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GCJ
07-18-2012, 09:22 AM
Hi, not sure if this post is in the correct section of the forum, I suppose itís part Ukulele building part buying tips so I apologise in advance. I have spent a lot of time viewing various revues regarding different makes of ukulele and appear to be going round in circles. Iím not a musician, in fact I have no musical ability what so ever, other than being able to tap my foot in time to music, but in secret I would love to play the Ukulele! Fortunately all my children are very musical and I have promised my 16yr old daughter a Ukulele for working hard towards her GCSE examinations and the pending results. She plays, piano, brass and is fairly competent with the acoustic guitar and really wants a Ukulele.
Like most people theses days I work hard and consider myself very lucky to have a job, money is therefore very tight and has to be spent wisely.
I have a couple of questions, which I hope you can give a balanced response to. Please forgive me if I am going over old ground and make the questions seem idealistic.

1. I quite like the idea of trying to make my daughter a Ukulele from a kit. I have no experience making musical instruments and really appreciate the skill of all you Luthiers out there, but hopefully I would make an acceptable instrument. As a young man I was a time served toolmaker and these days I enjoy DIY cabinet and clock making, have an eye for detail and have a fairly good selection of machinery and hand tools available in my workshop. My other passion is woodcarving. It appears Stuart-Macdonald soprano kits with DVD retails for £84.56 plus postage, although non appear to be in stock. I would also love to have a go at a Pete Howlett kit, but canít find any info on price other than it appears there are no kits available at the moment. By the way thanks for the fantastic instructional videos on You Tube. Peter, you have really wetted my appetite. Do kit versions offer better value for money and do they produce, if constructed well a Ukulele that would cost substantially more if bought off the shelf? Is the end result worth the effort?

2. If we decide to buy a manufactured instrument rather than in kit form I am considering taking my daughter to one or more of the specialist ukulele shops in the UK and allowing her to chose the one she feels the most comfortable with and enjoys playing the most. I think she has a reasonable ear for intonation, pitch etc. Is this the best thing to do, as she knows nothing about buying a ukulele and would hopefully be guided by a specialist salesperson intent in offering the right instrument rather than looking at making the most profit by leaning towards a particular maker. Alternatively is it worth buying one from an Internet store and taking a chance? Will it make any great difference, as she will be starting from scratch?
I know I am asking the impossible with my questions but it would be good to take the advice of the more experienced musicians out there.

Itís probably a silly question but will I be better spending approximately £100 on a kit or the same £100 plus on a first Ukulele?

Many thanks
Gary

Bradford
07-18-2012, 01:17 PM
Hey Gary,
I think that as long as you have a genuine interest in building a ukulele, that would be the way to go. Either Stew-Mac or Pete make good kits. With your woodworking skills and tools there is a high probability that you can make something better than you can buy. Be warned, building ukuleles can be addictive however.

Brad

GCJ
07-18-2012, 07:45 PM
Thanks Brad, I can see why Ukelele making can become addictive. I appreciate many of you luthiers take many thousands of man hours and lots of instruments to get where you are, but we all have to start the journey with the first step.
Regards
Gary

dofthesea
07-18-2012, 08:38 PM
Try the Hana Lima kit. They also have a great instruction manuel about the process. http://www.hanalimastore.com/servlet/StoreFront

The Big Kahuna
07-18-2012, 09:11 PM
Welcome to UU Gary (from someone about 12 miles from you). If it were me, and I had the skills that you obviously have, I'd buy her a good quality and well set up Uke from someone such as the Southern Ukulele Store (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/) to see how she takes to it. In the meantime, build one for yourself and learn to play it (it's easy, trust me). When your daughter has progressed to an advanced stage and you've just completed your 100th custom Uke', you can present her with her own "Signature" edition.

Of course, that's just me.

ukulian
07-18-2012, 09:50 PM
Toolmaker .... Cabinet Maker .... Ukulele maker. Where have we heard that progression before?? ;)

Make one. From kit or plans. It should sound better than any shop bought one inside 'silly' money!
You have obviously researched the process and have (probably) enough tools to do the work, so now just jump in. If you get stuck, there is always this forum! Good Luck.

spookefoote
07-18-2012, 09:58 PM
I would suggest that if you have no previous experience of musical instrument manufacture that you take your daughter to the shop. If only to save on time. Then do what I do. Get a knackered cheapie thing to learn and make mistakes on. Like you I have a trade background and it does help.

Hope she does well in her GCSE's.

GCJ
07-19-2012, 09:16 AM
Thanks for all the positive replies and words of encouragement. I don't think my daughter can wait for me to make a Ukulele so a visit to a shop is on the cards, but the desire is still there to have a go at making a Ukulele, even if it is for my satifaction alone. I think yes it is time to learn a musical instrument and yes it will be a Ukulele!
I must say I am in awe of all you Luthiers out there, what a fantastic profession to be associated with whether amature or professional.

Gary

Doug
07-19-2012, 04:39 PM
Build the kit and have her help you.

GCJ
07-20-2012, 10:02 PM
Build the kit and have her help you.

Great idea Doug. I'm sure it would be great, just as long as she doesn't insist on playing' Black Veiled Brides' music in the workshop.

Just having trouble locating kits that I fancy having a go with at the moment. Still lots of reading and watching You Tube videos to get my head round.

Cheers
Gary

GCJ
08-13-2012, 10:16 AM
Just ordered the StewMac sop ukulele kit after an email to say they are now back in stock. Can't wait to make a start.

I must say the more I read and watch the instructional videos on You Tube the more I realise to get the uke right ain't going to be easy. I'm a little worried regarding not having the correct tools for the job, but I don't think it is economically viable at the moment to spend more than three times the cost of the kit on the correct tools for the job.

Hopefully I can get around some of the potential pitfalls with patience lots of dry fitting and applying a little logic.

In the mean time my daughter is now the proud owner of a Mainland Mango concert ukulele and I have even splashed out on a Ohana tennor uke. Must be 40 years since I last picked up a stringed instrument but I am really enjoying the challenge. If only the arthritic fingers would move in the right order at the right time things would be good.

Pete Beardsley
08-13-2012, 02:41 PM
Gary, if you need any specialist tools give me a shout. I'm only half an hour from you and have a fair selection of stuff, though not everything.
I did a StewMac Tenor kit earlier this year and found it to be very straightforward, not too scary at all. The only thing I really struggled with was the neck joint which I managed to get about 1mm off centre. Doh! I have the Mya Moe DVD if you want to have a look and see what is involved.
I probably shouldn't say this if you have just ordered the Sop kit from StewMac, but http://www.tonetechluthiersupplies.co.uk/ have what looks like the same kit quite a bit cheaper, especially after you factor in shipping and import duty/vat etc. I ordered one myself on Saturday.

GCJ
08-15-2012, 09:35 PM
Gary, if you need any specialist tools give me a shout. I'm only half an hour from you and have a fair selection of stuff, though not everything.
I did a StewMac Tenor kit earlier this year and found it to be very straightforward, not too scary at all. The only thing I really struggled with was the neck joint which I managed to get about 1mm off centre. Doh! I have the Mya Moe DVD if you want to have a look and see what is involved.
I probably shouldn't say this if you have just ordered the Sop kit from StewMac, but http://www.tonetechluthiersupplies.co.uk/ have what looks like the same kit quite a bit cheaper, especially after you factor in shipping and import duty/vat etc. I ordered one myself on Saturday.

Many thanks for your kind offer Shifty it is really appreciated and good to know your just around the corner. Yep Import Tax/duty is going to be a crippler and makes for a very expensive kit. I've ordered the DVD as well so you are very welcome to have a butchers at that when it arrives and maybe compare with the Mya Moe dvd.

Again many thanks for your imput and good luck with the tonetech kit. May be you can keep us updated as to how it compares with the Stu Mac.

Regards
Gary

GCJ
08-20-2012, 08:42 PM
I've ordered the DVD as well so you are very welcome to have a butchers at that when it arrives and maybe compare with the Mya Moe dvd.
Regards
Gary

Now my StewMac Soprano ukulele kit has arrived and I've taken a look at the DVD I now realise the Mya Moe dvd is the StewMac DVD. What a fool I am.:confused:

The kit does seem pretty easy in theory, but the only question I have is that the fret board is about 3mm narrower than the neck. I appreciate 3mm is not the end of the world and I still have to finish the neck but is it usual to have such a difference?

Cheers
Gary

The Big Kahuna
08-20-2012, 08:57 PM
Have they left it in case you wanted to bind it ?

Timbuck
08-20-2012, 09:00 PM
Now my StewMac Soprano ukulele kit has arrived and I've taken a look at the DVD I now realise the Mya Moe dvd is the StewMac DVD. What a fool I am.:confused:

The kit does seem pretty easy in theory, but the only question I have is that the fret board is about 3mm narrower than the neck. I appreciate 3mm is not the end of the world and I still have to finish the neck but is it usual to have such a difference?

Cheers
Gary

3mm? thats only 1.5mm each side to come off ..a couple of minutes with a sanding block should fix that :D..or you can try edge binding the fretboard :rolleyes:

GCJ
08-21-2012, 08:35 PM
Your right Timbuck its not a lot to take off.

Before I make an idiot of myself any further I should now say I've read the instruction book and watched the whole dvd and it shows taking the neck down to match the fret board.

1.5mm seems a lot when I was used to working to a couple of thousands of an inch.

Moral of the story 'put brain in gear before opening the mouth.'

Thanks
Gary

GCJ
08-21-2012, 08:37 PM
Have they left it in case you wanted to bind it ?.

Binding the edge now that could be interesting!

Pete Beardsley
08-22-2012, 12:11 PM
Heh heh! Yes the Mya Moe DVD and the StewMac are indeed the same. Very useful though if you haven't built a uke before.
I got my Sop kit from Tone Tech last weekend and I have to say, based on my experience of the StewMac tenor kit I believe them to be from the same manufacturer, which is Hosco in Japan. The StewMac kits have much better instructions though.
I'm just about ready to put some finish on mine now but can't decide what to use. I did the tenor kit in danish oil which is a tad glossy for my taste. Quite fancy having a go at french polish/shellac but I am a bit worried that it may be a bit involved for me.
I have had a bash at binding the body on this one and although far from perfect it was a lot less involved than I thought. Just a trifle scary taking a cutter spinning at 35,000 rpm to a uke body knowing that one slip and it becomes very expensive kindling!
Keep us up to speed with your progress Gary.

GCJ
08-23-2012, 03:38 PM
Heh heh! Yes the Mya Moe DVD and the StewMac are indeed the same. Very useful though if you haven't built a uke before.
I got my Sop kit from Tone Tech last weekend and I have to say, based on my experience of the StewMac tenor kit I believe them to be from the same manufacturer, which is Hosco in Japan. The StewMac kits have much better instructions though.
I'm just about ready to put some finish on mine now but can't decide what to use. I did the tenor kit in danish oil which is a tad glossy for my taste. Quite fancy having a go at french polish/shellac but I am a bit worried that it may be a bit involved for me.
I have had a bash at binding the body on this one and although far from perfect it was a lot less involved than I thought. Just a trifle scary taking a cutter spinning at 35,000 rpm to a uke body knowing that one slip and it becomes very expensive kindling!
Keep us up to speed with your progress Gary.

Thanks for the info Pete. I haven't even considered the finish as yet, but I do have an uncle who is a retired cabinet maker and french polisher, so I can see him coming in useful. I will hopefully get the timber for the jigs machined today and then make a start assembling the kit next week.

Pete Beardsley
08-29-2012, 12:10 AM
... and here is that kit just about finished. Still a bit of polishing to do yet and probably a few tweaks as well. As always, apologies in advance for the wobbly photography.

The picture of the back is the most accurate depiction of the colour as the first was with flash for some reason.
The bindings are a bit wobbly in a couple of places (I scraped the upper bout a bit too much and almost went through!) but overall I'm pretty happy with it.
I went with a couple of coats of Danish Oil in the end and gently knocked it back with 0000 steel wool before polishing with beeswax.
42367

gerry363
09-11-2012, 04:57 PM
Im also looking at the hosco kit. I have basic tools....what special tools would i require to complete this kit?