Raising Nerd’s Men In The Arts Revisits
The Art of Music with Musician and Ukulele Maker, Larry Hinkle
“I had no idea that I would be making ukuleles and playing today! It still seems a bit fantastical.”
When we did our Nerd Profile of Larry Hinkle, founder of Hinkle Ukulele, back in October 2016, we described him as “a musician, woodworking craftsman, and entrepreneur.” Larry’s broad expertise in music, woodcraft and design makes him a perfect fit for our Raising Nerd celebration of Men in the Arts! So, we went back to him to not only showcase his creative talents, but also to learn more about how, exactly, he does what he does, and how his artistry ties back to STEM/STEAM:
Raising Nerd: How does science, tech, engineering or math influence or impact your creative work – whether designing, making, or playing and performing with your instruments?
Larry Hinkle: A basic understanding of physics, regarding standing waves and resonance, greatly influences the design of my ukuleles. Scale length, bracing patterns, body shape, and the types of materials used are important for making instruments that project volume, have pleasing overtones, and correct intonation while at the same time having structural integrity. Also, an understanding of wood and how it moves with changing climatic conditions is very important.
RN: As a kid, did you ever dream you would be doing this today?
Larry Hinkle: I had no idea that I would be making ukuleles and playing today! It still seems a bit fantastical.
RN: What’s the hardest part of making/playing ukuleles?
Larry Hinkle: Making a ukulele is kind of like a dance between making the instrument strong enough to withstand the tension of the strings without collapsing and not over building it. You want the top to vibrate, like a drum head, but if it is too thick or heavily braced it will deaden the sound. So, I’m always tinkering with soundboard thicknesses, bracing patterns and shapes, sound-hole size, and body shapes. I never really know how it will sound until it is completely finished and set up.
RN: What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
Larry Hinkle: Playing the first notes on a really sweet ukulele I have just completed!
RN: Show us what you do at Hinkle Ukulele!
RN: What advice would you give kids looking to start their own “Hinkle Ukulele” or what skills would you recommend that people develop?
Larry Hinkle: Take woodshop classes! There are a few books on guitar making that can be helpful for understanding structural considerations. I made my first ukulele by purchasing a kit and using the parts as templates. It came with rudimentary instructions, so I purchased Ukulele Design & Construction by D. Henry Wickham. Lately I’ve been looking at an old book (possibly out of print) called Classic Guitar Construction by Irving Sloane. Guitarmaking Tradition and Technology by Cumpiano and Natelson also is an excellent reference – Guitar Player Magazine called it “…perhaps the finest book on making guitars ever produced.”
Enjoy our focus on Men in the Arts as we share the diverse stories and perspectives of some incredibly talented artists, designers, photographers/videographers, and musicians whose creative careers all have been influenced in some way(s) by the STEM disciplines. We hope you and your Nerds will find inspiration and encouragement through the eyes of these artists.
This is our Nerd series on Men in the Arts!