About Southcoast

Most of the prior history of Southcoast was in furniture, not musical instruments.  The owner, Dirk Wormhoudt, had an Industrial Design degree, as well as a traditional Old World furniture apprenticeship.   He then worked for a Wood Coatings manufacturer where he helped develop, among other things, a finish for Musical Instruments that is still widely used today.  Perhaps that was a harbinger of things to come. Then came a period immediately before Southcoast was formed, when he operated a furniture shop on Magazine Street in New Orleans, an area then widely known as a center for fine antiques.  There he became involved in research and restoration of the rare furniture from the colonial period of Louisiana.  In addition to involvement in furniture restoration projects for museums such as Winterthur and the Cabildo, he started designing furniture based on traditional forms but incorporating modern concepts to make them more useful in contemporary settings.  That way of seeing things defines much of how the musical instruments are approached today as well. In 1987, South Coast Furniture was officially incorporated to take these designs into production in Central America.  There, for over a decade, furniture was exported back to the U.S. under the name Belle Orleans.  It was during this time that a lifelong interest in the Ukulele & Guitar led Dirk to meet some of the finest luthiers in a region soaked in the traditions of the Guitar and the Cuatro.   When the ownership of the contract factory changed hands, rather than train a new facility, the Belle Orleans project came to an end.  The next several years were spent in lumber exports from Central America and consulting & design work for other furniture companies, including a lengthy project setting up a manufacturing facility in Mexico. Dirk returned to New Orleans in the summer of 2005, and for those in this area, that year immediately brings to mind the catastrophic destruction that descended on us in the form of Hurricane Katrina.  In the aftermath, we were all refugees, and with us, a brief return to our “2nd home” in Central America provided welcome relief in the embrace of dear friends a world away from all the chaos.  It was during this period, that Dirk began to explore the possibility of musical instrument production, at first as a simple container filler for a furniture project. Of course nothing is ever so simple if your inclination is to explore design parameters to their fullest.  Already having experience with a wide assortment of wood in the “treasure trove” of tropical hardwoods, there was still much to learn about their suitability as material for musical instruments.  While many of the world’s famous instrument woods were already coming from this region, even then their supplies were becoming threatened and we wanted to look at species that weren’t as heavily exploited.  We helped introduce a whole new group of woods for musical instruments and have helped to counteract the restrictive and destructive mentality surrounding the few traditional species. Then there was the all-important design aspect.  We had several concepts in mind, but it was our original luthiers who helped flesh these concepts out into complete instruments.  Our principal luthier was Omar Corrales.  He comes from a family with generations of tradition in lutherie, but was the first of his family to go to the Spanish homeland for formal training in the European apprentice tradition.  He studied stringed instrument design in Cremona, and then apprenticed in Madrid in the famous Guitarreria Ramirez.  His help in formulating the beautiful traditional forms for our somewhat non-traditional designs will always be remembered. In spite of being revolutionary for that time, they were also successful in their purpose right from the beginning.  We were among the pioneers in offering long scale Ukuleles – our long scale Tenor was actually the first of its kind.  While there were never a large number of these instruments available, players and collectors like Chuck Fayne, who own some of those original Southcoast works, still consider them among their prized possessions. But after a long and distinguished career, Don Omar decided to move into retirement.  As a result, instrument production has been dormant for a while.  Today we are known to most as a provider of fine strings.  This was an undertaking we began almost as soon as we started building instruments, and for a very simple reason.  The string materials available for Ukuleles at that time were almost universally bad, and we felt that outside a very limited range, we couldn’t actually use them to evaluate our own instruments, let alone string instruments that poorly and offer them to others.  And with the string sets we brought another group of innovations to the world of the Ukulele. Among those were the first Reentrant G tuning sets for the Baritone Ukulele, and the first sets for Linear C tuning with that instrument as well.  We were first to offer double wound sets for the Tenor Ukulele.  We were first to offer viable, uncompromised ways of stringing the Ukulele in 5ths and the first to offer a variety of Cuatro tuning sets.  We were first to offer mixed material plain sets.  We were first to offer polished wound strings for the Ukulele, and have taken that process to the form of high art.  Again, some of these ideas were seen as mild heresy when we introduced them, but all have become widely accepted now. Future instrument production is indefinite at this time.  At the end, Corrales instruments were rough built in Central America with final finish, assembly and set-up done here in Louisiana.  We have a few of the last Corrales shipment that has yet to be completed.  Check the availability page for information on future sales for those instruments. In the meantime our string material has undergone a lengthy re-work and the performance they offer is at a level never seen before with Ukulele sets.  For new instruments, we have been working on prototypes with another Central American luthier and see promise there.  We are considering production here in Louisiana, and we also have possibilities to look at in Asia as well.  Check back for future developments with our instruments as they occur.  
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About Southcoast

Most of the prior history of Southcoast was in furniture, not musical instruments.  The owner, Dirk Wormhoudt, had an Industrial Design degree, as well as a traditional Old World furniture apprenticeship.   He then worked for a Wood Coatings manufacturer where he helped develop, among other things, a finish for Musical Instruments that is still widely used today.  Perhaps that was a harbinger of things to come. Then came a period immediately before Southcoast was formed, when he operated a furniture shop on Magazine Street in New Orleans, an area then widely known as a center for fine antiques.  There he became involved in research and restoration of the rare furniture from the colonial period of Louisiana.  In addition to involvement in furniture restoration projects for museums such as Winterthur and the Cabildo, he started designing furniture based on traditional forms but incorporating modern concepts to make them more useful in contemporary settings.  That way of seeing things defines much of how the musical instruments are approached today as well. In 1987, South Coast Furniture was officially incorporated to take these designs into production in Central America.  There, for over a decade, furniture was exported back to the U.S. under the name Belle Orleans.  It was during this time that a lifelong interest in the Ukulele & Guitar led Dirk to meet some of the finest luthiers in a region soaked in the traditions of the Guitar and the Cuatro.   When the ownership of the contract factory changed hands, rather than train a new facility, the Belle Orleans project came to an end.  The next several years were spent in lumber exports from Central America and consulting & design work for other furniture companies, including a lengthy project setting up a manufacturing facility in Mexico. Dirk returned to New Orleans in the summer of 2005, and for those in this area, that year immediately brings to mind the catastrophic destruction that descended on us in the form of Hurricane Katrina.  In the aftermath, we were all refugees, and with us, a brief return to our “2nd home” in Central America provided welcome relief in the embrace of dear friends a world away from all the chaos.  It was during this period, that Dirk began to explore the possibility of musical instrument production, at first as a simple container filler for a furniture project. Of course nothing is ever so simple if your inclination is to explore design parameters to their fullest.  Already having experience with a wide assortment of wood in the “treasure trove” of tropical hardwoods, there was still much to learn about their suitability as material for musical instruments.  While many of the world’s famous instrument woods were already coming from this region, even then their supplies were becoming threatened and we wanted to look at species that weren’t as heavily exploited.  We helped introduce a whole new group of woods for musical instruments and have helped to counteract the restrictive and destructive mentality surrounding the few traditional species. Then there was the all-important design aspect.  We had several concepts in mind, but it was our original luthiers who helped flesh these concepts out into complete instruments.  Our principal luthier was Omar Corrales.  He comes from a family with generations of tradition in lutherie, but was the first of his family to go to the Spanish homeland for formal training in the European apprentice tradition.  He studied stringed instrument design in Cremona, and then apprenticed in Madrid in the famous Guitarreria Ramirez.  His help in formulating the beautiful traditional forms for our somewhat non-traditional designs will always be remembered. In spite of being revolutionary for that time, they were also successful in their purpose right from the beginning.  We were among the pioneers in offering long scale Ukuleles – our long scale Tenor was actually the first of its kind.  While there were never a large number of these instruments available, players and collectors like Chuck Fayne, who own some of those original Southcoast works, still consider them among their prized possessions. But after a long and distinguished career, Don Omar decided to move into retirement.  As a result, instrument production has been dormant for a while.  Today we are known to most as a provider of fine strings.  This was an undertaking we began almost as soon as we started building instruments, and for a very simple reason.  The string materials available for Ukuleles at that time were almost universally bad, and we felt that outside a very limited range, we couldn’t actually use them to evaluate our own instruments, let alone string instruments that poorly and offer them to others.  And with the string sets we brought another group of innovations to the world of the Ukulele. Among those were the first Reentrant G tuning sets for the Baritone Ukulele, and the first sets for Linear C tuning with that instrument as well.  We were first to offer double wound sets for the Tenor Ukulele.  We were first to offer viable, uncompromised ways of stringing the Ukulele in 5ths and the first to offer a variety of Cuatro tuning sets.  We were first to offer mixed material plain sets.  We were first to offer polished wound strings for the Ukulele, and have taken that process to the form of high art.  Again, some of these ideas were seen as mild heresy when we introduced them, but all have become widely accepted now. Future instrument production is indefinite at this time.  At the end, Corrales instruments were rough built in Central America with final finish, assembly and set-up done here in Louisiana.  We have a few of the last Corrales shipment that has yet to be completed.  Check the availability page for information on future sales for those instruments. In the meantime our string material has undergone a lengthy re-work and the performance they offer is at a level never seen before with Ukulele sets.  For new instruments, we have been working on prototypes with another Central American luthier and see promise there.  We are considering production here in Louisiana, and we also have possibilities to look at in Asia as well.  Check back for future developments with our instruments as they occur.