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etf
11-27-2012, 12:23 PM
Hi all,
Just wanted an overview of what made you pick the custom luthier you did and are you happy with the results?
I just wonder because it seems that in this day and age unless you are lucky enough to live close to a great luthier or well known company it's a matter of a leap of faith and an Internet order.
There are many great choices out there and we can all dream of the one we would have built if we won the lottery. That aside, what did you decide on and why? There are no cheap custom made ukuleles so what did you see in that independent luthier or well known company made custom that got you to part with your hard earned money?

I really look forward to reading your reasons.

ETF :cool:

Tudorp
11-27-2012, 12:31 PM
If I had the money, I would have Rick Turner's bunch build me a Compass Rose..

As far as reason, they are beautiful, and Rick's reputation speaks for itself.

sukie
11-27-2012, 12:43 PM
I am somewhat of a flamingo aficionado. I learned about Chuck Moore's ukuleles. He is the master of in-lay work. He is what I consider to be a true artist. His reputation for making a beautiful SOUNDING instrument is well-known. When I decided I wanted a custom, I wanted a beautiful sounding and gorgeous to look at ukulele. I wanted the exact instrument that Chuck made for me. All I really considered was a Moore Bettah. I knew if anyone could design and build my ideal ukulele it would be Chuck. And ya know what? It is PERFECT For me. I was happy to part with my money. Chuck is such a pleasure to work with. I still "talk" to him once in a while. I love that ukulele. Yeah, it's got bling, but I LOVE bling. But also it sounds awesome. May I some day be worthy.

mds725
11-27-2012, 01:02 PM
I have two Mya-Moes and a third on the way. While the MM people describe their ukuleles more as "made-to-order" than custom, I think MM ukuleles fit within your your question because one is more likely to buy one from the luthier than to buy one in a retail place. I don't think I would have ordered my first MM sight unseen. I was introduced to MM ukuleles at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival in St. Helena, where MM has a booth every year, and I got to play a few Mm ukes and talk with Gordon and Char before deciding to buy one. MM's reputation and the demand for MM instruments played into my decision, but the main thing was playing some MM ukes and meeting the people who make them.

I'm going to order a Compass Rose sometime soon from Rick Turner. I'd been able to play a few at Gryphon Stringed instruments, but my interest in them went way up after I took Rick's ukulele building class in Oakland this past spring. Rick is a great guy and really committed to making wonderful instruments, and he brought with him to class one day a CR that was unbelievable.

I also have a Willie Wixom, I bought that one sight unseen and without playing it first off of his website (in that sense it wasn't custom to me) when he got some positive buzz here at UU this past spring, and I relied on that positive buzz as well as the opinions of some UUers I respect who had visited Willie at his studio and had played the uke I ended up buying. I really like it, but I'm considering whether to sell it to help pay for a CR.

I'm also considering ordering a custom ukulele from a luthier recommended by a UUer whose taste in luthiers I really respect. That luthier is local to me, so I'd want to meet and play some of the luthier's ukuleles before deciding.

Tailgate
11-27-2012, 01:10 PM
I am somewhat of a flamingo aficionado. I learned about Chuck Moore's ukuleles. He is the master of in-lay work. He is what I consider to be a true artist. His reputation for making a beautiful SOUNDING instrument is well-known. When I decided I wanted a custom, I wanted a beautiful sounding and gorgeous to look at ukulele. I wanted the exact instrument that Chuck made for me. All I really considered was a Moore Bettah. I knew if anyone could design and build my ideal ukulele it would be Chuck. And ya know what? It is PERFECT For me. I was happy to part with my money. Chuck is such a pleasure to work with. I still "talk" to him once in a while. I love that ukulele. Yeah, it's got bling, but I LOVE bling. But also it sounds awesome. May I some day be worthy.

sukie... do you have pics? would love to see your 'baby' with the bling!!!!

sukie
11-27-2012, 01:41 PM
Here are a couple. You can also see it on Chuck's web site. (Hope they work)

45845
45846

rem50
11-27-2012, 01:48 PM
Sukie! NOw that is a custom uke! Gorgeous!

Tailgate
11-27-2012, 02:44 PM
Here are a couple. You can also see it on Chuck's web site. (Hope they work)

45845
45846

simply beautiful! That is a great, great design.. simple concept but awesome execution! did you come up with the flamingo idea?

jackwhale
11-27-2012, 03:24 PM
Fortunately there are several well known fabulous luthiers in the SF Bay area which has allowed me to play examples of their work. I have a custom Graziano baritone, Pohaku tenor and Mya Moe baritone. I was initially attracted to each based upon their reputation. I also played several custom ukuleles at Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto. Mike DaSilva and Rick Turner are also in the Bay Area. If I wanted another ukulele I would certainly look to them.

I visited Tony Graziano at his home in Santa Cruz two years ago. I played a koa/cedar baritone he had built for his wife over 10 years ago. We then visited his studio where I played a new koa/spruce. I really liked the sound of both and bought the koa/spruce. This is the uke I haul around with me.

I also visited Peter Hurney (Pohaku) in Berkeley several times and played numerous custom tenors and baritones. I then ordered a Pohaku tenor and waited 6-8 months. That instrument arrived and almost made me forget about baritones. The Pohaku really sings.

A friend in our Thursday night uke group bought a Mya Moe concert resonator. I played that many times and I was really impressed with the action and the easy to play neck. I also spoke with Mark (mds725) about his Mya Moe ukuleles and became convinced to order a baritone from Mya Moe. The Mya Moe arrived in October and I have bonded instantly with that instrument.

It would be very difficult if I couldn't play a specific custom prior to purchase. I don't find recordings of ukuleles provide much help in predicting the actual sound and 'playability' of the instrument. The only uke I have purchased without playing prior to purchase is a near mint Martin Baritone from the 60s which I bought off EBay. It took a while to find the right strings but I finally found the perfect match for that instrument. I relied on the reputation of Martin ukuleles and I also was able to play an older Martin tenor.

Pictures are in my profile. Hope this helps.

sukie
11-27-2012, 04:19 PM
simply beautiful! That is a great, great design.. simple concept but awesome execution! did you come up with the flamingo idea?
Other than telling him I wanted a flamingo theme, I let Chuck do as he wished. Here's the thing -- I totally love Chuck's work. I love his style. I love his sense of balance and what works. I told him I wanted a flamingo and would totally trust him to do what he wanted. I will admit I begged, really, really begged for a sound hole something. What he did took my breath away the first time I saw it. I believe if you love an artist's work you need to let them be.

Tailgate
11-27-2012, 04:23 PM
Other than telling him I wanted a flamingo theme, I let Chuck do as he wished. Here's the thing -- I totally love Chuck's work. I love his style. I love his sense of balance and what works. I told him I wanted a flamingo and would totally trust him to do what he wanted. I will admit I begged, really, really begged for a sound hole something. What he did took my breath away the first time I saw it. I believe if you love an artist's work you need to let them be.

guess I should put myself on the 2 year waiting list :drool:

sukie
11-27-2012, 04:24 PM
guess I should put myself on the 2 year waiting list :drool:

Worth the wait.....just sayin'...

gyosh
11-27-2012, 04:29 PM
I'm waiting for a Compass Rose which should be ready any time now.

I picked a CR because I already knew Rick by his reputation and standing in the industry before I ever stumbled across a ukulele. I wanted something made by a living legend and I love the tone of the Compass Rose instruments.

Also, when I first joined UU there was an article in the luthiers lounge about using non-traditional tone woods for ukuleles and someone was questioning how someone could use something like walnut, successfully. This quote from Pete Howlet's response has always stuck in my mind " . . . because he's Rick Turner, and he's bloody good."

Even though I'm just learning . . . I wanted something a professional could/would use.

I want a Rick Turner Compass Rose.

ukeeku
11-27-2012, 04:59 PM
I had a custom boat paddle made
http://ukeeku.com/2011/09/27/ukeekus-custom-5-string-concert-boat-paddle-uke/
1. I met him and played a bunch of his ukes
2. he was doing something different
3. Got what I wanted

I love it

dhoenisch
11-27-2012, 05:04 PM
Though I don't have a custom uke yet, I had Bradford Donaldson put me on his waiting list. His ukes are works of art, and it seems anyone that has his uke is very happy with it. Plus, he's just a great guy, which is my main reason to have him build me one. I mean, any luthier that will share their ideas and send instrument plans for a child's uke is just an awesome person.

Dan

Ben_H
11-27-2012, 08:33 PM
I'm new to this game but here in the UK we don't get the range of ukes you do in The States. We often have to travel long distances to see a wide range of instruments so buying over the web and through extensive phone calls seems common in those seeking something a little different. This is even more the case with baritones and things like 6 or 8 strings and customs. Also, by the time you add import tax and VAT and postage to internationally sourced ukes the prices of better quality instruments start mounting up. This goes more so for high end customs.

A custom uke for me has been a way round this lack of availability as I've been able to assess builders through feedback on social media and hear their work and reviews on youtube, then have discussions with them regarding the fine detail and my specific needs and wants.

Yes, you could always get a uke that is not what you thought it would be but some of the luthiers I have spoken with will take the uke back if it doesn't turn out how you imagined, sell it on and then have another go at making one for you once they have your feedback.

Build materials are of interest to me and I have started looking at instruments from sustainable, locally produced timber.

Build time is also important to me as with a longer period of time I know that I will have quite possibly needed to spend the money on something else by the time the build slot comes up, let alone the instrument being finished.

There is also the thorny subject of price. Without wishing to bring the conversations from another thread here, not everyone is able to cover the cost of a top end custom uke, even with a savings plan. Maybe I could afford a top end, "Boutique" custom uke in 20 years time, I just don't earn enough now and with two young kids the situation is not going to improve for the foreseable future.

So to summarise. key points for me are:

Reputation and feedback
Sound/build quality, materials from research
Discussions with the luthier - Can they/will they make what you're after? Getting what you need, not necessarily what you want. Do you make a connection with them and get good communication? A custom uke is very personal, you want to feel involved.
Affordability and build time

Nixon
11-27-2012, 09:46 PM
Ben, if you're worried about paying import tax and not being able to try before you buy, there's some great UK luthiers.

http://petehowlettukulele.co.uk/ - Can personally vouch for Pete, own 5 of his. He takes his time but by God they're worth the wait.

http://tinguitar.com/ - Rob's cheaper and quicker but they're still lovely ukes.

http://www.stuartlongridge.co.uk/Orby%20Publications.html - Heard good thinks about Stewart too.

Ukeval
11-27-2012, 10:23 PM
My first custom made was from a french "amateur" luthier, a very nice pineapple ukulele in a beautiful first grade koa, no bindings, danish oil finish, very simple and great sounding.
I also have a Glyph, tenor after Dias model, I wait 3 years for this one, following the advice of Wilfried Welti. Wonderful instrument, radiused top and back, very thin woods, great sound, clear and rich, perfect playability.
The next one will be a "made to order" more than custom, by Brüko (you can choose woods, simple decorations, type of tuning machines) but I think the cheapest custom ukes (in Europe) with very good quality (German made). I will have it in a few days and will review it here of course.

edit : received today... review in a few moments...

Ben_H
11-27-2012, 10:52 PM
Ben, if you're worried about paying import tax and not being able to try before you buy, there's some great UK luthiers.

http://petehowlettukulele.co.uk/ - Can personally vouch for Pete, own 5 of his. He takes his time but by God they're worth the wait.

http://tinguitar.com/ - Rob's cheaper and quicker but they're still lovely ukes.

http://www.stuartlongridge.co.uk/Orby%20Publications.html - Heard good thinks about Stewart too.

Hey Nixon,

Longridge yew soprano arrived last week. Lovely uke.

Tinguitar baritone ordered.

Also Quex (Ukulian) 8 string tenor on the way.

It may sound a bit strange saying I haven't got a lot of money and then posting that. There is a lot of juggling going on as pots of money have become available for a short period of time. At the end of it though I will have three instruments for what I might have spent on one. Maybe when I finally decide on my ultimate uke, who knows?

etf
11-27-2012, 11:05 PM
Thank you for your replies, great reading and great views on the subject. Please keep them coming, the more you say the more I learn about the topic.

ETF:cool:

barrybush
11-28-2012, 01:58 AM
I ordered a custom uke from Willie Wixom and it due anytime. I was impressed with his website and the reviews from his customers. I was very impressed with talking to him on the phone. He got back quickly with me every time I had a question. Once he started on my uke he emailed me almost daily making sure we were both on the same page. One of the choices I had asked for he realized would not look good. He contacted me and asked for clarification and pointed it out. He would have done it my way if I had wanted but I was grateful for his extra time helping get a good look. True, I haven't heard it yet but he has sent pictures of every step. Can't wait.

Plainsong
11-28-2012, 02:55 AM
After a bad experience, I used the yardstick of not wanting my uke, no matter how wonderful, being built by a jerk. The problem with that is, too many wonderful luthiers around who are also wonderful people. I've had an MP concert that wasn't a concert. It didn't really mesh with me, but it was a wonderful instrument and I feel Mike could very well build something to my spec. Not that my spec are set in stone at all. The luthiers know more than I do what makes a great uke. When I sold that one, I consoled myself that I could get a custom from him one day. I still console myself with that. A wonderful guy to deal with.

Then there's Jerry at Boat Paddle. I never had direct interaction with him, but through word-of-mouth have always been impressed. I've played a Kayak, and while the body was too unwieldy to me, the neck was lovely. I love the innovations that he's not afraid to try. I look forward to maybe a 5 string 12-fret.

Then there's Gordon and Char. I had a concert on order from them, when our dog needed some expensive surgery. They couldn't have been more sympathetic. I love the sustainable wood projects they have going on, and maple fretboard FTW. Such lovely people. I still cry a little when I think of the uke I almost had.

And then there's the mighty Compass Rose. This is a tenor uke that has my name all over it, from the tonal qualities to the looks to the woods used. My heart bleeds for a CR. And sure Rick might ruffle feathers, but I get what he's on about and I consider him pretty awesome.

But for now, I have to be happy with my Final Four. Two are K-brands though, so no one shed a tear for me. ;)

It's a wonderful problem to have, so many great builders to choose from.

cahaya
11-28-2012, 04:13 AM
Then there's Gordon and Char. I had a concert on order from them, when our dog needed some expensive surgery. They couldn't have been more sympathetic. I love the sustainable wood projects they have going on, and maple fretboard FTW. Such lovely people. I still cry a little when I think of the uke I almost had.



I know this is off topic, still I thought it is appropriate to put this.

I admire you for sacrificing your beautiful uke for your dear dog. I really do and on behalf of the furry pal, I thank you and I believe if you could read his/her mind, you will hear the "thank you" too.

Patrick Madsen
11-28-2012, 04:43 AM
I have three custom Griffin ukes; 2 tenors and a Pinecone concert. I met Brian Griffin from an ad I placed in our local paper looking for a good quality uke. He is "retired" though the busiest 80 year old I know. His woods are incredible and his yearning to improve each one is evident from the following he is gaining. His goal is to make a uke that will be enjoyed 100 years from now.

My last tenor is made from a Western Red cedar top that has 379 growth rings to it's 8 1/2" body. Complimented by Koa back and sides Bob Taylor from Taylor guitars gave him out of respect for Brians talents I suspect. The radiused neck he made was from his time spent with Erick Devine who showed him the intracacies of a proper radius. The weeks and weeks he spends French Polishing each instrument is evident by the deep, deep lustered finish. The present three tenors he's building now will have pencil thin Martin, radiused necks that I am biting at the bullet to try.

His prices are more than fair considering the time spent building and 60t years of woodworking experience he has under his belt. If I had to compare my ukes with any other luthier, it would probably be between Brad Donaldson and Compass Rose. I feel blessed everytime I pick one up.

Griffinukuleles.com Check out his site and read his blog to get an idea of what a luthier goes thru making a wonderful custom instrument.

dnewton2
11-28-2012, 05:03 AM
I guess I will throw in my limited experince. I have a Moore Bettah ukulele. I guess it is considered custom but I really did not have much input besides the secondary wood and shade of koa. It is one of his Not So Basic models. I just happened to be lucky enough to contact him at the right time, no waiting list and an open spot in his next build cycle. Chuck and I exchanged a few emails about wood selection, finish, price and whatnot. I really just told him I wanted an awsome sounding Concert uke. He sent me some progress updates every so often, wood selection and build progress. He even finished up about a week ahead of schedule, working thru the weekend. I got the uke and was amazed at how he could build something so beautiful looking and sounding. I would love to work with him agian on something with some of his inlay work but have not got on his list nor feel that I 'need' to try and get on it since I have one of his ukes already.

If you have the $$ and the desire Chuck will build an amazing instrument. But there are some others out there that can build great instruments as well. I will say that Since I recieved my MB I have bought a couple other ukes. Sold most of them sometime after because there is no comparison. The only one I have not sold is my Koaloha, because it was an anniversary present and I dont think the wife would appreciate it.

Newportlocal
11-28-2012, 07:58 AM
I'm waiting for a Compass Rose which should be ready any time now.

I picked a CR because I already knew Rick by his reputation and standing in the industry before I ever stumbled across a ukulele. I wanted something made by a living legend and I love the tone of the Compass Rose instruments.

Also, when I first joined UU there was an article in the luthiers lounge about using non-traditional tone woods for ukuleles and someone was questioning how someone could use something like walnut, successfully. This quote from Pete Howlet's response has always stuck in my mind " . . . because he's Rick Turner, and he's bloody good."

Even though I'm just learning . . . I wanted something a professional could/would use.

I want a Rick Turner Compass Rose.

Ditto. I can't wait to get my Compass Rose. I was less aware than Gary of Rick's reputation until later. Originally, I picked it on tone alone. I am very very grateful I made the choice I did.

hawaii 50
11-28-2012, 10:45 AM
If you can wait..2/3 years..Moore Bettah or Eric Devine the only way to go..if you are like me>> i need to become a better player first..( my Devine ready somtime in middle of 2014)

if you can not wait that long Compass Rose by Rick Turner can not be beat..(you still got to wait 6 months at least) but i just got My Koa CR and it is best sounding uke i have played..i like it so much i just ordered one more CR>>with macassar ebony back and sides with a sinker redwood top. you will not find a better Builder around>> i would call Rick one of the best Mainland ukulele luthiers..


i said before if Rick Turner was building/living in Hawaii he would be with Chuck and Eric as the best..you got to see/play a CR to understand Lol..

costaricadave
11-28-2012, 12:02 PM
I choose Moore Bettah because.....Well, you know why...It's MOORE BETTAH!!!

Pueo
11-28-2012, 01:37 PM
I have met a few luthiers, and I visited Chuck Moore when I was on the Big Island - still hope to own one of those someday!
I got my custom from Emil Bader on Oahu. He makes quality ukuleles and he will make a basic model for not much money or he will bling it out if you want to, but I just let him do his thing and I ended up with a very nice ukulele. You can tell it is handmade, it does not have the precision and perfection of one of Chuck's instruments but it does not cost anywhere near what Chuck's work fetches. The sound and feel are marvelous though, and I have a very unique couple of ukuleles. Oh, that's right, I liked the concert he made so much I ordered a six-string tenor as well!
45882
The concert is Milo wood top and back, with Lychee sides.
45883
The tenor Liliu is all Milo wood.

Milo wood is another Polynesian wood used to make ceremonial kalabashes (bowls) as well as used to make to`ere drums, that log drum you hear with Tahitian dancing. Both of them have great tone and amazing sustain. I like to support small builders, Kamaka, Kanile`a, etc. those guys will still sell plenty ukuleles if I buy one or not. I like having something unique and special.

Pueo
11-28-2012, 01:49 PM
Oh, I also really dig this one, it is not a custom, but definitely hand made and unique. I got it at Harry's Music on Oahu. Gorgeous Koa wood top, and all the wood on this ukulele is koa - the back, sides, bridge, fretboard, neck, everything. It has a rounded back as well, and it is super thin and light as a feather. It is basically a long-neck soprano (the luthier called it a mini concert) and it has a really great Hawaiian sound, just tons of tone and volume.45884
If you would like a sound sample, this is Pua Lilia played a couple of days after I bought it

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O33BySWgq1U&feature=share&list=UUKTPjv36ugsOkryo5mwpsAQ

BIGDB
11-28-2012, 04:42 PM
If I had the money I would buy a mike DaSilva mostly because I love the way James hills signature model sound and very good looking ukes

hammer40
11-28-2012, 08:14 PM
I have an all Claro Walnut Compass Rose. I choose Compass I guess based on reputation, tone, and also the style of the uke. I love the shape of the body and of the headstock. I never heard one in person, but based on the sound clips and videos I heard, it had the sound I was looking for. I haven't been disappointed, it sounds amazing. It wasn't built specifically for me, it just came up for sale at Gryphon, so I didn't have to get on a wait/build list.

etf
11-29-2012, 12:15 AM
Ok, I could not take it any more. I bit the bullet and after a few emails to Char Mayer I have ordered my first custom a Mya-Moe Classic Tenor.
I am now on the list of builds. I now feel like a pregnant guy waiting for my first scan to come through in June 2013. Thanks to all who posted on this thread it gave me allot of food for thought.

ETF :cool:

bbycrts
11-29-2012, 08:52 AM
I have a custom Brad Donaldson super soprano. Brad is relatively local to me (1 -1 1/2 hours away), knows his stuff, has done some fantastic, innovative designs (check out his Amy model and the Youthalele). He was willing to listen to all my crazy ideas (goofy inlays, including a carrot on the back of my headstock). He was happy to use local woods. Before he ever started I visited him at his home and got to see where my baby would be born, learn about some of Brad's techniques, and play with some examples of his work. He really is an artist and I LOVE my uke!

(Oh, and Brad is just an all around GREAT GUY).

Rick Turner
11-29-2012, 09:13 AM
Actually, virtually all of our CR ukes are custom built, even the standard models and the ones that go to dealers. Every one is spec'd out before we build, and many start out as A, B, or C models and are then customized with different woods and trim. We're a production-custom shop!

hawaii 50
11-29-2012, 10:03 AM
Ok, I could not take it any more. I bit the bullet and after a few emails to Char Mayer I have ordered my first custom a Mya-Moe Classic Tenor.
I am now on the list of builds. I now feel like a pregnant guy waiting for my first scan to come through in June 2013. Thanks to all who posted on this thread it gave me allot of food for thought.

ETF :cool:

I just got my Mya Moe..#880 Honduran Mahogany tenor classic..it is a beautiful uke..sounds great and i will never let it go..but when it comes to Rick Turner CR's..i would go with CR everytime..he has been doing what he has been doing since the 1970's..and now he is building great ukes for us..we are so lucky..

and Rick really into playing the ukulele too..this counts alot for me..

but nothing wrong with MM.. hard to beat Rick's prices for the quality of his builds>>just my 2 cents..

Newportlocal
11-29-2012, 10:09 AM
Oh, I also really dig this one, it is not a custom, but definitely hand made and unique. I got it at Harry's Music on Oahu. Gorgeous Koa wood top, and all the wood on this ukulele is koa - the back, sides, bridge, fretboard, neck, everything. It has a rounded back as well, and it is super thin and light as a feather. It is basically a long-neck soprano (the luthier called it a mini concert) and it has a really great Hawaiian sound, just tons of tone and volume.45884
If you would like a sound sample, this is Pua Lilia played a couple of days after I bought it

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O33BySWgq1U&feature=share&list=UUKTPjv36ugsOkryo5mwpsAQ

I know we have crossed paths a lot, and talked. This video is great. Took me right back to Hawaii. Great stuff.

Supershady1
04-17-2015, 10:21 AM
Emil makes all his ukes with a lot of Aloha. Beautiful local exotic woods. His necks are all hand made, no jigs. I now have three of his ukes and will post up my trip to see Emil in person and pick up of a custom mango super tenor and a trade on a milo concert.

Nickie
04-17-2015, 03:59 PM
Had one made from afar once, before I knew what I was doing....big mistake, waste of money. I never would have believed I could have a uke I hated. Lesson learned. Never again. Next time it will be by a builder closeby, LoPrinzi or Arrowhead, or maybe Sideways 8.

kohanmike
04-17-2015, 08:22 PM
I decided to go with Bruce Wei Arts in Vietnam because of price, build time and style. I wanted a gypsy jazz style uke after seeing nongdam's (Daniel's) when we were playing with the Westside Ukulele Ensemble, but after trying a few builders in north America, went with Bruce because at the time his was the most true to the original and certainly the least expensive, $690 plus shipping, less than half the price of anyone else and two months build time (which actually took four months because the tailpiece broke so he made another for no charge). It came out beautifully, but has limited projection and sustain, which Bruce and others have said should open up in about a year.

I then ordered three more customs from him, a mahogany mandolele that sounds very good, which I'm selling because I decided I wanted it in gloss black with pearl binding, acacia koa, it sounds really good but took over five months because he didn't like the way the finish came out so he redid it. Also a 21" scale fretless acacia koa u-bass, which also came out very well (but I tried to install a preamp which doesn't work, so it's put away for now).

All in all I'm pretty happy with his work. I actually have been in touch with about building a custom 23" scale Hofner style Beatles bass.

hollisdwyer
04-18-2015, 12:54 AM
All of the Ukes I've have now and have had recently are/were customs. Only one was commissioned my me, the Boat Paddle ML Tenor. In general I was willing to pay the higher cost of a custom because I expected a higher quality instrument and that expectation was always met. The exercise of commissioning a custom is a joy to me. To be part of the creative process, albeit a small one, is great fun. Hence my decision to commission a new Uke from Beau Hannam. The process, of course requires a lot of communication and collaboration with the Luthier. My experience so far has been very positive. Working with a creative crafts person is a wonderful experience.

NatalieS
04-18-2015, 01:59 AM
I ordered a custom Kanile'a last month and it is currently in the build process. Although Kanile'a's production ukes are already excellent and essentially made by hand, I wanted to go the extra step and order one exactly to my specifications. The ukuleles I've kept for the longest time in the past were made well, comfortable, and sounded good. But there was always one or more things I wished were different. Joe Souza was so kind in listening to what I envisioned for my lifetime instrument, then with his artistry he put together a design I feel is tailor-made for me. I think customs are a wonderful option for someone who just can't find what they want in a stock instrument, or for those players who desire a one-of-a-kind unique look. My pocketbook definitely feels the difference in cost, but hopefully this one will stop me from experimenting with a new uke every few years. That hurts my pocketbook too. ;)

TheCraftedCow
04-19-2015, 09:48 AM
My first custom build was from a world unknown builder right here in Salem, Oregon. It is quilted maple with a dark walnut stain so the grain is spectacular. It has a zero fret, and PEGHEDS It is a concert. The second one is from a Myrtle gunstock blank which was given to me as gift from , at the time, unknown wood cutters. One is world famous for his off center lathe work, and the other was the Sheriff of Curry County, Oregon for awhile. I have had it since 1982, but could never see wasting so much of a four sided, end to end fiddle back grain pattern. Brad Donaldson built a concert of my design and placed the sound holes where I wanted them. He trimmed it with fiddle back grain light maple. It also has PEGHED tuners. It was made in 2013

AJ Hill
04-19-2015, 10:04 AM
You won't get better than Rob Collins ,,,,tinguitars look him up on Google he does mighty fine and affordable ukuleles up at Hebdon Bridge ,,PHIL Doleman and Ken Middelton play his ukes

sam13
04-19-2015, 03:05 PM
Interesting that this thread has been resurrected from three years ago. My first custom was from Mya-Moe in 2012 and I was quite a high maintenance customer for Gordon and Char being a newbie and changing my wood choice (twice) and size from tenor to baritone. Part of that was not understanding the breadth of their offerings and being excited by everything they made. I was lucky to pick the nicest people in the world to for my first order and was grateful for their patience.

After that lesson, my subsequent custom orders - from Mike Pereira, Luis Feu de Mesquita, Jerry Hoffman, John Kinnard, and Pete Howlett (coming in December) are "low-maintenance" orders. Selecting the builder is the real decision for me. After specifying my wood preference (but even leaving that open to builder choice), I try to get out of the way and be patient and grateful that I'm even on their build list. If a builder contacts me with a suggestion I will always say yes if the change pleases the builder.

I have a better idea of what I like now and that helps a lot. Plus, I generally look for builders who have been in business for a long time and who make the instruments themselves. I'm blessed again to be on Luis Feu de Mesquita's build list for early 2016. And I would buy again again from the all wonderful builders listed above.

Also, there are UU members who's opinions on instruments I respect a lot including Nongdam (Dan), Katysax (Sherry), Coolkayaker1 (Steve), Doc J (Hodge), RichM, Ken Middleton, Craig and Ginny Turner though I've never met any of these nice people in person. They definitely influenced me in making my builder selections.

Next on my list is Joel Eckhaus (Earnest Instruments), and Peter Leiberman (Maui Music). However, future purchases from these builders will be whatever they have in stock at the time I'm ready to buy. And I think that's how my UAS has evolved.

I like your choice in Custom Uke builders ... I will be picking up my LFdM by the end of the month. Will be posting pictures of its build very shortly.