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Thread: Custom -How do you choose?

  1. #21

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    Great ideas! Maybe Bill is right and I am approaching it wrong and I should focus on music. Oddly, I go through spurts and buy or hoard music and then forget I have it. I’m now rediscovering some of those pieces and though they were insanely difficult before, they are a tad easier now. I will have to think a bit about what I want to accomplish musically I guess.

    You are right, chasing pretty wood is tempting, and while temporarily fulfilling, may not be the best in the long run. Who knows.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Blaine, Washington
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    I've been chasing pretty wood for 60 years ghostdr; it never ends lol. The new one coming up will have all the nuances I wanted in an instrument. As Dave says, that's the excitement of a custom.

    Now you know you found a forum that has your back and you won't go into it blindly. Enjoy your music.

    When was the last time you did a string change? Putting on a new set make a big difference.
    Last edited by Patrick Madsen; 10-31-2018 at 10:24 PM.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Kapolei, Hawaii
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrdr View Post
    No offense intended. I just loved your line that if I were questioning if a custom was for me, it probably is. Sometimes, life is that simple.

    Excellent viewpoints and other considerations from others as well, but I didn’t want to leave you with the impression that I was being dismissive of your views. To the contrary, I really appreciate them. I guess, sometimes we all need a little validation. This whole custom thing, while a subset of the ukulele community, is really interesting and a whole new area to explore!
    Thanks for the clarity. You’ll enjoy the journey I’m sure.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Scotland
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    I’d find out what you require in a ukulele before choosing the builder that provides it.

    I like the vintage Martin mahogany tone but not a hundred year old uke that costs the earth... I did try Martins modern stuff but I rate Ohana better for the price. I had a Ken Timms, that was my first hand made although not custom. I believe you can honestly get more for the money over factory AND a much better sound. Light, loud and made with more love.

    I ended up hearing Samantha Muir and THAT was the best sounding mahogany soprano I had ever heard. I ended up commissioning one of Liam’s Wunderkammer Ike’s. Even after 9 months of ownership it blows me away and is a UAS killer. I was keen on a Kiwaya KTS 7 but was informed it needs playing in. My Wunderkammer didn’t, it was everything from the start and it has kept it all. I play it every day, it may have improved but...

    I believe like Martin guitars of old that have lasted the test of time while sounding way better than modern Martins, a custom builder can build small scale like makers of old. The right glue and finishing like Mr Timms. Factory stuff needs higher tolerances as not just Mr Seasoned player who will look after his ukes will buy but, (and good for him it’s a free country) Mr I have money but am new to the hobby and don’t know about humidity or to be careful will buy these high end factory ukes. To save mass problems they are stronger and less resonant. My Wunderkammer has wood wafer thin. If I owned a shop it wouldn’t be on the wall for all to abuse.

    I come from a background of acoustic guitars. I did play electric for a phase but acoustic anything steals my heart. That’s my 2c.
    Wunderkammer Ike Soprano - Kiwaya KTS-7 Soprano

    Archive - Timms - Martin - Pono - Ohana - Kala - Uluru - Bruko - Makala - Ko’Aloha

  5. #25
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    Feb 2010
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    Honolulu, Hawaii 5min away from waikiki
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    Buy in your financial comfort level and buy what your ears and fingers like, I myself don't buy used for one reason.. someone sold it as it wasn't for them. I would try it first if possible or pass. Don't fall for what you hear online, as everyone's taste is different, what others may like maybe different from your taste and feel. Buy what pleases you, not others.
    Making music is a gift in itself, and when you can share it ....it is your gift to others

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA
    Posts
    3,269

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    snipped:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1 View Post
    "All good advice in the making music department Bill but you are missing the point of a custom ukulele. It is being involved in the process that makes it personal. Choosing the woods, the binding, pufing colors, neck shape and size, all the little things that make it special and make it yours.
    @Bill1, I often enjoy your comments as you are very direct and clear in your opinions. And they often cause me to really reflect on them. I will have to say in this case I would caution that for some people, being involved in the process is a big part of the joy in commissioning a custom. However, I know people who don't enjoy that aspect at all. They loathe it. They want the luthier to make all the decisions and they just want to enjoy the finished product. This is the very reason why some builders offer spec instruments from time-to-time (and they usually sell quickly).
    More an appreciator of the ukulele than a true player. My motto is: "Don't matter how good it ring if it ain't got some bling."

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.—Voltaire

    Curious about the relative importance of tonewood vs. the luthier? See Luthiers for a Cause to learn more!

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Seattle
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    I'm also a fan of Bill1's posts and plead guilty to chasing pretty wood. The two ukuleles I kept among the 19 I acquired have beautiful wood and sound. Both are custom built.
    2013 LFDM Tenor


  8. #28

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    So just to pick at the scab, at work, today, I checked the Ukulele Site. I listed all the ukes and sorted by price with the most expensive first. Second, from the top was a KoAloha Black Label Tenor named Raptor.

    Wow. What a beauty. I played both videos and even Corey is saying the sound is amazing. Not really intending to buy it, but with some thoughts, hmm, could I justify buying it for $5,000, I hit the back button and just like that *poof*. It was gone. Someone must have bought it in the 8 minutes I watched the videos. Crazy...

    I hope it was someone on here at UU.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrdr View Post
    So just to pick at the scab, at work, today, I checked the Ukulele Site. I listed all the ukes and sorted by price with the most expensive first. Second, from the top was a KoAloha Black Label Tenor named Raptor.

    Wow. What a beauty. I played both videos and even Corey is saying the sound is amazing. Not really intending to buy it, but with some thoughts, hmm, could I justify buying it for $5,000, I hit the back button and just like that *poof*. It was gone. Someone must have bought it in the 8 minutes I watched the videos.
    I went to Vimeo and listened to that one, and yes, it's a beauty.
    The KoAloha Black Label Tenor Panther is still available. :-)

  10. #30
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    Jul 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrdr View Post
    Great ideas! Maybe Bill is right and I am approaching it wrong and I should focus on music.
    That's up to you, (and your budget), but no reason you can't do both. :-)

    I'm certainly not an expert on getting a custom, but do have a Kinnard concert, so will share my approach, which may or may not work for you.

    I listened to lots and lots of sound samples. (Still do. I enjoy that, even though it can lead to UAS flaring up.) Vimeo, Youtube, HMS, Ukulele Friend, and where ever I ran across sound samples, including here on UU.

    While it's not the sound for everyone, there was one sound I kept coming back to, which was Kinnard. I read what I could find here on UU about Kinnard and googled it, (UU was the best source of information, though), and decided to give it a try.

    I finally bought what I could find at the time, (tenor and then soprano), and discovered that neither size worked for me, but Kinnard was extremely well made, and I really did love the sound. I sold both of those here on UU, which makes taking a chance on ukes like these less of a risk. If it's a good ukulele, and it's in good condition, you should be able to resell it.

    I talked with Kevin at Kinnard Ukes, and got myself on the build list for a Kinnard concert. Kevin talked with me about what type of music I play, style of playing, and so on, and gave me some recommendations for woods. He sent various sound samples, (I still listen to those regularly - did I mention that I love the sound of Kinnards? LOL), and choices were made from there.

    I think I'm overall a patient person, but discovered that the wait wasn't easy. In the end, though, it was well worth it. This ukulele is a keeper, and for me, is a dream to play. I've been fortunate enough to play some very nice stock ukuleles, but this ukulele - for me, anyway - is in a very different league. Amazing.

    Do I need a custom? I'm not the greatest player, and never will be. But, this ukulele inspires me to play every day, (I do play others, too), and makes the hobby so much more enjoyable. And, that's what this hobby is about - enjoyment. This ukulele gives me that every day, so for me, it's worth it.

    If you can narrow down some of the options, (size or nut width, for example), that might give you a more focused group of ukuleles to look into. If those don't matter to you, then it's probably just your budget that will rein you in.

    Keep an eye on the UU marketplace, (and Flea market), and you might find a gently used ukulele on your wish list. That might be a good entry point, unless you have something very specific you want, (woods, inlay, or something unique.)

    I used to fuss more about the difference in woods than I might now. I am convinced that you could hand me any Kinnard concert, no matter what the woods, and I'd be happy. The builder has more to do with it than the woods, I think. But, if you're going to get on a build list, you might as well try to figure out which woods appeal to you the most, whether it's visually, sound, or whatever. The builder should be able to help guide you on that, if you're not sure.

    Some people don't like buying used ukuleles, so I'll also mention that builders may have ukuleles for sale on their websites that are ready to ship, too. Kinnard, for example, has a tenor listed right now, with photos and sound sample, so someone who wants a new Kinnard tenor doesn't need to get on the build list if that one checks the boxes for them. Check whatever other builders you might be interested in, and see what they might have, if you don't want the wait.

    Just in case this comes in handy, someone had posted this Google custom search link for UU:
    https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=006086...24:y43bmh-bwgc

    It definitely helps to find posts here on UU, so if you're researching a particular builder, for example, you might find the link handy.

    Enjoy the journey, wherever it may lead.

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