SEILEN Deluxe 5A Curly Hawaiian Koa Traditional Tenor Ukulele - Masterbuilt in Japan
We have nothing but praise for this Seilen deluxe 5A curly Hawaiian koa traditional tenor ukulele that's been master built in Japan.
5A curly koa is the toppermost of premium ukulele tonewoods... It has that instant wow factor when you open the case and behold the instrument that no other instrument quite has.
To look at, this wood has more pages to its story than War and Peace and speaking from experience, the first thing you do with this ukulele every time you play it is hold it up at interesting angles and look at the eccentricities in the wood.
What I have always loved about Seilen ukuleles is the immediate relationship they share with early and modern high spec Kamaka ukuleles. This traditional tenor ukulele isn't Hawaiian but it feels like it was made on the islands. Something in its DNA (other than the wood) sings like a 100 year old ukulele.
Shinji Takahashi is one of Japan's most well established and revered luthiers. Having set up his own successful guitar company in his early twenties, Shinji quickly became the go-t0 builder for talented apprentices and to this day he runs two operations in Chino, Nagano Japan.
The relationship this ukulele shares with Hawaii is understandable when you research a bit deeper; Shinji Takahashi was the original head luthier in Honolulu designing a whole range of Hawaiian made ukuleles, both building for Imua ukuleles back in the early 2010's and training up the eventual luthiers who continued the company.
Enough about the man, more about the ukulele... This ukulele is the gem in many a collectors crown, a fantastic alternative to a deluxe Kamaka ukulele for someone who wants that individual luthier built feel and a gorgeous vine inlay across the fingerboard.
Many Japanese luthiers favour a natural finish like this because the instrument feels and sounds instantly less stiff and more mature than under a gloss coating and the sound of this koa here is chimey, bell like and soothing whilst retaining quite a bit of bass which is not what you would usually expect from a koa ukulele. Its the kind of instrument that sounds like its tuned low G when it is in fact high G with clear fluorocarbon Savarez strings fitted.
The tree of life inlay on the fingerboard does catch your eye but the wood used on the fingerboard and bridge itself is a well seasoned open pore indian rosewood which has almost a freckle effect to its texture. The slotted headstock has an indian rosewood headplate as well with a traditional 'martin-esque' deerhorn mother of pearl inlay and a beautifully contoured shape, fitted with a set of Japanese made top quality gold Gotoh tuners.
The body features a thin traditional abalone rosette and abalone edge binding that runs parallel to the edge rather than on the edge of the instrument itself.
The neck shape is also quite Hawaiian with a Kamaka esque roundness to the neck shape, the nut width is 36mm with a slightly wider string spacing of 29mm. Sometimes nut widths can scare people away but trust me, this is perfect for someone who likes the wider spacing of a 38mm nut but doesn't like overly chunky necks... Hands up if that describes you, you certainly wouldn't be alone! I did find one absolutely tiny tool mark on the back which is less than 1-2mm long... It was only under our really bright lights at a certain angle, on a day with a full moon and a clear sky... I'm trying to say its an inconsequential sign that this was made by a human being and won't spoil the instrument in any way. You might even have fun trying to find it!
To top it off, this ukulele comes in a rectangular black woodshell Fremont case. The uke is the total package, made by one of the true greats.
5A curly Hawaiian koa top, back and sides
Honduran mahogany neck
Rosewood fingerboard and bridge
Custom tree of life fingerboard inlay in abalone
Front abalone binding
Slotted headstock with custom inlays
Gold Gotoh geared machineheads
36mm nut width
29mm string spacing at nut
Satin urethane finish
Savarez clear fluorocarbon strings
Bone nut and saddle
Compensated bridge saddle
Comes in a deluxe Fremont hard case