PDA

View Full Version : Tortoise Binding (Kanile'a K3)



Linho
11-15-2013, 04:35 AM
Hi,

just a small question: I read the Binding of Kanile'a's K3 is made of Tortoise. Does this mean it's a real part of a real turtle's shell? Or is it some kind of synthetic stuff?

And since it looks like dark wood, what's the reason they don't use wood? Are there any reasons for tortoise?

Thanks,
Linho

hoosierhiver
11-15-2013, 04:41 AM
I might be wrong, but I think it's illegal to use real tortoise shell these days.

Dan Uke
11-15-2013, 05:28 AM
I'm not a fan of non-wood bindings like turtoise or ivaroid. I think they are plastic.

mds725
11-15-2013, 05:31 AM
I think that in the early days of ukulele building, real tortoise shell was used. People use a plastic that looks like real tortoise shell now to recapture that vintage look.

RichM
11-15-2013, 05:39 AM
Good info on this thread. Tortoise shell was once a very common material for all sorts of things, including decorations on musical instruments and plectrums. So popular, in fact, that it began depleting tortoise populations and resulted in them becoming endangered. Anything you see that is being made today is using plastic made to look like tortoise shell. I really like the look, but as always, your mileage may vary.

BTW, a whole cottage industry has developed to create plectrums that are similar in structure and feel to old tortoise shell plectrums. This is a head-scratcher to me; I've come across a few old tortoise shell plectrums in my time, and while they have their own mojo, they really aren't any better than anything made today. A good example of how rarity makes something desirable.

river_driver
11-15-2013, 05:43 AM
Onceuponatime "tortoiseshell" was really sea turtle shell. There is now an international ban on real tortoiseshell, much like the ban on trade in ivory. In the US it's covered by the endangered species act and several other laws (including the one that the Feds invoked when they raided Gibson a couple years ago - can't remember the name of it right now). Vintage instruments containing real tortoiseshell are legal to own, as long as you can prove the build predates the ban. Anything new that has "tortoiseshell" is really plastic (often a celluloid).

Edit to add: The Feds invoked the Lacey Act when they raided Gibson.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
11-15-2013, 06:51 AM
Here's an odd side bar. You can not air ship celluloid faux tortoise shell binding because it's flammable (it really is!). Apparently though you can air ship an uke that has this binding installed on it. Go figgah.

mm stan
11-15-2013, 11:52 AM
Here's an odd side bar. You can not air ship celluloid faux tortoise shell binding because it's flammable (it really is!). Apparently though you can air ship an uke that has this binding installed on it. Go figgah.

Ha Ha Chuckie, thats the goverment for you.... LOL most things you ship are flammable isn't it? what are they thinking ...

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
11-15-2013, 12:09 PM
Yep, can't even air ship epoxy or super glue.

Wicked
11-15-2013, 12:31 PM
BTW, a whole cottage industry has developed to create plectrums that are similar in structure and feel to old tortoise shell plectrums. This is a head-scratcher to me; I've come across a few old tortoise shell plectrums in my time, and while they have their own mojo, they really aren't any better than anything made today. A good example of how rarity makes something desirable.

Yes, it seems silly.

Back in 80s, before I squandered what talent I had, Lee Ritenour gave me a handful of tortoise shell picks (with his name on them, of course) that I used religiously for decades. I liked them for their shape, though. I actually found no real difference between them and plastic.

I still have a couple of them around somewhere, but I switched to bone picks a few years back. I have been thinking of giving abalone picks a try... maybe for Christmas.

Linho
11-16-2013, 04:09 AM
Thanks a lot! So it's like I thought. Real dark wood wins over synthetic fake tortoise. ;)

tangimango
11-16-2013, 04:10 PM
only saw once, real turtle shell used on a lymana custom. it was a $7000 custom.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
11-16-2013, 05:22 PM
Thanks a lot! So it's like I thought. Real dark wood wins over synthetic fake tortoise. ;)

Every time!

blue_knight_usa
11-16-2013, 09:38 PM
Here's an odd side bar. You can not air ship celluloid faux tortoise shell binding because it's flammable (it really is!). Apparently though you can air ship an uke that has this binding installed on it. Go figgah.

Reminds me of My 6 oz vinegar I bought INSIDE the airport which was confiscated but then they let me purchase a large bottle of highly flammable liquor. My wife yelled at me for pointing out to the TSA that this was more explosive than vinegar but I couldn't hold back with the idiotic regulations.....but you can't ship the faux binding because it's flammable? :wallbash:

BigMamaJ40
11-17-2013, 04:47 AM
Tortoise-patterned celluloid binding was one of the bindings used by Martin on guitars -- it was never real tortoise shell. The advantages at the time was it was very tough and flexible, and cheap. It bends easily, polishes nicely, and it takes bumps better than wood.The disadvantages to using celluloid for binding and pick guards became apparent over time; celluloid shrinks, but wood does not.

Edit: Per the Martin technical reference, Martin originally used ivory and rosewood for binding, and switched to ivory celluloid in 1918 for guitars, which was already in use on their Style 2 and 3 ukes. The book mentions adding tortoise celluloid to guitars in the 30s. The Tom Walsh book shows tortoise replaced rosewood on the Style 1 in 1936.

Was real tortoise shell used by any builders?

Dan Uke
11-17-2013, 07:36 AM
Thanks a lot! So it's like I thought. Real dark wood wins over synthetic fake tortoise. ;)

What's worse is when custom builders or companies upcharge to have real wood bindings!

river_driver
11-17-2013, 07:41 AM
only saw once, real turtle shell used on a lymana custom. it was a $7000 custom.

As I understand the laws, it was illegal unless:
1. The shell can be documented to have been sourced from a non-endangered species of freshwater turtle, or
2. The shell can be documented to have been harvested from a sea turtle before 1900.

I am unfamiliar with the builder but have a hard time believing a he would knowingly use illegal materials. It is a very slippery slope when it comes to endangered species. And the consequences can be severe. With so much at risk, that's why people use the celluloid substitute.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-18-2013, 06:42 AM
The real tortoise shell i've seen (mostly scratch plates on old European mandolins) seems pretty unstable as it is kinda laminated and falls apart like slate after a while.

David Newton
11-18-2013, 08:05 AM
Very little real tortoise shell has ever been used on musical instruments. Some few small pickgards on bowl-back mandolins in the late 1800's and early 1900's have been seen. Flat picks were about it in the musical world.
Real tortoise shell was used mostly for fine inlay on 1700-1800's European furniture, women's hair combs (decorative hair ornaments) fans, stuff like that. Later, into the early 1900's, eyeglass frames probably contributed to the most loss of turtles, the Pacific Hawksbill.
Today the Japanese really like the stuff for eyeglass frames, and that is where a lot of the current stuff goes.
The laws in the US allow ownership of antique TS, but you can no longer sell it, or remake an antique piece into anything else.