I started building ukuleles for myself. I was interested in the
effects that various
woods have on the sound and particularly, the cutaway
style since to realize the
potential of the instrument, you should push
your playing to the fourth position and beyond. Only individuals
with unusual finger length can do that on the traditional
I have since settled on two different wood combinations and shapes. The
is a tenor size and specific to a low G. I have no idea how
it would work with a high
G string? Since I prefer melody which
uses the lower registers, the low G suits my biases. The sound of the instrument is equally outstanding with a high G.
That being said, and as you can see, I have built traditional shapes of
and under duress, I would do so again; the preference is as stated
The two combinations I recommend are koa back and sides with a spruce
top, and myrtlewood back and sides, again with a spruce top.
The neck on the koa uke is mahogany while the myrtlewood is rock
These instruments have very different voices. The myrtlewood is
reminiscent of the older Martins. The koa ukulele has
a more forceful sound,
obviously with a different set of harmonics. Both
instrument styles project well.
The cutaway shapes are a matter of personal preference. I don’t
hear a difference
that can be attributed to the cutaway shape. That
part of the ukulele top is relatively “dead” compared to the
other top regions. Perhaps I just don’t hear it? Perhaps
the differences in the voice are the result of the shape and not the wood. I
Here is a photo gallery of some of my ukuleles.
Here is more information on the sounds of my ukes.