It’s almost that time of the year again, and here’s this year’s Olukai “Aloha” award ukulele for the Ho’olaule’a in Maui this coming May. I’ve added a tribal gecko laser cut to the back of the instrument. Accents are India Rosewood binding, rope style purfling, and Mango for heal graft and back of peg head. This koa is from the island of Maui, making it just a little more special for this occasion. It’s a full volume tenor and strung log “G”. Nice!
You know, sometimes it pays to try something different. This tenor uke is made from Carob wood. I’ve never heard of this wood and have never used this wood before and I don’t expect that when my present stock is gone that I will ever use it again. I was suprised at the warm tone of this wood. It is a non-endangered species harvested here in sunny San Diego. The pink/red tones of this wood do not fade with time but increase in intensity as the wood oxidizes. The neck is made from Bass Wood (light and stable–of course with carbon fiber reinforcement) and I thought it matched the sap wood of the Carob pretty well. All of the wood accents are figured African Bubinga including the finger board. My arched finger board is a little narrower in order to accommodate a smaller hand. I used red heart abalone purfling to accent the pink of the wood and added red paua abalone plumeria flowers to the sound board–definitely a chick ukulele.
One of my latest projects required Peony Flower inlays. I”m not a big fan of sound board inlays because it limits my ability to custom thickness the soundboard ,but who am I to say no–no rules in ukulele. So this is my interpretation of the clients requests. I can’t say that my photography is up to snuff on this project, but I think that you will get the idea. This “Ku’u Ipo” concert ukulele features a more vintage shape with rounded lower bout and a 15 3/4″ scale. The instrument is made from moderately curly Koa with Brazilian Lacewood accents and Peghead Tuners. The Peony flowers are white and gold mother-of-pearl with petals of green and paua abalone.
This is the first out-of-the-mold jumbo tenor ukulele. This shape is a conglomerate of patterns from my original Hula Hips tenor to a more classic jumbo guitar shape. It is not as thick as my current instruments but is 10 inches in the lower bout. The volume may be about the same but the active sound board is definitely increased. I have gone back to a more classic look as well with a center sound hole but I’ve kept the side, concert sound hole. This instrument is constructed of Oregon Bastogne Black Walnut with a Sitka Spruce sound board. I “X” braced the sound board. Rope style purfling and vintage back strip to accent the look. The neck is matching Oregon Black Walnut. I used Aquila low ‘G” strings and was mightly impressed with the volume and depth of sound. This will be my slack key go-to ukulele. Asante you all.
Here’s a new Maple Tenor: center sound hole, and side concert sound hole. Really nice Maple back and sides with a Sitka top. I did finger board and bridge in a new wood from Mexico called Guanadillo Negro–probably Granadillo but more brown in color. How knows? It’s really hard and I liked the color! Accents are in Spalted Maple and purfling is split herringbone with dark curly Koa binding. It will have bone nut and saddle and strings per customer request. I especially like the matching pick guard in Maple. Oh, did I mention, this instrument is available!
So with multiple moves and all I haven’t been get’in with it lately. Still been busy though. Here’s a new custom instrument for a client that wanted only California woods. The back is Monterey cypress, the sides are Sycamore, the sound board and neck are CA old growth redwood and the binding is Eucalyptus. Body shape is vintage/Kahiko style with double puka. Oh, the fret board and bridge are CA Carob wood. This instrument was so light that I think the K&K passive pickup weighed as much.
OMG! My client wanted an alternative sound hole arrangement for his new 6 string ukulele. Who am I to say no! Not only did he request three sound holes for his left handed uke, but he wanted all the possible wood combinations he could get in one instrument (black walnut neck, koa sound board, curly walnut sides, curly maple back, Macassar ebony fret board and bridge complimented with curly koa binding and paua abalone purfling top and back, plus custom artwork–WHOA!). Who am I to say no! DON’T FORGET: NO RULES IN UKULELE. So whether or not this appeals to you it actually turned out to be interesting, attractive and very pleasing to the ear. So have at it!
Oh, I almost forgot, this is pro surfer Guy Takayama’s oversized tenor design. It worked really well with this instrument.
Yowza! Here’s another mango tenor uke–same wood as in Mango Me Baby. Asymmetric sound hole, side concert sound hole, good figure and color in the mango but with my plumeria sound board inlay. It’s interesting, but I really think that some of these low density woods really respond well with this short scale and nylon strings. I also think that a heavier string like D’Addario, Ko’olau “Alohi”, or La Bella might really bring out the best in these instruments.
I think I told ya’ll that I was getting tired of looking at brown. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the Koa, but I was just getting tired of all the “brown” instruments. So, other than Mango, I’m on a Maple kick. Got some really nice stuff in Oregon late last year and here’s the first product with that material. This stuff was pretty curly, but I was really sold by the spalting. Going up again this October for another look. Hope you like it?
Hey gang, here’s another uke that will most likely be for sale at the San Diego Ukulele Festival. All Koa, with East India Rosewood binding, herringbone purfling, asymmetric sound hole and side port/concert side sound port. No strings on this particular instrument yet, but am favoring low “G” tuning.