A Uke named Richard Parker


Richard Parker?

Indeed. Richard Parker is the curiously named tiger who floats across the Pacific on a makeshift raft with Pi in the Life of Pi. The back and sides for this instrument are commonly called tiger myrtle, and this tree made one heck of a tiger!


But there’s more. When I started building instruments, my physicist sister Colleen lobbied me to name my vast enterprise “Pi Ukuleles” or “Pi Stringed Instruments”, and put the Greek symbol for pi on the headstock. After all, it is the Greek rendering of the first letter of my name, I was a math major in college and remain something of a geek, and it’s just cool.

AND I like pie, seeking out pie places up and down the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, which by the way has remarkable pie in some highly scenic places; pear-cheddar at 10,000 feet at the Rock Creek Lake lodge, anyone? Yum!

It all seemed obvious and settled to Colleen, but I decided to use my own name and the crescent moon for even more compelling reasons, if that can be imagined. However, the idea of building a special instrument each year to celebrate Pi day–March 14 (i.e. 3.14)–was too good to pass up.

These factors converged in Richard Parker. The specs:

  • Top: bearclaw Swiss alpine spruce, with Paua abalone rosette.
  • Bracing: 3 fans and bridge patch of euro spruce, tranverses of Sitka, hide glue
  • Bridge: Palisander, with compensated bone saddle
  • Back and Sides: curly tiger myrtle
  • Binding: East Indian rosewood
  • Neck: Port Orford cedar. Ziricote headstock overlay with MOP moon logo
  • Fingerboard: ebony, with bone nut and MOP side dots
  • Finish: Nitro lacquer on top, finishing resin on body
  • tuners: Gotoh UPTL
  • tuning: currently strung with low G Worths, easily converted to re-entrant.

I love this Swiss spruce–light and stiff, it rustles at the slightest touch, rings like a bell when tapped, and is a joy to work with. The bearclaw requires extra-high sharpness for hand-planing the top, but the result is so delightful! Here’s a closer look, though it’s still better in person:


RP has some serious go power, and will travel with us to Uke U-4 in a few weeks–Exciting!! Come and say hello if you can.