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Steveperrywriter
01-14-2014, 01:43 PM
I have been playing ukuleles for less than a year, and I claim no expertise in any aspect of them. I have, however, been fortunate enough to lay hands on several top-of-the-line instruments from well-respected luthiers, including Woodley White, Alan Carruth, and Gordon & Char Mayer, so I do know what a well-made and beautiful ukulele looks, feels, and sounds like.

The Zukulele that Michael Zuch has made for me is as good as any I've had a chance to play.

In his signature on UU, Michael has the term "Aspiring Luthier." He has a full-time job, and does this for love, but I'm thinking he should drop the first word in that sig. He has made more than a couple-dozen of these, and I believe this one by itself certainly qualifies him as more than "aspiring;" he's there enough to drop the modifier.

This is a lovely instrument, clean, with a great tone, especially considering it hasn't opened up at all. I expect that six months down the line, it will sound better still. It is Low-G,CEA, and the action is smooth, the intonation great.

Here, the specs:

Back & Sides: Tulip Magnolia
Top: Adirondack spruce
Bracing: Sitka spruce
Neck: Spanish cedar with carbon fiber reinforcement
Neck joint: Mortise and tenon with bolt
Rosette, headstock overlay, end graft and heel cap: Brazilian rosewood
Fretboard and bridge and pins: East Indian rosewood
Bindings: Faux tortoise shell with B/W/B purfling
Inlays on headstock, fretboard and pins: Mother of pearl
Finish: Nitro-cellulose lacquer (over epoxy sealer and pore filler where needed)
Tuners: Grover Sta-Tite, for slotted headstock, with replacement buttons
Strings: Worth BT-LG Fluorocarbon

As you can see from the pictures, there uke is clean and form-follows-function. That works for me, though I've got nothing against tastefully-done bling. When we started talking about this, I allowed as how I had two things I wanted: Low-G tuning, and a slotted headstock. This latter is a want based on having played classical guitars for a while and I like that look and feel.

Other than that? Luthier's choice.

Michael had a set of back and sides in Tulip Magnolia which had a great tap-tone, he said, and he'd never built one using that wood. How would that be?

I'd never even heard of Tulip Magnolia as a tonewood. Go for it.

Would I be interested in a sound port?

Yes, I would.

Would a fretboard a bit wider work, since I was coming from classical guitars?

You betcha.

What about trim?

Go with what looks and feels good, you're there, I'm here ...

So he did those things, and I couldn't be happier with the result.

The build went quickly, and the uke left Michael's shop in the middle of the Arctic blast that froze most of the U.S.

I expected it to be fairly bright, given the spruce top, and it is, which is good, since I think that works for fingerstyle playing, a thing to which I aspire.

As soon as the strings settle in and I have some time, I'll do a sound sample and stick it up.

This is just soooo cool!

Some images:

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PhilUSAFRet
01-14-2014, 01:51 PM
That is a damned handsome looking instrument.

mds725
01-14-2014, 01:56 PM
Congratulations! That's one beautiful instrument. Happy strumming!

Nickie
01-15-2014, 09:07 AM
Wow, very attractive! Congratulations.....

Ukulele Eddie
01-15-2014, 09:58 AM
Timeless classic look. Gotta love that. I've never heard of tulip magnolia either. Look forward to hearing the sound when she opens up.

And you must be every luthier"s dream client. As my daughter would say, "easy, peasy, lemon squeezey." ;-)

Steveperrywriter
01-15-2014, 10:05 AM
I stuck a few more pix up in the Uke Porn (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?1732-Ukulele-Porn-(post-your-uke-pics-here-)/page158) section, showing the Zuch twixt its brothers, by Woodley White and Alan Carruth.

Steve

gitarzan
01-15-2014, 10:16 AM
I think he's more than an aspiring luthier. That thing really looks nice.

mzuch
01-16-2014, 10:59 AM
Thanks for the kind words, Steve. When I bought the tulip magnolia from a tonewood dealer at the Woodstock Luthiers Invitational Showcase in upstate NY, I was impressed by its sustain and crystalline tap tone. I'm very pleased that it produced an instrument with these tonal characteristics. I had a bit of trouble letting this one go as it compared favorably to my own Zukulele, which is all koa. And you're right, I think this one is particularly well suited for finger picking. I was thrilled to make this for you, in part because I am a lifelong reader of science fiction and got a kick out of making an instrument for a respected SF writer.

Steveperrywriter
01-16-2014, 06:55 PM
Thanks for the kind words, Steve. When I bought the tulip magnolia from a tonewood dealer at the Woodstock Luthiers Invitational Showcase in upstate NY, I was impressed by its sustain and crystalline tap tone. I'm very pleased that it produced an instrument with these tonal characteristics. I had a bit of trouble letting this one go as it compared favorably to my own Zukulele, which is all koa. And you're right, I think this one is particularly well suited for finger picking. I was thrilled to make this for you, in part because I am a lifelong reader of science fiction and got a kick out of making an instrument for a respected SF writer.

This uke will show up in my next novel ...

Steve

consitter
01-16-2014, 07:42 PM
Wow. Just beautiful.