Live Performance with Aaron Crowell
Preowned. C.2016. Beautiful Concert Ukulele by master luthier Mark Roberts of Portland, Oregon. Mark Roberts has maintained a lifelong passion about creativity and understanding the nature, patterns, and systems of the world around us. An extensive background in all disciplines of fine art, furniture design, and product design have uniquely crafted his approach to design and craft fine instruments. Mark's experience as a product designer and his beneficial study under Charles Fox, at the American School of Lutherie, have uniquely positioned his contemporary sensibilities to design and approach to building.
With respect of tradition and love for modern aesthetics, Mark continues this evolution with clear artistic vision, innovative technology and meticulous attention to details using the world’s finest tone woods. While building a multitude of different instruments, he maintains a keen focus on evolving the instruments - each one built with a specific 'tone' in mind and never at the expense of decorative amenities.
For Mark's sensibilities, he greatly limits decoration on his instruments. As a master at extracting the optimum tones from his instruments, Mark's philosophy on decorative features is one that it never adds a new tone, it never improves the bloom of a note, or the sustain. It never makes the the instrument play better…and it never makes the player reach to become equal to the capability of the instrument - and for that reason there is a pure element of beauty wrapped in simple elegance that encompasses the principle and tonal richness behind each of his marvelously handcrafted instruments.
Mark's instruments have been exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Craft, and he has been a featured artist on Oregon Public Broadcasting's Art Beat television series sharing his vision and work. He is a member of the Guild of American Luthiers, a contributing author to American Lutherie magazine, Guitar Maker Magazine, and his work was recently feature in Guitar Bench Magazine and Ukulele Rhythms Magazine. With an ever growing list of clients around the world, Mark is focused on evolving his designs and craftsmanship into museum quality instruments that may be past on as heirlooms for generations.
This custom Mark Roberts concert ukulele was handcrafted of Cocobolo wood back and sides with a spruce sound board. Gabon ebony wood fretboard, bridge, and top and back binding in keeping with the simple but elegant theme of the instrument. 14 fret joint to the body with 19 overall frets. Honduras Mahogany wood neck. Professional Gotoh geared tuners for precise and smooth tuning. Side sound port for monitor like effect when playing. All of Mark's fretboards are radiused, including this concert ukulele. Typically a compound radius with 10” at the nut, and 16” at the upper end of the fretboard near the 19th fret. The neck also includes a carbon fiber truss rod (.250” x .200”) for additional neck stiffness. This helps transfer more string energy from the headstock end of the neck into the body, and is an overkill prevention on a uke to ever have any neck bending from string pressure. The truss extends under, and in contact with, the bone nut.
Deep body shape. Mark created a deep body shape for this particular ukulele. He believes firmly in designing his instruments for a specific sound and functionality in mind and uniquely creates each body mold with these specific intentions in mind. With this in mind, the deep body construction coupled with the Cocobolo wood does add considerable weight to the small body instrument. I would characterize this instrument as being heavier than most concert ukuleles but with a nice mellow sound. His design and building principles define his work, and challenge perceptions of what a modern custom ukulele can be. Composed, confident, artistic, and unique, Mark's instruments set new perimeters for this next age of contemporary ukuleles.
Finish is French Polish. Hand rubbed Blonde shellac, with a mix of Sandarac, Benzoin, and Copal resins for a thin but flexible finish. This is always an upgrade due to the labor intensiveness of the application and allows for maximum 'excitement' of the soundboard and the body of the instrument. Passive pick up for quick plug-and-play.
Tonally, it's got a personality all its own. It's a sound that is not easily compared to others so we will be recording this instrument shortly and a video will be posted.