I have finally finished adjusting my soprano Oscar Schmidt OU2e ukulele to my liking. I like the pickup in this uke and that’s why I bought it. After trying it in the store both the sound and the price were just right. But its large body (at least for a soprano) comes with quite a thick neck. So I thought I’d shape the neck a little more to my liking.
Initially, I don’t like to take off the strings that come on the uke because it’s always interesting to hear the nuances of the new strings. I have no idea what kind of strings were on the OU initially, but they were different than anything I had ever had before. They almost seemed like the catgut of olden days. But no…?
Finally after about 6 months I took off the strings. After its operation I have put premium clear Worths on it. The Worths sound much crisper. We’ll see how it does when I record and start playing on the amp.
When you first get the OU2E it has the rugged unpolished mahogany — well perhaps there is a thin satin finish on it but the wood feels pretty rough. In fact the edges were so sharp when I first played it they cut the inside part of my arm. So I sanded and rounded the edges. The advantage of the lack of finish on this uke was that sanding and rounding didn’t detract from the look.
To get the neck down in size I used my #50 Nicholson rasp. I bought this after using one at Mike DaSilva’s lutherie where I had built a uke under his tutelage. Mike had spent a fair bit of time teaching me how to hold and use the rasp when shaping a ukulele neck. Although it was hard to learn at first I master a little more each time I shape a neck.
Now that I have had the rasp for about a year and played with it on various woods, I much prefer to use it on mahogany (as opposed to rosewood, red oak, cocobolo, or poplar). With this rasp, the thickness of the mahogany OU neck melted off like butter. I worked on the neck in the backyard where it was about 89 F with a humidity of 80 or so. I melted too. The mahogany neck did not have the same grain or color as the body of the uke and I suspect it had been dyed to hide the radically lighter color.
When the neck was reshaped, I finished the whole ukulele with Minwax’s clear polycrylic. After adding a coat of Myland’s wax polish, the ukulele looks entirely different. The finish adds so much more to the look of the ukulele. And it is a lot smoother to hold.
There’s nothing like transforming a ukulele.