Monday, July 30, 2007

uke building

Ok, I mentioned last blog that I want to build a uke. Here are some pictures of the forms, side bender jig, and drum sander I'm working on.
Looks like the blog software put 'em in reverse order and won't let me move 'em around, grrrr.
I'm using the sander plans from Shop Notes magazine. It's powered by a v-belt from the arbor of a table saw and so it doesn't require it's own motor. Maybe down the line I'll convert it, I really prefer standalone tools so I'm not changing setups all the time. I don't have a dedicated dust collector and just swapping the shopvac from tool to tool is a pain in the butt.
The drum itself is probably the toughest part of the project. Using a circle cutting jig on a bandsaw sure helped. The glue up of the disks is a pain, I'm not quite done yet. I've got most of the other pieces cut out and ready to assemble and I'm waiting for the pillow block bearings to arrive at the h/w store since they didn't keep them in stock.
The Fox style bender was fun to make and looks cool. I can't wait to try it. I still need to make the cauls to pull the wood into the form, not sure how I want to fasten them just yet. Heat will come from a halogen bulb on a dimmer from an old lamp. I've got aluminum sheet to sandwhich my wood and the whole form is lined in several layers of aluminum foil to protect it.
The uke shape is just the cutout from inside the form but gives a better idea of the shape and shows some of the layout on top. I designed the shape on my PC using Visio, print it out and use spray adhesive to attach to the form. Then just cut it out at the bandsaw and use an oscillating drum sander to bring it to the line and smooth it out. I still need to hinge the form and make cauls for holding the uke body sides tight to the form while glueing head/tail blocks and kerfing.
Como, Aug 1, 6-8pm

Thursday, July 26, 2007

7/25 Como recap

Another nice evening at Como. While the radio said it was 91 with a 93 heat index on the drive down there, once I got settled in the shade near the waterfall just outside the pavillion it was very comfortable for playing.
I had a couple nice conversations with people who wondered about, or just commented on, the ukulele.
Next Wednesday is August 1st and I'll probably head down there again.
Tracie had mentioned the possibility of a meeting at her place. If anyone wants to host a meeting, please, just pick a date & time and go for it! I'll help spread the word if you wish.

I hope to follow up with another post in the next day or two. In addition to playing uke I've been nurturing my bug to build one. I've almost completed a Fox style side bender using my own design for the shape (ok, not much different from any other uke... a 1/4 inch here, a 1/4 inch there, but I did do it from scratch using Visio to get curves that I liked.) I'm also part way into building a wide drum sander for thinning ukulele top/back/side plates. Pictures will be included.

Keep StrumMn everyone!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

7/18 at Como

I had company tonight! Ok, my wife doesn't play uke but she came down to Como and sat with me while I played.
The weather looked really ominous on the way down there but it never rained on us and the sun actually came out after a while and the humidity dropped to a comfortable level as well. There weren't as many people down there due to the weather and the evening concert sounded pretty good as we left.
I'm planning to go back again next Wednesday, 7/25, 6-8pm if anyone else wants to drop by and play.
Since Wednesday evenings don't seem to be a favorite for anyone except me I'm open to suggestions for meeting another day/time. Does anyone want to try a weekend or something? Or just wait until September when we can go back to meeting indoors at the library? I think everyone is just busy with their summer and that's ok too.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

7-11 review

7-11 was another gorgeous evening at Como, however by 8pm my fingers were actually getting a little too cold and stiff to play well. No other uke players but I had a couple people stop and talk to me tonight.
The first asked if I was part of the band when I was walking through to see if anyone else was there and when I said no she said, "oh, you're the one who sits out there and plays that little instrument, right?"
Yup, that'd be me.
The 2nd just asked what I was playing and when I responded ukulele his response was "just like Authur Godfrey."
Lots of little kids asking parents about "the little guitar" too.
Being a glutton for punishment I'll plan to be down there again next week, the 18th.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Wed 7/11/07 anyone?

I'm going down to Como again from 6-8pm on Wed 7/11 if anyone wants to come down to play uke for a while. The Minnesota Sinfonia is playing on the promenade at the pavillion at 7pm if you have family coming along who would prefer to listen to something besides uke.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

If you're looking for some patriotic tunes to try you should check out the Ukulele Tips 'n' Tunes book from FMM. It's got You're A Grand Old Flag, America(My Country Tis of Thee), The Star Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle, and America The Beautiful.

My favorite book at the moment is Ukulele Gems (from FMM again. No, I'm not a shill for them, they're just great books for the uke.)
I mentioned Heart and Soul before which I found in this book. I also discovered It's Been A Long, Long Time which is a great song to play on the uke. Others I'm practicing from this book are Ukulele Lady, Bye Bye Blues, Ain't She Sweet, All Of Me, and Sentimental Journey.
Sentimental Journey is a real finger twister for me but I'm starting to hear a LITTLE progress. This one will take a long time but could be worth it. I'd love to hear/see how others finger an Am7 (2433) which needs to alternate with (2033), maybe there is an easier way than what I'm using.

Have a great 4th and come out to Como on Wednesday if you can, I'll be down there 6-8pm or so.
Keep StrumMN!