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TYPES OF WOOD, MATERIALS AND FINISHES OF UKULELES

by Alan Ruiz Zavala March 05th, 2016

TYPES OF WOOD, MATERIALS AND FINISHES OF UKULELES

The ukulele is a fine instrument of precise construction, and its manufacture is one of the jobs that offers more variety of materials, its price ranges between 500 and thousands of pesos, an accessible price instrument is not the best in the market, and its quality in construction may have defects, The instrument must have a good finish, without visible glue remains and with an even varnish. The dishes must be well filed, aligned, level and not present dangerous roughness. The intonation must be precise and Octave, we must avoid instruments with flaps in the lid or masts.

It should not be difficult to fine tune, a bad ukulele is impossible to tune, in small-scale instruments, a couple of poorly adjusted millimeters can lead to a poorly calibrated instrument, impossible to play with other instruments.

Wood types

 

 

In the economic presentations blackberry laminates are used, oriental mahogany or agathis, although these woods do not stand out for their acoustic qualities, they give a very acceptable result at good prices.

Even within an economic range, we find mahogany laminate ukuleles, with a sound less vivid than a solid one, spending a little more, we have instruments with a lid solid mahogany, Laminated mahogany back and sides, a very good choice for those who don't want to spend more. Solid mahogany instruments have a higher price, in return they offer more volume and greater wealth in the bell.

Going up in the range, there are the tops of cedar o fir tree combined with mahogany or maple rings (solid or laminated), and exotic-looking woods such as mango, acacia, ebony. The usual wood in the high-end ukuleles is called Koa and is a variety of traditional Acacia and native to Hawaii, it has a beautiful sight like amber and a bright sound, this material is expensive and it shows in its cost.


With the purpose of greater productivity, other woods have been introduced, say of less quality or not as controlled as they can be acacias in which there are many varieties and their type is not specified, something similar happens with mahogany, they are usually pseudo-mahogany , low quality and soft woods, in addition to the fact that the woods usually undergo an artificial curing and drying process.

Maples, firs and cedars, this type of wood has been used as covers for many instruments, such as guitars and violins, among others, because not in ukuleles. Each type of wood has a timbre, a tone, a particular color, which depends on its density and grain, for example mahogany usually gives a bell with many means, instead rosewood usually has more serious, fir usually gives treble, That is why there are quite a few guitars that mix rosewood in the body and spruce in the lid, it also influences, and much, the quality of construction such as the thickness of the harmonic cover, the Varetaje (location and fan design on the cover bars harmonica) of it, etc.



even so it is difficult to differentiate “by ear” a Hindu rosewood, from one of Hawaiian solid koa, the latter being more expensive.

Finishes

You will find serious-looking instruments, and others very decorated, with shell or stone inlays precious and fillets with different patterns, although the decoration does not influence the sound, it should be noted that the fillets (the decoration on the edge of the box) serve as additional protection against dangerous blows.

As for varnishes, lacquers formulated specifically for use in musical instruments are generally applied so as not to modify their acoustics, in matt and glossy varieties, it is a matter of aesthetics and here it is your pleasure to make that difficult decision.

You can also notice the quality of your instrument in the materials of the pegs, some are made of wood, metal, plastic and mother of pearl, they should always be soft in their adjustment to facilitate tuning

Alan Ruiz Zavala



Alan Ruiz Zavala
Alan Ruiz Zavala

Author

I love the ukulele and all its world



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