We got a question from ukejon:
As a fingerpicker I am interested in the 8 string as a way to do some Kottke/Fahey style playing. What is the nut width on your ukes (I like 1 1/2 inches and not smaller).
Since we make our intruments to your specifications, we can make the nut to whatever size you like. If 1 1/2 inches is your preference, then it is ours as well, though you might want to try playing some 12 string guitars and picking one out with the spacing that feels best to you and we’ll try to duplicate that as best we can. As for the neck shape – do you prefer more square or round? How thick? We want to accomodate your playing style. If you leave it to us, the neck will tend to be rather thin. Our necks are either made of Honduran Mahagony, Sapele Mahagony, or (in the case of walnut sides) Walnut. Again, if you prefer something different like Maple, we will accomodate you. If you have no preference we will default to the Sapele.
The neck is joined to the body using the Spanish method; i.e. the neck is cut and shaped as one piece including the head block. Slots are cut into the sides of the neck where the sides of the box slide into them. The top and the back are glued on to the sides and the end of the neck making the box and the neck a single unit. Other manufacturers build the box first, then attach the neck. There are advantages for the luthier in doing it that way, but for sound and stability the Spanish method is best. We use the same wood for internal bracing as that used for the soundboard to maintain the tonal qualities of the wood.
The body is about 2 3/4 inches deep at the neck increasing to about 3 1/4 inches at the lower bout, then back to 2 3/4 inches at the tail. The choice of woods for the sides and back makes some difference to the sound, but not that much, so you should pick one that you think looks good. The top wood is also up to you, but for sound we recommend cedar for a bright tone and redwood for a slightly more mellow tone.
What else can we tell you? I listened to you playing embryonic journey, and boy I wish I could play like that; you rock! You seem to have a preference for Worth Clear Extra Hard strings and we can put those on for you if you like though we default to Nylagut.
Finally, I assume you’re actually talking to us because you like the custom design angle. There are lots of ukelele makers, but we’re the only ones who make them one-of-a-kind one-at-a time. What were you thinking about in that regard? That’s the part I’m most interested in since I do the drawings from which the hole and the inlays are cut.
Scott B. (ukulele scott) from Alabama wrote to say: “I just wanted to say your Ukes are gorgeous.” Thanks Scott. Nothing a girl likes better than a compliment!
Let’s all keep making beautiful music,