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Flea Market Music offers an on-line community for ukulele players, informative books on the ukulele, ukulele CDs,songbooks, videos and information on our instrument manufacturing of the FLUKE ukulele. Brought to you by "Jumpin" Jim Beloff.
Roy Smeck Concert Ukulele


Original Post By: PhotoJosh Date: 8/5/2007 12:27:30 PM
A number of you have asked for me to write a review of my Jupiter Creek ukulele when it was in my hands. So here is a review:

Photo 1: http://tinyurl.com/ysntps

The info:

At the beginning of March I ordered a telecaster style concert ukulele in "sonic blue" from Rob at Jupiter Creek (www.jupitercreekmusic.com). He is generally very good about responding to email, rarely taking more than 48 hours to reply. And do keep in mind that he is in Australia, so there is a good chance of any email taking 12 hours or so just because of the difference in time zones. When we first started talking about building me a ukulele in early February, Rob had said it would take 6 weeks or so. But since I sat on my hands trying to make a color decision, by the time I ordered he had gotten backed up to 12 weeks. Delivery was a little later than even that. I'll admit to being a bit peeved, but Rob was good with the communication. Especially considering that Jupiter Creek is a one man operation (and 3 months is short compared to the 2 years that some guys wait for custom acoustics). And I personally know that I need to remember that everyone has all sorts of stuff going on in their lives. In Rob's case, he had a wedding in the family to plan and execute. Being a professional photographer, I know how complicated weddings can be. And to his credit, Rob did ship my ukulele out express airmail once it was done. He didn't really have to do that as it wasn't really very "late", but it was nice of him to do.

Payment was via paypal with a 50% deposit upon order and broke down as:

Base price $210
Pickguard $20
Pickup $25
Painting $60
Shipping $60

Total was $375 USD

It should be noted that while waiting for my uke to arrive, I had the chance to buy another tele style Jupiter Creek ukulele from a forum member. This instrument had it's neck broken in transit from one point to another, and had been repaired. So while I don't think it is fair to compare some aspects of the two, I will mention it a couple of times.

The good:

Photo 2: http://tinyurl.com/2ba5hp

It sounds great. When plugged into an amp with a little bit of overdrive, I feel like a tiny Joe Strummer. The neck feels nice in the hands and the frets were well done. I had read complaints about the fret dressing on a Jupiter creek ukulele in the past. But I saw no issues in that regard. Intonation is as good as any of my other ukuleles.

Initially looking at the ukulele is really neat. It looks just like a tiny sonic-blue Fender telecaster from years ago. The silver "lipstick" pickup really completes this look (in addition to sounding really good. My other Jupiter creek has a switch able dual/single coil pickup. And while I do like that versatility, I really think that the lipstick pickup that Rob used is the better way to go for both sound and looks.

The bad:

While the ukulele looks great from a few feet away, closer inspection reveals that it has some finish flaws. To his credit, Rob is very upfront about the fact that his fit and finish is not up to the same level as some of the other custom instrument makers. However, neither are his prices.

Photo 3: http://tinyurl.com/ytvxoh

If you are looking for a custom color, don't expect that it will be a paint job like you see on a normal electric guitar. While it appears to be a spray on process, it is not as thick and smooth as what you are probably used to seeing on instruments. I'm not sure if this is because it is a different type of painting process or if Rob doesn't sand down as smoothly. I do know that on both of my Jupiter Creek ukuleles you can see sanding marks under the finish (old uke) or paint (new uke). It doesn't look horrible, but it doesn't look like a fender guitar either. If I could change anything about the ukulele, as far as the finish is concerned, I would change this issue. The ukulele would look so much more amazing with a thicker smooth paint finish.

Photo 4: http://tinyurl.com/253ucz

Overall, the paint was applied pretty well. However in the area where the body joins the neck (on the back of the ukulele), the paint wasn't applied or didn't dry correctly. Not noticeable unless you are inspecting the ukulele up close, but it is there. Also, there are two dents in the wood by the bridge strap lug. As there is no crack in the paint, I have to assume that these were there prior to painting and didn't get noticed in pre-paint inspection.

Conclusion:

This Jupiter Creek ukulele is very cool. It's neat to look at and a blast to play. Very shortly it will be a centerpiece of my office wall. Perfect for grabbing and blasting out a couple Ramones tunes in the middle of a long day.

The fit and finish is slightly on the bad side of what "custom" usually means. But the playability and sound quality make up for it. If you are looking for a steel string "mini guitar" kind of electric ukulele (which I was), I would absolutely check out Jupiter Creek. For less than the price of a Risa steel string or Konablaster, you can get a ukulele that has whatever body style and color that you choose. Just be aware of the timeframe that it will take to get to you, that shipping will be expensive from Australia, and understand that you will be getting a handmade instrument with a few finish flaws.
Posted By: SRC Date: 8/5/2007 1:59:56 PM
I too have a Jupiter Creek uke. It's fab. I've noticed that Rob usually leaves his ukes plain with the wood showing. That's what mine is like and I have no issues with it.

I suspect that if he were to send his instruments to a pro sprayer the finish would cost more than the uke itself.

They really are a bargain.

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Flea Market Music offers an on-line community for ukulele players, informative books on the ukulele, ukulele CDs,songbooks, videos and information on our instrument manufacturing of the FLUKE ukulele. Brought to you by "Jumpin" Jim Beloff. -