Compass Rose by Rick Turner

Well, I finally went and did it. I bought myself a Compass Rose.

I’d first seen one made from walnut about two months after I bought my first uke, and after seeing the price tag thought I’d never actually own one. But after a few years of trying out different ukes of all sizes & constructions, I almost went for it. Instead I ordered an Ohana tenor made from maple with a spruce top. For £375 it wasn’t cheap and it didn’t have a maple top, so it looked a bit plain, but it would have even the most pricey uke I’d ever owned – that’s if I’d ever have received it.

A few months went past and nothing was heard of it, and it soon emerged that it was Ohana themselves that were delaying as there was a big demand for this particular instrument. Eventually the wait stretched into its 5th month, about 8 weeks past the original shipping date, so I cancelled the order and simultaneously bought a KoAloha Sceptre. The craftsmanship & attention to detail blew me away, as did the volume – suddenly I could appreciate why these types of ukes had such high price tags.

A few months later I emailed Rick Turner for a price list, and as eye-watering as it was, Rick informed me that his prices would be going up at the start of the following year. If I couldn’t afford it now, then I’d never be able to. I took the chance and commissioned his top-spec Compass Rose, made from solid maple all over, with hemp binding. I paid him full up front and then left him to his devices. As the build was over the festive period, I thought that the projected 8 week construction time was a bit far-fetched, and so was more than happy to give 6-9 months before receiving. I never emailed him asking for updates or pictures during that time, believing the best thing is to leave a master at his work.

Fast forward from October 2011 to March, 2012. It’s arrived, complete with hefty £340 customs & excise fee. I’d rushed up to Teeside to get it, then came back down for a gig that night. I managed to last right up until the last song playing my Kamaka 8-string, before I went and grabbed the ‘Rose for the finale. It didn’t disappoint. 😀

One observation to made; one of the vital parts of the order was to have a pickup installed for gigs. This is on the paperwork that came through shortly after placing the order, as well as being on the customs declaration form, but the uke was shipped without. I’m sure it’ll be sorted out in some way, but it was a little disappointing not to have it complete after 4-5 months of patient waiting.


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