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Thread: NUD: Custom Laulu Ukulele soprano

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    813

    Default NUD: Custom Laulu Ukulele soprano

    Happy new year, everyone! This will be a very special NUD post for me, so strap yourselves in.

    In March 2020, I commissioned a custom soprano ukulele from a local Luthier here in Helsinki, Lottonen Guitars (http://lottonen.com/laulu-ukuleles/). Juha Lottonen is an excellent luthier, praised multiple times by Pete Howlett among others, and an extremely nice fellow with whom I always chat endlessly about ukuleles whenever I visit. While he makes ukes and guitars out of typical woods like koa or mahogany his shtick is to make instruments out of locally sourced alder which is not only a quality tonewood but also very ecological. A uke made out of local woods really appealed to me so commissioning one was a given. The initial schedule for completion was around Autumn but unfortunately delivery issues with certain supplies meant that completion would be delayed. Then a couple of days ago I got a message saying the uke was completed and I would be able to go get it on the very last day of the year, and so I did...

    20210101_154119.jpglaulu.jpglaulu.jpg
    laulu3.jpg20210101_154547.jpg

    I think it's absolutely stunning. I asked for a sort of vintage look (black nut and saddle, dark front binding, simple soundhole rosette) and some nice flaming alder which I knew Juha had, and I could not be happier with the result. As you can see from the photos, Juha has taken inspiration from old Gibson ukuleles with the shape of the headstock and the end of the fretboard. The nut and saddle are buffalo bone, and the fretboard and bridge are made out of elm, another locally sourced wood. I think the whole thing just looks incredibly classy, and the nice flaming just adds on top of that. I specifically wanted it fitted with Graphtech ratio tuners because they give the tuning posts that vintage matte look like with an old wooden peg instead of the metallic tuning posts on most friction pegs or Gotoh planetary tuners (both of which were also an option). I don't like the bulkiness of the tuners on the back of the headstock but otherwise I'm happy with how they look and function. I've heard they are known to break occasionally but they are cheap and easily replaceable. The name "Laulu", which is Finnish, translates to "Song", as in someone singing.

    The playability of this thing is incredible. It is light as a feather, probably the lightest uke I own, and perfectly balanced. The neck shape is quite rounded and doesn't have that flat point so many desire but it's still narrow and comfortable. Action is very low making it easy to play. The only thing that takes a bit of getting used to is the frets that are a bit taller than what I'm used to on sopranos.

    The tone really surprised me. Alder is typically a fairly bright sounding wood and it definitely has some of that but there's still plenty of nice warmth too. It's not easy to describe but I'd say it's somewhat comparable to mahogany and koa. It's not quite as warm and jangly as mahogany but there's definitely some of that. The brightness and punchiness reminds me of koa but on the other hand it lacks a bit of that koa spark and sweetness. In any case, the tone is extremely suitable for a soprano body and definitely the kind I prefer on a soprano. Here's a quick audio sample:
    https://soundcloud.com/user-62865866.../s-gBdgqBxAsUK

    I think it's fair to say I'm extremely happy with how this uke turned out, and I'm really grateful for Juha Lottonen for making such a wonderful instrument for me. This will be my most treasured uke for sure. I will now begin my inevitable quest for trying different strings on it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Saratoga, CA
    Posts
    1,204

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dohle View Post
    Happy new year, everyone! This will be a very special NUD post for me, so strap yourselves in.

    In March 2020, I commissioned a custom soprano ukulele from a local Luthier here in Helsinki, Lottonen Guitars (http://lottonen.com/laulu-ukuleles/). Juha Lottonen is an excellent luthier, praised multiple times by Pete Howlett among others, and an extremely nice fellow with whom I always chat endlessly about ukuleles whenever I visit. While he makes ukes and guitars out of typical woods like koa or mahogany his shtick is to make instruments out of locally sourced alder which is not only a quality tonewood but also very ecological. A uke made out of local woods really appealed to me so commissioning one was a given. The initial schedule for completion was around Autumn but unfortunately delivery issues with certain supplies meant that completion would be delayed. Then a couple of days ago I got a message saying the uke was completed and I would be able to go get it on the very last day of the year, and so I did...

    20210101_154119.jpglaulu.jpglaulu.jpg
    laulu3.jpg20210101_154547.jpg

    I think it's absolutely stunning. I asked for a sort of vintage look (black nut and saddle, dark front binding, simple soundhole rosette) and some nice flaming alder which I knew Juha had, and I could not be happier with the result. As you can see from the photos, Juha has taken inspiration from old Gibson ukuleles with the shape of the headstock and the end of the fretboard. The nut and saddle are buffalo bone, and the fretboard and bridge are made out of elm, another locally sourced wood. I think the whole thing just looks incredibly classy, and the nice flaming just adds on top of that. I specifically wanted it fitted with Graphtech ratio tuners because they give the tuning posts that vintage matte look like with an old wooden peg instead of the metallic tuning posts on most friction pegs or Gotoh planetary tuners (both of which were also an option). I don't like the bulkiness of the tuners on the back of the headstock but otherwise I'm happy with how they look and function. I've heard they are known to break occasionally but they are cheap and easily replaceable. The name "Laulu", which is Finnish, translates to "Song", as in someone singing.

    The playability of this thing is incredible. It is light as a feather, probably the lightest uke I own, and perfectly balanced. The neck shape is quite rounded and doesn't have that flat point so many desire but it's still narrow and comfortable. Action is very low making it easy to play. The only thing that takes a bit of getting used to is the frets that are a bit taller than what I'm used to on sopranos.

    The tone really surprised me. Alder is typically a fairly bright sounding wood and it definitely has some of that but there's still plenty of nice warmth too. It's not easy to describe but I'd say it's somewhat comparable to mahogany and koa. It's not quite as warm and jangly as mahogany but there's definitely some of that. The brightness and punchiness reminds me of koa but on the other hand it lacks a bit of that koa spark and sweetness. In any case, the tone is extremely suitable for a soprano body and definitely the kind I prefer on a soprano. Here's a quick audio sample:
    https://soundcloud.com/user-62865866.../s-gBdgqBxAsUK

    I think it's fair to say I'm extremely happy with how this uke turned out, and I'm really grateful for Juha Lottonen for making such a wonderful instrument for me. This will be my most treasured uke for sure. I will now begin my inevitable quest for trying different strings on it.
    It sounds really nice! Congratulations!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    2,115

    Default

    It is a beautiful instrument. I love the simple classic look. It sounds wonderful with a lovely sparkle and resonance.

    What a great way to start the year!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    West Philly, PA
    Posts
    520

    Default

    Wow gorgeous! And it sounds like it has incredible tone and volume too. A superb soprano!
    Pohaku "Yellow Label" Mahogany Soprano
    Weymann Model 10 Mahogany Soprano (c. 1918)
    Uke.S.A. Hawaii (by "Pops KoAloha") Bearclaw AO Soprano

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    398

    Default

    Congratulations! Your new soprano has a wonderful look and sound.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    NorCal
    Posts
    728

    Default

    Beautiful in looks and sound! Nice way to end 2020 and take you to the new year.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Posts
    333

    Default

    Beautiful! I love the clean uke with gorgeous wood look. I've never heard an all alder uke before so I looked it up. Alder falls between koa/mahogany and spruce/cedar in terms of "sound energy", which might have as much to do with loudness (everything else being equal) than with warmth/brightness. It sure sounds great with the 12th Street.

  8. #8

    Default

    It rings as clear as a bell and gorgeous to boot.

    Bluesy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    139

    Default

    Thanks for sharing, stunning uke, it looks and sounds gorgeous.

    I am especially interested because I recently ordered a soprano by Juha myself. I always wanted one since Pete Howlett and Claus Mohri, two of my favorite ukulelemakers, who used to meet Juha at ukulele festivals in Finland especially pointed out his work whenever asked about peers.

    I was drooling over alder as well since I like the idea of using local woods from wherever the luthier is from; mine will be all koa anyway. If it works out, there'll still be time for an alder one I suppose.

    By the way, I'm pretty sure you've heard about this year's Christmas calender by Markus Rantanen but just in case: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN3...JkkH7Kw/videos - I think he exclusivly uses Laulu ukuleles in these 24 videos.

    Have fun with your uke!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    813

    Default

    Thanks for all the comments so far!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed1 View Post
    Beautiful! I love the clean uke with gorgeous wood look. I've never heard an all alder uke before so I looked it up. Alder falls between koa/mahogany and spruce/cedar in terms of "sound energy", which might have as much to do with loudness (everything else being equal) than with warmth/brightness. It sure sounds great with the 12th Street.
    I think alder is more typically used for guitars or other larger instruments. I'm guessing the tone of the wood isn't quite as distinct on such a small instrument but I think you can hear at least some characteristics of the wood even from the recording I did. The tone is punchier than any mahogany uke I've played, a bit similar to koa in some sense as I mentioned before but lacking some of that koa warmth/sweetness. There's certainly not as much projection as some spruce top ukes I've tried. I think the tone is quite nicely balanced, particularly for a soprano. Glad you were able to recognize the tune from my playing.

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