The day before my April 20 knee surgery, I was scared. I knew what I was in for and it wasn’t going to be pleasant. I was desperate for a distraction, so I pulled out my credit card and starting buying stuff online that I’d had my eye on for awhile, including a custom-made ukulele. (I’ve since come to regret a few of my ‘retail therapy’ purchases, but not the ukulele.)
NFC Ukuleles is a one-man operation in Nicaragua. (FYI: People who make stringed instruments like ukuleles and guitars are called luthiers.) I’d seen a great review of one of his instruments made out of cocobolo, and loved how it looked and sounded, so I took the plunge and ordered one, knowing it would take several months to arrive.
They say you should always buy a ukulele that is more than you need, that is better than your playing skills warrant. This way you have room to grow. My NFC ukulele will be much better than my skills require, so I’m going to do my best to improve.
Did I pay more than I would have buying a factory-made ukulele from Amazon? Oh, yeah. But I’m supporting a skilled luthier in Nicaragua, which feels much better than putting money into Jeff Bezos’ pocket. (Sermon coming: Bezos is currently worth $200 billion. Seriously, people, isn’t that enough for one man? We need to start supporting small businesses. Sermon over.)
Nestor, the luthier, has been kind enough to share photos of his progress. He started with four thin slabs of cocobolo, two for the front, two for the back.
Here are the slabs that form the back:
Here’s the front, cut and glued:
Here are the sides being glued onto the back, providing a glimpse of a ukulele’s interior:
Here’s the same shot with the clamps removed:
Here’s the front. (Nestor creates beautiful rosettes, the design encircling the sound hole.):
Time to add the neck:
Most ukuleles have a quiet satin finish but I like me some glossy, so that’s what I ordered:
The glossy side (note the side sound hole, a nice feature that lets me hear my mistakes more clearly!):
The glossy back:
The glossy (and stunning ) front (bridge, tuning pegs, and strings to be added next):
My new ukulele should be in my hands in a few weeks. Can’t wait!