I decided to build a tenor ‘uke in the summer of 2005 as a prototype instrument using the Hana Lima ‘Ia construction method with a Spanish heel, like in a classical guitar. This unconventional ‘uke was made with a mahogany top and neck and plain, flat-sawn maple sides and back. The inlay in the headstock depicts the Hawaiian islands, which seemed another appropriate theme. The mahogany came from a friend who had quite a few pieces to spare and the maple was simple ‘project’ maple you’d find at Rockler Woodworking. I used Gotoh mini tuners that I had been getting from Hana Lima Ia. The bridge is likewise made from maple based on a classical guitar bridge shown in William Cumpiano’s guitarmaking book, Guitarmaking Tradition and Technology.
I was pleased with this instrument and I still play it to this day. I have this Tenor strung as a Low G. ‘Ukuleles are usually strung/tuned re-entrant, which means High G, C, E, A – usually referred to as “My Dog Has Fleas”.
The only ‘issue’ with this instrument is that it is somewhat heavy. An ‘ukulele should be light as a feather as I later learned, but more on that in a future posting.
Shortly after completing this ‘ukulele I went to see Jake Shimabukuro at a club near Boston and he signed the top of my ‘uke. I was quite excited about this.