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'S Brand' TAHITIAN UKULELES

One small aspect of what I do is designing and building handmade tahitian-style ukuleles. These are sold via my etsy page, and after an initial flurry during the pandemic, I now generally limit myself to building one instrument a year. This approach focuses on crafting quality ukuleles for the discerning musician.

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The design is an adaption of the traditional style made, sold, played, and enjoyed on the islands of the South Pacific. I first encountered these whilst touring with my band in 2015, and resolved to one day attempt to build one myself.


Key elements of the tahitian ukulele are:

-Concert (38.5cm) scale

-Eight flurocarbon fishing line strings, tuned in pairs, gg cc ee aa (the middle two pairs are an octave higher than a traditional ukulele) 

-a carved bowl, covered by a round soundboard, which helps create the unique, banjo-like, timbre

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When lockdown hit in 2020, I used the time to build my initial prototype- #001. This featured a 17" tenor scale length; carved from one piece of solid obeche, with birch ply soundboard, walnut bridge, bone nut, Grover machineheads, and traditional flourocarbon 30lb fishing line for strings. Crucially, I modified one of the traditional shapes significantly, including adding a knee rest/neck cutaway to enable playing high up the fretboard while sat down, and a signature carved upper bout.
 

The scale of #001 didn't feel quite right, the and I was unexcited by the appearance of the obeche wood with a natural Tru-Oil finish, so for #002 I used a soprano (13") scale, an Indian Rosewood fretboard, and an experimental dyed-wood finish. For a final, classy touch, I added a tiger sycamore veneer to the headstock face.

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#002 confirmed my suspicions- that the original 'concert' scale was optimum for these strings and the tuning used. For #003 I went all-in. I invested in a solid block of Spanish Cedar and used that to carve my final prototype, which would be my blueprint from then on. Finishing this one was a definite 'eureka moment' for my process!

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The only real changes from the prototype are that I now include a K&K Aloha Twin pickup system, and Dunlop recessed straplock systems as standard. Also...

With the design finalised, I started taking orders, and have shipped my ukuleles across the globe to locations including Australia and the USA!

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...my instruments now come with their own little engraved brass 'S' logo!

At this point I took on my biggest challenge- build my own 'signature' bass guitar! I wanted something to my own spec, but featuring a unique shape that didn't look too tacky... so I adapted my design and #005 was born!

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30-inch scale, laminate maple/wenge thru-neck construction with wenge wings, grade-A rosewood fingerboard, wenge headstock veneer, Leo Quan Badass Mk2 bridge, Bartolini NTMB preamp w/ 18V 3-band EQ, 2x DiMarzio Model P pickups each with series-parallel switch, additional XLR output, Boss-style knobs, handcarved brass nut, Gotoh machineheads, a custom engraved brass headstock logo, Rotosound Swingbass strings.

It's quite a rush getting to play something you've designed, carved, wired, and set up by hand live onstage! I've since used #005 at scores of gigs.

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The addition of #008 rounds out my range, so I can now offer tahitian ukuleles, basses, and guitars built to my exacting specification.

An important milestone came in May 2023 with the creation of my first 6-string electric guitar! Built to 24.75" scale and featuring the same neck-through constuction as #005, this was built to be a super shredder!

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 Instruments currently in stock can be ordered via my etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SBrandInstruments), or you can contact me for a quote on your very own handmade instrument at sbrandtahitianukuleles@gmail.com

For the latest news and build updates- @sbrandinstruments on IG

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