Bird on a Wire stringed instruments are the baby of South Dakota, USA based Luthier Tom Molstad. Committed to taking an artistic approach to instrument design; Tom set's to work building colourful and inspiring Ukuleles that test the conventional aesthetic approaches and expectations of the instrument. Each Ukulele has a name because each Ukulele has it's own voice, style, mojo, flare and substance. When you hold one, you can see it's journey and inject your music into the instruments story.
Tom began his Ukulele journey three years ago and the rapid progression of his instruments both in appearance and sound is incredibly rare. We are proud to boast here at SUS that we are the first store in the world to have commissioned a collection of Bird on a wire Ukuleles. Across the three instruments; Tom has drawn influences from nature, wildlife, architecture, historical events & the world of artistic photography to produce three completely dazzling works of art. In his builds, Tom uses an incredibly light shellac finish which means the instruments are gloss but just the tiniest bit rugged and rough much like a Marshall Stapleton or some of the Sumi Ukuleles.
This is not a knock on the quality of an instrument but rather a benefit as it brings these instruments to life acoustically but also into more affordable territory. A single person working by hand can't achieve the same high-tech UV gloss engineered finish of a factory brand like Kanile'a or Kamaka but they can offer a viable alternative that you will want to play for the rest of your life. The rough shellac finish and small dings in the wood are testament to the 60+ hours that went into manufacturing the instrument. There is something just so romantic about a truly hand made Uke without many of the modern manufacturing tools that speed up and can sometimes harmogonise certain instruments.
Something new is always around the corner... sometimes it’s good to challenge your conventions and invest a part of yourself in a builder with a real hunger to do something unique that is not only building a great Ukulele but also a fantastic piece of useable art. After talking with Tom, his enthusiasm and bright ideas for new instruments convinced me that this was a builder we should be involved with.
Tom listed half a dozen names of craftsmen that influenced his designs that I had never even heard of and each one had me hooked - luthiers like Michael Thames, Pablo Requena, Ben Crow, Tomy Hovington and Ad van Kuijk. So Bird on a Wire might be a young brand but as our collection shows, we are right at the ground level of something refreshing and exciting.
The Speedwell (Serial number #19) is named after and inspired by a 15th century ship that sailed alongside the Mayflower. The design was created with the desire to inlay different sustainable media in new and creative ways. The glittery effect inlay-ed throughout the soundboard of the instrument is tiny pieces of hand dyed Mica stone and the design echoes the outline of the instrument using the dyed stone mosaic and hand shaped walnut.
This Ukulele has a Solid Spruce top with Solid Cherry back and sides that have a gorgeous almost figured mahogany like grain. You will notice a walnut strip on the back tying the aesthetic design together.
How does it sound? Well this Ukulele has a complex sound. Plenty of volume with depth and a great smooth voice. It sounds like old Mahogany when you pick it but as our video demonstration hopefully shows; this Ukulele is big and bold and confident. We tried a few different strings sets on it when it arrived before settling on the Worth Brown's with a wound C string but we highly recommend that its eventual owner tried all sorts of different combinations so that they fully benefit from the different tones this Ukulele could achieve.
Why is this instrument B-stock? What happened? Sadly, the light shellac finish on the back of the instrument reacted after a few weeks to the lining of the pod case that the Ukulele was stored in. There is no way such an excellent quality bespoke instrument like this should have to start it's life with cosmetic flaws on the back so between us and Tom Molstad, we decided to strip the shellac from the back and sides and had the instrument expertly refinished by 40 year verteran luthier Lee Norris. If anything, the instrument is sounding, feeling and looking even better than when it arrived... Now it just needs someone to give it a home.
Solid Spruce Top
Solid Cherry Back and Sides Mahogany neck Ebony Fingerboard Walnut Bridge Walnut and Dyed Mica Inlays Serial number #19 (made Jan-Apr 2019) Tenor Scale 36mm Nut width Gotoh Planeraty Tuners SUS pod case included Special label for this Ukulele designed by Tom's friends and family
Extended 5 year warranty with Bird on a Wire (1st years manufacturers warranty with SUS)