If you have been to the website, you might be asking yourself what is a carbon fiber tone bar. In short it is a piece of pultruded carbon fiber bar that I have inlayed into the neck. Honestly, this stuff is freaking stiff. There really isn’t that much tension on an ukulele neck, so I would consider this to be “overbuild” but I have added this material to every uke that I have made. I have only had one neck that showed any distortion. As a plus this material has a very bright tap tone and I think adds tonal quality as well.
I just purchased some Black Limba lumber and here are a few pictures of book matches from that piece. Shhhhh! It’s a secret so don’t tell anyone– this wood duplicates Koa and Black walnut in density and tonal quality. The pattern of the wood varies substantially as you can see. All of these pieces plus sides came from the same piece of lumber that was barely 8′ long.
The “bird’s eyes” are from moisture contamination around beetle holes. These pieces are acceptable for backs and sides. I do not usually use the beetle hole pieces for tops but it really doesn’t make that much difference as long as there aren’t too many holes in the wrong spots. The eyes definitely give character to the appearance. I am matching these pieces with necks of the same wood or black walnut pending availability. The instrument shown is near completion and gives you an idea of what the wood looks like in a finished instrument. Black is beautiful baby!
Hey You all! Nothing new but reworking old ideas. This under-the-bridge string knot I copied from Nahenahe Ukulele of Maui over 20 years ago. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s something new and different. I see that a lot of custom builders are starting to use this technique for stringing newer instruments. There are some some logical reasons: clean, easy, and transfers some of the tension of the string from under the bridge and sound board not just from on top of the sound board–seems logical.
So here’s the deal: after removing old strings, thread a new string through the appropriate hole and feed out of the sound hole. If you use the curl of the string to your advantage then this will happen almost all of the time on the first try. Now tie a figure eight knot (stopper knot) on the string–this knot does not slip. Pull the knot reasonably taught and clip the tail to about 3/8″ (8-10mm). Next pull the knot through the sound hole until it stops under the bridge. To “set” the knot place a finger of the opposite hand against the bridge and then pull the knot against your finger and not the bridge. This will set the knot and not put downward pressure on the sound board and bridge. Tension the strings as normal at the nut and tuners.
I am truly stoked! Ocean artist Wade Koniakowsky (www.koniakowsky.com) and I have been brainstorming some new concepts. We now have the ability to laser print any image to the sound board of an ukulele. I have been wanting to do this for over 6 years.
Just think, this is the ultimate customization for your new ukulele–just use your imagination. Any photo or artwork can be digitized and printed to the surface of an in-construction instrument without altering the tonal quality of the instrument. Combined with premium quality back and side woods this makes for a truly unique and one-of-a-kind instrument.
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.
It’s almost time for San Diego Ukulele Festival 2012. Last year’s first ever event in SD was a big success. This year the event will be moved downtown to one of the Piers. Great location and a great line-up. Check it out at: www.sandiegoukulelefestival.com. Here’s a couple of pics from our booth last year. Of course, we will be there again –ohana you know!
Yo, Yo, Yo! Wouldn’t you give your left you-know-what to be able to play the Foyer at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Well Bruce was there this last weekend. Here he is with his custom, tenor, pineapple ukulele (his design). Bruce is an ex-major league baseball player so the head stock inlay is crossed bats and ball. Check his website: www.BruceRobinsonMusic.com. He is presently working hard on a new album with new music and new sounds and great back-up musicians. His quote: ”When I performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I knew I could count on one of my two trusty, custom, Kimo Ukuleles…”. Get down and get-a-funky, what more could I ask for!
Just in case you are wondering how strong your ukulele or guitar is–here I am showing how strong these delicate instruments can be be standing on one with my dainty 195 pounds. No, I do not suggest that you take your vintage Martin out into the street and try to duplicate this experiment. I really wanted to make a video of this, but I’m, oh so lazy. My next experiment was to throw this instrument into the street–to my surprise, after 40 feet of air flight, there was only minor damage–go figure.