SEILEN by Shinji Takahashi - AAAAA Hawaiian Koa Deluxe Soprano Ukulele w/ Rope Binding
Seilen ukuleles aka Shinji Takahashi is one of Japan's premier guitar/ukulele builders with a storied career that has seen the creation and regeneration of multiple ukulele brands along the way. A small number of people out there in European ukulele land will recognise Shinji's name from Imua ukuleles where he served as the head luthier at the inception of the brand and through it's first few years where the company seemingly exploded on to the ukulele scene with positive reviews about the world class designs and build style of the brand. The majority of those plaudits are down to the luthier behind this ukulele.
Seilen serves as the brand name for Shinji Takahashi's custom ukuleles, building one off instruments out of his workshop in Matsumoto City, Nagano. Think KoAloha's 'Black Label' or Pono's custom builds 'Ko'olau'. The meaning of the word Seilen (pronounced Say-ren in Japanese) is 'Siren' in Greek mythology and Shinji Takahashi himself likes to joke that he is named after the picture on Starbucks' coffee cups.
We first came across Seilen at the NAMM show a couple of years back but were pipped to the post on the instruments available that day by another enthusiastic ukulele shop. This year we made it part of our mission to bring one of these instruments back from the show with us and although it took a little while for us to receive it - this deluxe 5a koa soprano ukulele took our breath away before we even played it. Seeing it again a couple of months later has only added to the excitement and anticipation we had opening it for the first time in store today.
The inspiration for such a beautiful soprano comes from the origins of the ukulele and the Nunes styling whilst also feeling and sounding much like early Martin koa sopranos. This ukulele is sweet sounding like a fruit picked at just the right time and has a warmth and zestiness to its sound that could only come from a ukulele as small and mighty as this soprano. Sometimes, we get a bit carried away by the larger size custom ukuleles but much like the old adage that it takes just as long to build a violin as a cello. The amount of finesse, skill and care that goes into this instrument matches anything we will ever have in store here at SUS and there is going to be a player out there that has searched a lifetime for a soprano like this.
The master grade koa tells a story before a note is played and the delicious vintage rope binding that runs around the body and up the koa fingerboard are something you would never tire of looking at or showing off.
This is our first Seilen, it was worth the wait.
Deluxe koa top, back and sides
Figured koa fingerboard and koa bridge
36mm nut width
Bone nut and saddle
Maple bound fingerboard
Rope binding, rosette and fretboard inlay
Pearl/abalone headstock inlay
Gotoh planetary tuners gold with white pearl buttons
Mahogany neck with side dots
Fremont blackline high G GCEA strings
TGI ABS hard case