Beauty or Beast? She’s both! We’ve been fine-tuning the “Mutant” concept ukulele for a few months now. The neck profile has been refined. It still retains it’s bladed profile but the part near the head has an unusual flat area that can only be understood through experiencing it. Is this the shape of necks of the future? Possibly. Access to the first position with the offset headstock is extraordinary. Tuning is a bit tricky because the tuners aren’t in the ‘normal’ order but it’s easy to get used to. The body shape, while weird to look at, is supremely comfortable.

The body is a semi-hollow asymmetric carving. The most striking feature however has to be the wide bladed neck and the offset head. This is a most unusual creature.

 

From the back, “The Mutant” is a quite striking with it’s quilted maple body. In this view, the bladed neck looks very heavy but turn it 90 degrees and it nearly vanishes.

The Mutant is unlike any ukulele you’ve ever held. Personally,  I like the way it looks, but public reaction has been… um… well, polite. Which makes me think that visually, it’s just too much for many people. It’s certainly not for the traditionalist. But it’s compelling. When people see it, they want to try it… particularly the oddly shaped neck.

It’s incredibly comfortable to hold and play. This is standard for semi-hollows. At just 2 inches thick at it’s deepest, “The Mutant” snuggles right in close to your body. The body is shaped in nearly every plane and every direction.

The body of “The Mutant” is shaped in a modified Manzer wedge (named for luthier Linda Manzer who makes gorgeous guitars up in Canada). It is deeper on the side closest to the floor (to the left in this image) which rotates the body and fretboard toward you when you play it. There are simply no sharp edges at all on the body.

In the image immediately above, you can also see that the body curves dramatically along the top edge (to the right in the image) which gives your strumming arm a nice smooth place to rest. On a typical ukulele this would be a fairly sharp corner. Some guitars bevel this edge but this is one smooth curve that is pure comfort to rest on. In addition, your arm rests on the side of the ukulele, not the soundboard so the soundboard is free to vibrate.

In this endview with the string-side up you can clearly see the curved edge where your strumming arm would rest. As I said, pure comfort.

The crux of the discussion obviously is the unusual neck. The design is meant to open up your fretting hand a bit more as you pick and make chords. That is, we moved the strings away from the lower edge of the fretboard. The spacing of the strings is actually the same as on our other ukuleles but the neck itself is considerably wider. Does it work? Yes… well, kind of…it’s hard to say…maybe not…I don’t know. To be honest you have to try it for yourself. It definitely feels different. Whether that different is better, or worse or just different… you have to decide. I’ll bet you’d like to at least try it though. It’s kind of a cool feeling to make a chord on the first string and not have your finger bent so acutely. I think it would work for someone who only plays one ukulele. If this was your one and only it might work swimmingly, but if you were to switch off with standard neck ukuleles, I could see that being more difficult.

The Mutant will be on display at the 2013 Reno Ukulele Festival in Sparks Nevada, April 11-14. Stop by and give her a try if you are in the area.

 

Specifications:

Type: Semi-hollow, electric concept ukulele
Size: Tenor
Body: Hand-carved, Quilted Maple
Soundboard: Quilted Maple
Neck: Maple – experimental bladed profile
Scale length: 20″
Total # frets: 18
Fret markers to the body: 14

Special Features:

Semi-hollow back and sides are hand-carved from a single block of Quilted Maple
Includes K&K Sound Big Twin internal pickup
Experimental bladed asymmetrical neck with offset headstock

 

Smile when you play that!™