It is with much delight that I introduce many of you to Barron River Ukuleles for the first time. Barron River is the product of Cairns, Australia based luthier Allen Mcfarlen. Allen has carved out a niche as one of the top custom instrument builders of the last five years producing countless world class Ukuleles (and on occasion guitars). If you search the web you will see that only a handful of specialist Ukulele retailers have ever had a Barron River in stock and when they are available, they don't last long...
So what do we have here?
This Barron River is part of a small series Allen has produced with Lutz Spruce on the top and some delicious Curly Blackwood back and sides. Lutz Spruce is a rare naturally occurring hybrid breed of white and sitka spruce. Closely related in make up and tone to Engelmann Spruce; Lutz Spruce is sought after by many Guitar and Violin makers or its robustness and slightly deeper tonal character. It does a great job of throwing volume further than most woods, and it can be driven very hard without distorting at all, keeping a natural sounding, strong attack. This Long Neck Concert Ukulele sounds completely unique - bigger than your average Concert despite its conventional body size but not quite as large or as deep as the sister Tenor Ukulele that arrived at the same time - it's like a Viola; beautiful, and breathy, and just - wow!
The back and sides are made up of Australian Curly Blackwood. Blackwood itself is a wood very much on the rise. Popular by many Australian and African builders because it is available more regularly in its indigenous regions - Blackwood does a similar job to Acacia and Koa by producing a slightly sweeter release on single notes. A light fingerstyle will gently dance in harmony with this wood and that makes it the perfect companion for the more direct Lutz Spruce top.
The cosmetic detail on this Ukulele is an absolute feast for the eyes too. A regular customer recently tried the instrument and commented that the geometry of the neck and bridge was a minute fraction off but this is the same on both the Barron River Ukuleles we have had, does not affect playability and is common with all Ukulele brands like KoAloha, Kamaka, Sumi Kobo etc. If you spot this detail when looking at the instrument head on - please trust that the instrument plays as well as anything I have ever had my hands on and is neither a cause for concern nor a slight on the builder.
The traditional headstock with the subtle but confident Barron River Ukulele logo adorned on top looks great and the gold Gotoh Planetary tuners are just the right kind of traditional detail to make this instrument feel new and old at the same time. The little touches that must have been painstakingly crafted really make this instrument for us. The front and back are bound by very dark figured curly blackwood and the diamond-esque fretboard inlays are subtle but so delicately placed too. I already feel jealous for the player that ends up with this.
North American Lutz Spruce top
Australian Curly Blackwood back and sides Gotoh Planetary Tuners Gold ABS Hardshell Case Ebony Fingerboard and Bridge Clear Fluorocarbon High G strings White shell Diamond shape fret inlays 36mm Nut width side dots Bone nut and saddle Curly blackwood Rosette Curly blackwood bindings Strap button on bottom bout