PDA

View Full Version : Casanova Custom Ukuleles Carbon Fiber Uke



Lanark
10-21-2010, 10:33 AM
Well, I saw a poorly listed eBay auction for a tenor uke with a carbon fiber back and the brand name of Casanova. I did some internet sleuthing and hooked that up with an Hawaiian maker named Stephen Sydow who showed at the 2010 UGH show. From that I was able to find this short vid by MGM at the UGH show (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VG3p9io-EI&feature=related).

I'm pretty sure that I got this at a bargain price. It's thin like in the MGM vid, but with normal upper bouts and no tone controls. Bookmatched koa top with a nice abalone rosette. And a Mi-Si pickup & quality hard case.

(MGM has another vid of an aluminum one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23sGLHPoSQ0&feature=related) he also makes.)

But I was wondering if anybody knew anything else about Stephen Sydow and his Casanova ukuleles.

I figure MGM wouldn't have done the videos if they were junk, but that's about all there is I could find and I'm going to need something to assure me that I did well until the package arrives...

MGM
10-21-2010, 10:44 AM
It depends when this one was made as the first ones are nowhere as good as his later versions

Lanark
10-21-2010, 11:19 AM
http://i.ebayimg.com/02/!B5ffS3gEGk~$(KGrHqQOKjoEyO3uu5fcBMt1eTVptg~~_12.J PG

I don't really have a time frame. He sent me some other pictures with close ups of the rosette and the whole back and headstock. I suppose I'll have to wait until it arrives to know for sure. I'm not really sure he knew what it is. He had on what looked like a mismatched set of strings. A couple of Aquilas & a couple of Ko'olau golds with one broken. It does seem pretty untouched.

Hopefully it's from the better side build wise, but since I didn't spend a whole lot on it, playable for this jazz workshop I've been going to would work fine for me.

Lanark
10-30-2010, 03:56 AM
Well it came yesterday. I slapped some new strings on it and I have to say that initial impressions are pretty favorable even though I can't say as I'm a big fan of the string through body bridge. But considering that I only picked it up for a bit over two hundred bucks, I do think I got a steal. Especially since I'd have paid more than that for just the case & Mi-Si pickup to begin with.

MGM had mentioned last year in a post on FleaMarket Music that some prototypes had shown up on eBay & I suspect this might be one. It's definitely got a few bits here and there that aren't totally polished up to what you might expect as a custom build salable standard. Some finish build up around the bridge. No label. There are still wax pencil (?) marks on the fret board for the fret placements. Frets are still a tad burred.
But it's a nice piece of koa on the front that's beautifully bookmatched. The seam is nearly invisible. And the intonation seems spot on past the 12th fret. I mean, if this is one of the lesser older ones, I'd really like to see what he's doing now.

I sounds really very nice. Louder than I might have expected for an instrument this thin and a real nice full shimmery sound. I plugged it in briefly yesterday and it sounded just as nice. I'll know more after I take it to the Jazz Workshop this afternoon and put it through some paces. I've had it for less than 24 hours, but it does have some mojo that I'm digging. I'm calling this a keeper.

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs882.snc4/71538_1692408316418_1424090374_31789971_6745170_n. jpg

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs929.snc4/74224_1692408476422_1424090374_31789972_4390127_n. jpg

Here's a side view in comparison with a Pono soprano. It's really thin.

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs813.snc4/69335_1692408196415_1424090374_31789970_564628_n.j pg

A view of the abalone rosette with some of the rough inside.

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs451.ash2/72459_1692408556424_1424090374_31789973_2299787_n. jpg

Lanark
10-30-2010, 03:57 AM
The headstock

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs484.ash2/75783_1692426516873_1424090374_31790011_594890_n.j pg

Uncle Rod Higuchi
10-30-2010, 04:41 AM
Very nice!

Thanks for sharing, Guys, and esp the pictures and videos.

Wow, a whole new category for UAS!

Keep uke'in',

Anton K
10-30-2010, 03:17 PM
I am officially jealous!

mm stan
10-30-2010, 03:34 PM
Aloha Lanark,
For two hundred that's a reals score, it looks absoulutely beautiful.....I like the thick abalone inlay..looks real expensive...Never heard of the luthier...Stephen Sydow...You sure he's from Hawaii??
But then again,there's so many new luthiers popping up everywhere...thanks for sharing and also the awesome pics...Have Fun and Enjoy, "Keep strumming them Strings" MM Stan...

Lanark
10-30-2010, 04:30 PM
The only info I came up with after much digging was the two MGM UGH videos and a post he did on Fleamarket Music last year about meeting Steve Sydow for the first time and being impressed. He's a mystery nougat wrapped in a thick chocolaty coating of enigma. but he made a nice instrument. & he's doing it in Hawaii. I do believe there was also a document about trademarking Casanova Ukulele that I came across. (Ahnko Honu also had a picture in his thread about the UGH show, but the links were dead to the actual photos.) I can't imagine there are too many of these out in the wild as it were. This is the first one I can remember seeing and I've been solidly window shopping eBay for ukes for the past three years....

I brought it to the Jazz Workshop this afternoon and it sounded pretty good in that context. I'll be keeping it. I can't say as I'm ready to completely forsake my Koalohas, but this one is going to get played some.

mojokane
11-18-2012, 12:13 PM
The only info I came up with after much digging was the two MGM UGH videos and a post he did on Fleamarket Music last year about meeting Steve Sydow for the first time and being impressed. He's a mystery nougat wrapped in a thick chocolaty coating of enigma. but he made a nice instrument. & he's doing it in Hawaii. I do believe there was also a document about trademarking Casanova Ukulele that I came across. (Ahnko Honu also had a picture in his thread about the UGH show, but the links were dead to the actual photos.) I can't imagine there are too many of these out in the wild as it were. This is the first one I can remember seeing and I've been solidly window shopping eBay for ukes for the past three years....

I brought it to the Jazz Workshop this afternoon and it sounded pretty good in that context. I'll be keeping it. I can't say as I'm ready to completely forsake my Koalohas, but this one is going to get played some.

Steve Sydow is from Hawaii, and still doing his craft. He has changed his business name from Casanova to Sydowguitars.

Go to: www.sydoguitars.com

Steve has been honing the Uke and Guitar craft even more recently.
I own a Casanova Eucalyptus speaker cab. It houses 2X12" alnico speakers....a real gem.
He just did a show at the Princess Kaiulani yesterday. And brought some guitars, too. It was "bottle necked" with ooglers, and players sampling them. I happen to know Steve, We were in kindergarten together. The cab is awesome. His ukes and guitars are probably awesome, too.....a real craftsman. With a great ear for stringed instruments.

mojokane
11-26-2012, 12:20 PM
[QUOTE=mojokane;1102204]Steve Sydow is from Hawaii, and still doing his craft. He has changed his business name from Casanova to Sydowguitars. I just added the W to his website address. You get the idea....

Go to: www.sydowguitars.com

Pueo
11-26-2012, 01:11 PM
I was one of those players at the UGH show at the Princess Kaiulani! I thought his stuff was pretty cool, sounded nice, played well, and he had some really nice looking woods. The carbon ones appeal to me in a tech-y sort of way but I don't think they are for me, if I were going to get a carbon ukulele I think I would still rather have a blackbird. These do appear to be more organic than the blackbird. All that being said if I had an opportunity to pick one up for $200 I sure would!
I met the man and talked with him about his stuff a little bit and yes I approve your purchase, he is a real craftsman and I can vouch for the fact that he is here in Hawaii.