James commented on it all depends on the wood. That he tests all his wood before he uses it. There is some flamey wood that will sound great, some that wont.


One of my now-cliche'd comments on guitar, bass, and, yes, uke players is that "they listen with their eyeballs..."

Hence, we builders often have to appeal to the visual sense before we go for the aural.

I don't make payroll unless we recognize that. After all, "We got to move these refrigerators; we got to move the color TV's..." So as a builder, I try to please both sides as much as possible. The visuals will hopefully entice one to play it. Then I hope the sonics close the sale.

Rick, I've thought for years that if I had the money, I would love to ask a builder, such as yourself, to build me a guitar or uke. Give some basic requirements such as neck width, neck shape, size (ie. Tenor uke or small body acoustic, etc), sound that I like, then to tell the builder to make it sound amazing. To give someone that has the experience that Rick does, free reign to choose materials as they see fit to make the best sounding instrument.

If money weren't standing in the way, I'd love to do that with a builder. Maybe some day I can call Rick up and tell him that for a Compass Rose Tenor :)