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6 October 2013

My new Cowboy Ukulele

I've only gone and bought myself another uke! Yes, I know... as if I haven't got enough already!

I just couldn't help myself. When I spotted this little beauty earlier this week, I just had to have it. Get this... I don't even know the brand. If you know, then please drop me a comment. And I pretty much bought this one blind over the internet! Crazy fool!

I'm calling the new instrument my "Cowboy Uke" for reasons that will become obvious soon...

I've snaffled this wonderful picture from ukulala. Sadly, it looks like the blog is no longer being updated. This is a cowboy uke, but it's not my cowboy uke.

Here's my Cowboy Ukulele nestled in between some of my other instruments. It's a handsome little instrument. Here's how the seller described it:

"Top Material : Solid Maple
Back & Sides Material : Solid Maple
Headplate Material: Solid Acacia Koa
Strings: Italian Aquila Strings
Fingerboard Material : Solid Rosewood
Nut Material : Real Buffalo Bone
Finish Body : Polished Satin
Finish Neck : Satin
Scale Length : 13"
Overall Length : 520 mm
Body Width : 141 mm
Body Depth : 46 mm
Fingerboard Width At Nut : 34 mm
Fingerboard Width At 12th Fret : 42 mm
# Of Frets Clear : 12
# Of Frets Total : 18" 

You know that I'm on a bit of a cowboy kick at the moment. This picture is one that I'm currently using on my Google+ profile page. I created it during my collaboration with Pancho.

This picture is a cowboy version of a doodle I saw by Magritte on a trip to Bruges earlier this year called "the Mysteries of the Horizon". My version features me in my scarab outfit with a bad moon rising. See the cape? I want you to hold this thought.

Yep! My new cowboy uke has a cape too! What an interesting feature!

The ukulele came with a Laka vintage padded gig-bag. Perhaps this is a Laka?

Here's another cowboy uke. It's an M10 Cowboy Fluke manufactured in Connecticut USA. I spotted a bog-standard version of one of these flukes at the Festival of Great Britain in June and shared a picture with you. I'd noticed that the back of the body was plastic and felt the need to mention this feature. I've had my eyes open for plastic ukuleles ever since learning about some of the first plastic ukes. This picture is taken from The description on their page reveals that the back of the body is injection-moulded, fiberglass-reinforced. I quite like the idea of owning a fluke-shaped ukulele with a cowboy on the front, but I reckon I'd be shot by Mrs Uke if I ever got one. :-(

One of the things that really switched me on to my new cowboy uke was learning that the body and neck are made out of maple. I've worked with maple on both my Kingcaster and Sharkfin builds and have come to love it; It's hard and heavy and doesn't need stain. Once lacquered, it really comes alive with a beautiful almost sparkly look. See this picture of the heel of my cowboy uke. The maker has given a few key areas a spray of stain to make a sort of aged look. I've never considered trying anything like this before. It works really well.

One thing worth mentioning is that the uke is ever-so-slightly neck-heavy. "Solid" is probably the word to use here.

I'd spotted this detail in the original pictures advertising the uke. It was what convinced me that the uke was going to be well made... and I was right. The workmanship is great. The wood has been worked to an exceptional quality. My only observation is that the gluing has been a little sloppy in places. You need to really look to spot it though, so I'm not complaining. It's still better than my efforts at gluing ;-)

I'm not sure that I fully realised this fantastic feature when I hit the "buy" button. See the two-tone rosewood fretboard! Isn't this brilliant! I'm a huge fan of my instruments having imperfections in the wood. Instruments should reflect the player. This one looks a little weathered and rough around the edges ;-)

This is a shot of the head. There's no maker's mark anywhere that I can find on the uke. The head front is actually a thin veneer of "Acacia Koa". It goes well with the maple and rosewood. 

I've put together a quick sound check for you. When I recorded this I'd literally had the uke about 10 minutes. I tuned it up and let rip with a snippet of Dead Man's Reel. You may remember an oompah version of this song that I produced with +Daniel Buttery). The neck is slightly thinner than I'm used to for a Soprano, but the sound is good and the uke pretty much plays itself.

Here's a little mock-up I did where I joked that I'd be doing some customisation. Don't worry, I have no intention of customising this baby ;-) 

You might remember me mentioning a lady by the name of Julia Bulette (Bullet?) in a recent post I did on Lake Tahoe. Julia was Nevada's "legendary prostitute with a heart of gold". Look at the video I spotted yesterday shared by Reno Tahoe Ukulele Festival. It's a ukulele tribute to Julia. What an odd coincidence.

What I didn't realise when I posted the above picture, is that there is quite a story hidden behind it. Julia was murdered on 20-Jan-1867 by a French hobo called John Millain who was later hung for his crimes. Listen to the song to learn more of the legend of Julia Bulette...


  1. Very cool, i love this wood too !

  2. Agree! I'm still none-the-wiser as to who made it.

  3. Did you fire off 4 strings Clint,or only 3
    ...well did ya,punk ?-)

  4. Clint says 4 strings.. and it made his day ;-)