"Could you be? The most beauuuutiful baritone ukulele in the woooorld?"

Lalz

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Hello fellow ukers!

Remember a while back when I was complaining about all baritone ukes looking a bit the same (don't I love complaining) and when TCK in his infinite kindness jumped in to offer to paint one for me? For free! Amazing (This thread: Where are the quirky-looking baritones?)

Behold: Bluebarriton Levy - the blueberry baritone!
Named after Barrington Levy of "Broader than Broadway" fame, for obvious reasons.

It's a Pono AB Acacia Baritone with a satin finish, bought from the late Music Guy Mic (RIP) at Hawaii Music Supply. It then went on a little spa retreat transit in California at TCK's, where he painted beautiful blueberries on it, and it arrived here in the UK right for my birthday this fall! (Hadn't gotten around to posting about it until now, sorry for the delay)

We had discussed several designs and decided on blueberries because they're one of my favourite things: I'm a Scandi who eats bucket loads of them everyday and also grows her own in her backyard, where I intend to play my bari when the weather allows it. Plus I'm a fan of Elsa Beskow's illustrations (in particular "Peter in Blueberry Land"). And now a total fan of TCK's work as well!

Honestly, I could not be happier with this baritone. It's my favourite uke now. It sounds amazing (Ponos are class, look at this wood!) and TCK did a fantastic job. Totally in love with it!

There was a whole process that TCK did to give the uke a beautiful finish that would last a long time and wouldn't affect the sound, and he did it really well, but he'll explain it better than me.

I put Southcoast Heavy Gauge Round Wounded strings on it, perfect match. It's tuned standard DGBE most of the time, but I sometimes drop the E to D to make it an open G tuning, which is nice for slack key and slide. Since it's a Pono and it comes from HMS, it has perfect intonation and set-up. A real pleasure to play.

Have a look, it's gorgeous init! I tried to take photos that would make it justice but it's a million times prettier in the flesh.

So yeah, THANK YOU TCK !! What a great guy. And thank you UU forum for enabling this to happen! What a wonderful community :)

Lalz

(PS: For those of you who know, my wrist is much much better now btw. Hurray!)

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connor013

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That is a really nice piece of work -- congrats!

Even my wife (who is an artist but has definitely had enough of my "check out this uke" and "whoa, look at this one"s really likes it).

I'll be interested to hear how the process works.

Cheers.
 

Lalz

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Thanks Connor and wife :)

I'm not the best person to talk about the actual painting process as I wasn't there when it happened. But in terms of design, what we did was we discussed several options from New Orleans theme to Japanese patterns, looked at lots of other painted ukuleles (and painted skateboards!), and then decided on the theme of blueberries. At some point he also showed me some work he had done on a banjo ukulele that was also very pretty. Then we looked at lots of pictures of actual blueberries so he'd get a sense of what stages they go through when they grow (hence the different colours from light to purple to dark blue - see picture below), of people getting blueberry tattoos (surprisingly many!), of botanical drawings, of Elsa Beskow illustrations etc. Even Arizona ice-tea haha. I wanted for it to look more like illustrations than a bold colour-block design. We discussed where would be the optimal position of the painting on the uke as to not suffer from long term friction from the arm, belly and from strumming. Colour palette too and this kind of stuff. Then he made some sketches, which I approved, and he worked his magic on the uke, which he can tell you more about.

IMG_3676.jpg

Travel-wise, when I ordered the uke it was sent directly to him in California, which is partly why I got it from HMS in Hawaii instead of an EU dealer, as there was no point in paying import taxes back and forth. Also, I was really chuffed about the idea of getting a HMS uke, so that worked out great :) I hesitated a long time between this model and the Kala one that is a dark mahogany colour. I don't remember if I chose it before or after we decided on the design, but this model is perfect for it I think.
 

TCK

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So glad you like it as much as I hoped you would Lalz!
Here are some process details if anyone wants to do. I reckon there is NO compromise in sound quality of the original instrument, which is beautiful to play and hear.
First, Upper bout only- had to draw out something that would fit there, when you move into the lower bout...you mute the sound.
Second, started with 200 grit sandpaper and sanded an entire face of a brand new Ukulele that I did not own- good times. Progressed to 400, and then applied the design in white first.
Now here is the rub for artist types. Acrylic is nice if you can build it, but on a uke you cannot, so every layer was painted, dried, and then sanded with 600 grit. if you want depth, you need to do this a lot. I reckon I did it about 30 times, each layer representing a slightly new set of colors to give it some dimension like the Elsa Beskow drawings Lalz sent me. Then a finish was applied- matte clear, in very slight coats, also sanded every time, progressing to 800 grit. I think I did fourteen thin coats before I was done.
I will not go into what the mistakes cost to fix..or the horrors of applying the final coat to thick- those were setbacks to say the least,
But I have never been happier to get an email sayin "I GOT IT!" Lalz sure is a patient person...and I hope she plays this ukulele into sawdust.
Had a ton of fun making this see the light of day for sure. To have it named for one of my favorite artists...That is just icing on the cake. Moonlight lover- appropriate for the hours when I worked on her.
May she sing loud and strong forever...and crush negativity with every strum ;)
 

GinnyT11

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That is a very impressive piece of artwork on a beautiful uke! It definitely has mojo and music in it now.
Play us something!

(You had that wrist injury a long time ago...did it take ages to heal?)
 

connor013

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Whoa, that's so cool.

And as a lurker, I hope you don't mind me saying that this strikes me as a great metaphor for the Seasonistas.
 

TCK

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Whoa, that's so cool.

And as a lurker, I hope you don't mind me saying that this strikes me as a great metaphor for the Seasonistas.

This is how we do things Connor. Why not jump in? The water is nice my friend.
 

TCK

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Thank you Ginny...I put all I had into that there Uke for a stranger who I reckon I would really get on with in person.Glad it is her turn now.
And yeah Lalz. Song time.
That is a very impressive piece of artwork on a beautiful uke! It definitely has mojo and music in it now.
Play us something!

(You had that wrist injury a long time ago...did it take ages to heal?)
 

Lalz

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Wow, I can't believe how much work you put into this out of pure kindness, you're so generous! TCK = boss.

I can guarantee to you that I'll cherish this uke my entire life. It's a total future family heirloom too.
Can't stop playing it. Video coming up soon as promised, just need to practice that song I picked a bit more and get over my camera shyness ;)

MASSIVE HUG!!!

(Moonlight lover, such a great tune)
 

Lalz

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Thank you Ginny...I put all I had into that there Uke for a stranger who I reckon I would really get on with in person.Glad it is her turn now.
And yeah Lalz. Song time.

Whey aye, seasons of the ukulele here I come! Soon my friend, very soon :)

Ginny: wrist fractures of the kind I had take between 18 and 24 months to recover to the maximum, which is never 100%, but in my case it's close enough to uke so good enough for me :)
 

TCK

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Massive hug right back m'dear. So glad to raise a smile in the world...thank you for the opportunity. Some folks go for the big win- I reckon the little ones I can manage are just fine.
Just glad to see that you love it- ain't another like it in the world, as it should be. So nice to get to know ya over these months turned to years and so on...If ever you are in California, drop me a line ;)
Wow, I can't believe how much work you put into this out of pure kindness, you're so generous! TCK = boss.

I can guarantee to you that I'll cherish this uke my entire life. It's a total future family heirloom too.
Can't stop playing it. Video coming up soon as promised, just need to practice that song I picked a bit more and get over my camera shyness ;)

MASSIVE HUG!!!

(Moonlight lover, such a great tune)
 

Lalz

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Massive hug right back m'dear. So glad to raise a smile in the world...thank you for the opportunity. Some folks go for the big win- I reckon the little ones I can manage are just fine.
Just glad to see that you love it- ain't another like it in the world, as it should be. So nice to get to know ya over these months turned to years and so on...If ever you are in California, drop me a line ;)

Likewise!! Superhappy to know you and consider you have a home in the UK now!
 

Debby

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That is a beautiful uke! TCK really knew what he was doing because that could have easily been overdone. Some artists don't know when to stop. But this is classy and pretty. Great job TCK and congratulations, Lalz!
 

Lalz

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That is a beautiful uke! TCK really knew what he was doing because that could have easily been overdone. Some artists don't know when to stop. But this is classy and pretty. Great job TCK and congratulations, Lalz!

Thanks! I totally agree, this guy knows what he's doing. Such a boss!
 

Nickie

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Wow, that's a beautiful bari! It is definitely NOT boring! It;s very tasteful....or is it tasty?
 

vanflynn

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Berry lovely uke there!

Congrats and stay off the skates.
 

ichadwick

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Personal taste, but I'm a fan of plain instrument designs. Simple wood, no bling, no artwork are what I like most. And I prefer a matte finish to a gloss.
 

Lalz

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Personal taste, but I'm a fan of plain instrument designs. Simple wood, no bling, no artwork are what I like most. And I prefer a matte finish to a gloss.

I like satin finish the most actually, I really like how light reflects on the surface without looking too shiny. Not a big fan of too much bling either (really don't like excessive mother of pearl everywhere for instance) but I do prefer my ukes to have a distinctive look instead of plain, and this one hits just right for me. Personal taste ;)