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Thread: Beau Hannam Spiral Rosette Tenor

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Default Beau Hannam Spiral Rosette Tenor

    I recently received my Beau Hannam tenor and am delighted to share my review thoughts with UU readers.

    I originally heard a Beau Hannam on the HMS site, a model with redwood top and Tasmanian blackwood sides and back. I was hooked. I was particularly interested in something other than koa. The rich, clear, balanced tones and the artistry of the wood design were what I was looking for. I originally got on Beau’s waiting list with a Player selection, which is generally a simpler design but with all the sound characteristics of his Custom models. But by the time my turn in queue came up, some ideas were swimming in my head. I decided, with Beau’s guidance, to keep the Players redwood/blackwood combo and add some upgrades: side soundhole, bindings and most especially a designed rosette.

    I felt the rosette especially would give it a special quality if we could find the right design. Initially I asked about something reminiscent of a nautilus shell, with a developing spiral. I knew going from very small to large width would be somewhat limited by the soundhole, but I asked anyway. Beau wasn’t sure, he said it would be a technical challenge to get the smoothness of the arc just right. But after some thought he came back with a number of possibilities, one of which I chose as a “direction.”

    I’d like to suggest to any of you reading this who are considering a custom, from any luthier: as much as possible, agree on an idea, a direction for the builder’s creativity and then let him/her design and build. You can never know <exactly> what a custom will look, sound or feel like. What you can know is the builder’s aesthetic and quality. From there, I have always found that luthiers like to follow their own instincts to a large extent. That’s what happened here. I didn’t know exactly what the inside of the spiral would look like, only that I wanted some sense of change and movement within it. (https://www.goldennumber.net/nautilu...-golden-ratio/)

    I think what Beau came up with, moving from dark (at the small end) and finalizing with the lightest (at the widest end) is brilliant. Very dynamic, full of details (consisting of wood variations and mother of pearl dots), and it really pops in contrast to the beautiful redwood.

    Originally, I had thought Beau might sculpt a cut corner on the end of the fretboard that would accept the widest part of the rosette. That was my idea, but Beau completely transcended that obvious choice with a reverse connection. As soon as I saw it I was thrilled. It had such a sense of liveliness but without any overstatement. The colors, the subtleties of the lines and variations, all the while moving from dark to light are stunning.

    Rosette.jpg

    I have never had a side soundport on a uke before, but I now understand why it is such an excellent addition for the player’s benefit. I can instantly hear changes in my technique that before I could only pick up on when recording.

    Here’s a listing of the elements on the uke:
    Tenor—17" scale
    Redwood top
    Tasmanian Blackwood back and sides
    Rosette—mosaic spiral, wood variations and mother of pearl dots
    Bindings—ebony
    Purfling—BW
    Bridge—Brazilian rosewood
    Neck—Spanish cedar
    Fingerboard—ebony
    Position markers— mother of pearl dots
    Headstock—face: Tasmanian blackwood stained; Back: walnut burl
    Tuners—Gotoh UPTL, black
    Nut—polished bone
    Saddle—tusq
    Decorative features:
    Spiral rosette, wood, recon stone and shell
    Custom stylized fingerboard
    Headstock stain in spiral continuation shape
    Beau’s signature fading purfling on headstock
    Sculpted heel
    Side soundport
    Semi-hemispherical fret ends
    Crossrock case

    Construction
    Outstanding. There is not one slip among all the surfaces and connections. All lines are clean and clear. Inside appears pristine and precise. Frets are smooth and make for easy fretting. Little details like the semi-hemispherical fret ends, the swoop on the headstock coloration, and the sculpted heel enrich the playing experience. It is exquisite. The finish is excellent (an upgrade, it is the high gloss finish used on his customs).

    Playing and Feel
    The overall balance of the uke is superb. I find the neck thickness on the thinner side which I much prefer. Light or heavier touch, this uke responds very well. I think the tone has a richness and balance that make the sound distinctive. Equal response across all strings. Intonation is excellent all along the neck. The uke vibrates so easily in response to action. Sustain is long and clean. I’m currently using Oasis brights with a Fremont soloist low g and like the relative tension. Although the size is not that much different from other tenors I have played, overall this uke somehow feels just a bit smaller and more responsive to position as I play.

    Here is a soundfile:
    https://app.box.com/s/axk8jvyfqlw5rasrh8k6zqsmtbg6e8e4

    Here are a couple of YouTube videos:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKUQjhb-OfQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8Dy5bZD5Go&t=1s

    Working with Beau Hannam was a true pleasure. He is funny, deeply knowledgeable and very creative. We would text each other with ideas and he was always responsive. As I’ve said, when I wasn’t sure about a choice, I usually left it in the end to his judgment and taste. I’m glad I did. His wait list is long these days, but when he gets to your uke he is focused on making it special. I recommend his work without reservation.

    These are some pics that Beau took and passed on to me:
    IMG_0143.jpgIMG_0144.jpgIMG_0348.jpgIMG_0215.jpg
    Last edited by CTurner; 01-02-2017 at 10:05 AM.
    Craig


    Beau Hannam Spiral Rosette tenor
    Moore Bettah tenor "Ki Uke"
    Kinnard mahogany tenor
    Koa Works tenor
    Koa Works concert
    Pohaku custom mahogany concert

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Burbank, CA
    Posts
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    Default

    Craig


    Beau Hannam Spiral Rosette tenor
    Moore Bettah tenor "Ki Uke"
    Kinnard mahogany tenor
    Koa Works tenor
    Koa Works concert
    Pohaku custom mahogany concert

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    CH
    Posts
    1,519

    Default

    Congratulations, Craig! I followed the build of your uke on Beau's Instagram page, and I'm really glad to see that it went to someone on UU. I can fully agree to everything you said: Beau made a beautiful tenor for my wife, and it's probably our all time favourite. Enjoy your new uke, it's a real special one.
    Enjoying instruments by - Beau Hannam - Jay Lichty - Jerry Hoffmann - Luis Feu de Mesquita - Kala - Kamaka - Kanile'a - KoAloha - Ko'olau - Moore Bettah - Pono - Romero Creations - and others

  4. #4
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    Jan 2010
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    Munich / Germany
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    Default

    Is there a reason why you design a fretboard like that ? Does it have a certain advantage or is it just for the looks ?
    - Ken Timms Soprano Koa

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    Posts
    2,497

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ukador View Post
    Is there a reason why you design a fretboard like that ? Does it have a certain advantage or is it just for the looks ?
    Having looks is a certain advantage.

    I shaped it that way so it was in harmony with the spiral, they flowed into each other as a coherent whole. Would a normal shaped fingerboard have worked? Yes, but with a rosette like Craigs this fingerboard end needed more.

    Also, having that area on the bass side missing is better for Hawaiian strumming, which is usually done over the fingerboard- this stops the fingers hitting the side of the fretboard.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Ma., Ga., Fl.
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    Congrats Craig........that's a beauty! I also love side sound ports.........they project the sound right up to the player. They are also really handy for portable external pickups by keeping the pickup out of the way, but picking up all elements of the sound.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2014
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    New Plymouth NZ
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    A most excellent and comprehensive review of a special ukulele. Congratulations to all concerned.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Pickering, ON, Canada
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    That is absolutely beautiful, congratulations Craig. Great review giving all the details of the design and choice process made me feel a part of it.

    I love the last picture........you two look like you were made for each other. Enjoy it.
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 01-02-2017 at 01:00 PM.
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    Gorgeous, Craig! I agree wholeheartedly with your excellent advice to avoid constraining a luthier; better to provide a spark of an idea and general direction. It's self-evident that worked marvelously here. Congratulations on a wonderful acquisition.

    Beau has started on my 19" selmer with sinker redwood/Amazon rosewood that I hope to have in the next couple of months.
    More an appreciator of the ukulele than a true player. My motto is: "Don't matter how good it ring if it ain't got some bling."

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.—Voltaire

    Curious about the relative importance of tonewood vs. the luthier? See Luthiers for a Cause to learn more!

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Great review Craig. Getting my Beau Hannah left me tongue-tied. I especially agree with your advice to agree with the luthier on concept, then let him follow his sensibility. Beau far exceeded anything I could have imagined for the art on my ukulele.
    “Justice is like a train that is nearly always late,” mused Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.”

    “62,400 repetitions make one truth.” - Bernard Marx, character in Brave New World, Alduous Huxley

    Dig In-finity! - The Naz, in the words of Lord Buckley

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