Questions to ask for a custom build

keenonuke

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I posted in a thread

Post in thread 'Decision paralysis deciding which Uke to buy next' https://forum.ukuleleunderground.co...ing-which-uke-to-buy-next.163570/post-2489008

what I might ask a luthier for a custom build. That post had me wonder what do others ask. Or not ask.

As I continue in my ukulele journey, I am gravitating more to customs and vintage. This is because of wanting not readily available combos such as body size, string length, use of octaves, etc. And admiring the work of builders or wanting ukes not so much in production like a tiple. (Of course all of this is budget constrained :ROFLMAO: )
 
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Most luthiers have one or more base models for which they have the moulds and tools etc and then offer customizations for these base models. Customizations can include wood choices, decorations, cutaway, bevel, soundport, types of bridges and headstock, multi string options and so forth. Not all luthiers will do all of these.
 
Most luthiers have one or more base models for which they have the moulds and tools etc and then offer customizations for these base models. Customizations can include wood choices, decorations, cutaway, bevel, soundport, types of bridges and headstock, multi string options and so forth. Not all luthiers will do all of these.
Good point. I spoke to a luthier who only does tenor. And as you point out set body shapes (for the molds).

And more than four strings is not four everybody. :cool:
 
first of all, you probably shouldn't get a custom at the incipient stage of your musical journey. Not because of all that rigamarole about earning the right to a custom but because you need to know what you want in order to ask for it.

Then you tell the luthier what these essentials are. I'm easy. I don't care about bracings or nut widths or radii or sound ports. I need 19 frets with a cutaway that gives me access to all frets, a flattish neck, no fret markers, side markers that denote the pentatonic frets.

Then I butt out and let the luthier interpret his or her vision as long as my essentials are met. Of course, the luthier and you will make some cosmetic choices together such as wood choice. Again, being simple...ukes are ukes, so I don't care about tonewoods. I just want something pretty and something off the beaten path.

I would suggest not asking for sound samples because that's silly. How can someone give you a sample of a one-of-a-kind uke that doesn't yet exist.

That's how I do it.
 
I think if you haven't heard that luthier's ukes, you must ask for sound samples to see what her ukes sound like in general. Wouldn't want to be going into such a large purchase deaf.
 
I have been using Bruce Wei Arts in Vietnam since 2013. He makes them from scratch, exactly to the specs that I ask, including thinning the solid top to improve resonance and projection. I even tell him fret marker position. Recently I had him do a couple of thinlines like the Kala Traveler and they came out great, about $850 including express shipping to Los Angeles, two months work time. He sends me samples of the wood choices and a detailed drawing of all the specs for final approval. He does ask for full payment up front, but he stands behind his work.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that one of the customs of solid acacia koa and glossy finish did not have the resonance and projection I expected. He immediately replied that he would pay for all shipping and replace the top with thinner one, no charge. I decided to raffle that one to my group with proceeds going to The Ukulele Kids Club, then ordered a new one of solid mahogany and satin finish.

BWA Mahogany thinline.jpg
 
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