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Thread: Luthier wood recommendations

  1. #1

    Default Luthier wood recommendations

    Hi all,

    A few months ago in a post about wood choices aaron keim mentioned that in a perfect world all ukulele orders would request these woods:

    -All myrtle
    -All mahogany
    -Spruce and maple
    or
    -Spruce and walnut

    I found this really interesting. Obviously luthiers would know better than a lot of us what woods work and sound good, especially luthiers who build customs with all types of wood combinations like mya-moe.

    So my question is for luthiers what woods would you recommend and why?
    Last edited by dirtiestkidever; 03-12-2015 at 11:31 AM.

  2. #2
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    Maybe this should be in the luthiers lounge?

    I dunno about a perfect world, but if you were a luthier where those are the trees that grow.... that would be great if that's what your customers wanted.

    Hawiian ukes favor hawaiian woods.
    Mainland ukes favor mainland woods.
    Asian ukes use asian woods.
    Etc.

    Go figure.

  3. #3
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    Another way to think of it is... If you've picked your luthier...you should trust their advice. If you don't trust their advice... you should find another luthier.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by spookelele View Post
    Maybe this should be in the luthiers lounge?
    Yes...maybe post it in their lounge and get some good answers.
    Kanile'a 6 String K-1, Kamaka HF-3, Makala Concert

    Thank God the Tiki Bar is open!!!!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by spookelele View Post
    Another way to think of it is... If you've picked your luthier...you should trust their advice. If you don't trust their advice... you should find another luthier.
    I definitely trust their advice. But I still think it is an interesting question in general. I thought others might be interested in the responses as well.

  6. #6
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    So... let me re-frame that.

    If you go to the best steak house in town then order a steak. Don't order chicken.
    If you live in the midwest... don't expect the freshest sushi because the ocean is not very close.

    If the luthier you are going to is saying that the best uke he can make you is spruce/walnut, and you ask for Koa... maybe that uke won't be the best uke he can make, and although another luthier might make the most amazing Koa uke in history, if this luthier doesn't have alot of experience with the wood and has to guess on thickness or all the other subtle things that experience teaches you about working a particular wood, then maybe that will not be the best uke you could get from him.

    or... maybe not.

    If ever mileage was to vary... it would be here.

    You could ask aaron, and avoid the speculation.
    Last edited by spookelele; 03-12-2015 at 10:41 AM.

  7. #7
    Hippie Dribble Guest

    Default

    Yeah Doug, I sorta agree with spook. Individual builders will inevitably, based on their own experience, have certain wood types they prefer to work with and can generate the best tone from in lieu of their own designs, bracing techniques and so-on. I think if Aaron says those types are the best, they are really a reflection of the above, no more or less than that; he knows how to make em sing. If you asked Chuck Moore he would almost certainly say Koa. Mike Da Silva, Duane Heilman, Peter Hurney, David Ingalls et al - each will have their personal preferences. These guys know how to get the sound a client wants from a wide variety of woods and if they think your choice is unrealistic based on the kind of sound you're after I'm sure they'd tell you from the get-go.

    I'm no builder but having played a swag of different ukes for 10 years I really can't say there is one or other wood configuration I prefer, as I've heard amazing tones come from right across the spectrum.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippie Dribble View Post
    Yeah Doug, I sorta agree with spook. Individual builders will inevitably, based on their own experience, have certain wood types they prefer to work with and can generate the best tone from in lieu of their own designs, bracing techniques and so-on. I think if Aaron says those types are the best, they are really a reflection of the above, no more or less than that; he knows how to make em sing. If you asked Chuck Moore he would almost certainly say Koa. Mike Da Silva, Duane Heilman, Peter Hurney, David Ingalls et al - each will have their personal preferences. These guys know how to get the sound a client wants from a wide variety of woods and if they think your choice is unrealistic based on the kind of sound you're after I'm sure they'd tell you from the get-go.

    I'm no builder but having played a swag of different ukes for 10 years I really can't say there is one or other wood configuration I prefer, as I've heard amazing tones come from right across the spectrum.
    Right. I totally agree with this and spook's comment. I this is exactly why I was asking the question. Different builders are sure to have different answers. And that is what I am looking for. What does each builder like and why?

    Obviously there is no right or wrong answer and there is no absolute best wood or best combination of woods.

    I think my mistake may have been to frame it with regard to the custom I ordered. Let's forget about that (i took it out of my OP). Just as a general question, what woods do different builders like and why?

  9. #9
    Hippie Dribble Guest

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    I'd definitely post this in the lounge. Maybe even worth double-posting this thread. Bound to get more builders reading the thread in the LL than here mate...

  10. #10
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    Even woods from the same tree from different parts may sound and react different, just as a luthiers style
    Of building, I do like the contrasting hardwood back though best. And either a spruce or redwood top
    I agree with all above, the luthier will know which materials and woods or wood combination and style that
    Works for him/her. If you're putting aesthetics above tone or it is a main factor, you may need to rethink that again
    To have a beautiful uke and a nice sounding one, you need to work with a great luthier which is the most important
    Factor to me ..
    Making music is a gift in itself, and when you can share it ....it is your gift to others

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