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Thread: The rising cost of "hand"made ukes

  1. #51
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    1,312

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    This thread reminds me of an anecdote about Pablo Picasso.

    He was sitting at an outdoor table at a café in Paris in the 1920s. A woman noticed him and, uninvited, sat down across from him at the table. She asked him to please draw her portrait. Picasso took a pad of paper and a pen and proceeded to draw her portrait using a dozen lines or so. She was delighted and asked him how much she owed him for it. He replied, $10,000.
    $10,000! It only took you 10 minutes to draw that.
    Picasso looked at her and retorted, "Madam, it has taken a lifetime to draw that portrait."

    Luthiers are artists using their chosen medium. We pay for their knowledge, experience, skill and vision. Some have taken decades to learn their craft. Some less time. Some have great ideas and express them in new and unique ways. Others refine more classical approaches. All of them draw upon their backgrounds to produce an instrument they are proud to put their name on.

    Even if they use machines to help them, knowing HOW to use those machines is a learned skill. As is being able to carve a neck. Often you work as an apprentice for several years if you've first proven that you have an existing base knowledge of tools and woodworking. It takes a long time to master the skills needed to be able to consistently make a great instrument.

    Oh, and top-quality materials are getting scarcer and more expensive. As are all of the other overheads for running a business.

    That is what we pay for.
    Last edited by Kenn2018; 09-17-2019 at 08:14 PM.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  2. #52
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    277

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    Quote Originally Posted by etudes View Post
    P

    Yeah the Port Townsend one just happened and I was traveling for work. I do need to seek out the Oregon scene for uke builders. Recommendations anyone ?
    Ono Ukuleles in Ashland, Brad Donaldson in Cannon Beach, Beansprout in Hood River, Jack Badley in Bend (company is called Badley Made Ukes), Spruce House Ukuleles in the Eugene area, Les Stansell in Pistol River, Mark Roberts in Portland, Kerry Char in Portland, Max Sipe in Portland, Covered Bridge in Cottage Grove. Probably many that I am missing.

    Bill

    PS. Sorry, not meaning to hijack the thread.
    Last edited by BillM; 09-17-2019 at 06:36 PM.

  3. #53
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Saratoga, CA
    Posts
    774

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillM View Post
    Ono Ukuleles in Ashland, Brad Donaldson in Cannon Beach, Beansprout in Hood River, Jack Badley in Bend (company is called Badley Made Ukes), Spruce House Ukuleles in the Eugene area, Les Stansell in Pistol River, Mark Roberts in Portland, Kerry Char in Portland, Max Sipe in Portland, Covered Bridge in Cottage Grove. Probably many that I am missing.

    Bill

    PS. Sorry, not meaning to hijack the thread.
    I can personally vouch for Ono and Les Stansell! Well worth the money.
    Les Stansell has been a supplier of woods and has impeccable standards in the quality of tops and back n sides. He has one of the lightest baritone builds I have experienced and it is supremely blissful.
    David from Ono does this for his own passion first. His fit and finish is amazing along with the sound and playability.

    I have also met Mark Roberts and played his instruments, he spends quite a bit of time understanding your needs and has a process to make an instrument to your liking. He is focused on sound and customization of the uke for your ears. I hope to get on his wait list next year when I have a much better understanding of what I want..

    They are worth the money the charge..

  4. #54
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Posts
    535

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    This thread reminds me of an anecdote about Pablo Picasso.

    He was sitting at an outdoor table at a café in Paris in the 1920s. A woman noticed him and, uninvited, sat down across from him at the table. She asked him to please draw her portrait. Picasso took a pad of paper and a pen and proceeded to draw her portrait using a dozen lines or so. She was delighted and asked him how much she owed him for it. He replied, $10,000.
    $10,000! It only took you 10 minutes to draw that.
    Picasso looked at her and retorted, "Madam, it has taken a lifetime to draw that portrait."

    Luthiers are artists using their chosen medium. We pay for their knowledge, experience, skill and vision. Some have taken decades to learn their craft. Some less time. Some have great ideas and express them in new and unique ways. Others refine more classical approaches. All of them draw upon their backgrounds to produce an instrument they are proud to put their name on.

    Even if they use machines to help them, knowing HOW to use those machines is a learned skill. As is being able to carve a neck. Often you work as an apprentice for several years if you've proven that you have an existing base knowledge of tools and woodworking. It takes a long time to master the skills needed to be able to consistently make a great instrument.

    Oh, and topquality materials are getting scarcer and more expensive. As are all of the other overheads for running a business.

    That is what we pay for.
    Great post Ken, thank you I love the Picasso sketch story!
    Happy just to be a Newbie +, Penny

  5. #55
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Mission Viejo, CA
    Posts
    1,726

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    This is pretty simple. It comes down to how many hours a luthier actually spends making the ukulele vs. the additional premium paid based solely on brand or demand. If the ukulele does not have labor intensive inlays or custom work you are, in some ways, paying for the privilege of owning that particular ukulele. If it bothers you, just move on. 4000 pounds is a lot to spend on a ukulele, and while you want to support local luthiers, the luthier may not be limiting himself to local musicians.

    Fred Shields makes a no frills relatively easy design and bracing ukulele. Fred once told me about how long he spends on each ukulele, I’ve forgotten, but I think it was less than 8 hours. He is a retired tile setter and does this as a hobby in his garage. He makes excellent instruments in his niche.

    Finally machinery is good. If I had a choice between locating and cutting fret slots with a CNC machine or laying them out by hand, I’ll take machinery. There are some processes that are much more precise than completely hand made.

    Finally, custom generally means the ukulele was made specifically for someone. Some people have no clue want they really want and the custom doesn't meet expectations, or it just didn’t end up as good as anticipated. Not every custom is a grail ukulele, as some do end up in the marketplace.

    John
    Last edited by 70sSanO; 09-17-2019 at 08:39 PM.

  6. #56
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    1,065

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    We appear to have been scammed. The OP Mr Rabbit has scampered back to his warren. Long may he remain there.
    Kind Regards
    Dennis

    dponeil@xtra.co.nz
    Southern Cross Banjo Ukes & Ukuleles
    Proudly Hand Crafted in
    New Zealand.

  7. #57
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Posts
    5

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    Quote Originally Posted by DPO View Post
    We appear to have been scammed. The OP Mr Rabbit has scampered back to his warren. Long may he remain there.
    No, some of us are also busy with other things - like a life and job and family etc. And not every comment requires a response. However ones like this seem especially unuseful and idiotic so as to require putting straight. Also, way to encourage and foster good will for new people. If this is the response everyone gets then good grief.

    Yes I know a lot about ukuleles - I do my research and I read! I've been looking and reading comments on the forum as well as other places for a long time but never made the jump to registering till now.
    I have an opinion - like so many other people on here.

    As for the luthier - I don't follow the page anymore. I'm not interested in someone who cannot have a conversation about anything outside of their realm of what is acceptable (which is very limited).

    As for all the other comments, thank you. There have been lots of very useful and interesting comments and I've appreciated the different views. It definitely seems to have generated lots of discussion.
    Last edited by PeterRabit; 09-17-2019 at 09:14 PM.

  8. #58
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    1,065

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterRabit View Post
    No, some of us are also busy with other things - like a life and job and family etc. And not every comment requires a response. However ones like this seem especially unuseful and idiotic so as to require putting straight. Also, way to encourage and foster good will for new people. If this is the response everyone gets then good grief.

    Yes I know a lot about ukuleles - I do my research and I read! I've been looking and reading comments on the forum as well as other places for a long time but never made the jump to registering till now.
    I have an opinion - like so many other people on here.

    As for the luthier - I don't follow the page anymore. I'm not interested in someone who cannot have a conversation about anything outside of their realm of what is acceptable (which is very limited).

    As for all the other comments, thank you. There have been lots of very useful and interesting comments and I've appreciated the different views. It definitely seems to have generated lots of discussion.
    I do apologise I was under the missaprehension that you were warren bound.
    Kind Regards
    Dennis

    dponeil@xtra.co.nz
    Southern Cross Banjo Ukes & Ukuleles
    Proudly Hand Crafted in
    New Zealand.

  9. #59
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Springfield, IL
    Posts
    1,142

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    So.............. how about those Cardinals?!!

  10. #60
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Portland OR
    Posts
    434

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan D View Post
    Pat Megowan, Corvallis
    https://patmegowan.com/
    Wow- his instruments look and sound amazing. I found a clip of Pat Megowan visiting with Andrew at HMS- interesting discussion. Thanks!
    Last edited by etudes; 09-18-2019 at 04:37 PM.
    "Everyone I know who is into the Ukulele is 'crackers' so get yourself a few and enjoy yourselves" - George Harrison


    the ukes and year of acquisition:
    Pono RTSH-C-PC Cedar/Rosewood tenor 2016
    Koaloha KSM-02 Koa longneck soprano 2016
    Blackbird Farallon 2017
    2008 Kiwaya KTC-02 Mahogany concert 2018
    aNueNue Moonbird Spruce/Rosewood concert 2018

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