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Thread: Archtop ukulele..

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
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    Default Archtop ukulele..

    Does any one here own an arch top ukulele. What’s your opinion? Do you use nylon strings?

    I am not referring to the ones where the bridge pulls on the top but it looks like an arch top but a real arch top where the strings push down.

  2. #2
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    Sep 2013
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    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
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    Five years ago I bought a true archtop steel string electric uke that was between concert and tenor size for $165 out of China by a group buy I spearheaded here on UU, but after a short while I found I didn't have an occasion to play it, so I sold it.




    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 11 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 35)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

  3. #3
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    Oct 2011
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    I have a Baritone and a bass made by Toby Chennell of Chennell ukes. I use Pahoehoe strings on the bass and since the baritone has a floating bridge, i can use either steel or nylon on it. It's just a matter switching out the nut and saddle. Also was one of Michaels group to buy an electric archtop. Took a bit of work to g3t it setup but sounded pretty good after. I sold it also.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    I enjoy my apruce/maple Saul Koll archtop very much-- although it has a somewhat "thinner" more focused tone than my "conventional" linear tenors-
    I received it with a wound "C" string and added a wound "G.Koll ArchtopUke2.jpgKollArchtopUketailpiece.jpg"

  5. #5
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    Apr 2010
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    Mission Viejo, CA
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    A few years ago I started to look into an archtop ukulele with a tailpiece. Not the pressed laminate top, but a true carved solid top. From what I understand it does take a luthier to a different level when it comes to being able to get the top thickness profile correct. It takes a tremendous amount of skill and expertise.

    Beyond that, I personally to not believe a high end archtop ukulele will rival the acoustic tone of a high end flat top ukulele. In reality, an archtop guitar does not, for the most part rival the acoustic sound of a flat top guitar. There are probably exceptions, but it is a more specialized instrument. Amplified is a different question. My first guitar was a Guild archtop, not the same beast I know, but it was more of a niche instrument.

    In the end, it was not something I personally wanted to pursue.

    John
    Last edited by 70sSanO; 09-28-2019 at 08:46 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Pacifica, CA
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    I have an archtop baritone made by Raven in Maui. Here's his website: https://www.archtopukuleles.com. His work is beautiful and sounds amazing!
    The model I purchased, the Kulu, has a scale length of 21" and an overall length of just over 32". https://www.archtopukuleles.com/kulu...-baritone.html
    I also have a Kala baritone and a Cordoba Cuatro, and neither come anywhere close to my Kulu Baritone Archtop.
    I love it so much I may even sell my very old Martin soprano and Kanilea tenor; I just never play them anymore.

    My only problem: I would love a hard case for this long-necked archtop baritone, but haven't been able to find one online yet. If anyone knows of a good source, please let me know.
    Mahalo,
    TeTe

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    397

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    Radiotone here - tenor size, carved top, no amplification, nylon strings, all acoustic without electrickery.

    It's plenty loud, but:
    1. its mids are stronger than the highs and especially the bass. It cuts through a lot of other noise better than a regular uke, but it isn't as lush as a flattop.
    2. you have to use the 'broken or crooked wrist' in the picking hand to properly drive that floating bridge. Just gently brushing the strings will be quite dissappointing.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    252

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    Quote Originally Posted by TeTe View Post
    I have an archtop baritone made by Raven in Maui. Here's his website: https://www.archtopukuleles.com. His work is beautiful and sounds amazing!
    The model I purchased, the Kulu, has a scale length of 21" and an overall length of just over 32". https://www.archtopukuleles.com/kulu...-baritone.html
    I also have a Kala baritone and a Cordoba Cuatro, and neither come anywhere close to my Kulu Baritone Archtop.
    I love it so much I may even sell my very old Martin soprano and Kanilea tenor; I just never play them anymore.
    My goodness, that guy indeed does beautiful work.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Kekaha, Kauai
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    As this is a subject near and dear to me I will chime in. And for those of you that don’t know me, of the 409 instruments built so far, approximately 150 were arch top mandolins, 9 arch top guitars, and 11 were arch top ukulele. While I do not think that the skill level required to build a good arch top instrument is any greater than that required to build any other instrument, it is important to realize that arch top and flat top instruments are very different animals and produce sound in different ways. For sure, the amount of material and time necessary to build a quality arch top is significantly greater than that of a flat top. One very big difference between the two, is with an arch top, the back is an equal partner in sound production, with a flat top the back is much less important and its role less understood.

    So, if you are considering having someone build you an arch top instrument, it is important that they have some experience with them and have a deep understanding of how they work. It is also a good idea for the customer to have an understanding of what to expect. The forte of an arch top instrument is to be loud, with less sustain than a flat top. The arch top guitar replaced the banjo in the big bands of the 1920’s because they could be heard through the horn section. When the guitar was electrified some years later, the production of arch top guitars went down significantly. They were saved when the jazz musicians of the time discovered they were more suitable for jazz than flat tops. It is an easy comparison to make when looking at steel string guitars. An excellent arch top will blow your socks off. I have heard three in my life that were magical. You would swear when listening to them that there had to be an amplifier involved somehow. When you start to get into nylon strings and nylon stringed ukulele, the difference gets hazier. Compared to a guitar the ukulele does not have a lot of sustain anyway. So the question becomes, is the time and extra materials needed to build an arch top ukulele justified for a small increase in volume. As a luthier I have found that building arch top ukulele to be a bit of a gamble. I have never had any of my mandolins returned but I have had two arch top ukulele sent back. I do not think that they were bad instruments, in fact I am happy to have them in my collection. But I feel considering the extra cost, the customers were expecting more or just did not bond with the instrument. Conversely, I have had a lot of success building for people who have had experience with and understand arch top instruments. I hope this provides some useful insight and feel free to ask any specific questions that come to mind.
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    18

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    Stunning good looks, very tasteful.

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