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View Full Version : What would you spend on upgrading wood in a custom build?



hammer40
09-10-2013, 06:24 AM
For those who have had custom ukes built, what have you spent on upgrading your wood selections? Did you spring for more curl or flame, or maybe something more exotic? It seems like it would be like being a "kid in the candy store," and I bet it can add up fast.

molokinirum
09-10-2013, 06:26 AM
Don't have a custom uke but.....my big #1 upgrade would be some amazing curly Koa!!

molokinirum
09-10-2013, 06:27 AM
To OP:
Great thread...maybe add a poll as well!!! :cool:

Dan Uke
09-10-2013, 06:59 AM
Depends on who the builder is. I would spend more on bindings for fretboard if that is not standard.

Ukejenny
09-10-2013, 07:04 AM
I'm saving up for a custom build and am pretty sure I have the luthier and the general kind of ukulele I want. I want to go with mahogany and I'd like a beautiful flamed mahogany with some contrasting wood binding.

dkcrown
09-10-2013, 08:21 AM
Good question. I have had three true customs built where I dictated what the specs of the uke would be. I had different wood upgrades on all of them. Most recently I paid for a sound board upgrade from Sitka to European Spruce. On a custom Boat Paddle, I opted for an upgrade on the wood for the back and sides.(Narra). And for my Moore Bettah, I paid for 5A curly Koa on the top, back, and sides.

Newportlocal
09-10-2013, 09:20 AM
The hardest thing about my first custom was realizing how many different options there are on a uke and researching them. Why would you get a custom, and not pay to get what you want. When you have the custom in your hands you won't be sitting around thinking about the price. If I have to wait for Christmas bonuses or tax returns for a year or two that is fine. Many options add increased cost. Wood choices,bound fretboard,cut away,pick up,side sound port,slotted headstock,,size of the uke,inlay,better tuners,etc.,etc. Get the ukulele you dream of. You don't want to later regret not getting something done on it.

Dan Uke
09-10-2013, 09:36 AM
The hardest thing about my first custom was realizing how many different options there are on a uke and researching them. Why would you get a custom, and not pay to get what you want. When you have the custom in your hands you won't be sitting around thinking about the price. If I have to wait for Christmas bonuses or tax returns for a year or two that is fine. Many options add increased cost. Wood choices,bound fretboard,cut away,pick up,side sound port,slotted headstock,,size of the uke,inlay,better tuners,etc.,etc. Get the ukulele you dream of. You don't want to later regret not getting something done on it.

Good point Richard...the only problem is that UAS kicks in and we get more than one custom. Price does come into play when you sell it as sometimes the dream of a custom is actually better than the uke.

equina
09-10-2013, 09:48 AM
I upgraded my soundboard to Red Spruce and B/S to Macassar Ebony. I upgraded the woods to get the tone I want, not the looks. That said, I do like the natural look of both woods even in their plain straight-grained form.

If I were to get another custom, I would opt for only straight-grained wood for the soundboard as I understand that it is easiest to work with and is less prone to problems. Even if the luthier is highly skilled, I would prefer him to do a straightforward job than to take my chances.

Newportlocal
09-10-2013, 09:57 AM
Good point Richard...the only problem is that UAS kicks in and we get more than one custom. Price does come into play when you sell it as sometimes the dream of a custom is actually better than the uke.

Hey Daniel, I know where you are coming from. Some people buy them to try out and eventually sell towards others. I am only buying two customs, and I expect my next one to be my last. I am quite sure mine will be permanent. What are you saying Daniel. Are you offering me your Moore Bettah. I certainly enjoyed playing it. As your friend I would make the sacrifice for your happiness. Lol:D

Newportlocal
09-10-2013, 10:18 AM
I upgraded my soundboard to Red Spruce and B/S to Macassar Ebony. I upgraded the woods to get the tone I want, not the looks. That said, I do like the natural look of both woods even in their plain straight-grained form.

If I were to get another custom, I would opt for only straight-grained wood for the soundboard as I understand that it is easiest to work with and is less prone to problems. Even if the luthier is highly skilled, I would prefer him to do a straightforward job than to take my chances.

I think the builder effects the tone the most. Brighter vs. warmer. I think the wood can effect the tone, but it is secondary to the luthier's build style. I picked cocobolo and sinker redwood on my last build to enhance the tone. I know there are top luthiers that would say no one would like the looks of a ukulele built purely for tone. Everything is a balance. I think with good luthier's they wouldn't build something that was taking it's chances.

Patrick Madsen
09-10-2013, 10:23 AM
For me, it's all about the action and feel of the neck. After that it's the type of sound I want anf finally how I want it t look. Actually I don't care how it looked as long as it played and sounded like I want. On my Griffin tenors, I have old growth tight grained(437lines to the inch) cedar which gives a nice mellow sound. One has Koa back and sides and seems brighter than the Cedar/ Walnut one. My Moore Bettah has Bearclaw Spruce with Milo back and sides. The Spruce is much brighter than cedar. Mahogany is wonderful for that old time bluesy sound.

I'm not sure if the back and side wood makes a big difference in sound. Some say it does others say it doesn't. The type of soundboard and bracing probably has more to do with the sound than back and side wood choice.

For me, my main needs are a fast, thin low actioned neck with a radiused fretboard. Either spruce or cedar for the sound board and am liking the side soundport. The rest I like to discuss with the luthier building the instruments. Some prefer to work with certain wood only with a particular style they prefer. Others will do the whole gamut of wood choice and style.

gyosh
09-10-2013, 10:40 AM
My top was a rather plain looking adi spruce top (that rang like a bell and had tremendous sustain when tap tested). I wanted a little more visual appeal so I worked with my luthier on what would really pop. We ended up spraying the top black and using white binding to frame it, and then abalone purfling to make it really pop. I also have an inlay by Larry Robinson in the fretboard in matching abalone.

Lot's of bling I guess, but I think the black top with the combination of binding/purfling workes well and doesn't look gaudy.

SailingUke
09-10-2013, 10:51 AM
It's your custom uke, get what you want !!

Benscience
09-10-2013, 01:40 PM
I have been my loving my Ray Cowell Olympic concert and can't wait for him to begin my build of a tenor, probably Koa back and sides with cedar soundboard. I also want ebony if gear board, nut, saddle and tuner buttons. Great builder from Northumberland, UK. Probably around theyŁ500 mark ish. I quite fancy an arch top tenor for axmorecjazz focused sound.

BlackBearUkes
09-10-2013, 04:00 PM
For me, it's all about the action and feel of the neck. After that it's the type of sound I want anf finally how I want it t look. Actually I don't care how it looked as long as it played and sounded like I want. On my Griffin tenors, I have old growth tight grained(437lines to the inch) cedar which gives a nice mellow sound. One has Koa back and sides and seems brighter than the Cedar/ Walnut one. My Moore Bettah has Bearclaw Spruce with Milo back and sides. The Spruce is much brighter than cedar. Mahogany is wonderful for that old time bluesy sound.

I'm not sure if the back and side wood makes a big difference in sound. Some say it does others say it doesn't. The type of soundboard and bracing probably has more to do with the sound than back and side wood choice.

For me, my main needs are a fast, thin low actioned neck with a radiused fretboard. Either spruce or cedar for the sound board and am liking the side soundport. The rest I like to discuss with the luthier building the instruments. Some prefer to work with certain wood only with a particular style they prefer. Others will do the whole gamut of wood choice and style.

437 grain lines to the inch? That is 27 lines in a 1/16" space. I don't see how that is possible.