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Concert ukulele in New Guinea Rosewood with maple binding

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Detail on ukuleles including maple binding, abalone fretboard dots, timber rosette and compensated bone saddle

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Side view showing gloss soundboard, oiled sides and matching tail graft and binding

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Headstock detail using select timbers and multiple laminations

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Spanish heel construction, spruce fan bracing and mahogany kerfed linings

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Recycled Hoop Pine for ukulele soundboards

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Ukes that are ready for sale

Australian Made Handcrafted Ukuleles

I started making ukuleles after a chance chat with someone at a timber yard in Melbourne where we were discussing timbers. It happened that he was a luthier who said he had more demand for his ukuleles than his guitars. At that time I wasn’t aware of the renewed popularity of ukuleles, and more importantly, of the incredible variety of tones they could produce or the type of music they could compliment.

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A selection of RNS ukuleles

I decided to take up the challenge, and on returning home, started to design and build 3 concert ukuleles, using different timbers but the same design. The result was 3 distinctive ukuleles, each with its own tone and looks. As a guitar player, I found them surprisingly playable and versatile. Anyway an obsession was unleashed and before long I was experimenting with more varieties and combinations of timber and expanded into tenor and soprano designs.

I now offer a common design in soprano (13 3/4'' scale length), concert (15'' scale length) and tenor (17 3/32'' scale length) sizes. Each instrument is built with its own character, whether it be the different tone woods selected or the decoration, headstock veneer, binding, end graft or rosette. Ultimately, everyone has a different set of ears and hopefully each of my ukuleles has someone’s ears and eyes tuned to it.

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RNS Guitars and Ukuleles stand at the Melbourne Ukulele Festival - March 2014

My ukulele design features traditional Spanish heel construction, with the neck forming an integral part with the body. I just prefer this method and leave it to others to judge whether the ukuleles benefit.

I mill all the timbers used in my ukuleles myself from larger stock slabs or from recycled furniture etc, giving me greater control over what goes into the various components. This includes everything from soundboards to linings and braces, which all play a part in the final tone, however small. There’s also a certain pleasure in giving new life to a piece of quality timber in discarded old furniture, or what some would call ‘firewood’. If you have some timber which has a special attachment for you (from a favourite tree, from an old, loved bit of furniture etc) I can incorporate this into any custom build.

Soundboard bracing, which plays a key role in the final tone (and whether or not the structure will fall apart) is based on the traditional classical guitar fan pattern, but built lighter.

The main timbers I use for the ukulele soundboards, back and sides and necks include Fiji Mahogany, Tasmanian Blackwood, New Guinea Rosewood, Western Red Cedar, Hoop Pine, Spruce and Rock Maple. Timbers I use for bridges, binding, headstock veneers, rosettes, bracing include Apple, Jarrah, Australian Cedar, Rosewood, Rock Maple, Tasmanian Blackwood, Mahogany. Fretboards are mainly Indonesian Rosewood or Rock Maple.

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RNS Spruce/New Guinea Rosewood tenor ukulele on RNS Tasmanian Myrtle stand

Bone nuts and compensated saddles feature on all my ukuleles, providing better tone and intonation.

All standard ukuleles have an oiled neck, with most bodies also being oiled. Spruce tops have a thin lacquer finish for better protection without smothering the tone. Fully lacquered bodies can be custom ordered.

 

 

 

For current ukuleles available to buy, please click on 'For Sale' tab on the Menu bar.

RNS Guitars and Ukuleles © 2014-2015