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View Full Version : Market research: True electric archtop



rickmorgan2003
11-18-2012, 02:34 AM
Hi all,
My daughter inspired me. She wanted an electric uke that was like a mini Les Paul guitar with active humbuckers and everything. Well, it turned out so good I had a few people ask me if I was going to make more. I am prototyping a double cutaway, semi-hollow body archtop uke that I might make available if there was a demand. Specs below.
Let me know what you all think.
The finished purple uke is my daughters which gives you an idea of the over all look and finish. The selector switch gets in the way up on the cutaway and the 4 knob vol/tone traditional to LPs was a bit of overkill so the new ones will have a master volume and tone with the selector switch next to them.
Specs:
Style: Double cutaway semi-hollowbody archtop steel string Ukulele
Size Tenor long neck
Body and Neck: Black Walnut. Neck angle set at -2.5 deg
Top: Flame maple or other figured maple
Fingerboard: Persimmon or sycamore 12" radius
Pickups: Dual custom humbuckers, hand wound by me. Neck 6.2k bridge 7k ohms both with wood bobbins, no covers.
2 minipots with 3 way selector and .022uf paper in oil capacitors.
Bridge : TBA
Finish counter dyed burst colours with 8-10 coats of nitrocelluse lacquer buffed to high gloss.

1geo
11-18-2012, 03:48 AM
Very interesting, the first thing that comes to mind is, "how much"? From the looks of it the price would rival the three big Ks or the carbon uku and that's a tough market to crack. A used beat up Kamaka is still a very salelable commodity; without a history and a stiff price, I'm not sure how salelable this uku would be.

Neal
11-18-2012, 04:09 AM
Pretty cool, too bad no one makes soprano like this. Or do you? Humbuckers, so steel strings. I like the idea. But I agree cost would factor in dramatically.

rickmorgan2003
11-18-2012, 04:27 AM
A soprano could be made, probably only have room for one pickup. My estimate on these would be around $800-$900. The three big Ks don't make a steel string active pickup. The have a piezeo under saddle pickup style with nylon strings. The closest thing on the market to this would be a Risa. It's definitely a niche thing. It won't sound like a traditional uke, but for people playing in a band it would give them an alternate instrument that can hold it's own against the electric guitars and basses.

Barbablanca
11-18-2012, 05:37 AM
It looks a gorgeous instrument! She's a lucky lass.

If I win the "El Gordo" lottery this Xmas, I know who to contact immediately ;) - But make mine emerald green :)

rickmorgan2003
11-18-2012, 07:20 AM
45505Like this guitar I did a couple months back?

It looks a gorgeous instrument! She's a lucky lass.

If I win the "El Gordo" lottery this Xmas, I know who to contact immediately ;) - But make mine emerald green :)

Barbablanca
11-18-2012, 07:25 AM
Exactly like that.... :drool: :)

OldePhart
11-18-2012, 09:22 AM
That's very pretty but probably a pretty tight niche market, realistically. Steel string ukes of all stripes have a fairly steep "hump" to get over in that they really don't sound much different from an electric guitar played up the neck.

In fact, the guitar will probably have a little nicer tone because as you play up the neck you start getting a rounder, sweeter tone, vs. just having a shorter scale to begin with. This holds true on any electric steel-string instrument with magnetic pickups that I've ever played, from mandolin to five-string bass - when you're fretting around the ninth fret and up you get a really nice sweet round tone that you don't get when playing open or down the neck in the first position.

So, the only really firm market for steel string ukes would be those who don't already play guitar and don't want to learn another instrument to get "that sound" (or who play guitar but don't think about the fact that they're sacrificing the sweet "up the neck" tone by using a short scale to begin with).

I think if I were in your shoes I'd keep a close eye on what happens with the new Kamoa steel-string "jazz ukes." By all accounts they are very well made, and there was a lot of initial interest because of the eye-candy aspect, but I haven't heard much in terms of sales volume, or seen many of them being shown around these parts in "NUD" posts...

If you're already building guitars and just thinking of taking orders for the occasional uke that's probably a reasonable business model. If you're thinking of building ukes on spec, especially if doing so would require much up-front investment, I'd be very cautious.

John

stmace
11-18-2012, 10:33 AM
I have ULS (Ukulele Looking Syndrome) rather than UAS (Ukulele Acqusition Syndrome), and I surely do like the look of your daughter's Uke. Beautiful!

brianxshin
11-18-2012, 12:15 PM
that is awesome

blue_knight_usa
11-18-2012, 12:23 PM
I would agree this is a niche market, but they are a ton of fun. I used mine mainly for 80's rock and you just have to get one if you want that sound but don't want a guitar and can play some alternative chords since you have a completely different tuning but it works. I'll be featuring my Risa LP here in an upcoming Pink Floyd video I am doing. Couldn't do it without an electric steel string for sure. Plus it's great for Hawaiian slide and blues, so you have a really versatile instrument if you like to play a bit more outside the uke sounding box so to speak. Your paint job is awesome! This is just a stock photo of mine, I have not done close up shots yet but plan on doing that and some video reviews over the holiday weekend.

45525

rickmorgan2003
11-19-2012, 03:30 PM
. I'll be featuring my Risa LP here in an upcoming Pink Floyd video I am doing. Couldn't do it without an electric steel string for sure. Your paint job is awesome! This is just a stock photo of mine, I have not done close up shots yet but plan on doing that and some video reviews over the holiday weekend.

45525
Can't wait to see the video!

ukegirl
11-19-2012, 04:00 PM
I really like the way you chambered the body....really well done...I'll pass your info on, I know a couple of folks who might be interested...

rickmorgan2003
01-12-2013, 05:52 PM
Getting close to done, sprayed the first coats of lacquer today. 47489

rickmorgan2003
04-01-2013, 03:49 AM
51274512755127651277First proto didn't go well but here is the updated version. This one is going to a well known player (can't disclose yet)
She wanted a gold finish so I played with a gold flake in the lacquer with a yellow base. Pickups are hand wound on homemade sycamore bobbins. Mini humbuckers. Master volume and tone with a three way switch. I can put in separate controls (4 knobs) but found on my daughters that its a bit tight. Every piece of this was hand made except the Tuners, bridge saddles, control pots, jack, switch and strings. Now that I worked out all the kinks I will try and make 6-9 of them and offer them up for sale locally for $900
Walnut semi hollow body and neck
Carved figured maple top and headstock overlay
Sycamore fingerboard with walnut markers
Walnut pickup rings
Walnut/sycamore controls knobs
500k minipots .022uf PIO capacitor
3 way switch
geared waffleback tuners with ivroid knobs
18" Tenor scale

mvinsel
04-25-2013, 10:30 AM
Rick, I appreciate this very much and glad you updated the thread. I think that steel string ukes & uketars should be a strong niche and potential bigger market. The ratio of electrics to acoustics sold in guitars hints that eventually these might catch on.
The points made last year that people who want an electric guitar sound will buy an electric guitar, discounts the comfort and portability of the uke size. A guitar with capo on the fifth fret is still more than is comfortable on the sofa if you're sitting next to someone you're serenading.

Thanks for sharing & looking forward to more.

-Vinnie in Juneau

Wicked
04-25-2013, 11:48 AM
The points made last year that people who want an electric guitar sound will buy an electric guitar, discounts the comfort and portability of the uke size. A guitar with capo on the fifth fret is still more than is comfortable on the sofa if you're sitting next to someone you're serenading.

You know, I never even thought of that aspect… but you are right, Vinnie.

Honestly, I don’t think that my Kamoa sounds like an electric guitar. Sure, I can work some electronic mumbo jumbo, and it will……. But it has a unique timbre that I really like. Also, I don’t play it like I play the guitar. I can’t describe it, but my style is very different on the electric ukulele.

gitarzan
04-25-2013, 11:55 AM
Those are both stunning. You did a really great job.