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View Full Version : New Uke Coming Soon With Patented Bracing System



Stevelele
08-07-2012, 01:42 PM
About a year ago, I was walking in my neighborhood and strolled past a storefront with some of the most beautiful hand made stringed instruments that I've ever seen. I was ushered into the store by a luthier, named William Del Pilar, who makes all of his instruments himself. His father was a fairly well known luthier, and William has been perfecting his craft for decades.

William is an eccentric fellow. He spoke to me non-stop for a couple of hours about his bracing system and how it works and why it doesn't matter what woods are used. I don't have the knowledge about acoustics or stringed instruments to be able to determine whether he's a genius or whether he's more talk than anything else, but I am sure that he is sincere. His bracing system, BTW, is patented (not a figure of speech--he actually has a patent http://www.google.com/patents/US6169236), and in his storefront, he has some very nice testimonials, including from well known stores like the Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island, who wrote to him and said that they believe that his bracing system is a substantial improvement on what preceded it and that his guitars produce a sound that marks an impressive advancement. And I listened to his guitar playing. I'm not expert in guitars, but they did sound pretty amazing to me. Maybe they're not different from other guitars, maybe they are, but they sounded great.

I ordered an ukulele from him about a year ago. No, he's not an experienced ukulele builder--he's built many small instruments like mandolins, but not so many ukuleles. I knew it was a risk, and I recognize that ukuleles are different from these other instruments and that this ukulele may be overbuilt or have some of the flaws that guitar builders produce when they try to make ukuleles. But I decided, what the heck--his payment plan was pretty good--he wanted to be paid month by month, and I wanted to support a local community guy, so I went for it.

He's not done with it yet, but I've visited him every month, and the instrument is shaping up to look gorgeous. Of course the only reason I bought it is because of the sound that this bracing system is supposed to produce. If it can have some of the same qualities of the guitar he played, I will be very happy.

I know that some will say that the patent is not that impressive and that it's no different from a regular fan bracing. Or that there are many patents out there, and that this is no more than a marketing gimmick. I don't know how to resolve those questions--I'm sure many of the luthiers who frequent this board might have a view. Anyhow, I'm just writing this post as an introduction to a post that I'll write later about the actual instrument.

Here is an article about William and his father that appeared a while back in the new york times:http://www.nytimes.com/1993/02/03/nyregion/master-guitar-makers-are-leery-of-their-art.html?

And here is a more recent article on the bracing system (along with a sound sample of one of his dad's guitars): http://www.brooklyntoday.info/news/168-guitar-maker-takes-a-leaf-out-on-natures-book.html

To be continued....

BlackBearUkes
08-07-2012, 05:34 PM
Interesting, but after looking at the drawings and read the text, I am not seeing anything really new except for some placement and width of struts. The design looks to be a combination of Hauser, Ramirez, and Rodrigo classical guitar patterns. For a uke, that many struts could be problematic in my opinion. I look forward to hearing the results and wish him good luck.

Stevelele
08-08-2012, 05:58 AM
Thanks for replying Duane. It's great to have an expert like you weigh in...I thought about putting this in the luthier section, but I didn't want to make it seem like I was asking for help, although I do think some might be interested. Del Pilar (the luthier I'm working with) says that the graduated width of the struts is what makes for a substantial improvement... I don't know though--you might be right. I have no idea what this uke is going to sound like--it could be horrible. But even if it's not great, I will feel good about supporting this guy, who obviously cares about his craft to an obsessive degree.

Stevelele
10-22-2012, 04:50 AM
I don't know if anyone besides Duane is interested in this, but I finally got the ukulele this weekend, after waiting a year and a half! This guy works really really slowly. He wont build unless the humidity is just right, for one.

I will do a review of the ukulele later so you can all see it, but I wanted to give you my first impressions of the instrument. I thought that it would resonate more than any other uke because of his bracing system. I have found that it resonates very well and is among the best, but its performance does not better the top ukes that I've played. Where the ukulele really shines is how well it does as you play up the neck. It actually improves as you go up the neck and even when you play the frets on the body, the sounds are crystal clear, very piercing. It's sort of like the recording of Jake when he does the prelude to let's dance and plays all the way up the neck to the very last fret--that type of clarity.

There are many other interesting and special things about this uke that I'll get into later, so stay tuned for a full review.

GKK
10-22-2012, 05:26 AM
Please, post lots of pictures!...:D

Wongo
10-22-2012, 06:17 AM
Yes Please. Show us all

PedalFreak
10-23-2012, 04:30 AM
For a uke, that many struts could be problematic in my opinion. I look forward to hearing the results and wish him good luck.

That's not too many braces, a Kasha braced instrument has around 24, this one uses 12.

Stevelele
10-23-2012, 05:29 AM
Great, I will try to do a review in the next few days. I think at the very least you guys will be very interested to see this--it's an unusual ukulele at the very least and there are some things about it that are quite extraordinary.

ChrisRCovington
10-23-2012, 05:41 AM
It never happened unless there are photos or video (and lots of them) :)

Stevelele
10-26-2012, 04:49 AM
Here it is--my full review of my new William Del Pilar Jr tenor ukulele. The more I play it, the more I like it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNtaKF2N8q0

Let me know what you think

Bob Bledsoe
10-26-2012, 05:36 AM
The link is bad. Bummer. I'm excited to see this review!

[EDIT] It looks like theres a problem with all videos on youtube right now. Might be on my end. So I doubt your link is bad. I'll just have to check it out later.

Stevelele
10-26-2012, 05:43 AM
Can anyone see it? It's working for me


The link is bad. Bummer. I'm excited to see this review!

[EDIT] It looks like theres a problem with all videos on youtube right now. Might be on my end. So I doubt your link is bad. I'll just have to check it out later.

GKK
10-26-2012, 05:44 AM
Nice, review (the link is working fine.)

It'd be nice too hear the Uke after the strings settle in.

glass
10-26-2012, 06:00 AM
Sounded good, would def like to hear the uke settle in as well. I have been meaning to get to Mandolin Brothers in SI, maybe one day

mm stan
10-26-2012, 06:34 AM
initial Link not working for me, brooklyn today...too the last one does on you tube..

byjimini
10-26-2012, 06:43 AM
Well, whatever the effect, he's clearly passionate about his work, and I count that as a good thing. I'm sure the result will be a good impression of the hours he's put in.

Bob Bledsoe
10-26-2012, 07:18 AM
Youtube is back up for me. Great review! Those high end notes are amazing. It would be really sweet if he could do that with a more standard shape. I wonder if this will be the start of ukulele orders for him. A 1 year+ wait is pretty lengthy though... Thanks for the video!

Dan Uke
10-26-2012, 07:43 AM
That is a great review...I know you've played many nice ukes so your opinion carries more weight than others. Sound is subjective so as long as you like it, I think that's awesome.

One thing I noticed with the guitar luthiers making ukuleles is that they tend to have more overtones than other ukes.

Garydavkra
10-26-2012, 08:47 AM
I think you have found a treasure. It's great that you went with a little known luthier. The man is an artist and even though he may seem a little eccentric, he definitely thinks outside the box. As you said, it has sound similar to crystal as you go up the fretboard. It can't be compared to traditional ukulele designs, in my opinion. It stands on its own and it definitely has MOJO! Great review, thanks!

Stevelele
10-27-2012, 04:28 PM
Thanks--I really like it and look forward to getting to know the instrument better. Glad you enjoyed the video--guess it wasn't unanimous though--it has 0 likes and 2 dislikes! haha--oh well, can't please everyone


I think you have found a treasure. It's great that you went with a little known luthier. The man is an artist and even though he may seem a little eccentric, he definitely thinks outside the box. As you said, it has sound similar to crystal as you go up the fretboard. It can't be compared to traditional ukulele designs, in my opinion. It stands on its own and it definitely has MOJO! Great review, thanks!

brUKEman
10-27-2012, 06:26 PM
Great unusual looking and sounding uke. Good Luck with it. Let us know what it sounds like after it opens up.

Stevelele
10-28-2012, 11:38 AM
I'll do another review after it opens up. Right now, it's just a fun and interesting instrument beyond anything else. I'm enjoying it a lot so far. I can't say that it's necessarily superior in quality to the others I have on various scales like volume, smoothness etc, but I'll need to wait till it opens up to really evaluate properly.

Now 3 dislikes and 1 like of the review--is there a problem with this review, is the uke out of tune or do you guys just not like it? I'm curious


Great unusual looking and sounding uke. Good Luck with it. Let us know what it sounds like after it opens up.

ChrisRCovington
10-28-2012, 06:47 PM
Thanks for the review. A very interesting piece. Since I only really play soprano I'd be curious to see how his soprano ukuleles turn out. I also don't play that far down the neck so sadly those crystal tones would be wasted on me (I'm a 12 fret kind of guy lol). My ear isn't good enough and youtube distorts too much to really hear how the new bracing pattern affects the sound compared to a conventional fan bracing system. It seems like you really enjoy it and that's all the really counts. As for the review I would like to hear more of the ukulele once the strings settle in and the instrument opens up. You are a very skilled player so more play time would be cool on a follow up review.

BlackBearUkes
10-28-2012, 09:03 PM
I'll do another review after it opens up. Right now, it's just a fun and interesting instrument beyond anything else. I'm enjoying it a lot so far. I can't say that it's necessarily superior in quality to the others I have on various scales like volume, smoothness etc, but I'll need to wait till it opens up to really evaluate properly.

Now 3 dislikes and 1 like of the review--is there a problem with this review, is the uke out of tune or do you guys just not like it? I'm curious


The thing is, what you will be hearing after the uke opens up, is the spruce top, not the bracing system. Spruce, by its very nature will sound much better after some playing time. This is true of most all spruce topped ukes and guitars no matter how they are braced. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to tell how an instrument is braced by its sound alone. If in fact there is such a thing as a superior bracing system, that is, one is better and out performs another and everyone agrees it is superior, that result should be immediately apparent by the quality, clarity, sustain, etc. I personnally don't believe there is such a thing, at least I have not yet heard of such a system.

Hippie Dribble
10-28-2012, 10:41 PM
hey Steve. I really enjoyed the review, but to play devil's advocate and try and answer your question, the only possible reasons I could see why you have several dislikes are these:

1. there's lots of talking which I found interesting, but perhaps others would have liked to see some more time spent playing?
2. you did not seem to know at one point what woods were used in the build, which seemed strange given the wait time and regularity of contact you had with the builder
3. constantly moving cameras annoy some people
4. the lighting was a little dim and the picture quality didn't lend itself well to capturing the fine aesthetic details you described (purfling and rosette for example)
5. perhaps when you discussed the sustain some more playing may have been helpful
6. the target market for your review really is limited in some ways to people who only have experience with the highest of high end makers...for example when you describe the sound as being like a Pepe Romero, Compass Rose etc... very few ukers would have any idea what you're talking about
7. never underestimate the trolls and haters factor mate, always there are people who just wanna rain on your parade

anyway, it's a beautiful instrument and I wish you many years of joy with it brother. I've been enjoying your Ukulele Reviews channel and looking forward to the next one, you always have something unique to display and an interesting slant on things. Cheers mate.

Stevelele
10-29-2012, 05:25 AM
Thanks for taking the time to write this jon. I do not mind constructive feedback--it is actually quite helpful. And you are probably right...at least with one of the reasons, since you listed several. I'm not really equipped to make proper videos and have been just using my camera phone--the lighting in my apartment is really bad, too. A few of the other things can be addressed if people are interested in these reviews. I am doing these reviews to share and wish more people would make reviews since I love to see other people's instruments and hear their opinions about them.


hey Steve. I really enjoyed the review, but to play devil's advocate and try and answer your question, the only possible reasons I could see why you have several dislikes are these:

1. there's lots of talking which I found interesting, but perhaps others would have liked to see some more time spent playing?
2. you did not seem to know at one point what woods were used in the build, which seemed strange given the wait time and regularity of contact you had with the builder
3. constantly moving cameras annoy some people
4. the lighting was a little dim and the picture quality didn't lend itself well to capturing the fine aesthetic details you described (purfling and rosette for example)
5. perhaps when you discussed the sustain some more playing may have been helpful
6. the target market for your review really is limited in some ways to people who only have experience with the highest of high end makers...for example when you describe the sound as being like a Pepe Romero, Compass Rose etc... very few ukers would have any idea what you're talking about
7. never underestimate the trolls and haters factor mate, always there are people who just wanna rain on your parade

anyway, it's a beautiful instrument and I wish you many years of joy with it brother. I've been enjoying your Ukulele Reviews channel and looking forward to the next one, you always have something unique to display and an interesting slant on things. Cheers mate.

Stevelele
01-15-2013, 10:12 AM
Reviving this old thread to give an update. If you didn't read the initial post, I had bought a tenor from a local luthier who invented and owns a patent for his bracing system. I put a video online, but took it off bc the ukulele (a tenor) wasn't tuned properly and I didn't want to give the wrong impression. I really enjoyed the uke--I thought the highs were extraordinary, and it had great range and clarity--the upper register produced crystal-like tones.

At the same time, when I went back to the luthier to adjust the bone, I saw that he had a baritone he had made years ago but never completed. I asked the luthier, Del Pilar, if he would consider allowing me to see what the finished baritone was like and if I could possibly trade the instruments if I liked the Baritone better. He finished the baritone yesterday. And wow! I really liked the tenor. But I love the baritone! Now I've never played a baritone uke before, so I don't know how much of my opinion has to do with that. But what great smoothness, resonance and beautiful full sound. I will try to post a video when I get the chance. I am really blown away by this uke. It is all around beautiful and sounds amazing.

Kamanaaloha
01-15-2013, 12:39 PM
no pictures? please?!?!?!?!

Stevelele
01-15-2013, 01:16 PM
Yes, I will be posting pictures and/or a video soon, possibly tonight


no pictures? please?!?!?!?!

Stevelele
01-15-2013, 07:52 PM
476244762547626

Stevelele
01-15-2013, 08:11 PM
Here's my video review. I tried to be more brief than I have been before. Of course I messed up in the playing, as I always do when I am recorded. I'm sure some of you can relate!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdnbiLJUEb4&feature=youtu.be

Hippie Dribble
01-15-2013, 09:20 PM
wow, that is a stunning and great sounding ukulele Steve. Hang on to that one brother. Don't worry about your playing mate, it was well strong enough to show that this is a high class instrument. What is the nut width? The neck looks nice and slim and fast, is that so? The curl in the maple showed up nicely too and the lighting was excellent.

Dan Uke
01-15-2013, 09:28 PM
That is such a warm sounding uke...If I close my eyes, I would think it's a guitar...I want!!

Breadman
01-16-2013, 02:11 AM
Nice :)
Just wondering what songs you played during the video?

Stevelele
01-16-2013, 05:02 AM
Thanks Jon--I appreciate it. The nut width is 1 3/8 I believe--it definitely plays fast and feels comfortable. It's not at all tough to get used to, coming from paying tenors, but the sound is a lot more full and rich than any of my other tenors. I don't really like the strings though--they are martin baritones. I have purchased a couple of southcoast sets, and we'll see how they work



wow, that is a stunning and great sounding ukulele Steve. Hang on to that one brother. Don't worry about your playing mate, it was well strong enough to show that this is a high class instrument. What is the nut width? The neck looks nice and slim and fast, is that so? The curl in the maple showed up nicely too and the lighting was excellent.

Stevelele
01-16-2013, 05:03 AM
I played pieces of Blue Roses Falling, Something (Beatles), Piano Forte (Jake) and just a tremelo


Nice :)
Just wondering what songs you played during the video?