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dasilva414

Da Silva Custom Sitka Spruce & Ziricote Tenor Ukulele #414

£3,499.00 £2,915.83

18 months is a long time to wait for an instrument, but this Da Silva tenor ukulele was worth it. In January 2020, we spent the afternoon with Mike Da Silva at the NAMM show. He didn't bring any finished instruments with him but instead the parts for what would become #414. At the time, there was a neck adorned with imitation flaked abalone and an unfinished body.

Sadly, due to poor health and quite likely shielding from the coronavirus, this instrument took another 18 months to find its way to us here at SUS as a fully formed and finished instrument. The imitation flaked abalone was apparantly a particularly challenging and labor intensive process but it was definitely worth the wait when you see how it sits on the headstock, the soundhole rosette and front and back binding. It's amazing how it looks understated as well next to the figured and mature looking sitka spruce top.

Mike has been one of the world's most revered and respected ukulele builders for many years. He found favour with a new audience of ukulele players around 12 years ago with his James Hill Signature model which features a similar kind of sitka top to this. If you are wondering who popularised spruce in ukulele building then many threads of influence and innovation lead straight back to Mike Da Silva and ukes like this.

The sitka spruce top is paired with a ziricote back and sides. Ziricote is often seen on affordable laminate instruments due to its striking appearance and hints of sapwood among the almost black natural appearance of the wood. Tonally it sounds quite similar to popular back and sides woods like Indian rosewood and pao ferro.

The combination of spruce and ziricote together here makes for a ukulele with absolutely bags of attack and cheekiness when you strum it that doesn't compress or diminish immediately. It's a cannon as they used to say about the old Martin guitars made of similar wood combinations. It not only looks like the ultimate performers instrument but it sounds it too.

If it were a singer it would be tenor opera singer. A beautiful range, ready to take centre stage. It has the most astonishing big sound, with an impressive response all the way up the neck to the top frets. This is a hard trick to pull off - you find that only the very best fretted instruments can maintain the richness of tone, and the length of the sustain up at the dusty end.

One small feature that I personally love about this ukulele is the level of detail on the fingerboard. The average player spends a lot of time looking at the neck as they play and the lovely mixture of the striped ebony, abalone markers and curly koa binding is a detail that you don't pick up from pictures but leaves you feeling warm and happy in the flesh.

As with many of the Da Silva ukuleles we have received over the years; this instrument has an element of Wabi-Sabi about it in much the same way as the master built Sumi Kobo's and Naturel ukuleles often do. The bottom of the instrument on the ziricote looks to have split slightly during manufacture.

Due to the rare nature of this wood he opted to repair the split with abalone rather than make it invisible (see pic). The result is an artistic and beautiful look into the building process that you won't often see but will admire when it's there. Truly, this is one of those instances where you are appreciating an instrument as much for its flaws as you are for its aesthetic beauty.

As with quite a few other luthier workshop made instruments, this model has a few marks under and in the finish. You can see the outline of one of the joints in the heel joint of the neck (see pic) - this is not a crack, just a cosmetic detail visible through the finish. The neck is stable and beautifully well made. 

Mike has been taking much longer to build each instrument in recent years so as fantastic as it is to have one here; we are also sad at the prospect of someone taking it home as it might be years before we see another one.

Specification:
Solid Sitka Spruce Top
Solid Ziricote Back and Sides
Tenor 17'' Scale Length
Imitation Abalone Purfling, Rosette, Headplate
Gotoh UPT Planetary Tuners
Clear Fluorocarbon Strings (High G GCEA)
Curly Koa Front and back binding
Curly Koa Fingerboard Binding
Imitation Abalone Fret Inlays
Striped Ebony Fingerboard
Pau Ferro bridge
Bone nut and saddle
38mm Nut Width
29mm String Spacing at Nut
Comes in a Freestyle Deluxe Woodshell Hard Case

Our original NAMM video from last year:

Tenor Uke Accessories

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