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View Full Version : Belated New Build Thread: Little River Ukulele



Jayfuzi
01-15-2017, 07:57 AM
2016 was a very special Uke year for me as I was lucky enough to have 2 custom ukes made for me. The first one was a tenor built by Dave Sigman of Little River Ukulele. We actually started this process late 2015/early 2016. I almost gave up on writing this post, but he deserves any attention I can bring for him as he makes wonderful ukuleles!

I first became aware of Little River Ukulele through some videos I'd watched by Hawaii Music Supply (Ukulele Site). I'd heard some recordings of his ukes by HMS and really liked the tone and looks of his ukes. After some correspondences I decided to have him help me with a uke. Getting to know Dave, it's very clear that he is very passionate about ukulele. You'll also be hard pressed to find a nicer person than Dave Sigman to work with on a uke build. He was very accommodating and went above and beyond to make sure I was happy with my uke! If I had trouble picturing what certain materials would look like he'd send a package of samples so I could make informed choices.

When we started I'd considered having a "California" uke built with Sinker Redwood and Claro Walnut. We're both in N. California and it seemed like a nice combination to go with. But when I asked him about what wood combinations he enjoyed, he mentioned that he really liked a combination of Koa top with Brazilian Rosewood Back and sides. I'd never really heard of this combination and decided to go with it.

Dave was great about sharing photos of the build process and I wanted to share some of those pics with you all.

Here are some photos of the back and sides being put together:
https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7606/26686249850_95c3095e84_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GEb1m3)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GEb1m3) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7357/26891398951_347dc508ce_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GYis2v)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GYis2v) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

Django
01-15-2017, 08:13 AM
That's a real beauty. Very nice and imaginative.

UkieOkie
01-15-2017, 08:16 AM
Congrats to you and Dave on a great new Uke. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Jayfuzi
01-15-2017, 08:20 AM
Decided to try to break it up and embed photos:
Top and Rosette


https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7018/26891396601_57299fbe31_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GYirjZ)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GYirjZ) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr


https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7040/26891404451_49cb326fcf_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GYitEk)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GYitEk) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/shares/aig8A1
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/shares/N71874

Jayfuzi
01-15-2017, 08:22 AM
Dave said he likes to use a "Martin style" bracing on his tops. I think it looks very beautiful and sculptural. Too bad it gets hidden from view! I did get a side port cut out so I can see it a bit from the side!

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7399/27260762381_0833057688_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/HwWwUv)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/HwWwUv) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

Here is the completed box with its sister concert koa/brw that was built at the same time. It wasn't built for me but it was tempting!

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7681/26724799243_4bd4b463d1_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GHzzJK)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GHzzJK) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7257/26724751023_c223677f2d_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GHzkpn)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GHzkpn) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

Jayfuzi
01-15-2017, 08:24 AM
Dave does beautiful precise inlay work. We decided on a koi fish theme. He calls it the U-koi-lele!

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7642/26724798453_7a397c06de_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GHzzv8)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GHzzv8) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7345/27297851806_3702e2f13a_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/HAdCim)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/HAdCim) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

Here are photos from the final stages of the build:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7577/26723994284_050971ecd2_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GHvss9)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GHvss9) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7350/26724733263_067112c85c_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GHzf8a)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GHzf8a) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

Jayfuzi
01-15-2017, 08:24 AM
Here's Dave with the completed U-Koi-lele!

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7674/26723940384_3dc8dbb091_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GHvbqQ)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GHvbqQ) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

So the final specs on the uke:
Tenor uke with BRW back and sides and Koa top, slotted headstock, gotoh stealth tuners, maui koa binding, radius fretboard, string through bridge, side soundport. Satin finish. Whew!

Some of my thoughts on the uke:
It has a very nice tone, with long sustain. The tone is on the brighter side, I assume that's from the koa top. The nut is a little narrower than my other ukes but it was easy to adjust to and the neck is very comfortable. It has a nice low action and plays so nice and easy. The BRW smells so good! It's a very nice uke and a joy to play!

If you are in the market for a custom uke don't hesitate to give Dave Sigman with Little River Ukulele a call!

http://www.littleriverukuleles.com/

slackkey007
01-15-2017, 08:37 AM
Here's Dave with the completed U-Koi-lele!

https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7674/26723940384_3dc8dbb091_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GHvbqQ)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GHvbqQ) by jmlee22 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmlee/), on Flickr

So the final specs on the uke:
Tenor uke with BRW back and sides and Koa top, slotted headstock, gotoh stealth tuners, maui koa binding, radius fretboard, string through bridge, side soundport. Satin finish. Whew!

Some of my thoughts on the uke:
It has a very nice tone, with long sustain. The tone is on the brighter side, I assume that's from the koa top. The nut is a little narrower than my other ukes but it was easy to adjust to and the neck is very comfortable. It has a nice low action and plays so nice and easy. The BRW smells so good! It's a very nice uke and a joy to play!

If you are in the market for a custom uke don't hesitate to give Dave Sigman with Little River Ukulele a call!

http://www.littleriverukuleles.com/


Nice uke! Any sound/video sample of your actual uke? I would love to hear the Koa/Brazilian Rosewood combination.

dkcrown
01-15-2017, 08:48 AM
Looks great and thanks for sharing. I love build threads. I am a custom cabinetmaker by trade and love seeing the process of anything that is created by hand. :)

Ukulele Eddie
01-15-2017, 09:47 AM
Congratulations! I admire Dave's work. I was extremely impressed with the three ukes Dave exhibited at UGH. Craftsmanship was excellent, tone and playability were top notch. A lot of times I don't care for koa topped ukes but all three of Dave's were excellent. He does some great inlay work, too.

Enjoy!

CheeseSandwich
01-15-2017, 01:08 PM
Everything looks great. That Koi inlay is truly stunning. Congratulations!!

spongeuke
01-15-2017, 01:19 PM
Thanks for letting us in on your future fabulous Tenor. I have one of his Walnut Tenors, that is my best ukulele. He's a true artist.

sam13
01-15-2017, 01:57 PM
Congrats on a fabulous Ukulele. Looks superb.

saltytri
01-15-2017, 02:49 PM
Beautiful! Dave is a skilled builder with fine artistic sensibility and a very pleasant guy to boot.

Debussychopin
01-15-2017, 03:01 PM
That catfish in the pond motif on the headstock and fretboard is a freakin nice idea.

Jayfuzi
01-15-2017, 05:06 PM
Nice uke! Any sound/video sample of your actual uke? I would love to hear the Koa/Brazilian Rosewood combination.

Hi, here is a video of my uke teacher John Nash playing it. Sorry for the poor quality. We were sitting on a busy street with lots of people walking by. Hopefully you get a taste of the sound.

https://youtu.be/TW8YaHMiRGU

DownUpDave
01-16-2017, 12:42 AM
Hi, here is a video of my uke teacher John Nash playing it. Sorry for the poor quality. We were sitting on a busy street with lots of people walking by. Hopefully you get a taste of the sound.

https://youtu.be/TW8YaHMiRGU


Congratulations on such a unique and beautiful instrument. I am a big believer in listening to the recommendations of the builder. It certainly worked out very well for you. The sound sample was quite good considering the street noise and your teacher was certainly impressed with it.

good_uke_boy
01-16-2017, 03:20 AM
Hi, here is a video of my uke teacher John Nash playing it. Sorry for the poor quality. We were sitting on a busy street with lots of people walking by. Hopefully you get a taste of the sound.

https://youtu.be/TW8YaHMiRGU

Wow -- really nice playing and instrument. Congrats.

Ukulele Eddie
01-16-2017, 04:35 AM
Hi, here is a video of my uke teacher John Nash playing it. Sorry for the poor quality. We were sitting on a busy street with lots of people walking by. Hopefully you get a taste of the sound.

https://youtu.be/TW8YaHMiRGU

Love that arrangement of Canon in D. Do you know if there is a tab to it available anywhere?

Again, congrats on a really fine uke!

Those who don't want to wait, HMS has two of Dave's all koa ukes. I played both of these quite a bit at UGH (I actually watched Dave's table for him so he could take a break at one point) and they are REALLY nice. The inlay of Diamond Head has an incredible glow to it:

http://www.theukulelesite.com/little-river-custom-koa-tenor-diamond-head.html

http://www.theukulelesite.com/little-river-custom-koa-tenor-mermaid.html

As I said earlier, koa tops are not typically my favorite ukes. Dave's are the exception.

Jayfuzi
01-17-2017, 06:55 PM
Thanks to everyone for the kind comments!

Eddie, thanks for posting the link to Dave's ukes at HMS. They are gorgeous and I hope more people give his ukes a try!

I'm working to try to get the tab for Canon in D. I'll post a link here if I can get it.

mmfitzsimons
05-31-2017, 01:34 PM
This is a great thread, thanks for posting it. Dave Sigman is building a tenor for me right now, I believe using that Claro Walnut he told you about (we'll keep it in the UU family!).

We're going mostly California wood, with bits of mountain mahogany and yew and other Golden State goodness. I ended up going all-walnut rather than using the sinker redwood top, which was a really hard choice to make... but choices are the only hard part of this process: Dave is an absolute delight to work with. It's fascinating, planning it out and then watching it come together. I feel less like I'm buying an instrument than I am going on a kind of trip. Of course that may change once I have an instrument... ;)

The sound box is done, fretboard too, but we've come up with a seascape inlay design for the pegged that will probably take us into late July. I will of course post when it's done; I simply can't say enough good things about the experience of working with Dave.

Jayfuzi
05-31-2017, 01:44 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience so far! I can't wait to see/hear how your uke comes out when done. Dave is a great guy and great to work with. I wish more people would give his ukes a try. They are wonderful ukes!

mmfitzsimons
05-31-2017, 01:49 PM
Yours is especially wonderful; love how it all turned out!!!

Nickie
05-31-2017, 04:51 PM
Congrats on this beauty! Isn't it fun to follow your baby being born?

Nickie
05-31-2017, 04:52 PM
Congrats on this beauty! Isn't it fun watching your baby being born?

Ukulele Eddie
06-01-2017, 10:58 AM
This is a great thread, thanks for posting it. Dave Sigman is building a tenor for me right now, I believe using that Claro Walnut he told you about (we'll keep it in the UU family!).

We're going mostly California wood, with bits of mountain mahogany and yew and other Golden State goodness. I ended up going all-walnut rather than using the sinker redwood top, which was a really hard choice to make... but choices are the only hard part of this process: Dave is an absolute delight to work with. It's fascinating, planning it out and then watching it come together. I feel less like I'm buying an instrument than I am going on a kind of trip. Of course that may change once I have an instrument... ;)

The sound box is done, fretboard too, but we've come up with a seascape inlay design for the pegged that will probably take us into late July. I will of course post when it's done; I simply can't say enough good things about the experience of working with Dave.

Dave has some great sources of wood and I love Claro walnut. Look forward to seeing and hearing this one!!