Ken Middleton, ukulele player extraordinaire, and a well known figure in the world of Ukuleles, has produced his own range of Ukulele strings. He swears by them, and I have always respected the gentleman. But is he, in this case, a little biased?
All the Ukes we produce are fitted with Aquila ‘Nylgut’ strings as standard. They are popular, sound good and are made in Europe rather than the Far East. Ken’s strings, however, proclaim to be ‘Made in Heaven’, although I understand that that is somewhere in England!
A question I’ve been asked a number of times recently is whether I buy in or make the ‘rope’ binding that adorns some of the instruments that we build. Well, buying in would almost certainly violate the concept of building instruments with locally sourced timber. Therefore the answer is that we make our own. It appears, however, that the majority of Luthiers Continue reading Shop made.→
In the Craft Village, Crafters plan a monthly Pure Craft Fair, which will probably be held on the first Saturday of each month, commencing in September. Pure Craft means that there will be no stalls with bought-in tat from afar. The majority of Craft Fairs seem to be inundated with these type of stands, which have nothing at all to do with the word or concept of Craft!
On the bench in our Craft Workshop this week has been Andy’s Concert Uke, with Walnut body, Maple neck and cedar soundboard and he is saving a few shillings by collecting it unfinished, ready to apply the shiny stuff himself. Alongside is another concert neck, this time for Ian’s Concert, which is similar to Andy’s but with a flat headstock to take geared peg tuners. Ian has come up with his own design for a soundhole, which should be interesting to execute.
There is also the body for an experimental Q-Bass Ukulele, a project I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I might also try an eight string Tenor, perhaps in all European Maple, just for the fun of it. In the meantime, going to chase up some Yew that I’ve been having cut up for me.
Aquila, the Italian string company, have released their ‘Red Series’ strings, a new type of ‘Nylgut’ mixed with a copper compound to increase the density of the string. This makes the lower notes, like the ‘Low G’ on a Tenor attainable without using a wound string. This, in turn, avoids the scratching sound as your Continue reading Aquila Red Strings→
Again, it’s a while since I posted any progress reports, so to whet your appetite for next weekends Craft Fair, I thought I’d show a couple of instruments that are underway.
The Cuatro, which is No 3, along with the tenor Uke that might just remind you it is Olympic year, should both be strung up and finished by the weekend, while the Concert body and banjo bits are work in progress, both for customers.
The banjo is, in fact a prototype and will be shortly followed by an open-back banjo Uke.
The Craft Fair, which will be held over the weekend of 16th and 17th June attracts a good number of stands and, for the weekend only, it will cost you £1 to enter the village, through which you get to all the stalls. The money though, goes to a good cause, that of the Kent Air Ambulance, which runs purely on donations, so come along and support the event.
Don’t forget though, that the Village itself is open all year round and is free to visit, it’s just this weekend that a charge is levied.
A couple of customers came to visit today, one to collect her new Venezuelan Cuatro and the other to see what his will be like.
In the fist clip, Jennifer Maidman and Geoffrey Richardson, members of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, play a Penguin Cafe Classic, ‘Paul’s Dance’. Jennifer is playing a Tenor Ukulele she purchased from us a while back. It is tuned a D F# B, as is the Cuatro.
The second clip is taken from the ‘jam’ session they proceeded perform and on this occasion Jennifer plays my ‘Cool Hand Uke’ a Tenor with a low G string, but tuned ADF#B.
Many thanks to both of them for the impromptu concert.
It occurred to me that I’ve not posted any progress reports of late, what with all the tree felling going on but work in the shop has been progressing well. This week, no less than three instruments will get finished, the first of two Venezuelan Cuatro’s, a Cool Hand Tenor and a Cutaway Tenor, all featuring rope binding.
Using locally produced timber was taken to the extreme one day last week, when what was probably the closest tree to the workshop was felled. It was a Sycamore that had self seeded some 100 years ago along the main drive opposite to the entrance of the Craft Village.
Needless to say, we watched it’s demise, even video’d the act, and, surprise surprise, obtained the best part of the trunk for Ukulele parts!