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Question for any Hana Lima Alumni (Read 4992 times)
Acabooe
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Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Feb 1st, 2008 at 1:32am
 
Aloha all,

I was reading the Hana Lima coarse outline the other day, and I came across a part that I didn't quite understand.
It says:
"Students will make a 4 string Tenor Ukulele with Honduran Mahogany. Engleman Spruce or Western Red Cedar Soundboards optional. Rosewood (bubinga) fretboard and bridge, Gotoh SGM Mini Tuners, and Aquila Nylgut are included, upgrades optional."

I was wondering about the upgrades optional part.

My questions are,
What upgrades are avalible ( wood, tuners, strings, pickups, etc. )?,
do they cost extra?,
and if so, at what point would they need to be paid for ( First day of class, right when you ask for the upgrade no matter what day it is, or at the end of the two week session )?

I know that I will find out in just over 4 months when I get there, but I think that it is better to plan ahead if the cost is going to be higher than I first thought.

A big Mahalo to any who write in on this.

Bob 8)
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konacat
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Re: Response  part 1
Reply #1 - Feb 7th, 2008 at 3:10pm
 
Bob,

This response is so long I had to break it up.   Grin

I think you will need to talk to Asa Chock about available options. I believe it was only recently that Hana Lima ‘Ia allowed options during the class. They used to only have the mahogany kits but they did allow your choice of tuner buttons and either abalone or mop rosette. The kits were supplied with Hilo brand strings. You also choose if you want to attach the neck at the 12th or the 14th fret and if you want a low G or high G setup.

Currently, they offer both mahogany and bubinga kits. Maybe bubinga is an option for you. I really like the bubinga since building my fathers guitar with it. In fact, I have purchased more bubinga for 2 ukuleles later this year. They were also offering walnut kits for a while but they must be out of them at this time. A quick call would answer the questions on options. If you look under “the student built ukuleles” and “more Hanalima alumni” you will find several woods being used. Maybe the will allow you to bring your own wood such as koa. If this is so then you will probably want to talk to Asa about coming in early and thickness sanding the wood so you would be ready to go. Mike and Asa are pretty flexible but you can’t time take away from the class. If you are considering koa or mango let me know and I may be able to help.



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konacat
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Re: Response  part 2
Reply #2 - Feb 7th, 2008 at 3:12pm
 
As to the class, I have some thoughts for you in not particular order.

I would choose abalone for marker and rosette. If you use MOP you will end up with lines where the pieces connect. You won’t notice it with the abalone.

You can always bring your own strings if you like.  The Hilo’s or the upgrade to Nyglut is fine too.

A mask of some sort is good during sanding.  Lots and lots of sanding work to be done.

I would advise getting a set of mirco mesh sanding cloths. The finish you use will be Tru-oil and in this case the smoother the wood the better the finish. Get the micro mesh and a chalk eraser and cut the eraser if needed to use with the cloths. This gives you a firm but resilient sanding pad. This is so you can sand away from the class but of course you can use it in class too.

Eat a good breakfast and or bring a snack because some days you never end up taking a lunch. They do have a fridge so you can bring your favorite drink (non adult).

If you want a bone nut and saddle you will need to bring your own. Be sure the saddle is 1/8th to fit the slot.  I’m about to clean up the frets and change to bone on mine.

I guess one of the upgrades would be an ebony fretboard and bridge. If they allow it you should choose before you go.

To save yourself time in class you should design you headstock shape before you arrive. Take look at the photos of the other student headstock shapes for ideas. Of course the web will be a great resource also. Otherwise you will be trying to figure out what you like when you have little time. You can fold a piece of paper in half and work from there. Asa can give you the exact measurement for the nut end. Be sure to allow room for the tuners so the strings won’t hit each other.

You can also design your own bridge. They will provide you with a partially shaped bridge. You can round the front ends or back ends or both. You can also go with a cutout at either end. If you plan ahead you will be ready to do it vs. trying to figure out what would look best during the class. Of course, you could purchase one ahead of time and have it ready to go. That would give you lots of design time and as a result more time in class.

Measure everything twice.

Take great care when gluing the bridge. Measure your distance several times and make marks accurately. When gluing the bridge be sure to take extra care because the bridge can move without you realizing it.  Recheck your measurements and your good to go.

Be humble. Mike knows his stuff. But be sure to ask any question if you have them.

If you want to add an electric pickup of some kind be sure to bring it with you.  It won’t require too much extra work and Mike can advise.

When you bend your sides remember that you are working with the wood and not commanding it. If you try to force it you can easily crack a side. Work the wood down from the top of the mold and feel it give as you bend. I saw several sides that broke. Cry  Allow time for the wood to heat and spritz with water if the wood steams your good to go.

Where clothes that are comfortable and casual.

Don’t overly worry about mistakes. Think things through, measure, mark, and go at it. One great thing I leaned in class is that mistakes sometimes happen but that they can almost always be repaired.

Be easy on Mike because he is getting really old and this is probably the last class he still has the capacity to teach. Just kidding it’s an inside joke. Mike is a great guy and a wealth of information.

If you are going to use the bus system ( good bus system) be sure to get a monthly bus pass for $40.00 from 7-11 stores. You can get them other places too.http://www.thebus.org/Fare/adultfare.asp  If you get the tourist bus pass at $20.00 it’s only good for 4 days. Otherwise the bus is $2.00 each way. Be sure to allow travel time if taking The Bus. By the way the call it “The Bus”.

There is also lots of free music that is really good all over town. Give me a holler a week before you go and tell me where you are staying and I will give you low downs on some music and places with adult beverages.


Most of all have fun! When you string it up you will know why everyone in the photos has such a big smile.

Philip
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #3 - Feb 7th, 2008 at 4:46pm
 
Say Konacat,
wow thats alot of great info.

your last line was the most important of all.......have fun
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Acabooe
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #4 - Feb 8th, 2008 at 6:24am
 
Thanks Philip,

Wow, you were right, that is alot to digest, I will need to print it out so I don't forget Tongue

As for where I will be staying, My wife's family live in Waianae, and we will be staying with them.

I know it is a long commute, but it will be good to see our family again.

Thanks for all the tips.
I will try to write more later.

Mahalo
Bob 8)
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #5 - Mar 23rd, 2008 at 7:24pm
 
Bob,
I didn’t know if you had time to think about what wood you will build with when you take the class a Hana Lima but I thought I might bring it up. If you have thought of something other than the two kits Hana Lima provides have you contacted Asa to make sure it’s ok? Don’t be shy about posing questions to Mike or Asa because they are really nice guys and can be quite helpful. Besides, you will have plenty of time and money invested in this class so the end result hopefully will match your dreams.

If you want other woods the two most obvious choices would be Koa and Mango. Both of these woods can be used for back, sides, and top. Any wood can be used but most will require some sort of separate top such as spruce, cedar, redwood, or my favorite Lutz.  The reason I’m bringing this up is that if you choose other then the kits it gives you time to get the wood to Hana Lima and let it acclimate. In addition, I’m sure that you could get Asa to thickness sand it to the proper starting thickness with his huge thickness sander.

There are several sources of these woods that I can pass on if you like. I currently have koa, mango, and mahogany sets acclimating for builds later this year.  Any of these will make a great ukulele. Of course   koa is viewed as the traditional Hawaiian wood for ukuleles.  I like tradition as much as the next person as long as I can use geared tuners and not peg tuners (personal preference).

Regards,

Philip
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #6 - Mar 24th, 2008 at 5:10am
 
Hi Philip,

As a matter of fact, I have thought of the wood that I want to use.
Infact there have been a few small changes.

My wife and I have decided to move to Hawai'i.
So, I called up Asa the other day, and I switched my reservation from the summer class this year, to the following one in fall.

I also asked Asa if they were going to have any Koa to work with when that class rolls around.
He told me that he wasn't sure, and would have to see when the time came.

I then asked him would it be ok if I brought in some koa that I already had ( because I plan to get some over the net ) and he said that he didn't see any problems with it.

I have also been taking into account the advice that I got earlier about showing up earlier on the first day to make sure that the thickness is correct.

I would like to see those sites for purchasing the wood, if you don't mind sending them.

I am not really sure from where I am going to buy my Koa, but i know that I want to use Koa.

Thanks for the tips.
Bob 8)
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #7 - Mar 24th, 2008 at 9:30pm
 
Bob,

Wow! Looks like your life is going to have some big changes in the near future. Best of Luck in your move. My wife and I almost moved there a number of years ago. We changed our plans when a very good job fell through when they choose the other final candidate.  Such is life.  You are also lucky with family over there for support while you get acclimated. I will tell you that Aloha is from inside, from the heart.  Having been to Hawaii many more times than you years I can attest there are some really great people in Hawaii. Grin The caveat is that Hawaii has similar problems as anywhere else including a few unique problems. To some people the aloha spirit is something for tourist advertisements.  Sad That being said, I love Hawaii and its people and have always tried to treat people the way I would like to be treated. Yes, I’ll shut up as I’m getting boring again. Lips Sealed

You should check out Steve Schaefer’s Hawaiian Hardwoods Direct site at http://www.curlykoa.com/. Even though he has relocated to a small Oregon town of 600 people there is still a stockpile of wood. If you join his site and then log in you will see some special prices on his offerings. One nice thing is that he offers a variety of grades and some nice high res photos of the wood. I picked up a set of koa and a set of mango from           Steve’s shop last year and both have a great tap tone.

You can also check with Bob Gleason at Pegasus Guitars and Ukuleles as he also sells koa. You don’t get to see photos of it but Bob is a highly respected builder and you would expect his descriptions to be spot on. His posts his supply on his web site but I would suggest if you have an order or questions that you phone him instead of email.http://www.pegasusguitars.com/

I know of a couple of others that sell koa that is ukulele size but I can recommend the two fellows that I have already mentioned. I know that Dave Means has used Steve for some of his supplies so that says quite a bit. It looks like Bob has some inexpensive ukulele sets available right now that might be good to start with. Ebay can be pretty touchy as to quality and moisture content. That’s not even mentioning some of the outrageous shipping charges so they can make up the difference for selling cheap

I hope this helps.  There are two others that I know of but I have no direct experience with them.  The first is Volcano Guitar Works who is a sponsor at the OLF.http://www.volcanoguitarworks.com/
The other is Curly Koa Guitar Wood.http://www.koaguitarwood.com/woodsets.html

Best Wishs

Philip

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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #8 - Mar 25th, 2008 at 7:09am
 
Dear Philip,

Thanks for the kind words, and the websites.

As far as Hawai'i goes, I am know how it is over there.
I have visited twice, and my wife was raised for the first 19 years of her life there.
My wife, and my brother in law taught me how to speak pidgin, so I think that I will be just fine.

As far as buying on the net, I did find something good on ebay, but I am not sure if it is a good price.
This lot is 6 pieces of curly Koa ( enough to make the top, back, and sides of a tenor Ukulele ).
The cost is $90.
Is that good, or is that high?

Thanks again, I will check out those sites.

Bob 8)
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #9 - Mar 25th, 2008 at 11:21am
 
Bob,

Take a look at the Volcano Guitar Works site. They have a tenor set that really looks great for $85.00. It looks like the highest quality to me.  You can enlarge the photo to get a better look.
http://www.volcanoguitarworks.com/index.php?product=Uke_I_1T

Philip
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #10 - Mar 28th, 2008 at 4:57pm
 
Bob,

$90.00 is a fair retail price for curly koa.  I personally wouldn't pay that much on ebay unless it was a set that I really liked.  I've bought Brazillian Rosewood sets on ebay for $90.00.  I even bought a koa set for a Dreadnaught guitar for $120.00.  In my humble opinion, the max to pay on ebay for a 6 piece set is somewhere around $60.00. 

Also, I just got back from Hawaii today.  The more we go there, the more we consider moving there.  The only issues I have involve driving; a lot of street signs are too small or are hard to see, the changing speed limits on the highways and drivers not allowing me to change lanes even with turn signals. 

Murray
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #11 - Mar 30th, 2008 at 4:51am
 
Thanks for the advice Murray.

I think that I will wait untill my wife, son, and I get setteled it in Hawai'i, before I buy the wood for my next build.

Afterall, in Hawai'i koa wood would probably be cheaper ( provided I go to the right place ), even if it is less the cost of shipping.

Aloha
Bob 8)
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #12 - Mar 30th, 2008 at 5:35am
 
Bob:

Good decision.  One less thing that you will have to pack and move to Hawaii.  This is the time to unload items you do not need immediately not buy more.

Don
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Re: Question for any Hana Lima Alumni
Reply #13 - Mar 30th, 2008 at 6:33am
 
Yeah I know...

Most of the stuff that I made ( jigs, forms, sanding things, routerbases, etc. ) I will have to leave here in Texas.

O well, gives me somethings to think about, as far as improving on my design next time.

Bob 8)
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