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View Full Version : NUDL Les Stansell Tenor "Flamenco-lele"



Recstar24
03-14-2015, 10:30 AM
I came upon Les' website http://stansellguitars.com when I first started looking for a custom uke back in October. When researching woods, I came upon Myrtle and Port Orford as choices that I thought would be aesthetically and sonically pleasing, and it so happens that Les, in addition to building, comes from a background of logging, and is a supplier/vendor of quality myrtle and port orford cedar for many luthiers in the area.

Perusing his site, especially his videos section, shows a certain quality of work and attention to detail that I find outstanding. Shortly after, I said "what the heck" and committed to an uke that he was already in the process of building.

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Design:

This is a tenor ukulele with Port Orford Cedar back, sides, and neck, an incense cedar top, and Myrtle bindings, bridge, and fretboard. It is a true flamenco design, both in construction and in its choice of materials, but also speaks pure Southwest Oregon. Les' background is in Spanish Guitar building, and his specialty is the flamenco design, which he translates into tenor and baritone sized ukes.

One interesting design feature I found was a very thin bridge, compared to what I have seen before, which Les believes is his best way of transferring all of that string energy to the board.

Playability:

The neck is very cool - its pretty flat on the bottom, but it is somewhat squared off on the sides. The thumb really feels very stable sliding around the neck, and when changing positions or moving across the neck, the squared-off edges seem to help keep my thumb very stable.

The action is low and its clear the uke is meant to be played fast, which is inherent in a flamenco-style design within the guitar world vs a traditional classical guitar. No buzzing, excellent fret spacing, and the flat fretboard is easy to play and as of now hard to distinguish from a radiused fretboard.

I would say the neck profile seems to be the biggest influence on the ease of comfort of playing this uke - I can really jump high up the neck and back down pretty easily. The super-lightness due to the POC prominence in the build feels great as well.

Aesthetics:

The pictures speak for themselves, its gorgeous, unique, and features wood choices that I do not see offered elsewhere. The overall craftsmanship and attention to detail is fantastic, from the red/black purfling lines, to the myrtle rosette and binding, everything is very classy, understated, built near perfectly, and goes very well with each other. It is simple but beautiful, I can't think of a better word than classy. The finish is a shellac finish that Les applies in a pretty unique way, the video below is worth a look. The finish is super thin, but not overly glossy or shiny, so fingerprints are nicely hidden, but it has a nice sheen to it like glass. I believe this is Les' take on a French Polish, but uses layers of Shellac with sanding in between to get the desired effect.


https://youtu.be/Pk8wmr-Np4s

Sound:


http://youtu.be/8IFyXBvkYEU

The first word I would use to describe the uke would be "explosive" - there is a responsiveness to the touch where it does feel the sound just explodes off the string. It is very fast and is definitely suited for fingerstyle playing - I can't wait to experiment with some clawhammer style as well as dip into flamenco style as I grow with her. "Blanca", which is what Les nicknamed her, has nice sustain, and doesn't require much effort to produce a lot of sound, and I find myself being able to ease my playing a bit which has been very comfortable to play.

Blanca is a winner!

Recstar24
03-14-2015, 10:31 AM
Here are three more pics of Blanca, that show the headstock, fretboard, and I tried to show the neck profile:

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haole
03-14-2015, 10:38 AM
Beautiful uke! Can't wait to hear it. Les is a great builder and a great guy.

dirtiestkidever
03-14-2015, 10:47 AM
Absolutely beautiful. Congratulations. Cedar back and sides is really interesting. I don't know that I have ever seen that before.

Recstar24
03-14-2015, 11:42 AM
Absolutely beautiful. Congratulations. Cedar back and sides is really interesting. I don't know that I have ever seen that before.

Port orford cedar is actually a cypress, and I believe POC is of similar density to mahogany, maybe even more dense. It's traditionally used for tops because it can be cut very thin, but it is durable and hard enough to be used for back and sides.

Icelander53
03-14-2015, 11:46 AM
It shore is purty. I'm guessing all that cedar (I'm a huge fan) must sound wonderful and I'm looking forward to your sound sample. Congrats.

DownUpDave
03-14-2015, 11:48 AM
Congratulations, that is an outstanding specimen of luthierie skill. I love the mix of colours and tones with the body, rosette and binding. That certainly has all making of a "canon" in the volume and tone department, can't wait for your sound sample. Poor Mya Moe will be sitting in the corner with the Covered Bridge getting bored out of their minds while you lavish all the attention on the new kid. Enjoy it, well done, very well done.............what's next ;)

Recstar24
03-14-2015, 12:09 PM
DUD - don't worry, I play enough at home where all can feel loved :)

I've converted the CB to being my school teaching uke for my general music classes, and she serves that duty very well. The mya moe being all myrtle and simply a completely different design is not quite an apples to apples comparison with the Stansell - in fact, maybe I do a recording side to side of the two just for my own curiosity.

Camsuke
03-14-2015, 12:23 PM
Congratulations Recstar24, very, very nice!

Recstar24
03-14-2015, 12:49 PM
Beautiful uke! Can't wait to hear it. Les is a great builder and a great guy.

He has been great through the whole process. Very down to earth, super knowledgeable, but very humble.

Should add he included an extra set of worth clears, a kala tuner, and a nice strap made by the craftedcow.

Shipping was 2nd day air fedex but what he charged me for it was super reasonable.

He has been great to exchange emails with and talk to, and has been generous in sharing uke arrangements as well as info about his philosophy and all things related to building and ukes.

Ukejenny
03-14-2015, 02:20 PM
It is beautiful beyond words. The video you shared, of the finish, wow, love watching the artist do his work.

Recstar24
03-14-2015, 05:42 PM
It is beautiful beyond words. The video you shared, of the finish, wow, love watching the artist do his work.

There are tons of great videos on his website. The video of him making of a Spanish classic is remarkable, there is a section where he is sanding and it seems like he is just sanding over and over again, leveling and measuring, re-sanding, and on and on, until he gets it just right. The time lapse nature of it just highlights the whole thing too.

Check out my video!

http://youtu.be/8IFyXBvkYEU

Recstar24
03-15-2015, 11:30 AM
It shore is purty. I'm guessing all that cedar (I'm a huge fan) must sound wonderful and I'm looking forward to your sound sample. Congrats.

Thanks man! speaks very well of your region - Les takes a lot of pride in what south/southwest oregon has to offer, and the instrument is truly of your region.

Though POC is actually a cypress, the incense cedar is interesting...I was expecting it to be like western red cedar and have that kind of mellow, worn in warm rounded sound like a previously owned cedar top I had, but as of now, its not like that whatsoever. Incense cedar is a softwood, but it does not follow the stereotype of what softwood cedars should sound like - maybe as it breaks in and gets used, but it is bright, sparkly, very clear with nice cut and projection.

Booli
03-15-2015, 12:12 PM
WOW. That uke looks dreamy. The sound is amazing. Crisp, ringing bell tones, that also has some warmth, with great note seperation and clarity.

Me likey! His shellac video really shows the amount of work that goes into an instrument of this caliber.

Very nice playing too. :music:

Best of luck with that wonderful instrument. :)

CTurner
03-15-2015, 01:31 PM
Wonderful look and sound. Congratulations on your new instrument!

Recstar24
03-16-2015, 04:54 PM
WOW. That uke looks dreamy. The sound is amazing. Crisp, ringing bell tones, that also has some warmth, with great note seperation and clarity.

Me likey! His shellac video really shows the amount of work that goes into an instrument of this caliber.

Very nice playing too. :music:

Best of luck with that wonderful instrument. :)

Thanks man! We are having a good time together for sure ;)

If you liked the shellac video, check out the one below of him making a flamenco guitar:


http://youtu.be/R5AaECtDwWg

Recstar24
03-29-2015, 09:04 PM
During a bout of insomnia I figured I would do another recording ;) Blanca is continuing to open up and I am getting more sensitive in bringing out the most from her


http://youtu.be/BL94p1gq0E4

Recstar24
03-29-2015, 09:06 PM
this is my Mya moe Myrtle as a reference point. Very very close!


http://youtu.be/tYfS2kZLc0Y

DownUpDave
03-29-2015, 11:57 PM
Very nice job on recording theses two ukes with the same song, setting and recording equipment, great apples to apples. You are right they are very close. The Stansell is a bit louder and a bit brighter, they both have a fabulous sound. Thanks for doing that Ryan, hope you got back to sleep.

Recstar24
03-30-2015, 02:52 AM
Thanks Dave! I feel the differences in sound can also be attributed to one having the same wood for top back and sides, and the other using a different top from its back and sides. So it's not quite apples to apples, but close enough for our purposes. The Stansell is definitely punchier and louder, and has a little more sustain, whereas the MM does have a certain sweetness and evenness that gives it a smoother feel. Those differences are pretty consistent with what I've heard when comparing ukes where one is all the same wood and the other uses a different top wood from its back and sides.

Now les does have a beautiful all myrtle that comes from the same log as my mya moe - I am trying to see if I have the funds for her, that would make a very cool comparison.

hollisdwyer
03-30-2015, 04:18 AM
Congratulations on your new instrument, it looks and sounds mighty fine.

sam13
03-30-2015, 03:31 PM
Great looking and sounding, enjoy the new NUD buzz.

Nickie
03-30-2015, 04:45 PM
Wow, that is a very classy looking uke. I can't wait to hear it at home tomorrow on the desktop! Congrats!

Recstar24
03-30-2015, 04:49 PM
Final video! I really should get some sleep ;) wife is out of town on business, I have spring break, so basically it's been uke all night once I get the kids down :)

This comparo is all fingerpicking, which I think reveals a little more contrast between the two.


http://youtu.be/APdNbci5grE

sam13
04-01-2015, 05:27 PM
You play very well, Recstar24 ... seems the MM is a little quieter ... nice tone.

Recstar24
04-01-2015, 07:54 PM
You play very well, Recstar24 ... seems the MM is a little quieter ... nice tone.

Thank you! Loudness is such a relative thing me thinks...the stansell has more treble cut and bass which gives it more pop, whereas the mya moe is very even from top to bottom, but I think they are actually similar in terms of absolute volume, it's just the stansell has a more vibrant quality to the tone, whereas the mya moe is sweeter with a little more fullness in the midrange.

pakhan
04-02-2015, 07:52 AM
Congrats, Les is a such a nice person to deal with and his instruments are really superb!

lstansell
04-12-2015, 02:50 PM
Thank You'All for the kind words . . . just to be compared with Mya Moe is an honor as I have the utmost respect for Char, Gordon and the Folks at Mya-Moe.