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Thread: Uke design/construction 'break throughs' ... what is next?

  1. #1
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    Question Uke design/construction 'break throughs' ... what is next?

    Thinking about some of the design breakthroughs in ukuleles and I have to wonder what is next (and what have I missed?). These are not necessarily the "first" to build in the following formats but they have become the standards, are actually serious instruments with good-to-excellent sound quality. Not necessarily loved or even liked by all, but truly different in some ways and potentially groundbreaking in others and all with some serious quality. These are real instruments, even if unusual, and are not toys. But there must be others.


    OUTDOOR UKULELE ... not the first plastic ukes but clearly a quality build that has become an icon in the durable, go-anywhere uke world. Generally considered to be a serious instrument with very good quality and very good reputation, but a bit quieter than a traditional ukulele. KLOS is now making a carbon fiber ukulele, not sure its any better, and while not plastic, it basically is pretty much the same thing as an OUTDOOR UKE in terms of general durability, design, even if material is different.

    CLARA BLACKBIRD ... an astounding composite material and an unusual design that gives an amazing sound. Coveted as a very serious instrument with a top quality build. This is not carbon fiber, its more of a fancy HPL that is basically made of paper and epoxy with some unusual design features like a hollow neck that projects sound out through the headstock.

    ROMERO CREATIONS TINY TENOR ... concert size with a tenor scale and a big sound coming out of a small body. Not really a traditional paddle or pineapple shape uke because of the combination of overall size and scale. Very good quality build, wonderful sound, very good reputation.

    MAGIC FLUKE ... serious quality instruments with good sound coming out of a plastic body with a laminate wood top. Laminate sound board with plastic body is now copied, in other shapes, by other companies. A good travel, knock around Uke which is still considered a real instrument.

    RISA TRAVEL UKULELE ... or 'Sound Stick' style ukulele which is essentially a fretboard size/shaped ukulele. Good enough electronics to make it sound good. Playing without electronics gives a very quiet sound output because there is no body, no soundboard.

    BONANZA UKULELES ... made from high pressure laminates, top, sides and back. Corian fretboards. Some might consider these to be travel type ukes, some versions have traditional double bout bodies, other variants have somewhat unusual shapes. Nice quality, nice tone. The MARTIN OX is similar but they don't use Corian fretboards. Enya also is offering HPL ukes.

    NATIONAL RESOPHONIC ... an oldie but a goodie. Before amplification there were resonators. There now seem to be low and high priced variations. Beltona is a fiberglass variant that seems to be serious about quality, its probably the only one that has done much innovation on the resonators since the early days.

    What have I missed?

    Perhaps more importantly, what is coming next?
    Last edited by melensdad; 05-11-2018 at 04:41 PM.
    Grey beard, tone deaf, rhythm challenged, but my dogs allow me to play for them so that is good enough for me
    aNueNue straight grain mango Custom Maui Mango III
    Lanikai spalted mango Concert TunaUke
    Magic Fluke concert Fluke w/K&K Big Island Spot
    Romero Creations flamed and spalted mango Tiny Tenor w/K&K Aloha Twin

  2. #2
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    Interested to hear what others say.

    One correction on Bonanza. Corian is used for the nut and saddle but not the fretboard.

    As far as what's next? Hmm, I dunno. I might say 3D printing, but I don't think the technology is quite there yet.
    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

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanks View Post
    Interested to hear what others say.

    One correction on Bonanza. Corian is used for the nut and saddle but not the fretboard.

    As far as what's next? Hmm, I dunno. I might say 3D printing, but I don't think the technology is quite there yet.

    Corian is used on the Bonanza fretboards too. Perhaps not all of them. At least it used to be offered.
    Grey beard, tone deaf, rhythm challenged, but my dogs allow me to play for them so that is good enough for me
    aNueNue straight grain mango Custom Maui Mango III
    Lanikai spalted mango Concert TunaUke
    Magic Fluke concert Fluke w/K&K Big Island Spot
    Romero Creations flamed and spalted mango Tiny Tenor w/K&K Aloha Twin

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by melensdad View Post
    Corian is used on the Bonanza fretboards too. Perhaps not all of them. At least it used to be offered.
    Interesting. I hadn't seen those. Mine is rosewood as are I believe all the current models.
    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

  5. #5
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    I don't know if these fit your post, but I cruise eBay for tenor ukes most everyday and find a variety of none standard designs all the time. I especially like Bruce Wei's models, which have been available for some time. He makes a mandolin style and I had him custom one for me, also I just bought a paddle style from his eBay store with the Hawaiian Islands as sound holes. Then there's a style that has a series of sound holes all around the sides of the bouts and none on the top, had him custom one of those for me too with spalted and flame mango.



    Last edited by kohanmike; 05-12-2018 at 07:28 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    I don't know if these fit your post, ...
    I guess I'm looking for more groundbreaking and innovative designs that break barriers and often lead to copies of these new styles. Something that is, in some way, totally new to the world of ukes, is considered at very least evolutionary if not revolutionary, something that is also not just a gimmick but is a serious instrument. Pretty much has to check off all those buttons.
    Grey beard, tone deaf, rhythm challenged, but my dogs allow me to play for them so that is good enough for me
    aNueNue straight grain mango Custom Maui Mango III
    Lanikai spalted mango Concert TunaUke
    Magic Fluke concert Fluke w/K&K Big Island Spot
    Romero Creations flamed and spalted mango Tiny Tenor w/K&K Aloha Twin

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    Then there's a style that has the a series of sound holes all around the sides of the bouts and none on the top, had him custom one of those for me too with spalted and flame mango.
    Gorgeous uke! How loud is it with these unconventional sound "vents"? The wood is so beautiful on this one.

  8. #8
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    My ukulele family.....
    Imua iSN soprano
    Islander Acacia laminate soprano
    KoAloha concert - circa 2006
    Loprinzi cedar & rosewood concert
    Gary Gill concert scale tenor, Douglas Fir & Mahogany

  9. #9
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    I think Long Necks should be on the list too - soprano, concert, & tenor - & I think I heard of a baritone with a 23" scale.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Croaky Keith View Post
    I think I heard of a baritone with a 23" scale.
    That's not a uke.


    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

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