Uke design pet peeves

medullary rays
Aha! I was looking for this word! I heard Andrew mention it a TUS podcast once, but would never be able to find it in all their eps!

Are you talking about the volute? Some folks consider it a plus, but I don't know why.
I think it's so the player has a stopping point to feel when they're at the end of the neck? Like... just ripping away on a solo at the 15th fret, then dropping back down to first position... don't wanna overshoot and start playing above the nut! I wonder what instruments used these first. Here's a '71 Les Paul with a prominent volute.

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All eared tuners are mounted crooked, if you look close and long enough.
This cracked me up! See above. Someone get me a T-square, stat!! 🧐 📐
 
Aha! I was looking for this word! I heard Andrew mention it a TUS podcast once, but would never be able to find it in all their eps!


I think it's so the player has a stopping point to feel when they're at the end of the neck? Like... just ripping away on a solo at the 15th fret, then dropping back down to first position... don't wanna overshoot and start playing above the nut! I wonder what instruments used these first. Here's a '71 Les Paul with a prominent volute.

View attachment 165002


This cracked me up! See above. Someone get me a T-square, stat!! 🧐 📐
Martin D-28s have volutes. They were introduced in 1931. I have owned a D-18 and now own a D-21, neither of which have volutes.
None of my ukuleles have volutes.
A couple of my banjos do.
 
Aha! I was looking for this word! I heard Andrew mention it a TUS podcast once, but would never be able to find it in all their eps!


I think it's so the player has a stopping point to feel when they're at the end of the neck? Like... just ripping away on a solo at the 15th fret, then dropping back down to first position... don't wanna overshoot and start playing above the nut! I wonder what instruments used these first. Here's a '71 Les Paul with a prominent volute.

View attachment 165002


This cracked me up! See above. Someone get me a T-square, stat!! 🧐 📐
Re: the volute. It is added to increase the strength of the neck to headstock transition. It’s most useful on instruments with a neck/headstock made from a single piece of wood where the headstock is at an angle. This angled headstock and single piece of wood requires the wood to be cut across the grain which makes it weaker. This weakness is exacerbated by instruments that have a truss rod as that removes more wood from the area. Gibson guitars, particularly the heavy, solid-body ones, are notorious for headstocks getting broken off due to this.

Edit to add a diagram stolen from the web. I’ve circled the area I’m talking about. There’s not a lot of wood, and it is cut across the grain. And on Gibson style instruments the truss rod cavity removes even more wood. The volute would be directly below that to add wood to that area.


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I was gonna mention Gibson... can you imagine how many more would have broken headstocks of there was no volute? 😄
Most Gibson's don’t (my Gibson acoustic doesn’t have one, for example). They used volutes for a short period in the 70’s but then stopped (for the most part, there have been some exceptions). There are a lot of broken head stocks, particularly on their electric guitars.
 
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Both of my Jupiter tenor ukuleles have volutes. I like them, they look cool, and they help keep my hand from sliding up onto the headstock.
 
yes, electrics and LPs in particular were most common to crack/break...fortunately, there are some great luthiers out there who have done some amazing fixes
Yeah, I really enjoy watching some of the youtube luthiers do those repairs. Ted Woodford is a fun one to watch.
 
  • 12-fret ukes, though I love this on guitars
  • Excessive abalone or other adornment especially when not done to a fine standard; it merely detracts
  • Decals of any kind except the mfg label
  • Skinny low volume nuts/necks - I play guitar and bass, give me some meat!
  • Light soft woods on fretboard and bridge (my Martin C1K). Go rosewood or ebony!
  • Pointy or angry headstocks
  • Guitar tuners
  • Graphtec tuners
  • Extra holes
  • White or “cream” plastic binding, body or neck. Just no. Pale maple or nearly white wood? OK. Just no to all plastic except tuner knobs!
  • I prefer string through or slotted bridges over tie bar
  • Gloss finish. Hand rubbed oil always looks better than the “wet dipped” look. Satin is 2nd best.
  • Fake names for wood (Taylor!!!). Just tell me what it is. Don’t call anything “urban”, this is an instant turnoff.

It’s getting hard to think of more things… so I’ll end it there!
 
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This mostly has to do with problems with my playing technique, but I dislike string spacing that is wide, because my grip around the neck ends up muting the bottom string. Also soprano fretboards that are beyond 12 frets, because my strumming hits the fretboard 😅

I also dislike any bridge style besides slotted, because pull throughs and tie bars are too fussy for my impatience, and pin bridges make it look like a toy acoustic guitar to me. I realize some of the earliest ukes had pin bridges, but as a former acoustic guitar-player I can't shake the association. I also just prefer the aesthetic simplicity of the slotted bridge.

A final dislike is when elements don't match in colour/tone. Ie ivory tuner buttons paired with a bright white soundhole rosette, etc. Why??
 
I'm pretty adaptable. I prefer chunky necks and I prefer wide string spacing, but I can work with most instruments.

Aesthetically, I am not overly fond of bling or highly figured wood in general.

When it comes to ukes I tend to go for understated and classic, more traditional looks.
 
Great book by the way and I had it spiral bound yesterday (not found that option in UK).
I've often had to buy the PDF version of a book and send it to DoxDirect to be printed and spiral bound. No problems if the book is saddle-stitched, but perfect binding is not ideal for music books (used mainly because it's cheap and the spine is readable on store shelves).
 
I've often had to buy the PDF version of a book and send it to DoxDirect to be printed and spiral bound.

How much does that cost? I was quoted more than the price of the book and the spiral binding to print from pdf.
 
What are your uke design pet peeves, if any?

Mine are:

1. Manufacturers who seemingly use the exact same size bridge on soprano and concert as tenor. Often not bad on concert, but sometimes results in a huge looking bridge on soprano. Examples include Kala Elite, other Kalas and Kanilea.

2. Skinny nut width, and more importantly, string spread. The usual import 35mm nut and 27mm string spread is ok for many, but I need more room. I can play 35mm nuts, but much easier if they have a 28-29mm string spread. Then there are manufacturers who really squeeze it down to 34mm nuts on soprano, with 27mm spread, like a couple of Ohanas I've tried, not fun for me. The Martin 34mm nut spec on tenor scale has always been a headscratcher for me (especially when you consider that their sops and concerts are usually 36mm), although their tenor 28-29mm string spread helped a bit.

3. Somewhat related to #2, manufacturers who use overly wide neck bindings, with frets starting inside the bindings, ala Koaloha. In their case, this results in narrower string spacing at nut of only 27mm, while the nut is wide at 38mm. To me, that's a waste of a nice wide nut, and limits any option of cutting a new nut with wider string spacing. I prefer no neck bindings, with frets that go all the way to the edges.

4. Low volume/muted ukes. Drives me nut when I get a uke that is gorgeous, has great materials, plays well and has good tone, but wimpy volume. It may open up/ develop over time, but I don't have patience for that, preferring good volume from the start.

5. Too much bling/inlay. I know lots of folks love it, and it often takes superior skills to pull it off well, but just not my cup of tea, preferring plain, more understated ukes.

I guess I'm picky, but that's what it's all about, finding what's just right for you.

Got any pet peeves to share?
Mango that looks like mold......eww......
 
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