Da Silva Custom - Alaskan Yellow Cedar/East Indian Rosewood Tenor Ukulele #467
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 a ukulele... Mike is quirky like that. His ukuleles are scarce and each one is unique. Sadly, due to poor health and quite likely shielding from the coronavirus, this instrument took a couple of years to find its way to us here at SUS as a fully formed and finished instrument.
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 15 years ago with his James Hill signature model which features a similar aesthetic to this ukulele today. If you are wondering who popularised spruce/cedar in ukulele building then many threads of influence and innovation lead straight back to Mike Da Silva and ukes like this.
The Alaskan yellow cedar top is paired with an East Indian rosewood back and sides. East Indian rosewood has a storied history in use in the guitar/piano world but rarely do you see it with such light colouring and striking appearance in the wood grain.
The combination of Alaskan yellow cedar and Indian rosewood 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.
This tenor ukulele is the kind of thing that can play itself. The options are limitless because the uke is so sensitive and transparent that the players own voice and techniques really come through!
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.
Solid Alaskan yellow cedar top
Solid East Indian rosewood back and sides
Tenor 17'' scale length
Imitation Abalone rosette, bound with 3ply and tortoiseshell celluloid
Gotoh UPT planetary tuners
Clear fluorocarbon strings (high G GCEA)
Tortoiseshell front and back binding
Imitation abalone fret inlays
Striped ebony fingerboard
Pau Ferro bridge
Bone nut and saddle
38mm nut width (measures at 39mm)
29mm string spacing at nut
Comes in a Freestyle deluxe woodshell hard case