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Thread: Making an Archtop Ukulele- Take Two

  1. #31
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    Not that I am looking to take on another project right now, but how would such an instrument respond if the back wasn't carved, but just built on a 15 foot curved building form, and with the top carved. Would one notice any difference in tone?

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyturley View Post
    Not that I am looking to take on another project right now, but how would such an instrument respond if the back wasn't carved, but just built on a 15 foot curved building form, and with the top carved. Would one notice any difference in tone?
    You can build a 15 foot arch which is active or non-active. They both sound different (when not pressed up to the body.

  3. #33
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    To answer the questions;
    The prototype will not be for sale, at least not soon. I need to build some more archtops to make sure I can repeat if not improve upon it. There are a number of things that can be done to tweak the instruments after they are finished. Modifying the bridge and tailpiece can yield surprising results. However If this works out, the price will be in the $2K range.

    As far as putting an arched flat back on a carved top instrument, it depends on what you are trying to do. If your goal
    is to replicate some of the great archtop instruments, not a good idea. Martin did it years ago trying to get some of the archtop market from Gibson. That did not work out well. I also tried it on my first archtop guitar, with results similar to Martin. That said, many of the modern archtop makers are searching for a sound much different from the classic ones. To that end, they are adding flat backs, carving the bass side in a different profile than the treble side and playing with different sound hole style and placement. There is a lot of potential to be discovered in my opinion.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  4. #34
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    [QUOTE=BuzzBD;2279234]
    I need to build some more archtops to make sure I can repeat if not improve upon it. There are a number of things that can be done to tweak the instruments after they are finished.

    Hi Brad, it's looking good!

    I am interested in hearing details of the top and back but having read your comments above, it looks like I should wait until you are certain your design is successful and can be reliably repeated. When I made my archtop, I had never seen one and had no real idea of how much of an arch was required, how thick it should be and whether top and back should be the same profile..etc. Hopefully after making a few more instruments, you will be able to answer all my questions and then I will have another attempt at an archtop.

  5. #35
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    Brad, I spent some time watching some of your earlier YT videos from 10 years or so ago where you led a fun archtop build on UU that featured an archtop uke that was sort of trapezoidal, with slightly curved sides that didn't require bending. Do you recall if that particular archtop uke had any features you'd change, or would that be suitable still for a first archtop uke project?

  6. #36
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    Thanks to those that have taken the time to go back over my original thread on building archtop ukuleles. The particular ukulele in question was part of a set I made for gallery in Cannon Beach that consisted of the ukulele and a Native American style flute, both decorated in a NW coast Indian art style. The shape of the ukulele was picked to resemble a coast Indian bentwood box. I think that a pineapple or boat paddle shape would actually be a better shape for an archtop. Those shapes lend themselves to carving a continuous recurve area around the perimeter, it is difficult to do with sharp corners.

    I appreciate all those that are patiently following along as I plod around. It is my hope that in the end I will be able to supply some concrete information on nylon string archtop construction. And in doing so, motivate some others to contribute to the knowledge base with their efforts..
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  7. #37
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    Brad, thanks for sharing this with us. An archtop build is in my future but I have to get orders finished first. I really like the idea of the pineapple shape to start with so that's probably where I'll go.
    th
    My Real name is Terry Harris

  8. #38
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    Bell Buckle, TN 37020
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    Brad,

    MS 20 Series Top CNC Cut Layout.jpg2021-05-26_19-27-50.jpgMS 20 Series Mando.jpgHave you looked at the Martin Series 20 Mandolin? Always liked the looks and went to the trouble of drawing the instrument but never built it. ( We were able to Laser scan an Early 1920' F-5 Loar and used many of the contours from this scan as a guide for this design... and yes, we did build a number of F-5's along with several arched top ukulele's )

    What you have done looks great.

  9. #39
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    Thanks very much for that information Kevin. I do not have any real experience with Martin mandolins, but I will look at the 15 and 20 series to see what I can learn.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  10. #40
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    After I strung it up unfinished, it was apparent that it sounded very nice as is, and did not need extensive modifications and thus could use some beautification. So I have been working towards that end, here’s what I have so far.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/apwnyRf6K9x18h1DA

    I will be adding the fretboard markers next.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

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