2000s Argapa Concert Ukulele

These are made by Mr. Sven in Sweden and I'm pretty impressed, I must say. After reading a bit of his blog, one can tell he's a bit of a go-getter. His instruments, as far as this one is concerned, seem to suggest that's a very good thing.

This is a concert uke and while it may look like it was built from koa (it's a ruddy medium-brown with a bunch of figure and slightly-wandering grain), it was actually built from old, figured mahogany. To my ears, it sounds extremely "island" in that if you put it next to something like an old 50s Kamaka it would compare very well. In many ways, its build reminds me more of 30s Hawaiian makes than anything else -- complete with a lilting, shimmery, projecting sound -- something hard to get out of mahogany.

It did, however, need its frets leveled and dressed and a light setup, too. The owner brought it in and it got that. I'm not sure why the frets were so wonky -- it's possible that humidity leaving the board let them get askew. Anyhow, it now plays on-the-dot and sounds it, too.

Both the nut and saddle are bone and the board is rosewood.

The dots are pearl.

The bridge is rosewood and has an interesting back-angled saddle. I'm guessing that the intention is to have the string pressure put to use in the top more efficiently and it probably helps, but -- like many good ideas, the practicality is a little maligned -- one can't simply shim the saddle up if the action is too low in a dry winter as it would push the intonation back. For the same reason, cutting a replacement saddle or adjusting the current one would come with a bit of frustration for the average repairman.

Even so, I like it!

The maker does all of his neck shaping with knives... and I'm impressed with the shape of this neck, knowing that.

It's hard to see in the pics, but the body thins its depth at the endblock and neckblock. This is often seen on old 20s/30s Hawaiian ukes and seems to lend a bit of clarity and projection to the sound of a uke. A bit of arc means a stiffer back, too, which helps with the projection as well.

My only question -- orange? At least it's different.


Sven Nyström said...

Hi man, fanx for the kind words about the uke. Glad you like it and glad you took the time to improve it, although I'm quite sure the frets were level when I made it :o)

The tuners are replaced by a previous owner, or perhaps the current one. I used violin pegs on that one, as I still do on most of my ukes. I purchased more expensive peg shaping tools to improve the fit at around uke 60 so I hope the owners won't feel the need to replace them.

That concert was one of the first I made of that size, I made two identical and still have the other one kicking around at home, with the original tuners.

Cheers / Sven

Chris Reed said...

Sven forgot to tell you that the saddle shaping is for compensation - his ukes do play in tune all the way up (but the frets ...)

Jake Wildwood said...

Thanks to both of you -- I totally understand the shaping of the saddle -- I just mean that it's set at an angle into the bridge (ie, it tilts backwards) which means that to jack action up, you'll put it out of tune flat as it pushes it back.