I had the privilege to actually meet one of my customers on Saturday as he lives in Omaha and came to my shop to collect the special instrument I had build for him. His was the instrument I featured in my last blog. Ryan and his fiance Connie were a delight to meet. They didn’t stay long; I think Ryan was excited to get home and strum a bit.
Here is the email he sent me shortly after returning home.
“Thanks again for creating such a wonderful instrument for me! I got it home this afternoon and strummed away! The instrument has such a clear and beautiful tone. Truly this Ukulele is everything I ever wanted! It’s perfect, even with the feel of the instrument in my hand, I can tell the construction quality is superior to any other instrument I’ve played. The bout side sound hole does add a tremendous amount of volume for the player! Thanks for the behind the scenes tour of your workshop as well!”
This concert ukulele was one of the more demanding and frustrating instruments I have built. Not because of something out of my control, but because of my errors in its construction. The customer wanted double paua rings for the rosette with small paua fleur-de-lis at the cardinal points. Cutting them out and inlaying them was a challenge. My first mistake was using a commercial wood filler to fill any of the tiny gaps around the inlays. I completed the instrument and took it to my spray bench. As soon as the first coat of lacquer hit the top, all of the filler turned orange and bled out. There was no way I could correct that so I was forced to cut the top off and try again. My next major error after making another new top was that when gluing it on, some how, it slipped slightly and when I checked it after the glue was dry, I discovered it was off center about 1/4″. I wept for days! Well, more fleur-de-lis and paua rings and I finally got it all together. My first correspondence with this customer was in April of last year. I finished it on 30 April this year. :(
The back, sides and head plate are African Blackwood, the top is Carpathian spruce, the fingerboard and bridge are ebony. The tuners are Waverly. The lion was by far the most challenging inlay I have ever cut out. I cut out so many of the little fleur-de-lis that I can almost do them blind folded. This is the first instrument that I have added a sound hole on the upper bout side. It really surprised me with the sound when I first strung it up. The instrument turned out very nice and sounds great. I want to thank my customer Ryan for his undying patience! (Click on any of the photos for a closer look.)
I just returned from my third annual Reno Ukulele Festival held in Sparks Nevada at the John Ascuaga Nugget Casino. This has to be the best one I have attended. They had nearly 300 attendees, lots of vendors and entertainment and seminars to please anyone interested in the ukulele. I managed to meet and visit with the four entertainers that put on the Friday night show in the main Casino showroom. It had to be one of the best shows I have seen. You can see me with them in the following photo. From left to right: Craig Chee, Sarah Maisel, me, Heidi Swedberg, and Daniel Ward. They are all amazingly talented musicians. You might remember Heidi as Susan Ross, George Costanza’s fiance in the TV sitcom Seinfeld. She did a short demo for me of my barn-wood ukulele with a little pig inlayed on the head plate. I posted it on youtube and you can see it below.
Besides just being plain fun, I managed to sell five of the nine instruments I took to the festival.
The festival organizer allowed those of us that wanted to, to setup the day prior to the official event. Fortunately, my table was very near the registration tables and as several participants checked in early, many of them came by my table. The vendors weren’t suppose to be available until tomorrow but guess what? I sold three ukuleles, two tuners and one set of strap buttons! It will be interesting tomorrow when the crowds arrive! :) JC