Now I also make jewelry

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

First tenor uke

My first (more on the way) completed tenor (17" VSL) designed with the silhouette of a medieval citole in mind.
Mostly black walnut for the back, with a strip of ipe in the center, and the neck. The sides are also black walnut, but then I got hold of that gorgeous maple veneer and was tempted to use it, so I glued it onto the walnut (not without various mishaps along the way) and the headstock. Zebrawood for the fretboard and bridge.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


A lot of the appeal in making an instrument comes from working with wood.
The very names of exotic species re-awaken childhood imaginings and reveries about fabulous locales: cocobolo, chakte kok, bloodwood, ebony, flaming acacia, lacewood and zebrawood, bocote, ziricote...
And what a wonder to actuallly see what domestic species look like in the intimacy of their flesh - beech and walnut, cherry and birch, butternut and Douglas fir! And to discover the extraordinary variety, if only in maple: quilted, curly, bird's eye, soft, hard, roasted(!).
Some woods smell delicious: Spanish cedar, western red cedar, yellow cypress. Some feel like silk while with others your fingertips can still feel the ridges and waves.
Every stage in the process of selecting and shaping each part of the instrument is pregnant with the anticipation (hope and anxiety mixed) of what it will eventually look like once finished.

My first tenor size uke is completed: it has a shape that resembles that of a citole, a medieval instrument whose design for some obscure reason is very appealing to me and that I have somehow been working towards. I will upload pics of it momentarily, but first, here are shots of some of the woods I've used.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Big brother is born

This concert size (15" VSL) uke has the same design as the previous super soprano, but is longer and deeper (3"), with a thicker neck as well ( a body-builder's uke). So, naturally it has a deeper voice than the supersop.
For this one as for its brother, the bottom of the fretboard does not touch the soundboard. The neck is set at a slight angle, hence the higher saddle on the bridge.
The neck is made of mahogany (various colors for the layers ofthe heel and a bubinga tip); the headstock is laminated with cherry and padauk).
The sides are made of hard maple and the soundboard of western red cedar.
The photo doesn't do it justice, but the back is a magnificent piece of figured maple with horizontal waves and vertical lines. The fretboard and bridge are made of purpleheart, nut and saddle of ebony. Front and side markers: maple.
The first wave of tulips has come and gone, but a second wave has burst out.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Super Sop completed

Finally completed the nut and saddle (ebony), strung it with Aquila strings and voilĂ !

Details are provided in previous posts (April). The bridge is a beautiful reddish piece of cocobolo.

Sounds pretty yam good too.