Monthly Archives: May 2014

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Woodi USA Carbon Fiber Pattern Plastic Uke

Woodi USA Carbon Fiber Pattern Plastic Uke up for auction on eBay.

 

It seems that plastic Ukes are making a comeback.

Way back in the 1950s, plastic Ukes were all the rage, thanks to Mario Maccaferri and others pumping out the little plastic bundles of joy.

Today, that tradition is being upheld by companies like Woodi USA Inc., a maker of plastic musical instruments. Their line of plastic Ukuleles is proving to be popular, partly because they are fairly well constructed and mostly because they are very inexpensive–in the $50 range for a Soprano.

Except, apparently, the Carbon Fiber Pattern 2 WU-21G2 Soprano, which is listed on eBay for a whopping $554.99 (as you can see from the screenshot above). Man, that must be some high-tech space-age plastic they used to make that Uke! That particular model is not listed in the Ukulele section of the company’s web site, so I suspect it has been discontinued, or is at least out of stock until new ones are made. But $554 for a plastic Uke? Come on. Even if it’s a limited edition, or even a one-off, what makes it worth that much?

They apparently already sold two of them. But at that price?

I suspect the price is a typo on the Woodi eBay page. Most of their Ukes are listed at $54.99. Apparently the “5” key on their keyboard sticks. They also have the Pattern WU-21F7 Uke listed at $300. Again, probably a typo. Considering the MSRP on all their UKEs is $59.99, those prices are just a bit too high to be real.

But, hey, you never know.

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Heavy Metal Ukes from Dean Guitars

Dean Guitars ML Concert Spruce-Top Ukulele

Dean Guitars ML Concert Spruce-Top Ukulele

 

Dean Guitars, well known in the guitar community for its heavy metal designs, has branched out into Ukuleles. That’s right, Dean is now making Ukes.

The company currently has 9 models to choose from, 6 Concerts, a Soprano, a Concert-sized 6-String and a Concert-sized Travel Uke. They sport the usual woods: Spruce, Koa and Mahogany. But Dean also has two nice Flame Maple designs–a Trans-Green and a Trans-Amber model.

Priced at between $89 and $199, these are obviously laminates, but they sport some unique designs (particularly the two ML Concert models).

“Dean ukes will open this instrument to new customers who may not have ever played one before,” Curse Mackey, Director of Marketing for Armadillo, Dean’s parent company, told Music Trades magazine. “We’re also working with exotic woods and beautiful flame maple tops, so we’ll have a very artistic appeal as well as some uniquely shaped pieces, which is something we certainly specialize in.”

For some reason, the two ML series Ukes come with a padded gig bag, but the others don’t.

“Dean is really pushing the envelope in terms of what the average user thinks when they hear the word ‘ukulele,’” says Mackey. “We’re known for bringing energy, edge, and a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, so you know we’ll be offering ukuleles for rockers to have some fun with.”

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Cool Uke Tweet of the Day

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 1.11.36 PM

 

Today’s Cool Uke Tweet of the Day come to us from the guys over at Mya-Moe Ukuleles.

They tweeted a link to their Facebook post, so it does count as a CUTOTD.

It’s nice to see a company with a sense of humor.

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New Aquila Strings on the Horizon

Aquila Fluorcristal Strings

Aquila Fluocristal Strings

 

This just in from the “As If We Really Need Another Set of Strings” Department: Aquila is working on a new set of strings.

This is good news and bad news. The good news is there will be another set of strings to try on our Ukes. The bad news is there will be another set of strings to try on our Ukes.

Called Aquila Fluocristal, they’ll most likely be similar to fluorocarbons, though maybe not.

There is no information on the new strings on the Aquila web site. Mimmo Peruffo, Aquila’s head honcho, said in a thread on Ukulele Underground that the new strings should be available this summer.

This is about all Mimmo would say about the new strings:

What I can say right now is that these strings are very very transparent, they has a very low gauge tolerance and are well balanced in each set. This because I can do all the gauges I want by extrusion. This is a big advantage upon the standard gauges available in the market because these follow the fishing line’s gauging criteria and so they do not meet the ukulele necessity completely.

 

Sounds to me like they will be fluorocarbon clones. But maybe not. One thing is for sure is they will be clear. Which in my book is a plus. I really don’t like the look of the white Aquilas. They remind me of the strings on all those cheap Ukes.

Aquila makes quality strings. The new Fluocristals will probably be very nice strings. But how will they be different from Martin M600 Standard Crystal Nylon Ukulele Strings, or D’Addario Pro Arte Strings, or Galli Bionylon Strings? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop

Lnikai LQA-T Ukulele

Lanikai LQA-T Ukulele

 

Following on from my previous post (THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF THE MISSING STRING), when changing the strings on the Lanikai Tenor, I noticed the strings were a bit too high off the fretboard for my liking (basically the action was too high). So I decided to remove the bridge saddle and see if I had to shave a bit off the bottom. Thankfully it wasn’t glued in and came out fairly easily.

I noticed that there was a thin piece of cardboard stuck to the side of the saddle. I’m not sure if it was a shim, or if it was just acting to hold the saddle in. So I removed it. And lo and behold, the saddle fit the bridge perfectly and the action was lowered just as I like it. Problem solved.

It pays to spend some time and learn how to work with your Ukulele. Doing some simple repairs and tweaks can go a long way to making your Uke experience more enjoyable.

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The Mysterious Case of the Missing String

Martin M620 Ukulele Strings

Martin M620 Ukulele Strings

 

So I bought a set of Ukulele strings from an online string dealer the other day. They were a set of Martin Clear Fluorocarbons for my Lanikai LQA-T Tenor Uke. I have been buying strings from this retailer for a long time (bass, guitar and Ukulele strings), as well as accessories, so I know they are reputable and their return policy is generous.

Anyway, I bought a few sets of strings and some accessories from them. In addition to the Martin strings, I bought a set of GHS H-T10 Hawaiian black nylon strings, which I used to restring the Lanikai. The Martins went into the closet, still unopened in the package.

Today I decided to open the package, just to have a look at the Martins. I was particularly interested in how thick the 3rd (the C string in this case, since I use GCEA tuning) was. I ripped off the little tab to open the package and pulled out the string envelopes. All four of them were present and accounted for–which is always a good sign. But when I went to look inside the C string envelope, it was empty! There was no string in there. The other three strings were all comfy, nestled in their little envelopes, but the C string was nowhere to be found. I thought maybe I dropped it, so I looked around, but it was nowhere in sight. The empty envelope was just sitting here, mocking me.

So, just to recap. Bought a new set of strings. They arrived still sealed in their package. Opened the package. Looked at the C string. It was missing!

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I’m not sure how the packages are filled at the factory–if they’re done by a human or by a machine–but either way someone, or something, screwed up. They forgot to put my string in its package.

So I emailed the retailer, told them the story and asked for a replacement C string. I probably won’t hear from them until,Tuesday, since it’s the Memorial Day Holiday weekend here in the U.S. But I know they’ll make it right.

Anyway, the moral of this story is: Always check your strings when they come in. One could be missing, broken or even the wrong size. You never know about these things.

 

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Cool Uke Tweet of the Day

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 9.19.56 AM

 

OK, it’s actually from yesterday, but it’s still a cool Uke tweet nonetheless.

Check out her Twitter, maybe even follow her.

 

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Soprano Uke Built From Century-Old Detroit House

Soprano Ukulele made from reclaimed Detroit wood.

Soprano Ukulele made from reclaimed Detroit wood.

 

In 2013 Detroit-area luthier Gary Zimnicki was given some advice from a friend–why not use reclaimed wood from abandoned homes to build instruments? So that’s what he did. Zimnicki built a Soprano Ukulele from reclaimed wood. And it’s a beauty.

“…I had no idea how to go about it,” he told Ukulele Magazine. “I wasn’t about to grab a flashlight and a crowbar and just start taking a house apart.”

Luckily he found out about Reclaim Detroit, a project that takes abandoned Detroit homes and sells everything that can be sold–right down to the floorboards–for use in new products and projects.

The Soprano Uke was made primarily from woods that came out of a house in Detroit built in 1910. The maple in the back, sides and neck came from the house’s floorboards. The Douglas Fir soundboard came from a section of ceiling joist. The contrasting dark lines are Black Walnut, from a locally grown tree that was harvested a couple of decades ago. Since the maple was originally used as floorboards in the house, it has some nail holes, but Zimnicki says that’s OK.

“I don’t mind nail holes though, because they can be filled and they serve as a reminder of where the wood originated,”he told the magazine.

A mother-of-pearl likeness of the house is inlaid into the peghead of the Uke.

Zimnicki has gotten enough wood from Reclaim Detroit to build two more Ukes and a mandolin.

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