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View Full Version : New Ukes Day! Twin Compass Roses



mds725
12-17-2013, 08:22 PM
A year ago last week, I met with Rick Turner at his shop in Santa Cruz to discuss a custom Compass Rose baritone. Rick had just begun exploring the idea of building baritones using the jumbo-shaped body he'd already been using for tenor and concert ukuleles, and he told me that he had become interested in the sound of an octave-lower GCEA ukulele to complement a friend's GCEA tenor when they played together. Because I had begun playing a steel string tenor guitar that was tuned DGBE, I also asked him whether he would be interested in designing and building a Compass Rose steel string baritone. At the time, I ordered a nylon string baritone Compass Rose strung octave lower GCEA. A few months later, I asked Rick if he could add to my order a steel string baritone strung DGBE.

Today, I drove back to Santa Cruz to pick up my (fraternal) twin Compass Rose baritones. Both have Adirondack Spruce soundboards and Amazon Rosewood backs and sides. They look great and sound magnificent. The octave lower GCEA baritone seems to handle the low range really well and with great clarity, and the DGBE steel string is clear, crisp and loud. The only glitch is that there were supposed to be MOP markers on the faces of the fretboards (there are side markers). I'm going to ask Rick whether they can be added, but I love these two instruments just as they are.

Rick thinks that steel string baritones are going to become a huge hit. Mine already is.

Here's a photo. The steel string baritone is on the right, with the angled saddle.

62055

I'll post a sound sample, although I won't be able to do that until after Christmas.

geetee
12-17-2013, 08:38 PM
Whoa!!! And they're jumbos no less. I guess the Maxi has arrived.

Newportlocal
12-17-2013, 08:41 PM
Wow, congratulations on your CRs. Hope you post a video later.

mm stan
12-18-2013, 01:07 AM
Aloha Mark,
Congrats, Wow they look amazing jumbo baritones....How many compass roses you have now man.... I am so jealous..Happy Strummings...

Doc_J
12-18-2013, 01:27 AM
Congratulations ! Very nice! BTW I like how they look without the top fret markers.
Can't wait to hear how they sound.

dkcrown
12-18-2013, 01:30 AM
Congratulations Mark. Looks like they will make for a Happy Holiday season!

Five Ways
12-18-2013, 01:33 AM
Congrats wow you are so lucky enjoy.

cigarfan
12-18-2013, 01:42 AM
Nice! Congrats.

They are hard to tell apart. You get em' mixed up?

kvehe
12-18-2013, 01:56 AM
Oh my goodness! What a stunning pair of siblings!

HBolte
12-18-2013, 02:08 AM
Beautiful, congrats!

GASguy
12-18-2013, 02:34 AM
Wow!

Beautiful, I love those voluptuous curves.

More pics please when you get a chance!

caukulele
12-18-2013, 02:49 AM
They are really lovely Mark! I can't wait to hear your sound sample! Congratulations!

Stevelele
12-18-2013, 04:38 AM
dang dude, I don't think I've ever seen a NUD with twins--and so innovative, too--can't wait to hear how they sound

Kanaka916
12-18-2013, 04:40 AM
Nice Mark . . .

Patrick Madsen
12-18-2013, 05:13 AM
Boy, just when I thought I had my UAS under control. A steel string bari. sure is tempting. Perhaps if I sold my Webber Bari. and a few others. Will have to contact Rick and see about one.

didgeridoo2
12-18-2013, 05:14 AM
Way to go Mark and Rick! Have fun playing those beauties!

Paul December
12-18-2013, 05:32 AM
Octave lower Baritone GCEA :confused:
How is the string tension?
What strings do you use?

SailingUke
12-18-2013, 05:40 AM
Mark,
How is the octave lower sound?
I did that to a regular baritone and it was great when I was accompanying standard GCEA ukes, but it was a little to muddy (for my taste) as a solo instrument.
Beautiful ukes and Rick does such a fine job.

RichM
12-18-2013, 05:52 AM
TWO Compass Roses? You must be out of your mind! Who on earth would have TWO Compass Roses?

:rolleyes:

Gillian
12-18-2013, 07:02 AM
Nice pair! Is yours the one on Rick's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/rickturnerguitars) showing the bracing with the carbon fibre re-inforcements?

An octave lower bari is intriguing and I'm wondering...how low can you go?

I wonder if it is possible to make a uke two octaves lower so it is in the bass guitar range and still be tuned GCEA instead of EADG? It would really be a bass uke, instead of a uke bass.

But I digress...looking forward to hearing your sound sample!

hammer40
12-18-2013, 07:40 AM
Awesome! A question though, what does a steel string baritone (DGBE) do for you that a steel strung tenor (DGBE) guitar won't? In essence, both are the same other than the larger physical size of a tenor guitar.

mds725
12-18-2013, 12:52 PM
Thanks everyone! I haven't been able to put them down since getting them.


Nice pair! Is yours the one on Rick's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/rickturnerguitars) showing the bracing with the carbon fibre re-inforcements?

I think that's mine. This is apparently only the second non-prototype steel string baritone ukulele Rick has made, although he's really excited about steel string baritones as instruments. I think he may build one for himself.


Awesome! A question though, what does a steel string baritone (DGBE) do for you that a steel strung tenor (DGBE) guitar won't? In essence, both are the same other than the larger physical size of a tenor guitar.

They sound very similar, but they're a little different. First, as you said, the baritone body is smaller, although I think my steel string baritone is as loud and as sparkling as my steel string tenor guitar. Second, the baritone has an ukulele neck, meaning that the strings are spaced further apart than they are on a tenor guitar, which has a very thin neck and less space between strings. So a steel string baritone may be a viable instrument for someone accustomed to ukulele string spacing who might be uncomfortable with a thinner neck or more closely spaced strings. Third, I think my baritone steel string sounds more percussive than my steel string tenor guitar; i.e., strumming a chord produces a sort of accompanying "whomp" sound that you tend to hear on ukuleles. maybe that's a function of the smaller body, I don't know.


An octave lower bari is intriguing and I'm wondering...how low can you go?

I wonder if it is possible to make a uke two octaves lower so it is in the bass guitar range and still be tuned GCEA instead of EADG? It would really be a bass uke, instead of a uke bass.

But I digress...looking forward to hearing your sound sample!

I hope to make a short video comparing my octave-lower CR baritone to my Kamaka DGBE baritone and my steel string CR baritone to my Blueridge steel string tenor guitar. I'd say that the octave lower baritone has nice clarity, but I suspect that trying to get any lower would muddy the sound. I noticed, for example, that baritone guitars seem to have a bigger body than acoustic or dreadnaught guitars, so there may be clarity limits in the low ranges based on the size of the CR baritone's body. I don't want to speak for Rick, but I'm guessing that in designing the baritone CR, Rick was happy with the low range on the design on which he settled, which has a slightly deeper body than the first one he made, so body volume may be an issue for low range sounds.

pakhan
12-18-2013, 01:44 PM
Congrats, your CR ukes look incredible!

wadleysf
12-18-2013, 02:24 PM
Congratulations Mark! They both look great! I know you've been patiently waiting for these - glad to know you've got them safely home now.

I look forward to seeing (at least one of?) them in the (very?) near future!

Hippie Dribble
12-18-2013, 02:34 PM
Oh my stars!!! Hearty congratulations Mark. They are a lovely duo and just rapt for you that you're so enamoured with them. Really looking forward to your sound comparison demos mate, cheers.

frukmana
12-18-2013, 03:36 PM
Wow what a beautiful duo! Congrats on your new ukes :D
Bet they sound real good! Will be waiting for your video :D
Good day

Paul December
12-18-2013, 04:01 PM
Octave lower Baritone GCEA :confused:
How is the string tension?
What strings do you use?

Question bump :)

mds725
12-18-2013, 06:18 PM
Octave lower Baritone GCEA :confused:
How is the string tension?
What strings do you use?

The string tension is what I would describe as average - not floppy but not hard on the fingers. I should mention, though, that the G string snapped this evening. I'm going to email Rick about a replacement string.

Sorry, I have no idea what strings Rick used. He did recommend, however, that I try a set of Savarez nylon guitar strings with a wound A. (I wrote down what he said but don't have access to that piece of paper at the moment.) n my email to Rick about the snapped G string, I'll ask him for specs.

Rick Turner
12-18-2013, 07:04 PM
Let me chime in to (hopefully) clear some slight confusion.

Mark's steel string baritone is tuned like the top four strings of a normal guitar; D, G, B, E. That is normal baritone uke tuning. That is NOT how a tenor guitar is supposed to be tuned, though some folks do. Normal tenor guitar tuning is as with a tenor banjo: C, G, D, A.

The octave uke is tuned G, C, E, A one octave below a normal "modern club tuning" soprano, concert, or tenor uke. So the low note is the same as the G on a guitar low E string...3rd fret, the C is also like the 3rd fret of the A guitar string, and then you have the shift to the E...2nd fret of the guitar D, and the A, 2nd fret of the guitar G.

I used the bottom four strings out of a D'Addario classical high tension set, and I think the top two strings might be better with extra high tension strings, and yes, I think the Savarez nylon on nylon wound G might really sound great.

I was extremely happy with how both of these instruments sounded right away. I then vibrated both of them for 36 hours using ConAir vibrators...similar thing to the ToneRite or PrimeVibe accelerated aging devices, and I felt that the instruments gained the equivalent of a good six months worth of playing. The low end is really remarkable for the size of the boxes.

Next up is another octave uke, then the same body with a six string guitar neck. Both are for customers. Then one for me...or two...and Gryphon has one on order now, too. This body size and style can accommodate a lot of different neck and string configurations. I want to build an 8 string, too.

I think these are as successful a "new product launch" as I can think of for what I've done over the years. My thanks to Jerry, Mark, Jay, and Nick for trusting us enough to order instruments we'd not built before.

mds725
12-18-2013, 08:39 PM
Thanks, Rick, for sharing all that information about these ukes and for building them for me. From the small amount of time I've had to play them so far, and from my limited experience with stringed instruments in general, I think they're both wonderful and resonant instruments that are a total blast to play.

I will need to replace the low G string on the lower octave baritone. It snapped this evening while I was showing off the uke to my Wednesday night ukulele class.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-19-2013, 05:29 AM
Beautiful Mark :)

UkerDanno
12-19-2013, 09:24 AM
those are pretty cool, just have to ask...at what point is a ukulele not a ukulele anymore? Can I take the top 2 strings off of a guitar and call it a ukulele?!

mds725
12-19-2013, 09:39 AM
those are pretty cool, just have to ask...at what point is a ukulele not a ukulele anymore? Can I take the top 2 strings off of a guitar and call it a ukulele?!

Well, it would be the bottom (lowest sounding) two strings, but your point is an interesting one. My steel string baritone is not precisely a tenor guitar, but it's very similar to a steel string tenor guitar tuned DGBE. So are all baritone ukuleles small guitars without the low E and A strings? If you tune a nylin string tenor guitar GCEA does it become an ukulele? Is a requinto tuned EADGBE a guitar but still a requinto when it's tuned ADGCEA? There are threads about this concept of, for lack of a better term, overlapping instruments, and people seem to have agreed to disagree about what (size, tuning, number of strings, method of making sound) gives an instrument its identity. Maybe your question will be fielded by a luthier.

Kamanaaloha
12-19-2013, 11:11 AM
enjoy! handsome ukes!

iDavid
12-19-2013, 11:45 AM
those are pretty cool, just have to ask...at what point is a ukulele not a ukulele anymore? Can I take the top 2 strings off of a guitar and call it a ukulele?!

Guitars are just overgrown ukes with too many strings.

Had to be said....

mds725
12-21-2013, 06:22 PM
Nice! Congrats.

They are hard to tell apart. You get em' mixed up?

The steel string has an angled bridge. I'm going to try not to dress them alike and hope they develop different personalities. :)

consitter
12-21-2013, 06:26 PM
Dang good thing you're an attorney.

If you were a doctor, there's no way you could have afforded two! ;)

gyosh
12-21-2013, 09:21 PM
The steel string has an angled bridge. I'm going to try not to dress them alike and hope they develop different personalities. :)

::jealous::


::very, very jealous::

mds725
12-22-2013, 03:54 AM
::jealous::


::very, very jealous::

Said the person who plays the world's most beautiful Compass Rose. :) I hope I have one of mine with me for you to try the next time I see you.

Patrick Madsen
05-20-2014, 02:41 PM
Mark I sent you a pm, Thanks