Sue and David
Dave Downing owns one of my six string tenor ukuleles and a wine box ukulele that he and I designed and built. Yesterday, Dave invited me to show some of my instruments to a group from Lincoln that were getting together for a jam session. I took a few instruments and Dave ended up buying my little Birds Eye Maple/Koa soprano. Another of the attendees, Sue Meyers, purchased my coveted Snake wood tenor. I had planned to hold on to it as my personal ukulele but alas, I decided it needed to go to someone that could actually play it! I ended up leaving a third instrument at the music store where the event took place on consignment. Now my inventory is down to only three ukuleles. I need to get back to work!
Dave’s wine box uke and six string on the right
Upon returning from Reno, I had the pleasure of opening two packages of beautiful tone woods. Four sets arrived from pacificcoastwoods.net, a great source for beautiful myrtle ukulele sets. The last set of walnut came from one of my regular suppliers on the east coast. One set particularly caught my eye is what I call Tiger Myrtle. It will make a very striking tenor uke. The other sets are curly figured myrtle and the last a nice walnut set. I put a bit of water on one of the sets to show how the wood will look with finish on it. The photos don’t do the woods justice. Once they have a coat of finish on them the figure will jump out at you. If you are looking for something special in a tenor or concert ukulele, contact me and we can discuss a plan. Click on the photos for a better look.
Curly Figured Myrtle 1
Curly Figured Myrtle 2
Curly Figured Myrtle 3
The event turned out to be a blast and I actually sold five instruments; just enough to pay for the entire trip and Diane’s airfare to Reno.
I was fortunate to spend a little time talking ukulele with Lil’ Rev, one of the headline entertainers Saturday night, (http://www.lilrev.com/) and managed to get a photo with him holding my special tenor. He also played my Home Depot 2×4 pine uke for me. What a thrill that was to hear a professional playing one of my instruments.
The fun part of attending a ukulele festival is the people. Everyone is really up and having a great time. One of the vendors selling ukulele straps found out that I was installing strap buttons so they started sending me people that wanted to be able to attach a strap to their uke. I ended up selling and attaching all of the buttons I had – some 25 or so. I plan to bring a lot more to the next event!
Diane and I started home on Sunday morning and made it safely after driving through some really rotten winter weather in Utah and Wyoming, sometimes only able to drive 25 mph. Today I need to get re-organized and back to work on the five instrument orders awaiting me in my shop. Life is good!
Diane and I checked the weather forecast for my trip to Reno and discovered a massive snow storm predicted for my planned trip through Wyoming. I decided to leave a day early to try to beat it and almost did. I originally planned to spend the first night in Larimie but since that was going to be hit hard, I elected to continue on to Evanston, just short of Salt Lake to miss the most of the storm. Well, the weather was great until I got 10 miles from Evanston heading up the pass. The storm was upon me. I managed to get over the pass, passing up several accidents and made it safely to my motel. Since it is going to be quite cold tonight, I had to unload all 17 instruments I’m taking into my motel room. It is suppose to show most of the night so I’ll wait until the morning to see if I want to venture on or hold up here again another night. I’m really glad that I left a day early!
Safe and warm!
This tenor ukulele was a delight to design and build. I had the assistance of
Lee at work on head plate
my neighbor and good friend Lee Doehring. Lee designed and made the spectacular back and head plate. The woods used to make the patterns were English Oak Burl, Walnut Burl, and Birdseye Maple. I used the back and head plate Lee made to build this unique instrument.
The sides are the rare and coveted Brazilian Rosewood. The top wood is Bearclaw Sitka Spruce. The side bindings are curly Koa wood. The fingerboard and bridge are Zircote. The fret markings are white, black and gold Mother-of-pearl. The tuners are the new GOTOH planetary tuners. I plan to showcase this instrument in Reno at the 5th annual Ukulele Festival. (http://playuke.net/) Click on Photos for a closer look.
Several years ago people use to ask me how long it takes me to build an instrument. I couldn’t answer that because I never really kept track. I decided to find out so in April of 2009, I started building a classical guitar and kept a record of each time I worked on it. Well, it didn’t get much attention over the years but when I finally had it ready to apply the finish I had spent just under 20 hours on it. That time didn’t include the time it took to apply the finish and setting up the instrument getting it ready to play. Applying the finish takes many days but few hours since I spray three coats on the top one day, three on the back the next and then on the third day I sand it and re-start the process until I have 12 to 15 coats applied. Then it cures for a week or so and I normally spend two days sanding, polishing and completing the setup. The attached photos are the instrument that I finally finished after nearly four years.
This instrument is a copy of a 1864 Torres classical guitar. I have built several of these. The spectacular wood on the back and sides is Zircote. The top wood is Sitka Spruce and the fingerboard is Ebony. I will be taking this instrument along with me to the Reno Festival on April 12th.