New 8-string uke day

Back in the spring of 2013 I started talking to Rob Collins, a luthier in Hebden Bridge in the UK, about a commission for an eight string tenor ukulele to be built entirely out British woods. Last week I received this beautiful instrument from him. I’m very pleased with it and am just getting to grips with the extra precision to play an 8 string cleanly. But even though I’m still learning it’s immense fun, and a beauty to look at, and play.

For the enthusiasts here are are the specifications
Soundboard and sides – cherry (Prunus avium)
Back – cherry again but a piece of timber from the graft where the favoured variety meets the rootstock. Inspired by seeing Ben’s baritone on Rob’s site.
Rosette – London plane (Platanus x acerifolia typically a hybrid of P. occidentalis and P. orientalis)
Fretboard and bridge – laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides)
Headstock faceplate – yew (Taxus baccata)
Neck – yellow poplar or tulip-tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Hampshire Wood Supplies has the full story about sourcing the wood for the neck.

Another New Uke Day!

Islander Spruce/Rosewood Tenor

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157633123369644″]

Half-price nicely setup slight blem from Hawaii Music Supply.

Cross-posted from Ukulele Underground – see this post.

I know it’s only a week after my first NUD post about my Kanile’a K-1 tenor, but now it has a brother! Something I won’t worry about taking around with me, and might spend some time at the office for a few spare minutes strumming (what spare minutes?).

It’s a Islander Spruce/Rosewood laminate tenor (RWSTP) from HMS. It was being sold as a slight blem, at half-price. Couldn’t resist. I’ve taken some macro close-up shots to show the blems, but honestly in real light, and looking at it normally it looks great, you wouldn’t really notice. And now I don’t have to worry about putting that first ding on it!

And the HMS setup is fantastic. Plays beautifully, really great job preparing the uke – thanks guys!

New Uke Day

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157633085116552″] (cross-posted from Ukulele Underground)

Well it’s been a long wait but eventually I made the call and chose this Kanile’a tenor that I’d first tried out before NAMM in January. Thank you to Edgar (at Aloha Warehouse in San Franciso) for all the time he let me spend trying out different ukes. It was the only Kanile’a tenor in stock at the time I played it, but more were promised “soon” and they would be gloss finish. And I was persuaded that the gloss finish was stunning and worth checking out. So I waited. Well “soon” turned into a couple of months as Kanile’a were very busy with NAMM, another festival, and getting many orders out.

Well this was the week that the gloss K-1T Deluxe arrived. It was as lovely as promised. I road-tested both side by side and still very clearly preferred the satin. I admit that was much to my surprise. I didn’t think the gloss finish, being so thin, would make that much difference to the sound (and maybe it didn’t, it could just be instrument to instrument variation). The K-1T deluxe certainly looked great, but it’s really about the sound and this one had the edge. Also our friend Mark was in the store to see what I bought! To help me decide he did a blind playing session of both. I couldn’t see which one he’d picked up. It was very clear which of the two I liked by the sound alone, and it was the satin one I fell in love with in January. So glad it hadn’t sold! (I might be in trouble next week if I go back in and the other gloss tenors shipping soon sound nicer – two regular K-1 and one ‘premium’ wood!)

UPDATE: 27-MAR-2013 – it’s playing well, but I certainly need the action lowered a bit. It’s currently at 4mm, and should be under 3mm, at the 12th fret.

Someone’s learning quickly

Done by our son, who is 3 yr 10 mo - not bad!
Done by our son, who is 3 yr 10 mo – not bad!

Well I’m having fun with the soprano I introduced in the post below. It’s proving to be a fine uke and I’m learning a lot while playing it.

Tonight what amazed me most is that our son, age 3yr 10mo is also picking this up well. Tonight, after he practiced with me (well he chose the chords and I had to follow along) I realized he really did know several chords, and could play them well. And not just single finger chords. I printed out a blank chord sheet and I was going to write in all the chords he knew – so we could keep a chart in the kitchen and add to it as he goes along. But before I knew it he’d picked up a pen and had started writing them out himself, and they’re all perfectly correct!

For those of you that know how he plays you’ll be familiar with his favorite chord, which he calls P-minor 7, illustrated on the right. It involves the flat of the palm on the strings so as to generate a chucking action when strumming 🙂

Looks like we have a budding tiny uker on our hands. What fun!

It’s Uke Time

Should be arriving next week! It’s arrived! Pretty! (It really is, as good as the pictures.) And it should sound lovely and bright with the spruce top. Only just strummed it a little before I headed off to work, but it clearly has  a load of volume and sounds great. Can’t wait to try it out properly tonight!

Kala Ukuleles – this one is coming came from Hawaii Music Supply