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Mar 10, 2009
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Stockton on Tees..North East UK.
I have no first hand experience with cherry instruments, but I have heard of builders making them completely from cherry and also as back and sides with a softwood top. Martin made some style 3's a few years ago with cherry.

Here are a couple examples of solid cherry instruments. Both sound quite good. I am sure you could make some nice ones!

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Remember that European sweet cherry is different than North American black cherry wood. Better suited and more attractive. I remember several people posting here in the past that used black cherry wood to build their ukes. Here is what the Wood Database has to say:

Workability: Sweet Cherry is easy to work with both machine and hand tools. The only difficulties typically arise if the wood is being stained, as it can sometimes give blotchy results due to its fine, close grain. A sanding sealer or gel stain is recommended. Glues, turns, and finishes well.

Common Uses: Veneer, furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, musical instruments, and carvings.

Comments: Sweet Cherry is the Old World counterpart to Black Cherry found in North America. Sweet Cherry is said to exhibit a bit more of a color contrast than Black Cherry, and it also tends to be slightly denser and stronger. However, the tree itself tends to be smaller than Prunus serotina, and does not yield the larger sizes of lumber that are available for the American species.
I plan on attempting a ukulele made from North American cherry, with a red cedar top sometime later this year. So no useful information for you at this time, but it is beautiful lumber.
I have built a few from black cherry, good stuff but burns easily on power sanders. Bends great. This one had a western red cedar top and is the best sounding one I ever made. The ones with cherry tops seemed on the bright side.
I have a solid cherry Bonanza Homestead concert. I love the wood grain and the coloring. It's gotten a bit darker since I bought it, the color is richer, like a slightly orange/caramel color. It sounds good too!
Sven made quite a few Ken - you probably played one at Hollesley.

I've only built with cherry once - it worked fine but I left it too thick (inexperience!)
Black Cherry Spruce top.


One of the most beautiful sounding ukuleles I've ever played was Rick Turner's personal Cherry Tenor Uke.

The only time I've ever considered stealing an instrument... but Rick was between me and the door, and my wife had the car keys.

Had he been willing to sell it, it still would have been out of my price range. And that was around 10 years ago.

It's difficult to judge the dimensions of that sample, Ken, but I wouldn't use that piece for ukulele making. If you can get enough straight grained timber, of the right cut, it could make a very desirable instrument.
What do I know about it? Sadly the answer is little but I reckon that John will be right and that unless it’s a commission with the buyer taking the risk you’d be far better off to stick to what you know.

I think that Aaron Keim sometimes builds with Cherry but North American Cherry.

If you want to build with different than your normal materials then, respectfully, the likes of your friend Pete Howlett would be a good person to talk to first. In my experience it’s sometimes best to let ‘opportunities’ pass by you - not all that glitters is gold and ‘bargains’ too often end up costing a lot of money.
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Several years ago I found a quarter sawn locally milled black cherry board and have made several full cherry (neck, sides, top and back) sopranos. I love the way the wood works, looks, and sounds. And as mentioned above, it’s very nice to bend.


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Ken, there is cherry neck blanks available on the great auction site that you could easily cut up for ukes, and is quarter sawn, like this:

Or this:

I've built three instruments from locally sourced cherry, two of them with cherry sound boards, and they are some of the best sounding instruments I've built yet. Similar to mahogany with a solid middle and not a lot of highs and lows, but decent enough range for all that--little brighter than mahogany.
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