This is a boat paddle ukulele that I made for my brother Kurt who lived on a boat at the time. After the build was completed I looked and searched for a case that would fit it, but couldn’t find one anywhere – the paddle body won’t fit in a standard case because it doesn’t have a waist, and the pineapple/boat paddle cases that I found were all too small. I didn’t want to send it in a gigbag, because I thought it would need more protection than that when the sea got rough. Time went by, I looked occasionally, never found anything… Finally, my brother’s boat went down in a storm (while he was on the mainland visiting friends and family). Everyone was devastated by the news.

Last time I went to visit my family, I brought the Skipper with me in a gigbag and presented it to my brother. Well, I think it was worth the wait – at least, he seemed to like it very much.

There are a few details that are worth mentioning. First of all, the back and sides are made of different woods, flamed maple and black walnut. I have seen quite a few instruments with this kind of “mismatch” and actually never liked the effect, but in this case I thought it would look good and I knew that if I didn’t like it I could take the maple back off and make a new one out of walnut.

The second little detail is that I attached a real, working compas to the headstock. I decided to use a ring of wood to hold it in place – if the compas ever needs to be replaced, all you have to do is unscrew the ring and it will come right out.

Finally, another point that’s worth mentioning is that I later on replaced the original maple bridge with a string-thru bridge, because I was concerned that the pins might pop out or fall out and maybe even go over board.

Anyway, here are the specs:

  • Top: German spruce with “racing stripe” walnut/maple/walnut
  • Sides: black walnut
  • Back: flamed maple
  • Neck: alder
  • Head plate: walnut with flamed maple stripe
  • Fretboard: walnut with maple stripe
  • Rosette rings: walnut
  • Binding: ebonized robinie


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