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Thread: Hand-made ukuleles

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Eastern Pennsylvania / Jupiter Florida
    Posts
    134

    Default Hand-made ukuleles

    I am a small-time maker of ukuleles. Things have been a bit quiet given the Covid situation and I have 4 instruments in current inventory, two tenors and two concerts. I love wood. The wood for most of the instruments I build started with me and a chain saw, and most of the wood has a story associated with it. We are surrounded here in the east (Pennsylvania and Florida) by wonderful wood so I see no reason to use tropical hardwood that came from who-knows-where at who-knows-what environmental cost. Because of all these great local choices I rarely build exactly the same thing twice.
    I strive to get the very best sound from my instruments and think they can compete with any other instrument. If you would like to see the current inventory (and a bit more of the story) it is at http://jupiteruke.com/ukuleles-for-sale/. If you are in the Eastern Pennsylvania area over the summer, or the Jupiter Florida area over the winter, you are welcome to stop by, see the shop, and play whatever instruments I have in inventory.
    - Jonathan Dale

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Salem area Oregon USA
    Posts
    588

    Default

    There was a fellow in Australia who made Jupiter Creek ukuleles, I have one , electric

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    Tacoma, WA
    Posts
    67

    Default

    Super nice looking instruments. That spalted tamarind is amazing! How much is that--no prices?

    Love that you have one with dogs on it (says the guy whose GF's kids call him doggie man).

    Good luck during these hard times

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    2,482

    Default

    Did you dry and age the wood yourself?
    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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
    Posts
    882

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jupiteruke View Post
    I am a small-time maker of ukuleles. Things have been a bit quiet given the Covid situation and I have 4 instruments in current inventory, two tenors and two concerts. I love wood. The wood for most of the instruments I build started with me and a chain saw, and most of the wood has a story associated with it. We are surrounded here in the east (Pennsylvania and Florida) by wonderful wood so I see no reason to use tropical hardwood that came from who-knows-where at who-knows-what environmental cost. Because of all these great local choices I rarely build exactly the same thing twice.
    As for "who," plenty of us know where tropical hardwoods come from. We farm koa here on Hawaii and are extremely sensitive to environmental cost with hordes of Greenpeace and environmental activists behind every other tree and bush (plus the state regulates the hell out of the industry). So no big mystery if you want koa.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
    Posts
    5,068

    Default

    I have two Jupiters (both guitaleles) and can vouch for their quality and for the great experience working with Jonathan. My UAS is mostly in remission but dang, that #73 mango is tempting.
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, B reentrant
    Jupiter #71, A, UG1

    !Flukutronic!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    West Philly, PA
    Posts
    405

    Default

    Cool. Where abouts in Eastern PA are you?
    Pohaku "Yellow Label" Mahogany Soprano
    Weymann Model 10 Mahogany Soprano (c. 1918)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    186

    Default

    I enjoyed perusing your site. Ukuleles sound amazing. Jangly and soulful at the same time. Love the video with Glenn from the aloha boys. You could tell he was really loving your ukuleles and make them sound great. Instead of bantering around which is better kala versus pono verses k this in k that. Everyone should try a handcrafted ukulele made by hand with love and skill. I'm on a ukulele diet so I can't be tempted. But I don't mind supporting other people's addiction. If I was in the market for handcrafted I would definitely consider Jupiter. Love that you source local wood.
    KoAlana Sapele Concert -- now known as the KoAloha Opio
    Mainland Mahogany Concert - my knockabout jam ukulele
    Mahalo Pineapple Soprano -- the one that started it all
    Blue Frog Maple Soprano - Beautiful sonorous sound cannon

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    West Philly, PA
    Posts
    405

    Default

    Just listened to the sound samples. You're instruments seem to have lovely chime and clarity to them. I'd love to hear some of your soprano's if you have any sound samples you could put up.
    Pohaku "Yellow Label" Mahogany Soprano
    Weymann Model 10 Mahogany Soprano (c. 1918)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Eastern Pennsylvania / Jupiter Florida
    Posts
    134

    Default

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments. A couple of answers:
    Pricing: On my website under "About".

    "Did you dry and age the wood yourself?" - yes. I cut quarter-sawn billets out of logs (picture of part of the stash below, don't know why it is sideways), re-saw them into rough plates, bind these up into bundles with separators, and put them up in my 'solar dryer', AKA 'the attic' for a couple of years. (picture below). On my website I do write a bit of a blog about the building process if you are interested. http://jupiteruke.com/blog/

    IMG_20200811_104309.jpgIMG_20200811_104135.jpg

    Peter Kun Frary, farming koa - my hats off to you. Growing trees is a long term proposition and I have great respect for that amount of forethought and patience. I sold the bigger house out in the country (kids are grown) last year and the hardest thing to leave behind were the trees I had planted, some from nuts. I had an American chestnut planted as a nut that was 35 feet tall and getting pretty close (I think) to the time when it might bear its own nuts. Still alive in spite of the blight.

    "Where abouts in Eastern PA are you?" - in Bethlehem.

    I do not have any sopranos at the moment. I do not build many of them.

    Note on woods -I do build instruments to order under what I call 'semi-custom'. The customer gets to pick wood, binding, purfling etc and there is no difference in price since the labor is the same and the cost of the wood itself is minimal (other than labor) since most of it was free as logs. If you want some custom inlays or other options they are an up-charge.

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