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Thread: Novices review: The Uke Book Illustrated

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Cliff View Post
    I use bolt on necks and I use Spanish slipper, both on ukes and on guitars. There are lots of positives of the Spanish heel. It locks in the angle of neck and soundboard. You can make one with only a rasp/knife and a sharp saw. You don't need a drill press, or any hardware for the joint. If you only have hand tools you can still make one. You don't even need to use glue.

    And yes, it is tradition. We shouldn't be so dismissive of that as we all incorporate it to a lesser or greater extent in our builds. E.g. size and shape of instruments, choices of materials, finishes etc. Otherwise I could probably run up most parts of a ukulele other than the top on a 3D printer and it would sound just fine.

    I like bolt-ons also, but they aren't without their own issues. But in my experience (which admittedly isn't as extensive as Pete) the Spanish heel doesn't need the same degree of accuracy required in other methods, and yet a newbie can still get satisfactory results.

    But both work, so surely there is room in the world for both?
    There is room in the world for a great many things. Diversity is a good thing. The way that traditions smother diversity is what irritates me. I've learned some important things from making several hundred string instruments that the general instrument community refuses to believe or consider, things that most experienced luthiers know but don't talk about.

    Given the same internal capacity, the shape of an instrument doesn't impact the way it sounds. Designing and making instruments should be fun rather than restricted to old ways of thinking. Individuality is a good thing.

    Given a sensitivity to construction techniques, the type of wood used is irrelevant. Carbon fiber is probably the ideal material but I have no interest in learning how to use it at this point.

    Almost no one has heard a plucked instrument sound as good as they can be because no one will make them that way. Even if they hold up for a few years they will deform to a degree that the owners won't live with. The bowed instrument community knows this and so make their instruments to easily come apart for occasional repair or modification.

    The general string instrument community needs to share the same indifference to public opinion as the cigar box instrument people show. As long as the threat of embarrassment weighs heavier than the chance to try something new there will be no progress.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcalkin View Post
    There is room in the world for a great many things. Diversity is a good thing. The way that traditions smother diversity is what irritates me. I've learned some important things from making several hundred string instruments that the general instrument community refuses to believe or consider, things that most experienced luthiers know but don't talk about.

    Given the same internal capacity, the shape of an instrument doesn't impact the way it sounds. Designing and making instruments should be fun rather than restricted to old ways of thinking. Individuality is a good thing.

    Given a sensitivity to construction techniques, the type of wood used is irrelevant. Carbon fiber is probably the ideal material but I have no interest in learning how to use it at this point.

    Almost no one has heard a plucked instrument sound as good as they can be because no one will make them that way. Even if they hold up for a few years they will deform to a degree that the owners won't live with. The bowed instrument community knows this and so make their instruments to easily come apart for occasional repair or modification.

    The general string instrument community needs to share the same indifference to public opinion as the cigar box instrument people show. As long as the threat of embarrassment weighs heavier than the chance to try something new there will be no progress.
    Tradition can certainly get in the way of progress.

    But I suspect it isn't the embarrassment that holds many builders back but the risk of not being able to feed their family if their progressive ideas don't sell.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Cliff View Post
    Tradition can certainly get in the way of progress.

    But I suspect it isn't the embarrassment that holds many builders back but the risk of not being able to feed their family if their progressive ideas don't sell.
    I'm not concerned about professionals, they know what they are doing and what they have to do. Neither do I want or expect to change the world. Humans are herd animals after all. Rather, I would like to encourage beginners and home builders in general to try construction methods that will release them from the difficulties of conventional work and thought. In tonal terms, their instruments need not suffer one bit. I've been writing about this in "American Lutherie" magazine for 29 years and it has been catching on in recent years. The magazine used to be for and about professional workers but this is changing somewhat. Others have also contributed articles about simplifying lutherie and my editor has requested that I keep working in this vein. A number of UU members seem to be having a hard time learning to make ukes. It requires an open mind in design, but there's no reason that making satisfying instruments should be so difficult.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcalkin View Post
    I'm not concerned about professionals, they know what they are doing and what they have to do. Neither do I want or expect to change the world. Humans are herd animals after all. Rather, I would like to encourage beginners and home builders in general to try construction methods that will release them from the difficulties of conventional work and thought. In tonal terms, their instruments need not suffer one bit. I've been writing about this in "American Lutherie" magazine for 29 years and it has been catching on in recent years. The magazine used to be for and about professional workers but this is changing somewhat. Others have also contributed articles about simplifying lutherie and my editor has requested that I keep working in this vein. A number of UU members seem to be having a hard time learning to make ukes. It requires an open mind in design, but there's no reason that making satisfying instruments should be so difficult.
    I think those sentiments are admirable, and I agree that opening up instrument making is a good thing. But within that there will still be different markets and needs.

    Some may benefit from a simpler approach, others may not wish to do that and prefer making traditional instruments.

    Analogies aren't generally my thing, but one comes to mind. I'm not really a furniture maker. But i wanted to make a table for my hallway. Now there are simpler ways to make a table than with cabriole legs and dovetail joints, using modern techniques, fixings and screws, and I dare say the table would be just as good and functional as the one I made. But that would have missed the point. Sometimes it is about the challenge of replicating traditional methods, to show (yourself mainly) that you can be every bit as good as craftspeople in the past, and in doing so acquiring new skills. My table clearly does not represent progress in table design or methods. And if you want a table that works, and it is simple to make then that is fine. But I wanted the cabriole legs and dovetails.

    Each to their own I guess, and good luck with your mission, I am sure it will benefit a great number of people.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Cliff View Post
    I think those sentiments are admirable, and I agree that opening up instrument making is a good thing. But within that there will still be different markets and needs.

    Some may benefit from a simpler approach, others may not wish to do that and prefer making traditional instruments.

    Analogies aren't generally my thing, but one comes to mind. I'm not really a furniture maker. But i wanted to make a table for my hallway. Now there are simpler ways to make a table than with cabriole legs and dovetail joints, using modern techniques, fixings and screws, and I dare say the table would be just as good and functional as the one I made. But that would have missed the point. Sometimes it is about the challenge of replicating traditional methods, to show (yourself mainly) that you can be every bit as good as craftspeople in the past, and in doing so acquiring new skills. My table clearly does not represent progress in table design or methods. And if you want a table that works, and it is simple to make then that is fine. But I wanted the cabriole legs and dovetails.

    Each to their own I guess, and good luck with your mission, I am sure it will benefit a great number of people.
    Sounds like you have some woodworking chops. Good for you! I spend most of my lutherie time making higher-end ukes and guitars for "normal" people. But the simplified instruments I come up with for my stories are way more fun to make and are invariably the ones I keep for my own playing. I'm not trying to talk anyone into or out of anything, but I enjoy the company of mavericks who don't want to hang with the herd. They are the people I write for and the readers who kindly respond.

  6. #36
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    Kekaha, Kauai
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    Hey John, I am going to do the thread on building my Youthalele, as there seems to be some interest in it. I certainly would appreciate any comments you may wish to share as things go along. Thanks
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

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