Banksia Uke - Something Different

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Allen
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Banksia Uke - Something Different

Post by Allen » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:40 am

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"Originally Posted on: Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:26 pm"


I've had this one strung up for a couple of weeks now, and playing with the set up. Have it where it's sounding pretty good, and plays well.

This is made from a lump of tree that Micheal Connor spied when rummaging around the Cairns Woodworkers Guild back in September. We ran it through the bandsaw and liked what we saw, so I decided to make an all Banksia Ukulele, hoping for a one piece look. All the parts came out of the same lump of wood.

Bindings are purple heart, and bridge and nut are pink ivory. Fret board and bridge are ebony. Braces are Engelman Spruce, and there is a CF truss rod in the neck.
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I had planed on doing a conventional sound hole and bracing, but after the uke class I've been teaching, the bit I use for rosettes snapped right after the last cut in the class. A Stew Mac order was taking ages to get here, so I decided to go with something different. I took my inspiration from Matt's great looking Kasha braced uke for the sound board decoration, but the bracing I designed myself. I've also put a bit of a dome in the soundboard from the area that is south of the waist to the tail block in order to tension the top.

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Solid linings and several coats of shellac inside, as I've put in a sound port, and I wanted people peeping inside to like what they see.

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And to the outside.
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Now, your going to probably ask what it sounds like, and as I was bracing it and tapping it, I thought it sounded no better than some soggy Wheatabix. I half expected that I'd need to pull the top off and replace it with a spruce one. What has surprised me is that it's really starting to come to life. I think that that dirty old piece of wood didn't know that it had any potential to make music, and now that it's been given the chance it's trying to make the best of it.

I've been playing around with the sound port, by strumming strings with sound port covered and uncovered. Both my wife and I have taken turns listening with our eyes closed trying to tell if there is a difference. Neither of us could hear any difference at all from a distance. Playing it though there is more richness and presence than with it covered.

I used some Saverez strings on it, as they are the brightest strings I've got, The tone is actually quite sweet and mellow and very pleasing on this instrument, Not in your face like these strings can be on Spruce.
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Dave White
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Re: Banksia Uke - Something Different

Post by Dave White » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:41 am

Allen,

Lovely uke - very innovative and a nice use of the wood. Based on the first picture I think you should call it "Hot Lips" Very Happy The Banksia looks a lot like the different sorts of Lacewoods.
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Re: Banksia Uke - Something Different

Post by Allen » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:41 am

Very much like that Dave. I'm no expert on the local species, but most people that see it think that it's some really colourful Silky Oak. I think it's much prettier than that.
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Re: Banksia Uke - Something Different

Post by Kim » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:42 am

Great work Allen.

I particularly like the soundhole arrangement, kind of like the Ovation adamas style only better because it looks more tasteful the way you have it configured. Don't know about the rest of AU but in WA Banksia wood is known as native pear or woody pear, at least that is what i have came to know it as.

Cheers

Kim
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Re: Banksia Uke - Something Different

Post by ozziebluesman » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:42 am

What a great little instrument there Allen. I love your design and imagination. The logo is a real winner mate. It just ties in so nicely with the instrument.

Cheers

Alan
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Re: Banksia Uke - Something Different

Post by Matt_Blacka » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:43 am

Hi Allen,

I haven't been checking the forum much lately, so have only just seen this uke. I love the banksia, and am glad you're getting some good use out of that logo.

I had thought about modifying the various uke bracing techniques to something like what you have done here. Do you think increasing the effective soundboard area (as per kasha style) works better than a standard fan bracing, which really only uses the area south of the waist?

Well done,

Matt
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Allen
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Re: Banksia Uke - Something Different

Post by Allen » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:44 am

Thanks Matt. Everyone that sees the logo comments on how they like it. And I'll tell ya, it's a real joy to cut out and inlay. I make it up as a tile about an inch thick and just slice off pieces a couple of mm thick.

This little uke has really turned out sweet. I'll be the first to admit that Banksia is not ever going to take the world by storm as the newest tone wood from Down Under, but it has really surprised me, and others that watched and heard me tap it as it was getting put together. I have a gut feeling that if this one was braced like a conventional uke then it would not have come out as well and I'd be putting a new top on it.

I do have other ukes that have conventional bracing that are much loader, but are made with Western Red Cedar or Spruce. Not a fair comparison to this one. They however have a different sound, and are suited to different styles of music and playing. This one has a mellow tone that I would liken to an arch top Jazz guitar. Nice round fundamental, but not a lot of overtones.

I would like to try something like this on a spruce or cedar soundboard, as I've got quite a few of those under my belt now, so a fair comparison could be made. I think it's really got potential, and will do one in the near future.

Problem is that I've got so damn many instruments in my head that I struggle with which one to do next.

Am I the only one that lays awake at night tossing the mental dice on what way to take my next projects?
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Re: Banksia Uke - Something Different

Post by Dennis Leahy » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:44 am

She's a beauty, Allen! Give us a sound clip!

Dennis

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