View Full Version : NUD: Hoffmann ML Tenor Spruce with Ebony

09-01-2015, 11:05 AM







There have been a few threads about Hoffmann Ukes, and HMS has recently been carrying them, but for those that do not know, Hoffmann Lutherie was originally Boat Paddle. Hearing the ML Tenor and A style Tenor on HMS was what convinced me to pursue this custom, as well as all the fine reports on the Boat Paddle branded Ukes. Below are the details of my custom ML Tenor:

Adirondack Spruce with Ebony Back and Sides
Maple body, fretboard, and Headstock Binding, BWB top purfling
Misi pickup
MOP thumbnail fretboard markers and headstock logo
Gotoh UPT tuners
soundhole and Side Sound port bound in maple with BWB purfling
gloss lacquer finish

Overall aesthetic, quality of construction, and feel: First thing I noticed was the case, made by BWW which makes the Ameritage line, custom made for the unique ML shape. This is one is serious case, and looks and feels super luxurious. Heavy sucker too. Visually, she turned out perfectly - Jerry picked out the ebony for me, and features rich dark brown and reddish stripes, its a very colorful piece of ebony with a lot of character. The red spruce top has extremely tight grain and is very silky looking. The thumbnail markers are not only very classy and elegant looking, but very practical when playing - they make it easy to see being close to the edge of the board, and your fingers don't really cover them while playing giving you a nice visual grasp of the board. The maple binding has really shimmery curly figure that contrasts well against the ebony even without purfling.

The feel is perfect for me. It's perfectly balanced from top to bottom, and the neck joint is very well constructed and feels rock solid and stable. It would be worth checking out hoffmannlutherie.com and read his article on neck joints, as it is pretty different from what you would normally see. The neck is a medium sized D shape which feels great, and this is the first uke I've owned that did not have a super low action, which I actually like. Its setup at 0.095 in/2.4 mm at the 12th fret which for me is a great choice.

Sound: The sustain is out of this world. This uke has the longest sustain of any uke I've played so far. The sustain has a lot of character and richness too which adds to the overall richness and resonant tone I am getting. Volume wise, this thing can really rock out, but plays very clear and focused when played softly, so I'm very happy with its dynamic ability. This is my first spruce top, and I don't want to comment too much on the tone/sound signature of the uke until I break her in a bit, but currently I am hearing a very focused, direct, precise sound, with the ability to bring out some serious bass if needed. Please excuse any weird sounds in the sound clip, blame it on me, not Jerry. I am loving the sound so far for strumming, as it remains clear when driven and has plenty of headroom, but is very balanced between each string and is quite rich sounding. Fingerpicking is a lot of fun due to the unique color of the tone and the excellent sustain.

Customer Service: Jerry was awesome throughout the whole process. Finalized order by end of May, quoted a completion time of end of August, and received it this past Monday. Jerry was super responsive to my emails, and all upgrades or extra options were quoted clearly and were very reasonable. I received updates about once every 3 weeks or so, which was perfect for me. Overall, it was an easy 3 months and the final product is clearly of exceptional quality.

09-01-2015, 11:13 AM
Sweet looking. Congratulations. Nice build specs. Can't wait to hear the spruce/ebony effect on an ML Style.
Thanks for the clear pics and review.

09-01-2015, 11:18 AM
Thanks hodge! There is a sound clip link above if you're interested. I think the woods balance out the natural bassier end of the ML tenor design quite nicely.

09-01-2015, 11:29 AM
Thanks. I missed seeing the sound sample to the top. That has really nice, long sustain with good smooth warmth and clarity. I can sense the volume too. Great addition to your collection of ukes.

09-01-2015, 12:23 PM
Congratulations Recstar, simply beautiful looking and sounding uke, enjoy!

09-01-2015, 12:32 PM
WOW, just wow!

09-01-2015, 12:33 PM
Congratulations on the arrival of a stunning instrument!

09-01-2015, 02:47 PM
Very lovely! I am sure you will enjoy it for years to come. Hoffman ukes are such unique instruments.

Trader Todd
09-01-2015, 04:16 PM
Congrats on the new Uke. Play it everyday!

09-01-2015, 05:10 PM
Congratulations to you sir.
I am so happy for you and I can hear the joy in your heart when you are playing.
This is the kind of uke that inspires one to be a better player.

Also, that Pekelo book series must be working for you. I really enjoy your smooth finger-style playing.

09-01-2015, 07:06 PM
Awesome instrument, congratulations -- she's a beauty! Love the shape, too.

09-01-2015, 09:16 PM
Congratulations, what a special instrument in any way! Very classy choice.

09-01-2015, 09:52 PM
Congratulations! That's one beautiful ukulele! I had the chance to play one at HMS a while ago, and it felt and sounded wonderful.

09-01-2015, 10:39 PM
Obscenely handsome instrument with an amazing tone. Congrats!

09-01-2015, 11:39 PM
Well done Ryan, it is an oitstanding looking and sounding instrument. Jerry does some amazing work and yours is a glowing example of that.

09-01-2015, 11:54 PM
Quite the sexy tenor if you ask me. I have a concert ML in my personal collection. I really enjoy it for many reasons. Looks so cool on my music room wall for one, but what really sets it apart musically, for me, is both the access and responsiveness in the higher register. After the 7th fret it gets this beautiful punchy attack with this incredible ringing sustain like no other. And it plays so true all the way up. I end up playing things I wouldn't on other ukes, which makes it one of my favorites. Even his tenors have this quality but I was low on concerts when I chose it.
Anyway, congrats! Cheehee!

09-02-2015, 04:09 AM
Thanks for the compliments you guys! Brought it to my uke club last night to break her in a bit. In fact, there was another ML tenor! Boat paddle branded, what a pleasant surprise.



It was your showing of the ML tenors on HMS that ultimately drove me to commission one with Jerry. While I did not purchase it directly from you, thank you for sharing jerrys creations with others. I don't play too much in the upper registers, but the bits and pieces I do have been very clear and ringy with no diminishing of tone. Strummed chords way up high are excellent, and I think the headroom of the spruce really seems to help this instrument ring clearly way up high.

I'm still kind of magically stupefied at how the neck heel joint and pinned but work so well. There is no give to the string when bending, hammering, or pulling off, and the neck heel makes it feel incredibly stable, stiff, but light at the same time, and the fingers seem to be a little more comfortable when playing closer to the 14th fret.

09-02-2015, 05:03 AM
I knew you would be head over heals when you received your new ML Ryan. What a great choice of woods and details you made. It truly is a gorgeous looking and sounding instrument. I'm sure yours will be a keeper just like mine is.

09-02-2015, 08:57 AM
Your mailbox is full again. I can't reply to your PM.

09-02-2015, 09:56 AM
Your mailbox is full again. I can't reply to your PM.

Sorry! Its been emptied :)

09-02-2015, 04:05 PM
Beautiful playing on a marvelous instrument! My Boat Paddle ML tenor is my absolute number one even among two other phenomenal customs. And I think Jerry Hoffmann is great!

09-03-2015, 05:39 PM
Thanks new kid! The ML is my first spruce and is rounding out a stable that has cedar, and a redwood mya moe schedule for February.

09-03-2015, 05:57 PM
Congratulations. I believe Jerry makes the very best ukuleles in the world.

09-04-2015, 12:35 AM
Everyone has their own favourite wood combinations but I think Ryan's choices resulted in a most beautiful instrument. I went for AAA Cocobolo and better quality red spruce;
with the same maple binding and thumbnail markers. A great instrument in its own right and one that I will never sell but that ebony just blows me away. Jerry sure does craft some of the greatest instruments, doesn't he.

09-04-2015, 06:04 PM
Congratulations. I believe Jerry makes the very best ukuleles in the world.

Thanks Steve. I do have to give you credit for being the original person to plant the seed of boat paddle. You've always spoken very well of him and his ukes. Part of me regrets not getting one earlier! Guess it's all part of the journey.

09-05-2015, 01:08 AM
Congrats Ryan, she is a beauty!

09-05-2015, 04:38 AM
Fantastic instrument! If you think you like it now, just wait 'til it opens up a bit. LOVE, LOVE. LOVE.

09-06-2015, 05:30 AM
Fantastic instrument! If you think you like it now, just wait 'til it opens up a bit. LOVE, LOVE. LOVE.

For sure! This is my first spruce top, and definitely looking forward and very curious to how it matures and opens up with more time and playing. Already finding some cool subtle ways with my playing technique to get the sound where I want it to be. What I like about this instrument from a players and musicians perspective is the responsiveness and dynamic headroom. Played softly it rings very clear with full resonance but I can push it real hard and it maintains clarity and doesn't distort, it's probably my best strumming uke I've had so far.

09-14-2015, 07:57 AM
Oh man. That thing is sweet. My BP branded ML Concert (WRC/Eastern Walnut 5-string) blows me away every time I pick it up. Congrats on yours. Here's mine (the very small pictures don't do justice to the very big sound):

09-14-2015, 09:35 AM
Love the cedar walnut combo!

Just recorded a video, YouTube iPad capture with shure motiv 88 mic.


09-14-2015, 09:51 AM
Nice playing and sweet sounding ukulele. I have a Sitka and black walnut custom from another building and I love that combo of wood.

09-14-2015, 03:03 PM
Black walnut is a fine wood M3 - I have a mya moe with walnut set for March but I'm pairing it with redwood, originally Sitka but changed it to compliment my current stable of ukes. The spruce on ML is Adirondack or red spruce and I'm really digging it - it can be pushed and pushed and there seems to be no limit on how hard you can drive it, it just won't give up on you.

Ukulele Eddie
09-14-2015, 04:48 PM
Nice!! And really nice job on the Daniel Ho song.

Love the cedar walnut combo!

Just recorded a video, YouTube iPad capture with shure motiv 88 mic.


09-14-2015, 11:36 PM
So very beautiful! Wishing you joy!

10-29-2015, 12:46 PM
Nearing the two month mark and just wanted to re chime in to post a recent sound clip. The wood is definitely starting to mature nicely and is continuing to open up.


I'm continuing to work on Daniel Ho's book, the clip is polani.

10-29-2015, 07:14 PM
So nice to see and hear you play. That is surely a great instrument. You're going to love it for years.

10-30-2015, 11:00 AM
So nice to see and hear you play. That is surely a great instrument. You're going to love it for years.

Thanks Hollis! It has definitely been my main player so far.