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Thread: NUD: Bonanza Super Tenor

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
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    Default NUD: Bonanza Super Tenor

    Here for your viewing and listening pleasure is the premier of the first super tenor ukulele from Pete and Shelley Mai, aka Bonanza Ukuleles.

    First, I'll run down the specs and then talk about how this instrument came into being.
    19" scale
    Pear shape tenor body
    Cherry top and headplate
    HPL (high pressure laminate) back/sides, "fallen leaves" pattern
    Mahogany Neck
    Rosewood Fingerboard
    Walnut bridge
    Corian nut/saddle
    Geared tuners, gold with amber buttons
    Gold end pin
    Fremont Blackline "bari tuned tenor" strings, tuned reentrant F (cFAD)

    Pictures


    More pictures - https://imgur.com/gallery/dsIZv

    In my last NUD post, I talked about plans I had for my $36 Rogue baritone: plans to try different strings, more setup work, etc. Well, that didn't happen until very recently when I put some 'octave ukulele' strings on it, low-low GCEA. But the original plan was a low reentrant tuning (low as in lower pitch, not as in cuatro or lillu). I figured why not do it up right on a "real" instrument. First, I needed a partner in crime.

    The basic idea was a reentrant tuning as low as possible. With several strings sets available for dGBE at 17" tenor scale, I was confident they would serve for cFAD at 19" baritone scale, which is as long as I want to go these days. And then later maybe try for lower with more oddball string choices - or not.

    About the only "off the shelf" options for this are the "super tenor" ukes but most are rather pricey. Kanilea and Kamaka have models well into four figures. Even the new Kala is only a dollar away from a grand!

    Scanning the array of "custom" builders, I thought Bonanza might be a good fit for this project since they already build tenors and 19" baritones, their cost is quite reasonable, and they've been getting good reviews.

    I approached Bonanza about the project and Shelley was receptive to it. She wasn't 100% sure the lower tuning would sound good on the smaller body, but we figured worst case we could always resort to dGBE tuning, and I was fine with that. I wanted to go with a solid wood top instead of an all laminate body, and after listening to a couple of samples of walnut and cherry tenors, decided to go with the cherry. It was a little bit brighter than the walnut, which is generally not my preferred direction, but the thinking was that the lower tuning might benefit from that - keep it from getting too "muddy". Probably overthinking but that was the thought process anyway.

    Total time from initial contact to delivered instrument was a little under three months. I think this is actually on the long side for them, but the holidays, winter weather in Minnesota, and some unexpected downtime for Pete conspired against us. Even so, that's still really quick for a custom build with a couple of unknowns going in. I was very pleased with the whole process and the end result.

    There are a lot of textures and colors on this uke but I think they all fit together in a complementary way. Quirky but tasteful.

    With the low tuning and these strings, the uke has a very mellow, soothing voice. The strings keep stretching and could easily be left a notch lower at bEG#C# for reentrant E, but Eb would probably be too far. I'm not sure yet if I like the feel of the Blacklines. They are pretty thin to be this low but have an almost "plastic-y" feel. I'll probably try some fluorocarbons next, either Southcoast or Living Water most likely as they both have sets for tenor dGBE that should work for bari cFAD. Or maybe a SC set with the intention of dGBE.

    Sound sample :
    Last edited by Jim Hanks; 02-26-2018 at 06:54 PM.
    Current Stable:
    -Ohana TKS-15E - Eb cuatro
    -Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - Bb, SC SMU
    -Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    -KPK pineapple SLN-GCEA
    -Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    -Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    -Imua iET-Bb, M600
    -Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    -Rogue bari
    -Bonanza super tenor, FBL cFAD
    Once upon a time:
    -RISA Concert Stick
    -Bruko sop. custom #6
    -Lanikai lam hog bari
    -Kala SLNG
    -Bruko bari
    -Gold Tone BUT


    Jim's Blog

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    275

    Default

    I ordered a "super concert" from Bonanza back in November, all HPL body, also the Fallen Leaves pattern, in the Flatlander style. My wife laughed out loud when she saw it because we have that same HPL pattern in our laundry room upstairs! (Hey, I'm a guy - I don't notice patterns or colors.) I love the Flatlander style and how you can stand it up on the floor by itself. Great for keeping by my desk to grab when the mood strikes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Bowral NSW AUSTRALIA
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    7,764

    Default

    Congratulations Jim, I like the thought process you have taken here and agree totally about the need for a "bang for buck" selection criteria when sourcing out new instruments
    All the best,
    Campbell


    YouTube Videos & Tabs
    https://www.youtube.com/user/camsuke

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Seeking the Magisterium
    Posts
    784

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    Jim, that's awesome! And doesn't surprise me that Pete and Shelley were up for it. You'll have to keep us posted!

    Hmmmm.... I wonder if a concert scale neck on a tenor body would work....
    Cocobolo Pineapple #1
    Ohana Sopranissimo
    Maccaferri Islander
    Harmony Soprano
    D. Heilman ULO #7 Concert
    Mainland Cedar Baritone
    Kala Elite Custom Lebanese Cedar Tenor
    Kanilea K-1 SC
    Bonanza Retro Mint Pear Tenor
    Druid Moon Koa Tenor
    Primrose Cedar/Maple Soprano
    Flea Lava Soprano

    Cocobolo Cedar Top Tenor
    1933 Martin 1K Soprano

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    Default

    I like it. - Does it sound closer to a tenor or a bari with that shaped body?
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    201

    Default

    That looks wonderful and what great story behind this instrument.

    Can I ask, 19 frets with tenor body - so what fret does it join the body?
    -Joe......Have uke, will travel...

  7. #7

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    Congrats! Love my Bonanza's.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
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    1,617

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by OhioBelle View Post
    Jim, that's awesome! And doesn't surprise me that Pete and Shelley were up for it. You'll have to keep us posted!

    Hmmmm.... I wonder if a concert scale neck on a tenor body would work....
    I am 100% sure they could do that.
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
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    3,425

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Croaky Keith View Post
    I like it. - Does it sound closer to a tenor or a bari with that shaped body?
    Hard to say. I would say tenor since I've never tuned my baritones reentrant, but someone used to dGBE baritone might think different. Sound sample coming as soon as I can get it edited.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe King View Post
    Can I ask, 19 frets with tenor body - so what fret does it join the body?
    14. Here's a pic of the whole neck: https://i.imgur.com/F2JAVBF.jpg


    Quote Originally Posted by OhioBelle View Post
    I wonder if a concert scale neck on a tenor body would work....
    I don't see why not. Shelly said she has the opposite of mine - tenor neck/baritone body.
    Current Stable:
    -Ohana TKS-15E - Eb cuatro
    -Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - Bb, SC SMU
    -Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    -KPK pineapple SLN-GCEA
    -Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    -Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    -Imua iET-Bb, M600
    -Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    -Rogue bari
    -Bonanza super tenor, FBL cFAD
    Once upon a time:
    -RISA Concert Stick
    -Bruko sop. custom #6
    -Lanikai lam hog bari
    -Kala SLNG
    -Bruko bari
    -Gold Tone BUT


    Jim's Blog

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Pensacola, Florida
    Posts
    773

    Default

    Congratulations. Good to see there are players and makers willing to push the boundaries and take the ukulele community in new directions.

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