Hello, newbie introduction and request for suggested independent builder of Tenors

llwalsh

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Hello everyone, glad to be part of the community. I've joined to read reviews of Tenor Ukuleles and get suggestions for quality independent ukulele builders who may be under the radar but are making great instruments. I've reached out on a few Facebook forums and found some good suggestions but was lead here for potentially more serious discussion on this topic. As an art professor who also exhibits my own artworks (paintings) I value and want to support independent makers and hope to promote them as well (we are all kindred spirits after all). My first serious purchase was on eBay twenty years ago by one such maker, Les Rietfors, who sent me a gorgeous concert pineapple ukulele that i still adore. Sadly Les passed away a few years after he built mine. At this point I've decided to once again find another such maker to purchase a Tenor, with good balanced sound, definitely darker/richer over a tinny thin tone. I admire many of the larger companies and would seriously consider any of the K's made in Hawaii in a heartbeat but want to try a different avenue first and am here for any tips you may have.

I'm in San Antonio Texas, born in Hawaii (military brat), spent a few years in the SF Bay Area, and played in many punk bands as an idiot teenager in the 80's (i have the tinnitus to prove it too). Thanks in advance and I'm heading over to start reading reviews and look forward to comments and suggestions.

Here's a picture of my 2002, #9 of 50, Les Rietfors Pineapple Concert Ukulele, Koa with double binding, purfling, and Hawaiian Coat of Arms inlay.IMG_2809 copy.jpg
 

ploverwing

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That is a stunning little ukulele. Thank you for bringing that luthier to the board. Good luck on your search for a luthier, there are many, many fine ones to choose from. I hope you have the opportunity to try some.

Welcome to UU! And thanks for joining the conversation!
 

kerneltime

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Oh boy! Here is my recommendation. There are two good sources for discovering luthiers. Theukulelesite and ukulelefriend.com. They have videos profiling many many luthiers with sound samples. There is also gotaukulele but the sample set for luthiers is smaller but a bit disjoint as he is British and has profiled more Uk and Eu luthiers. This is a golden era for luthier built ukes. I would recommend before picking a luthier you decide your budget. You can post here to get opinions for specific luthiers but right now you have cast a wide net and it is hard to recommend only a few luthiers. That said here are some names to lookup (in no specific order)

Beansprout ukulele
Grimes ukulele
Tyde music
Beau Hannam
Iiwi
Ono ukuleles
EJ Henderson
DJ Morgan
LFDM
MyaMoe
Pepe Romero Customs
Kinnnard
Hive Ukuleles
Cornerstone
Petros
Pat Megowan
DaSilva

some cheaper builders
Tinguitar
Cripple Creek

some ukes that now are second hand only
Rick Turner ukulele
Collings ukulele

If you get a chance to buy a Moore Bettah just do it, don't hesistate.
 
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llwalsh

llwalsh

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Oh wow! Jackpot, thank you so much.. i'll start digging around. Your recommendations are greatly appreciated. Yeah, budget is definitely a reality, some of the master piece instruments i've seen have deservedly high prices that are outta my range but options and loans exists, what's credit card debit anyway compared to a gorgeous instrument..:whistle:..😬..
 

ploverwing

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Oh wow! Jackpot, thank you so much.. i'll start digging around. Your recommendations are greatly appreciated. Yeah, budget is definitely a reality, some of the master piece instruments i've seen have deservedly high prices that are outta my range but options and loans exists, what's credit card debit anyway compared to a gorgeous instrument..:whistle:..😬..
It's also worth keeping an eye open here on Marketplace and on Reverb for used stuff. You never know what might pop up!
 
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llwalsh

llwalsh

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It's also worth keeping an eye open here on Marketplace and on Reverb for used stuff. You never know what might pop up!
Reverb has taken way too much of my money already, but i've been checking to see if they want more. Will definitely filter through the Marketplace here.. thanks!
 

Kenn2018

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Mike Pereira of MP ukuleles no longer accepts custom orders. But he often has lovely tenor and sometimes other scale acoustic ukuleles. And he has some great looking and sounding solid electric tenor ukes.
He made a short scale tenor pineapple for a while. I don't see any pineapples available on his website. But he does have a handful of builds for sale. mpukulele.com
A really nice guy as well.

If you want to see the creme de la creme of ukulele builds and historic instruments, check out ukulelefriend.com website. The owner Shawn Yacavone is a well-known historian of the ukulele. And you can look through display pieces he has in his museum. He also has kept a record of many of the ukuleles he has sold over the years, made by some of the top luthiers in the world. But keep a hanky handy because you'll be drooling a lot.
 
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Luke Plays Uke

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I saved and saved and saved and saved money from donating plasma to order a Hive ukulele. Jake makes some of the most beautiful ukuleles I’ve ever seen and I absolutely love the warm, balanced tone I hear in videos. I also like his standard 12-fret joint though he does offer a 14-fret joint for folks concerned about that.

I will say - and this is just me and one guy’s thinking - that if you’re trying to support the artist/luthier, buying new is the only way to go that gives them money.
 

DownUpDave

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One luthier that hasn't been mentioned is Hank Johnson builder of "Kimo" ukuleles. If you look at my list of ukes I enjoy a number of custom builders. I've cycled through as many or more then I have kept and Kimo ukuleles rank right up there. Hank is a great guy to deal with and is open to most custom requests with in reason.
 

counsel1

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One luthier that hasn't been mentioned is Hank Johnson builder of "Kimo" ukuleles. If you look at my list of ukes I enjoy a number of custom builders. I've cycled through as many or more then I have kept and Kimo ukuleles rank right up there. Hank is a great guy to deal with and is open to most custom requests with in reason.
+1 -- Kimo ukes are terrific and a fantastic bargain (under $2000) -- I've also cycled thru numerous custom ukes and still own 3 Kimos. Hank makes both a Martinesque- sized tenor and a larger bodied "super tenor." He seems to have acquired an extensive collection of beautiful, carefully selected exotic woods and is very generous with them-- Check out his archive of builds under the "Latest News" section of his website-- https://www.kimoukulele.com
Also love my LFDM tenors -- really wonderful sounding, innovative instruments -- but higher price point ($3000+) --still quite a bit less expensive than some of the other "top-tier" builders--
 
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KohanMike

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I've had Bruce Wei Arts in Vietnam custom make a variety of very good instruments for very reasonable prices, which has gone up recently. I highly recommend him.

Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
4 tenor thinline cutaway ukes, 4 thinline acoustic bass ukes, 6 solid body bass ukes
•Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
•Member Cali Rose & The CC Strummers: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers
 

merlin666

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Oahu and Big Island have active uke building luthier groups and possibly some of the other islands as well. They have websites and/or Facebook pages where the public can access information about members, current building projects, and events. These groups likely have members that match what you are looking for.
 

Oldscruggsfan

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Welcome, Llwalsh from 40 minutes north of Atlanta! What a wonderful, unique pineapple uke! I presently own only one (my avatar). If I buy another, it will be a pineapple. Wow!
 
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llwalsh

llwalsh

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