Hoffmann Lutherie – A Style Custom Tenor

Aloha friends! We have a cool new uke to show you from a custom luthier in Missouri named Jerry Hoffmann. From 2005-2015 Jerry built under the name of Boat Paddle Ukulele Co. He is now operating under the name Hoffmann Lutherie. This is the first time we have gotten an instrument from Jerry and I’m truly impressed with the unique design aspects, the feel (it’s a real joy to play), and the musical quality (tone and intonation are excellent).

This is not your average ukulele. You first notice it has the shape of an A style mandolin and two side ports instead of a sound hole. On closer inspection you can see it has a 3 piece neck with the two outer pieces of mahogany cut and bent to connect and flow down the sides. I’m not sure exactly what his theory or reasons for doing this are but I can say this; 1. It looks super cool. 2. It makes for an extremely strong neck joint. and 3. It helps reinforce the area around the two side ports. The next thing I noticed was pins in the nut holding the strings in place rather than nut slots. I don’t know what he calls this but I call it a great idea. With the break angle and tension of the strings this works perfectly. Go ahead and bend up a full note. Try your best Stevie Ray Vaughn licks. These strings are not going anywhere and you don’t deal with any of the issues you can have with slotted nuts. I’ll stand up and slow clap for this. It’s one of those ideas I wish I had. Maybe others have done it but I haven’t seen it and I’ve been looking at stringed instruments my whole life. It makes a lot of sense and works perfectly. Major respect to Jerry for this design aspect.

Other noteworthy features are the classy and unique pearl fretboard makers and bird inlay, the gorgeous kamagong ebony back and sides, and the modest satin finish that shows this wood in its raw beauty. This custom ukulele from Hoffman Lutherie has a clean construction and a sleek design. Hopefully we will be getting more instruments from Jerry and show you more of his unique line up.

The thing that was keeping this uke from sounding its best was the action. It was at 1.75mm at the 12th. This is really low action and it didn’t have the dynamics and body it does now. I made a new saddle for it and wow, it sounds awesome!

We do final setup work on 99% of the ukes that we send out. This is our expertise. We don’t just sell and review them. We consider ourselves to be part of the process in getting you the best quality ukulele. Before I started Hawaii Music Supply I did warranty repair work and for 10 years did all of the finishing and final setup for Ko’olau ukulele. Joel and Chris have setup over 50,000 ukes in the last 7 years. This is what we bring to the table and a service we provide at no charge. With that said, our goal is to offer the finest instruments on the ukulele market and this is certainly one of them.

Mahalo for tuning in to The Ukulele Review. Share your thoughts or questions below.

Comments 7

  1. Andrew,

    Awesome that you got one of Jerry’s ukes to try out. I have an ML tenor style, built under his previous moniker of Boat Paddle. I think he builds exceptional, and obviously unique ukulele’s. I do love the A style as well, similar to the ML in that it is mandolin-esque in design. It is by far the loudest uke I own, it has tremendous sustain, and is so easy to play as well. I have really become enthralled with his neck design, you can really play comfortably up the neck because of the flat “joint,” I don’t know the term for it. Like you though, I did not care for his extremely low action, he likes to get as low as possible. He, of course, raised it for me and all is good! I believe he told me that he got his “pinned nut” idea from the piano. Apparently, that is how a piano is strung. I wish all ukes used it though, changing strings is sa-weet, and no more nut slot problems or issues.

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  2. Hi Andrew, I have an ML-tenor as well in all Beeswing Mahogany that looks like golden Koa. Jerry’s bigger body with shorter-scale is the opposite of the popular “long-neck” instruments a lot of other builders have. The ML tenor has a tenor neck with a baritone body but it doesn’t look disproportionate and sounds rich, deep, and full. I love the Harmony Vita ukes from the 1930s and those had soprano necks on concert bodies and sounded great, but I think Jerry came up with this idea on his own. You and Jerry are a great combination Andrew. Congrats on finding another unique and talented builder!

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      Thanks Don! We are gonna be getting a few ML’s soon. I am so excited. They are truly unique and beautiful.

  3. Hey Andrew, great playing! This is such a beautiful song. Is the sheet music for it available anywhere? I would really love to learn to play this and/or other pieces of the same style/mood. Any suggestions on where to start? Thanks in advance!

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      It’s “Can’t Say Goodbye” and you can get the sheet music here -http://theukulelereview.com/sheet-music-for-instrumental-ukulele/ about 3/4 of the way down the page. Thanks!

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