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View Full Version : Uke' manufacturers - which use animal products?



The Big Kahuna
07-22-2012, 07:55 AM
I was looking at the Kanilea site earlier, and noticed they list Turtle Shell binding as an option (along with "Ivoroid").

Can anyone confirm whether the turtleshell is fake or genuine, along with any other of the major builders who are known to currently use animal sourced materials as a standard or optional material?

Nickie
07-22-2012, 07:59 AM
Almost all tortoise shell binding is fake. Unless you order "real" on a custom made uke, I believe.

Trinimon
07-22-2012, 08:05 AM
I believe real tortoise shell is illegal/banned in most places and they use a synthetic substitute, just like ivorid is synthetic.

The Big Kahuna
07-22-2012, 08:14 AM
Ah, good to know. I'm going to assume that buying a USA-built Uke' will be perfectly safe then. Not sure I'd trust a Uke' from somewhere further east though.

Trinimon
07-22-2012, 08:28 AM
Ah, good to know. I'm going to assume that buying a USA-built Uke' will be perfectly safe then. Not sure I'd trust a Uke' from somewhere further east though.

Ditto.

Sounds like someone's doing a bit of window shopping before their trip? lol

On my customs declaration form coming back from my trip, one of the questions was "Are you bringing any meat, vegetables... wood or wood products?" and I was a bit nervous when I checked off the YES box and walked up to the Customs agent.

Customs: "What meat, vegetable or wood product are you bringing into Canada today?"
Me: "Oh I bought an ukulele."
Customs: Thanks, have a nice day. NEXT!

Whew!

The Big Kahuna
07-22-2012, 08:35 AM
Heh ;)

I'm more concerned from a moral standpoint, being a vegetarian for most of my life, and an active animal rights and environmental tree-hugging kinda guy. I couldn't buy a Uke' from anyone who would even consider using animal products in it's manufacture. I'm not happy about buying an instrument that contains HHG, but I don't even know if there are alternatives.

If I could find a custom maker who would guarantee that they could make me a Uke' with non-animal sourced glue etc, they'd certainly go to the top of the list.

haole
07-22-2012, 08:51 AM
Wouldn't worry about the tortoiseshell binding too much; they've been making it out of celluloid for many years (the older stuff had a tendency to shrink, though). A lot of manufacturers use abalone and other shells for purfling and fret markers, and I'm not sure how much of it is harvested from live animals vs found. Not sure of the reason, but newer KoAlohas have mango wood fret markers instead of any kind of shell.

OldePhart
07-22-2012, 08:51 AM
All of the "tortoise shell" stuff used in instruments has been plastic for decades now. I'm sure this is probably true of Asia as well as the US because the plastic is far cheaper and easier to work with.

Tortoise used to be the material of choicse for picks, especially for mandolin players, and you'll occasionally find someone hawking 50-year-old picks or picks made from old tortoise-shell combs to the mando players.

John

ChrisRCovington
07-22-2012, 09:32 AM
I think some builders use hot hide glue when they build.

The Big Kahuna
07-22-2012, 09:33 AM
I think some builders use hot hide glue when they build.

I got the impression that most of them do.

janeray1940
07-22-2012, 09:40 AM
If I could find a custom maker who would guarantee that they could make me a Uke' with non-animal sourced glue etc, they'd certainly go to the top of the list.

Talk to Mike DaSilva (http://www.ukemaker.com/ukemaker.php), this sounds like exactly the kind of thing he would do.

jimmybookout
07-22-2012, 09:52 AM
I got the impression that most of them do.

I don't know about ukulele builders, but very few guitar builders use hot hide glue anymore, the ones that do tend to be VERY high end, single builder shops that are usually trying to replicate some pre-war Martin.

As far as the original question, I think the only animal products (other than hot hide glue which is probably NOT in use by many) used these days would be nut/saddle material (bone/etc) and abalone/MOP for rosettes, purfling, position markers, etc.

Jimmy

The Big Kahuna
07-22-2012, 10:42 AM
So long as it's human bone. And maybe a custom case, covered in the patchwork skins of Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian.

OldePhart
07-22-2012, 02:29 PM
So long as it's human bone. And maybe a custom case, covered in the patchwork skins of Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian.

BWAAA-HAAAA. The best possible use of those particular bits of skin!

Tigeralum2001
07-22-2012, 04:34 PM
...an active animal rights and environmental tree-hugging kinda guy.
And yet you are considering a uke made out of wood?! ;)

Sounds like Blackbird ukes would be your ideal builder... no animal or tree products used. Though I wonder if fluorocarbon strings are worse for the environment than gut... never really thought about it.

wayfarer75
07-22-2012, 05:04 PM
I don't know about ukulele builders, but very few guitar builders use hot hide glue anymore, the ones that do tend to be VERY high end, single builder shops that are usually trying to replicate some pre-war Martin.

As far as the original question, I think the only animal products (other than hot hide glue which is probably NOT in use by many) used these days would be nut/saddle material (bone/etc) and abalone/MOP for rosettes, purfling, position markers, etc.

Jimmy

That's good to know. I've been looking for my next uke, and it's easy enough to find out what the nut/saddle are made of. Lots of shell in position markers, though.

itsme
07-22-2012, 05:46 PM
Look into CITES and the Lacey Act. There are a lot of restrictions on endangered materials. You are better off avoiding any offending materials altogether. Otherwise, you could run afoul of crazy customs inspectors when you enter/leave a country.


I'm more concerned from a moral standpoint, being a vegetarian for most of my life, and an active animal rights and environmental tree-hugging kinda guy. I couldn't buy a Uke' from anyone who would even consider using animal products in it's manufacture. I'm not happy about buying an instrument that contains HHG, but I don't even know if there are alternatives.
I'm a semi-veg person myself (I eat chicken or fish now and then, but would say 90% of what I consume is meatless). But sometimes you can only go so far.

BlackBearUkes
07-22-2012, 06:19 PM
HHG has it place in instrument construction and probably always will. Try to find a quality violin that doesn't use it. It has been around for centuries and works well but animals aren't done in the make hide glue. Hide glue is a by-product and has many applications. Some builders use it, the majority don't, but that is for each luthier to decide and draw their own conclusions.

I prefer bleached cow bone or legal ivories for nuts and saddles. It looks and wears better then other man made stuff and is always consistent for quality sound production. Again, this stuff is a by-product of the animal. I don't use illegal bone or ivories of any kind.

MOP and Abalone dots are again one of those things that can be obtained illegally, but there are many legal sources also.

Real Tortoise shell isn't used for anything these days except guitar picks, and I wouldn't own one. There are better man made materials that most mandolin and guitar players are using and that sound just as good and last much longer.

webby
07-22-2012, 09:55 PM
Heh ;)

I'm more concerned from a moral standpoint, being a vegetarian for most of my life, and an active animal rights and environmental tree-hugging kinda guy.

What's your house made of ?

The Big Kahuna
07-22-2012, 10:03 PM
Bricks and Mortar

Louis0815
07-23-2012, 01:46 AM
I'm going to assume that buying a USA-built Uke' will be perfectly safe then. Not sure I'd trust a Uke' from somewhere further east though.Well, you should be safe with Ukes made in Europe (e.g. Risa, Brüko) as well... :o