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Thread: A Tale of Three Unusual Tenors

  1. #1
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    Default A Tale of Three Unusual Tenors

    Blackbird Farallon: I got the plain vanilla model in High G. Does it sound like wood? No not exactly, but it sounds musically terrific, and it plays like a dream - better than any other Tenor I've ever tried. Construction and set-up are flawless. The Gotoh UPT tuners are wonderful. What a lovely body shape!

    It's loud and full sounding, with great projection. Huge dynamic range, great sustain, very even response across and all the way up the fingerboard. Not a dead spot to be found. The key characteristic of this Uke is the note separation. Every note has its own clear voice in the mix.

    I would prefer that the strap button on the upper bout was on the underside of the neck heel, but of course this doesn't have a neck heel; no worries. I didn't bond with the stock strings (Oasis Warm High G), so I put on a set of Martin M625s like I use on my Godin Multi Uke (also unique). Bingo!

    It took a little while to figure out where and how it likes to be strummed and picked; it's extremely sensitive/responsive to variations in right-hand technique. The fact that every note can be clearly heard individually in a chord voicing makes it better suited to melodic chording than pure strumming - it can sound pretty bright - but varied right-hand techniques can produce different timbres.

    And, it doesn't care much about the ambient temperature and humidity!

    The KTM-25 FS is equally wonderful but totally different. Both instruments feature unique design and construction. The Blackbird, of course, has no wood in it at all. The KoAloha is made of Koa and Ebony, with a Sapele neck and Tusq nut and saddle. The unique features of the KTM-25 vs other brands are musubi sound hole, proprietary bracing system, concavely curved heel, thinner-than-normal nut, and frets that don't quite extend all the way to the edge of the fingerboard - no chance for fret sprout! It plays beautifully as well, but you have to be careful not to push the 4th string off the edge of the fret when you're playing aggressively.

    This one is set up with an unwound Low G (Worth CT-63) - I like that because the 4th string doesn't overpower the others the way a wound one can and doesn't go dead faster either. Its tonal character is completely different from the Blackbird. It's warm but still crisp. It's loud and has great sustain, but not quite comparable to the Blackbird in that regard. Dynamic range is almost as wide though. The tonal balance on this Uke is beautiful; the key characteristic here is the way the notes blend together. I can't imagine a better Uke for vocal accompaniment.

    Oh, and it's drop dead gorgeous - the so-called blemish earning it the designation of 'Factory Special' instead of 'Silver Anniversary' is barely discernable and functionally irrelevant.

    I also have a Godin Multi Uke (High G) which is unique in its own right. Another great player, although the nut could be a hair wider (the radiused fingerboard helps there though). It sounds surprisingly decent acoustically, but of course is a dedicated electric instrument. Sounds great through the appropriate amp (in my case, a Henriksen JazzAmp112ER or a Henriksen Bud), but is particularly delightful for direct recording. The very high notes project and sustain better than anything else I've ever heard. And it doesn't look too shabby, either!

    Wrap up: I've never played any other high-end Ukes - though I have played a variety of obscenely expensive guitars - but in my limited experience, these 3 are all superb each in their own way!
    Last edited by Tom Karol; 11-16-2020 at 06:09 AM.
    "Thanks, but you should have heard what I was trying to play!" - T. Monk

  2. #2
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    Hey Tom, John M, your old tele jamming buddy here. Long time no see! I sent you a PM, way at top of page, under notifications. I still have your old AOL email address, is that still good?

    Nice trio of ukes there, would love to see pics of yours!
    Last edited by Ukecaster; 11-16-2020 at 06:34 AM.
    John

  3. #3
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    Saw the PM - didn't know who the heck it was! Old AOL email still active though no longer primary. Phone numbers are the same too. So you got seduced by the Uke, too? Let's get in touch!
    "Thanks, but you should have heard what I was trying to play!" - T. Monk

  4. #4
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    Variety is the spice of life. Imagine if each uke sounded just like every other.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  5. #5
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    Sounds like a nice threesome of tenors......

    I have my own tenor threesome

    A Godin as well.......I run it through a Fishman Loudbox mini most of the time.....sometimes I borough my son's Vox mini5 or his Fender Mustang 100W--just for kicks..Also have Zoom foot pedal I play with a bit.......

    A KoAloha tenor.....IF I could only keep one this would likely be it....

    And and newly acquired Pohaku Resonator.....we are still getting acquainted but it's loud when you want it to be, it resonates, it chimes.......I think its a keeper....

    My one concert is feeling a little all alone.....but I did play it the other evening.....

  6. #6
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    Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Karol View Post
    Blackbird Farallon: I got the plain vanilla model in High G. Does it sound like wood? No not exactly, but it sounds musically terrific, and it plays like a dream - better than any other Tenor I've ever tried.....I would prefer that the strap button on the upper bout was on the underside of the neck heel, but of course this doesn't have a neck heel....
    I'm surprised you don't like having the upper strap button in that location, as I've always considered it the idea place, totally out of the way of your left hand. In acoustic guitar circles it's often referred to as the "Doc Watson" location, as he was probably the most prominent player to have it there. The downside is that you typically have to glue a small block on the inside of the upper bout to support the screw, but a composite structure like the Farallon doesn't need any reinforcing to handle the load.

    Blackbird Farallon Ekoa Tenor
    Beltona Songster Resonator Tenor
    Klos Carbon Fiber Tenor
    Magic Fluke Tenor Firefly Banjolele

  7. #7
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    Nov 2020
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    I like it there for most Guitars, but prefer the underside of the neck heel for Ukes.
    If you haven't already seen it, check this out at Stew Mac's website. (Forum wouldn't let me post the link - said it looked like spam.):
    Where's the best spot for your strap button.jpg
    "Thanks, but you should have heard what I was trying to play!" - T. Monk

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