Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life.

Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life. Sunset at Telegraph Point.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ukes Are Go ......

............... yep, just like the Thunderbirds ..............

One of the greatest aspects of living in a small community is .... well ...... living in a small community.  Telegraph Point is tiny, but has a vibrant community culture.

Apart from Book Group, our own local library, Singing Group, community dinners and BBQ's, fitness group, and pub karaoke, there is the Wednesday night Ukulele Group.

A more zany bunch of pluckers, you are unlikely to meet - from diverse backgrounds, but with a passion for that oxymoron - Ukulele Music.

My stupid camera has a flash delay - that's why everyone looks like a deer in the headlights - but you get the idea.  Of course - the empty wine glasses might also account for that.

One of our inspirations is The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain - Oh that we might emulate them one day!
Their rendition of the old Talking Heads song Psycho Killer is mind-blowingly great.  It is one song that we love murdering whenever we can.

Ukes come in all shapes and sizes, the most common, in our group anyway, are the tenor sized ukes. That little maroon one (above) is a soprano - and I play a concert.

Anatomy of a Ukulele

Here is my concert ukulele - a Kanani - beside the LOML's  Lanikai which is a tenor. The body of the tenor is longer and deeper, and it has a longer neck.

Building a Ukulele
Tonewoods are something that have  taken my interest since I decided to build a Ukulele. Now this is totally new woodworking territory for me, so I am in the process of researching methods and materials. I think that I will build a tenor ukulele, as it is the largest with standard uke stringing.

There is a larger baritone uke, but it requires different chord sets, and that may be a bridge and nut too far at this stage.

My Kanani is made of solid Koa - both body and soundboard, and the Lanikai has a spruce soundboard and mahogany body.  Both have rosewood fret-boards.

The roundup of materials will now begin.  I have some African blackwood that will make a good fretboard, and I am going to try western red cedar as the soundboard.

This western red cedar came from panels from my brother in law's kitchen demolition.  Under the paint was some lovely straight grain.

Other ukulele soundboard tonewood timbers that I have a little of, and am considering, are:
  • mango
  • blackwood
  • huon pine
  • black heart sassafras
  • Australian cedar
  • Queensland maple
  • Tasmanian myrtle

I am still mulling over timber for the body, but am thinking maybe blackwood...... hmmmm ...

This task will take some time I think.

In the meantime, here is the song that I took to Uke group last night ..... a blast from the past ..........
Let's just say that - while I love it, ......... ............... is growing on the others ....................

Happy uke-ing .....
.... and happy woodworking to all ...............


  1. This is fantastic dad!!

    1. Thanks darlin', Butterfly Ball was a favourite when you were kids.

  2. What a fabulous looking bunch and we have so much fun on Wednesday nights.

  3. Blackwood should work fine for the body and the soundboard, Maton Guitars use it quite a lot I believe. Bunya is also fantastic sounding if you can hunt up a piece, it resonates for days...

    1. Many thanks Andrew.
      I think that my first build is going to be a learning exercise, so am looking to use the cheaper timbers first. Hope to learn from my mistakes on the first one.
      I'll keep my eyes open for some Bunya ..........

  4. Natalie SpratfordMay 13, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    Hi Tom,
    Great photo of your group playing there Ukuleles. Music keeps your soul alive and happy doesn't it so keep at it and having fun with it.
    I love the song All You Need Is Love that you have attached to your Blog. I do remember hearing that song years ago. Boy does that mean I showing my age.
    I play my Flute, Recorder and music Keyboard when ever I can. I am ok at playing them all. I need sheet music to play songs. When we lived in Condobolin back in the 80's Jason and I had music lessons from an old lady on her piano, just normal music not learning piano style. Mum and dad bought us an Organ that is why we had music lessons. Jason was the one with the real talent as he could play Characters Of Fire with no sheet music. How I wish I had his talent as I struggle to play with sheet music, but still enjoy it which is the main thing I guess. Mum and dad wished Jason would have stuck to playing some sort of musical instrument as he was that gifted. What a real shame to see a gift such as playing a musical instrument go to waist. My niece Amelia Jason's daughter who is 6 years old said that she wants to learn the Violin. When I told her Uncle Damian that Amelia wants to learn the Violin he said please do not in courage her Ha Ha!!! Well I suppose we all have to start some where when we want to play a musical instrument don't we. Uncle Michael and Aunty Val bought Amelia a pink Ukulele for her 3rd birthday as Amelia and Jessica have a music toy box and the Ukulele is in it
    I love that you and Barbara have an interest together with music. You should tape your selves playing the Ukulele as a group and put that on your blog for others like me to hear.
    Good to see that you are challenging your self with your wood working and going to try and make your very own Ukulele. I would love to see the finished product on your Blog.
    Keep up playing your Ukulele as your mind and soul will thank you for making them happy.
    Also keep up your great wood working. That is a very special gift that God gave you and you make thing well. You know Jesus was a carpender so it is great for you to take after someone that special.

    Looking faward to seeing more of your Blog down the track later in the year.
    Happy music playing, woodworking and enjoying life's new challenges that come your way.

    Love from Natalie