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Thread: Blackbird Farallon 2017 - High-Gloss Tobacco Sunburst Finish

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, CA
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    Default Blackbird Farallon 2017 - High-Gloss Tobacco Sunburst Finish

    Hi All,

    This isn't a review so much as an update. Just got one of the new high-gloss sunburst Blackbird Farallons, and wanted to give a quick "finish" review, as well as comment on a few small cosmetic changes to the instrument.

    As some of you know, Blackbird is now making a small number of "limited edition" sunburst finish Farallons and Claras. The instruments feature a classic high-gloss "tobacco sunburst" finish on the soundboard, with a deep black lacquer on the sides, and a very nice "fade" on the back (where the the black of the sides blends into a very dark coffee colored ekoa). Stunning to see in person, and much nicer than the online photos at HMS and Blackbird.

    Blackbird has often had some slight finish variations. Some of the earlier models of the Farallon had a vintage-looking "eggshell" lacquer finish, with a lot of subtle crazing. According to Joe, this was intentional, and gave the instrument a really nice aged look. They discontinued that sometime in 2015, and moved on to a less polarizing (and to my mind, more ordinary) finish.

    I'm happy to report that gloss finish on the sunbursts is absolutely flawless, and superb. The think looks lovely, and sounds just like any other Farallon. The cut out for the hole on the soundboard is finished around all the edges, so there's no raw ekoa exposed (as on the standard model) -- it's glossy everywhere! You do pay quite a bit for the upgraded finish, but to my mind, it's worth it. My only suggestion would be to match the headstock to the body -- it's still the standard ekoa color. Would look amazing in either black or the coffee brown on the back.

    That said, there is a tradeoff to the gloss finish. Unlike the standard finish, you can't have Blackbird add a soundport after the fact. On the sunbursts, the soundhole is cut prior to painting and finished to a high-gloss afterward. I talked to Joe about this, and said there is no way to add the soundhole after the body has been painted, as it won't look right. So, if you want a soundhole on a sunburst, you'll have to order it that way. Also, like any high-gloss uke, the thing is a fingerprint (and presumably, scratch) magnet. You might want to think twice before taking this one camping...

    A few other details I noticed: The vertical brace beneath the end of the fretboard (a small carbon-fibre "wall" connecting the soundboard to the back of the body) is now affixed with a black glue. They used to glob on a thick white glue that was visible through the soundhole which always drove me crazy -- the visible stark white glue in there made it look cheap). Now it blends right in, and looks MUCH better. Very clean inside and out.

    The micarta bridge is now a matte finish, which looks nice against the gloss soundboard. Older versions were usually gloss.

    Also, they seem to have thickened up (and and possible enlarged) the carbon-fibre patch under the bridge, which seems to prevent the slight depression between the soundhole and the bridge that was typical of older models.

    As for sound, the thing is great. Classic Farallon sound, but to my ear with a slightly more precise sound. Very clear separation between notes, and a somewhat more balances sound with less "boomy" low-g.

    Really happy with this purchase, and glad to see Blackbird continuing to tweak the design in tiny ways, all of which provide incremental improvements on what has always been a superbly intoned and lovely instrument.

    If anything else jumps out as I play around with it over the next few days, I'll update.
    _____________________________________________

    Current Stable:

    Soprano:
    Kala travel uke (spruce & mahogany) (KA-SSTU)
    Concert:
    Romero Creations ST Concert (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Gold Tone Banjo Ukulele (BU-1) - Open Back
    Tenor:
    Romero Creations Tiny Tenor (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Kala Spruce-Ovangkol (KA-ASOV-T)
    Blackbird Farallon (Tobacco Sunburst)

    Banjos:
    Pisgah Dobson Rambler 12" pot

    PM me if you'd like to be in touch...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
    Posts
    5,955

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    Thanks for the review, did you get yours with a side sound port. I have the "standard" finish and naturally the sunburst became available right after I received mine, arghhh. My main reason for buying was to take traveling and camping so I think I did the right thing. The colors and fading appear to be very well done and if they are even better looking in person then I've got sunburst envy!!! Congratulations and enjoy your new Farallon
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  3. #3
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    Feb 2016
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    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
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    This is a case where a post is screaming for a picture to be attached. I’m now heading over to Blackbird to see if I can see what you have described.
    My ukulele blog: http://ukestuff.info

    My ukulele YouTube channels:

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Pickering, ON, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by Choirguy View Post
    This is a case where a post is screaming for a picture to be attached. I’m now heading over to Blackbird to see if I can see what you have described.
    There are two up on HMS site for viewing, always nice pictures
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  5. #5
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    Apr 2013
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    6,488

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    Quote Originally Posted by Choirguy View Post
    This is a case where a post is screaming for a picture to be attached. I’m now heading over to Blackbird to see if I can see what you have described.
    From HMS:



    via https://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-...-sunburst.html
    Guinea proverb: "A cow that has no tail should not try to chase away flies."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
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    Just to be contrary (something my wife says I do very well......) I think the "classic" Farallon is elegant in its simplicity and doesn't really need the sunburst. The Ekoa has a natural beauty, sort of like a Martin D-18, while adding the burst just makes it look like any other instrument with a painted sunburst. I do however envy of all the other changes Joe keeps adding, like the sound port, or the radiused fretboard, or the string through bridge, or the unidirectional top.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    Santa Monica, CA
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    I’m extremely happy with mine. Travelled this week to Colorado and brought it with me, loving the fact that I didn’t have to worry about the low humidity here. Beyond its durability, it has wonderful tone and excellent playability. Here is mine with its unigrain top being shown off by one of the Blackbird team members:



    I would definitely not get gloss if one is thinking about being truly rugged with it, such as camping and the like. That’s not an issue for me. I like my Farallon dressed up with sunburst, fancy rosette, etc.

    Kevin (@neo1022), when you are back in LA lets get together.
    Last edited by Ukulele Eddie; 11-24-2017 at 05:20 PM.
    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!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booli View Post

    The current crop of sunburst are darker around the edges -- the black of the sides contrinues into the top, fades through a deep red, into a warm yellow-orange. The HMS picture is an earlier sunburst style -- more of an aged-looking vignette around the edges of the soundboard. If only they would match the headstock... Will post pics soon...
    _____________________________________________

    Current Stable:

    Soprano:
    Kala travel uke (spruce & mahogany) (KA-SSTU)
    Concert:
    Romero Creations ST Concert (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Gold Tone Banjo Ukulele (BU-1) - Open Back
    Tenor:
    Romero Creations Tiny Tenor (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Kala Spruce-Ovangkol (KA-ASOV-T)
    Blackbird Farallon (Tobacco Sunburst)

    Banjos:
    Pisgah Dobson Rambler 12" pot

    PM me if you'd like to be in touch...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    89

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    Quote Originally Posted by besley View Post
    Just to be contrary (something my wife says I do very well......) I think the "classic" Farallon is elegant in its simplicity and doesn't really need the sunburst. The Ekoa has a natural beauty, sort of like a Martin D-18, while adding the burst just makes it look like any other instrument with a painted sunburst. I do however envy of all the other changes Joe keeps adding, like the sound port, or the radiused fretboard, or the string through bridge, or the unidirectional top.

    Doesn't need it, or course. But it sure is pretty. And the ekoa fibres look like spun gold beneath the lacquer... Side by side there's no comparison
    _____________________________________________

    Current Stable:

    Soprano:
    Kala travel uke (spruce & mahogany) (KA-SSTU)
    Concert:
    Romero Creations ST Concert (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Gold Tone Banjo Ukulele (BU-1) - Open Back
    Tenor:
    Romero Creations Tiny Tenor (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Kala Spruce-Ovangkol (KA-ASOV-T)
    Blackbird Farallon (Tobacco Sunburst)

    Banjos:
    Pisgah Dobson Rambler 12" pot

    PM me if you'd like to be in touch...

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