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Thread: Concert Ukulele Oak and Cedar

  1. #1

    Default Concert Ukulele Oak and Cedar

    Okay, little story -- this summer at a family picnic, at a cabin in a very small town in the Midwest...

    Cabin was built of found and cheaply acquired lumber. Much of it (timbers/siding/flooring/paneling) was milled and dried on site. I was kicking around some of the still unused logs, and spotted some cedar. http://www.borealforest.org/trees/tree14.htm Uncle Rick was kind enough to offer me a chunk to take home. This is the top wood.

    Found some really nice looking oak and decided to have a go with it, and the cedar.

    This seems to be the best sounding ukulele I've made so far. Great tone - rich, bright, clear, sustain, harmonics, sweetness. Hard to put down.

    Some things I learned:

    Cedar can work really well for a ukulele. Even this very soft version, of which I had some doubts.

    Oak is an excellent tonewood. I wouldn't hesitate to use it again.

    X bracing works very well in a ukulele, even in as small as a concert size. I will surely experiment more with X bracing. This ukulele sings.

    And some pics: IMG_20191210_123656235.jpgIMG_20191210_123700142.jpgIMG_20191210_123706306.jpgIMG_20191210_123709004.jpgIMG_20191210_123728124_BURST000_COVER-ANIMATION.jpg

  2. #2

  3. #3
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    Great looking ukulele. It has long been known that cedar can make a great soundboard top.

  4. #4
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    Greenville, VA.
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    Nice looking uke. You are right, oak is a fine instrument wood. The concept of tonewood is a joke, for the most part wood is wood. A friend has made X braced soprano ukes and they have poor volume and no sparkle. But mostly because he made the braces way too heavy. Guitar builders can have a hard time adapting to ukes.

  5. #5
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    May 2015
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    That is some nice oak.

  6. #6
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    "The concept of tonewood is a joke, for the most part wood is wood"

    I don't understand what you mean by that statement. My experience of working with wood tells me that not all wood is the same. Different types of wood have different physical properties. This leads me to believe that certain types of wood are more suitable than others for particular applications.

    John Colter

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    Great looking ukulele. It has long been known that cedar can make a great soundboard top.
    I didn't know how well it would work with a uke (found some, but not many examples) and my last instrument (uke with a cedar top) was disappointing in the sound department. So, this felt like a leap of faith for me.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by printer2 View Post
    That is some nice oak.
    I know, right?

  9. #9
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    Aug 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukantor View Post
    "The concept of tonewood is a joke, for the most part wood is wood"

    I don't understand what you mean by that statement. My experience of working with wood tells me that not all wood is the same. Different types of wood have different physical properties. This leads me to believe that certain types of wood are more suitable than others for particular applications.

    John Colter
    Hi John,
    I am not speaking for jcalkin, but since I hold similar views and have expressed them previously, I'll try to clarify my take on this.
    I think that its all in the name. There are mystical implications when something is described as 'tonewood'. Stringed instrument lovers are seduced by the term. There is no denying that certain woods do in fact have magical properties when skilfully used in instrument making. These are the ones that we are happy to refer to as 'tonewoods'.

    Where the term loses credibility for me, is best demonstrated in a simple exercise.

    If we buy say, 2 board feet of tight grained quarter sawn mahogany from a lumber supplier it may legitimately be called something like 'Quarter sawn Furniture Grade Exotic Mahogany' and command $X per board foot.
    If we buy the same 2 board feet of tight grained quarter sawn mahogany from a specialist luthier
    supply house it will probably bear the tag of Finest A+ Grade Mahogany Tonewood and command $5X per board foot for the same timber. I am certainly not intending to denigrate tonewood suppliers, just trying to point out the differences in applied terminology. Tonewood suppliers must include the costs of reducing the boards to traditional usage thickness, and that should be considered, but the same situation exists for billet sales as well.
    For me, its not about the intended use, nor the supplier, but the implied superiority of one description over the other when referring to the same product.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Greenville, VA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukantor View Post
    "The concept of tonewood is a joke, for the most part wood is wood"

    I don't understand what you mean by that statement. My experience of working with wood tells me that not all wood is the same. Different types of wood have different physical properties. This leads me to believe that certain types of wood are more suitable than others for particular applications.

    John Colter
    I wrote a long article about this long ago that may still be available at www.guitarnation.com. The concept that some string instrument wood is more musical than others has not held up and was never true. Using 30-40 varieties of wood for instruments convinced me of this many years ago. It was also believed that straight-grain wood sounded better than figured wood. There was a time when it was thought only clear rosewood, mahogany, or maple would make music. But look at the high-end guitar scene now as opposed to 20 years ago. Today the most highly figured wood of any variety is being used. Suppliers sell sets of dozens of species. If "Congolese Rat Wood" was found to be beautiful the name would be changed to "Congo rosewood (not a dalbergia)" and it would be introduced to the lutherie fold. Please feel free to use any wood you come across. If handled correctly it will make fine instruments.

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