Carol’s Music Box Baritone Ukulele
Here’s a recent project that was some time in the making–Carol’s Music Box Baritone Ukulele. I know that Carol would love to have had an ukulele where every piece of wood was a different and exotic (I’m going to make one of those by the way) but she settled on this figured, blond and highly spalted piece of Oregon Myrtle wood from my friend Vince at Pacific Coast Woods as the alternative. Some might think this instrument is a bit “busy”, but not Carol.
Spalted wood is difficult to book-match even when the grain of the wood is perfect. This baritone ukulele exhibits more spalt than on any instrument I have made to date. Fortunately, all the spalted areas are solid and do not exhibit any dry rot as is often the case.
What to use for the neck dilemma. Well, why not spalted Asian tamarind wood? I am actually surprised that it matched so well–what luck. I’ll remember this for next time I build with a blond myrtle wood.
The finger board and bridge is different as well! I used a multi-colored piece of Pau Ferro from Mexico. This wood is an excellent replacement for ebony and the quality is superior. It’s usually brown in color but this piece had some excellent sap wood and color variety. Carol approved of course! Oregon black walnut is the accent wood.
The coup d’ville is the flower inlay on the head stock by artist Craig Lavin. This inlay is a copy of an inlay on a Swiss made music box that Carol obtained on one of her travels–so the name Carol’s Music Box Baritone Ukulele. Yipee!
Mi-Si amplification–check! For strings I used Romero flourocarbon soprano/concert but replaced both the D and G strings with the wound Thomastik cf30 and cf27 respectively. As all these strings settled in to final tension I began to appreciate the tone of the instrument. Most of my myrtle instruments have tonally been very similar to Hawaiian Koa–maybe a touch brighter. The Thomastic stainless, flat wound strings are not as warm as the bronze wound bass strings, but tonally are very pleasing while adding to the brightness. I found this instrument very easy to play.
With Carol’s help I’m back to my roots–ukulele’s should be fun build, fun to look at and fun to play. No rules!