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GreyPoupon
02-05-2009, 06:22 AM
I am asking for some custom ukulele advice.

I aspire toward finger style / blue grass / melody / classical on uke playing.

Now, for this type of playing what would be an ideal custom in regards to wood combinations? What wood for front, sides?

Would the shape make any difference in the sound? A martin versus a nunes versus a pineapple versus a gibson?

Thanks for any wisdom...

SuperSecretBETA
02-05-2009, 07:54 AM
For wood combinations, you can't really go wrong with a spruce top and rosewood back/sides.

For strings, I'd choose a standard tuning rather than re-entrant because classical music tends to require a broader range of notes.

Shape, and the builder make a huge difference. That part is extremely complicated, but I would think, for size at least, that tenor or baritone would be better suited for the styles you want to play even though it's entirely possible to play your styles on a soprano.

offthebsides
02-05-2009, 08:23 AM
For descriptions of tonewoods check out

http://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/features/woods/

Its for acoustic guitars but it has a good description of the different types of tonewoods, but it doesn't include some common ukulele woods like mango (which kinda like mahogany)

Shape makes a big difference and i don't know too much about the differences, but im pretty sure that a pineapple shape is a little brighter than the more traditional shapes

well hope that helps!

Isang Mahal,

Brandon

Kekani
02-05-2009, 01:27 PM
If you're getting a custom, your questions really should be directed at your builder, and what he/she can do with your requirements.

-Aaron

Kaneohe til the end
02-05-2009, 10:25 PM
All I know is if and when I get my custom, I'm gonna get a curly maple back, ebony sides with koa binding on the sides and back, and a really curly piece of koa on the front.
I've got some ideas for other stuff too. Ill probably work one on one with paul for it. Probably be cheaper that way too.

Sorry, that was really off topic

GreyPoupon
02-06-2009, 04:02 AM
Sorry, that was really off topic

Totally off topic, and totally welcome, and actually very helpful.

I am over whelmed by the options one has in making a custom. It actually makes me feel ill as I am sure I will suffer from buyer's remorse. I'll spend $1,000 on my dream uke only to discover that what I really wanted was the myrtle body martin concert with the spruce top as opposed to the mango body soprano nunes with the koa fretbaord and so on...

Hence my original question.

But from Kaneohe I realized I should've asked a much more productive question of people:

What is your ideal custom and why?

Appearance related responses are welcome, but I more interested in what sound tone outcomes people are aiming for through various wood and shape combinations.

(So, Kaneohe till the end - why the above custom? Just pure old fashioned "that'll look really cool!"? )

Oh, and stay away from which builder... that'll just get ugly.

E-Lo Roberts
02-06-2009, 04:44 AM
All I know is if and when I get my custom, I'm gonna get a curly maple back, ebony sides with koa binding on the sides and back, and a really curly piece of koa on the front.
I've got some ideas for other stuff too. Ill probably work one on one with paul for it. Probably be cheaper that way too.

Sorry, that was really off topic
Till the end, wow sounds beautiful, but ebony and maple? Humm, that sounds (weight wise) very heavy. It got excited about making a rosewood neck a while back. After I made it I realized that the weight was way out of whack. However, it now makes for a great defense weapon against any would-be intruders that might come through my door! hahaha... just a thought...e.lo...

anomoly40
02-06-2009, 09:05 AM
You ~can~ make a ukulele out of anything. Just depends on design and build quality.
http://namm.harmony-central.com/SNAMM00/Content/Taylor_Guitars/PR/Pallet-lg.jpg

http://namm.harmony-central.com/SNAMM00/Content/Taylor_Guitars/PR/Pallet.html

Nuke-ulele
02-06-2009, 09:14 AM
Ahh the Pallet Taylor! That is the best story...

http://www.taylorguitars.com/guitars/archive/older/archive/pallet.html

anomoly40
02-06-2009, 09:17 AM
I really wanted to find a back shot with the nail holes filled in.

ke leo
02-06-2009, 10:59 AM
Have you selected a builder?

Kaneohe til the end
02-06-2009, 11:41 AM
Till the end, wow sounds beautiful, but ebony and maple? Humm, that sounds (weight wise) very heavy. It got excited about making a rosewood neck a while back. After I made it I realized that the weight was way out of whack. However, it now makes for a great defense weapon against any would-be intruders that might come through my door! hahaha... just a thought...e.lo...

I've heard of people complaining about that, I never had problems with the headstock being heavy. This is more of an aesthetic thing for me. Maple, ebony, and koa are my favorite woods.


Totally off topic, and totally welcome, and actually very helpful.

I am over whelmed by the options one has in making a custom. It actually makes me feel ill as I am sure I will suffer from buyer's remorse. I'll spend $1,000 on my dream uke only to discover that what I really wanted was the myrtle body martin concert with the spruce top as opposed to the mango body soprano nunes with the koa fretbaord and so on...

Hence my original question.

But from Kaneohe I realized I should've asked a much more productive question of people:

What is your ideal custom and why?

Appearance related responses are welcome, but I more interested in what sound tone outcomes people are aiming for through various wood and shape combinations.

(So, Kaneohe till the end - why the above custom? Just pure old fashioned "that'll look really cool!"? )

Oh, and stay away from which builder... that'll just get ugly.

I want this custom because when I saw Herb Ohta jr.s' new uke (shh), it was spruce top, ebony sides and a koa back. It sounded awesome. He talked about how the 3 woods even each other out. The last spruce top I had I didn't really like. Spruce is very soft, and dents pretty easily. From what I've read, maple is similar in tone to spruce, but a little "darker", plus it looks cooler. I chose a koa face because that's where most of the sound is generated from, so a very bright medium sound is good for me. The ebony sides and koa bing will give a nice contrast in color, in addition to the ebony/maple. I picked ebony for the sides because it can even out the sounds of the 3 woods. (By the way, this is all what I remember Herb saying)
In addition, it'll look really badass.

Now a question for you,
Have you ever had problems with frets being too far apart, like in the newest lesson, gitart(ukulele) there's the 2227, which for me is a stretch. If you ever ran into stuff like this, I'm sure the builder can help you with that. Also, think about the action, some people like their action high. From what I could see, the action on jake's uke is pretty high. Many people like the action low because its easier to play. That's really the beauty about getting a custom. You get looks, plus a custom feel just for you.
Good luck, I hope you get exactly what you want.

(Reading back, I sound kinda smart... I'm not, really I'm not. My knowledge is extremely limited, but I'm always learning. Ultimately, talk to your builder about what you want. )

Keep us updated!

Kekani
02-06-2009, 06:30 PM
I'll spend $1,000 on my dream uke only to discover that what I really wanted was the myrtle body martin concert with the spruce top as opposed to the mango body soprano nunes with the koa fretbaord and so on...

. . . . .

What is your ideal custom and why?

Appearance related responses are welcome, but I more interested in what sound tone outcomes people are aiming for through various wood and shape combinations.

Oh, and stay away from which builder... that'll just get ugly.

I'll start backwards - you can't stay away from the builder - this is the start! Like getting a tattoo artist, your builder needs to match you. Then again, if $1K is your price for the `ukulele of your dreams, you'll be in very underpriced company (when it comes to customs), or you'll be getting a builder that builds `ukulele for $1K. Hard to explain, so I'll just leave it at that.

Getting back to the question - my ideal `ukulele:
Spruce top
Milo b/s
Honduran Mahogany neck
Ebony f/b and bridge
Ebony (or Milo) headstock veneer - depending on what the inlay is
Koa binding (body and f/b)
Black MOP Rosette
LR Baggs Element UST
If there's a slotted headstock - Gilbert tuners
If not - Gotoh or Schaller
And, inlay artwork up the f/b into the headstock, of course.

THEN, I'd be sure I'd have:
Spruce top
Maple b/s. . .

AND:
Spruce top
Myrtlewood b/s

Finishing of with a pair of:
All Mahogany
All Koa, maybe

Bottom line? Spruce/Milo, and I would be done.

-Aaron

GreyPoupon
02-06-2009, 11:54 PM
Aaron- thanks for the above! Sounds awesome...

Did you pick these elements mostly for looks? Or a particular sound? Or just the general wisdom that spruce sounds good for the top and any stable back and sides are fine as long as they look awesome?

What's the difference between koa and milo?


Now, about picking a builder... I get the point that it's like picking a tattoo artist. And if I was going to get a tattoo I could just find a tattoo that looks great and then find the artist...

But nearly all the custom ukuleles I see online all look great, and the recordings have a had time capturing the unique subtle traits that make these guys different... so, if you are not located in either Hawaii, San Francisco (or Texas or wherever Pete lives in the UK or ... you get the picture)

So how do you know who is the right builder from you from just browsing online?

Kekani
02-07-2009, 11:58 AM
Did you pick these elements mostly for looks?
Or a particular sound?
Or just the general wisdom that spruce sounds good for the top and any stable back and sides are fine as long as they look awesome?

What's the difference between koa and milo?

But nearly all the custom ukuleles I see online all look great, and the recordings have a had time capturing the unique subtle traits that make these guys different... so, if you are not located in either Hawaii, San Francisco (or Texas or wherever Pete lives in the UK or ... you get the picture)

So how do you know who is the right builder from you from just browsing online?

In order:
For me, no.
Personally, always.
That may be general knowledge, but I'm not sure I'll call it wisdom. I've heard some very bad Spruce topped instruments. Also, looks don't make an instrument sound better. Here is a plain Jane Khaya `ukulele, nothing special about the wood (except how I got it), but the owner plays nothing else.
http://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll290/kekani427/web/IMG_0285acopy.jpg

Huge difference between Koa and Milo. Milo is my Brazilian Rosewood - designated a Priority tree in Hawai`i, its still available, but more than a few people have allergic reactions to milling Milo. Go to John Kitakis' site for more info. Beyond that, see the 2nd answer above.

You forgot Maryland, and for San Francisco, you must be talking about David Tachera. Further South, Rick Turner is in CA as well.

As for browsing online, you don't. There are a lot of builders that create beautiful instruments. Online there are two things you simply cannot quantify, sound and playability. If neither matter, then your research online should lead you to where you want to be.

Outside of that, at the $1K range, you should really be looking at local factories. The rack instruments in that middle range that you've set should suit you well, and the quality and playability will be there. Of course, again, if that doesn't matter, and only LOOKS is what is going to define your custom, then you shouldn't have a difficult time. Not sure what his pricing is now, but I think Dave Means undercharges way too much for his work, but he has a long waiting list (then again, who doesn't?).

When you double your range, and you find the right builder in that range, you'll know. Of course, even at $2K+, I've seen beautiful instruments sold, with nice inlay, and artistic elements. Again, its what the client wants.

Personally, the way to shop for an instrument, truly, is with your eyes closed. Then go from there.

Just my $.02 - Aaron

GX9901
02-08-2009, 04:36 AM
What is your ideal custom and why?

Appearance related responses are welcome, but I more interested in what sound tone outcomes people are aiming for through various wood and shape combinations.


For me the ideal custom uke is based on appearance. Not because I don't value sound, as I think that's the most important thing, but because I wouldn't really know what the finished uke would sound like until it's completed. Since I'm not going to know what it sounds like exactly, I would specify the appearance I would like it to have and trust the builder to build something that sounds great.

I currently have a custom Swiss spruce top/koa back-side tenor, and a redwood top/walnut back-side concert. For the next custom I would want an Adirondack spruce top/ebony back-side long scale concert. Based on the Taylor website, an Adirondack/ebony guitar is a "all-out cannon". I think I'd enjoy such a uke.