Monday, September 21, 2009

Quick update

It's been a while since I've lasted posted. I've been kind of lazy but also been kind of busy. So not much is going on. I've been meaning to take a video playing Jake Shimabukuro's "Five Dollars Unleaded", but haven't gotten it down good enough to shoot a video without major screw ups. I'm getting there though, so hopefully it'll happen soon.

I have not bought a new uke for a record 5 month! (last uke was the Collings UC-1) But I think that streak might be coming to an end soon. I'm pretty set to get one of those upcoming Mainland concerts with the slotted headstock. If you've read this blog you know I love slotted headstocks. It's amazing that I have not bought a Kala Acacia tenor yet, with it's slotted headstock, but I think I already have too many tenors and I've been playing the concert scale a lot more lately, so I've refrained from getting the Kala Acacia tenor. One of the things I'd like to do is to do a comparison between the Mainland and Collings concerts. I'm fairly confident that the Collings isn't going to be 4 times the uke the Mainland is (Collings costs over 4 times as much as the Mainland), but it could be fun comparing them in various categories. So possibly look for that down the road if I'm successful in acquiring the Mainland concert.

Even if I don't get the Mainland, the ukeless streak is bound to come to an end soon as my Glyph mezzo-soprano is finally due to get started at the end of the year, I think. It will have an all koa body with, you guessed it, a slotted headstock. Since ordering it over 2 years ago, I have completely overhauled the design once and made a couple other changes, including adding and then removing a Mi-Si pickup option. I think the design is pretty much set now. To give you an idea on what it will look like, it will kind of look like a mini version of Jake Shimabukuro's Kamaka. Hopefully it comes out good and be worth the wait. Check back in, oh 5-6 months to see the results!

Just today I found a new ukulele blog called Ukulele Perspective. The blog owner posted to my last post. It seems to be an interesting blog and should be a fun read for ukulele enthusiasts. There's a survey that gives you a chance to win an ipod shuffle, so be sure to check that out.

Anyway, that's it for the quick update. As fall and winter draws near, hopefully I'll have more to post on this blog. Thanks for reading!


Kimberly said...

If you had to choose between a glossy version of the Collings (I think it's the UC2, but it seems to be the general idea of the UC1, just with the glossy bling), or the Koaloha Pineapple Sunday, which would it be?

I'm having a big-purchase uke dilemma. I want a concert (or superconcert, because ergonomically, the tenor body is a bit big for me), and I want it to be a real keeper. The Pineapple Sunday has all that blingy goodness going on, and a very different sound. If anyone could make a tenor scale neck I could play, it would be Koaloha.

I started this uke craze with Koaloha, and I'd like to give business to them..

There are other production models I'm considering, but since you have both the Pineapple Sunday and the Collings UC1, is there one you'd prefer over the other, or do the tone woods and scale make them different enough to not compare? :)

GX9901 said...

The Pineapple Sunday and Collings really are apples to oranges, so it's hard to compare them directly. However, they are sufficiently different that you might be able to choose one over another based on their feature set.

-Obviously the scale length is different. You should make sure you are comfortable with a tenor length. A tenor is a tenor and KoAloha tenor feels the same as any other tenor scale length in my opinion. It's not magically more playable just because KoAloha made it.

-Nut width: P.S. is 1-1/2", Collings is 1-3/8": This could make a difference for you if you prefer wider nut width.

-Fretboard radius: Collings has about a 16-18" radius. I don't find a radius all that noticable when playing, but it probably does make a little bit of difference in playability.

-Neck join: P.S. is joined at the 15th fret, giving you great access to the high frets, better than most tenors that are joined at the 14th. Collings is joined at 12th fret, which makes it more difficult to play if you travel beyond the 14th fret a lot.

-Balance: P.S. is very neck/headstock heavy. You definitely notice it. Collings is very well balanced and light as a feather.

I think if I had to choose between the two, I'd take the P.S. only because I have a lot of other conventional ukes and the P.S. is very unique. If it was going to be my main uke, I might go with the Collings. Both really are very good instruments and I'd put them at about the same level as far as playability and sound is concerned, even though they sound really different.

I hope this helps out a little bit.

Kimberly said...

Thanks for getting back to me. I guess the problem is, I want them both. What I meant by Koaloha making a tenor scale I could play, was simply that I've had good luck with playable Koalohas. I don't mean setup, because that can be changed. I guess it's a psychological thing. That, and the ergonomics of the PS body.

But then the Collings is just all that traditional goodness, and I want that as well. Not a lot of ukesters know or appreciate Collings, but it seems the guitar players are snapping those ukes up like hotcakes.

I think the Collings would be my go-to main player, but a PS is a PS.

What I want in my go-to concert scale uke is a uke that's well made, feels nice, looks nice, isn't too blingy, and sounds the business. Is that too much to ask? :-)

Thanks for answering my question. Even with all the awesome ukes you have, how you feel about both the Collings and PS really showed through.

Kimberly said...

I was thinking about the slotted headstock lust, and was wondering what about Mike Pereira? His custom jobs are extremely reasonably priced, and he's suuuuch a nice guy. Ok, so it costs more than a Mainland, but if you've been curious about Mike, the slotted headstock thing could be an excuse to give him a try.

I had a koa concert uke of his. Why did I sell it? Because I kept thinking of all the things I'd want on _my_ custom uke. It was an already-built one. There's this rule in the family about one in and one out, so I sold it on, and will use the need for a six-string as a thin excuse for getting another one from him.

The koa was still opening up when I sold it, but it literally got better and better with each strum. By the time I sold it on, it was at least as good as the grail GString Concert (not mine) - and I know them's strong words.

So I sold it because I love Mike's work and want to choose my own spec? Yes, yes I did. This time next year, it'll all start to make sense.

Downshifting from great concert ukes to great budget concert ukes, the Kala all-solid spruce/lacewood is great. Really cleanly built for anything imported, and about a ton lighter than my Pono PCO, and a ton louder. Is it perfect? Well, no, but what a great little beater uke that absolutely doesn't suck, and looks great.

When the strings wear out, I'm going to get a bone nut and saddle put in. I think the uke is worth that hassle.

I know you're mostly beyond beater ukes, but if you want one that looks and sounds great, that would be one to consider as well.

GX9901 said...

MP's are certainly very reasonably priced. I had almost went for one at one time, but at the time he did not do slotted headstock for concert ukes, so I took a pass (not sure about now, but I'm no longer in the market). Now I think other than maybe the occasional cheap uke that strikes my fancy and my upcoming Glyph, I'm probably done with higher priced ukes for a while.

Half of the fun of a custom uke is coming up with your own specs. I highly recommend it for anyone who has the means to order a custom ukulele.

Kimberly said...

I have two "customs" at the moment, but neither are custom really. One is the Helsinki Soprano, which by default had a pre-decided spec. I missed the order deadline, but scored one from someone who changed their mind. Score!

The other one, I can't really mention because of the controversy I accidentally caused when I asked some people for advice on correcting issues. But let's just say it's great as long as I don't play above the 6th fret, and I don't play too fast, because the fret wire draws blood. It's been dressed a few times already, it's just how the neck is designed. The intonation is off because the bridge is in the wrong place, and it can't be moved because of the nature of the bridge. I can't say more without maybe giving away what it is, but I wouldn't sell it on to anyone.

I think it's the negative experience that keeps me from really going bigtime like you have. The luthier in question is respected. But buying off-the-rack from Mike was painless enough, and I'd like to give him some more business one of these days.

But I agree, if I have to wait, I may as well have the headstock I want, the logo I want, the bling I want, and the tonewoods I want, while taking in the advice of the guy building it all. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm seeking some expert advice on these Koa Ukulele I was recently in Oahu and came across this place with beautiful hand made ukuleles. I'm thinking about ordering one. Any opinions on the quality?

GX9901 said...

I have never personally seen or played those ukuleles made by Emil Bader, but someone by the name of "Ahnko Honu" on Ukulele Underground has played and owned them and he highly recommends those ukes.

I think they should be pretty good but if you live in a low humidity climate, I'd be weary of it because I think they probably aren't built in a humidity controlled environment. If that's the case, you need to make sure it's well humidified to avoid cracking.

Kimberly said...

There's a thread about him over at UU. One of the more respected uke builders questions the wisdom of the pricing,

I used my google-fu to find this discussion about the same ukes:

They don't really fire up my UAS, but the price can't be beaten if they're any good.

Which uke should I bring on my next trip to Oahu???

What's the maximum you'd spend on a ukulele case for your best uke?

If you could steal one of my ukes, which one would it be???

How curly do you like your koa? (preferably on a uke)

What's the maximum number of ukes a perfectly sane person should have???

Poll: How often do you play the ukulele???

Poll: Which guitar company's approach to ukes do you prefer???

Poll: What's your favorite type of headstock???

Poll: The new basic Collings concert uke (UC-1) sells for about $1k, your reaction is: