black rose

black rose 1 black rose 2 black rose 3Boy, I tell ya, I am starting to really like these medium size tins for concert scale ukuleles. They work like a charm. I suppose I will have to start working the big 10 inch tins into baritone ukuleles instead. Don’t miss the wild colors of the polka-dot liner inside this silk neck-tie strap. You can just see the pattern peeking out of the right side of the top photo. The mottled patina in the steel of the cookie tin bottom gives black rose a world-wise personality, and the fleurs-de-lis on the tin and arm rest give her a mild, regal bearing. She’s a special gal!

  • tin: 185 x 65 mm, 7 1/4 x 2 1/2 in.
  • scale length: 380 mm, 15 in.
  • head to tail: 620 mm, 24 1/2 in.
  • G .010, C .015, E .011, A .008
  • maple neck
  • cocobolo fret board
  • stainless fork and rest
  • silk neck tie strap

Sorry folks, Black Rose was sold at the San Luis Obispo Maker Faire, May 10, 2014. We had a really swell volunteer for the day who picked up a uke for the first time at the Faire. She learned a few chords from me and many more plus a few songs from other uke players who happened by. By the time she had to go for the day she was ready to make this uke her own. If our volunteer is reading this… thank you so much for all the help and enthusiasm getting other people to try out an instrument and I hope your new instrument brings years of strumming.

Lapp Woman

Lapp Woman 1 Lapp Woman 2 Lapp Woman 3The lid of this tin depicts a scene from the Hans Christian Andersen story of the Lapp Woman and the Finn Woman, a part of The Snow Queen. Gerda, carrying a dried cod (it looks more like a sturgeon to me), is riding a reindeer on her way to see the Finn Woman. Oddly, the fish has a message written on it. Be that as it may, the resulting ukulele came out of the shop sounding really swell, and what’d ya know, no fish odor!

  • tin: 190 x 90 mm, 7 3/4 x 3 1/2 in.
  • scale length: 380 mm, 15 in.
  • head to tail: 620 mm, 24 1/2 in.
  • G .010, C .015, E .011, A .008
  • maple neck
  • paduak fret board
  • stainless fork and rest
  • silk neck tie strap

Sorry folks, Lapp Woman sold to a nice fella and his daughter in San Mateo in March 2014. She’s a pretty gal and she’s out in the world now. She’ll make more people smile out making music by someone’s hand than she ever would in my storage so I’m happy to send her on her way. Never fear, there will be more like her.

starting to beat a tin into shape

As promised, someday is here, and I am finally getting around to posting a little about the work that goes into the instruments I build.
measured drawingAfter selecting and cleaning a tin I think will make a good instrument (not too many dents or corrosion, a tight fitting lid, and good artwork) I always make a measured drawing to plan the instrument. Then I mark out the center, the axis of the neck, the bridge location, and several concentric circles on the tin bottom to guide shaping the steel.
hammer tin 4I do all the hammering to shape the tin before starting work on the neck or any other parts. Shaping the tin is the most iffy part of the process, and if the work fails I don’t get stuck with a neck that was custom made to fit a bad tin. In the picture above you can see concentric circles marked in black ink. I have already hammered down the outermost ring using the ball end of my hammer to start the downward part of the curve, and the center bulge is starting to rise as I work out from the center.
hammer tin 3This picture shows the curved top of the anvil I use to shape instrument bellies. Starting in the center of a tin, I stretch the steel by striking it between the flat side of the ball-peen hammer and the anvil head. As the steel stretches in the center it bulges up and I work out toward the edges little by little. It takes a countless number or hammer strikes. A heavier hammer or harder blows would make the work go faster, but I find that the result is less even and more likely to collapse when the string tension is applied to the belly of the instrument.
hammer tin 1The resulting steel instrument body must have a very even and rigid dome shape to stand the pressure of the steel strings and be flexible enough at the outer edge to resonate with the plucked strings. The steel work-hardens and becomes more brittle as I hammer so there is a limit to how far I can stretch things. The bigger the tin the more hammer work is required and the more sensitive the dome is to small flaws.

Next time I’ll get into the nit-picky work of adjusting the belly of the tin for the off-center bridge foot print.

big green

 

big green 1 big green 2 big green 3Big Green was the first ukulele I built with a big tin. This one is 9.75 inches in diameter and it makes for a nice big voice. The scattered bird’s eyes of the fret board were a surprise. They popped out of an odd piece of stock and just asked to be a fret board. The result prompted me to seek out nice pieces of wood for fret boards. Up to this instrument I had made do with plain old maple.

  • tin: 9 3/4 x 3 1/2in.
  • scale length: 380 mm, 15 in.
  • head to tail: 660 mm, 26 in.
  • G .010, C .015, E .011, A .008
  • maple neck
  • maple fret board with a wee bit of bird’s eye
  • stainless fork and rest
  • patchwork strap

Sorry folks, Big Green sold to a SLO local July 22, 2014.

goldie

goldie1 goldie2 goldie3

Old goldie was built in March of 2011. That makes her one of the early ones, but she plays a lovely steel twang on a concert uke scale.

  • tin dimensions: 7 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches
  • scale length: 390 mm, 15 3/8 inches
  • head to tail: 615 mm, 24 1/4 inches
  • G .010, C .015, E .011, A .008
  • maple neck and fret board
  • sterling fork and arm rest
  • open head tuning machines

This one went as a gift to a friend of my sister. I’m sure Goldie will be twanging in his hands for many happy years to come.

 

burnt orange lefty

burnt orange1 burnt orange2 burnt orange3This lefty concert scale ukulele was completed in June of 2013 and has such a mellow voice I wish I played left handed. You can see in the video below that I switched to playing right handed but turned the chords upside down just to make a decent demonstration. This is the third left handed instrument I have built. The first was for my special lady friend, and the second was for my sister’s beau. I’m always up for making more as custom orders, so contact me if you want a lefty but don’t like this tin… but I’m telling you this one is very sweet.

  • tin: 7 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.
  • scale length: 380 mm, 15 in.
  • head to tail: 620 mm, 24 1/4 in.
  • G .010, C .015, E .011, A .008
  • maple neck
  • cocobolo fret board
  • sterling fork and rest
  • silk neck tie strap

All for just $300. Contact me if you are interested.

big tex blue

big tex blue1 big tex blue2 big tex blue3Ah, she is a beauty. Completed in June 2013, big tex was built with one of my favorite sorts of tins. This is my third concert scale ukulele using a Collin Street Bakery tin with the double Texas Bluebonnet on the lid, but this is the first and only one using the big ten inch tin. It’s got a loud voice and a loud neck tie strap.

  • tin: 10 x 3 1/4 in.
  • scale: 380 mm, 15 in.
  • head to tail: 650 mm, 25 1/4 in.
  • G .010, C .015, E .011, A .008
  • maple neck
  • cocobolo fret board
  • silk neck tie strap

This instrument was snapped up by a resident the great state of Texas as a tin wedding anniversary gift (that’s the 10th anniversary in case you were wondering). Thanks again D. Your purchase made all this fooling around so much more worth it.