Price paid: £ 12
Purchased from: Amazon.co.uk
Features — 8
This is a standard sized soprano ukulele with a bit of a twist. Unlike most sopranos, it has 18 frets instead of the usual 12 ("A" string only). The body of the instrument is deeper than usual with a cutaway and an offset soundhole. The body wood appears most likely to be laminated spruce ply and the neck wood is unknown unless I contact the manufacturer. Mine is finished in matt black all over but it comes in a much larger variety of colours. It has white pearl style geared tuning pegs and a rosewood fingerboard with gold effect frets. A non-padded carry bag is included. Overall, decent specs for the price I paid.
Sound — 6
I currently own a Mahalo U320T Tenor Ukulele (check my review of that) but I wanted a ukulele with a sharper tone to improve the sound of rock and pop songs on the ukulele. the offset soundhole brings out the bass tones of the ukulele but the strings supplied give the bright, sharp tone that I was hoping for. The cutaway design allows access to the 18 frets for better and easier solos. One thing I will note is that the A string is particularly drowned out by the other strings due to the soundhole positioning, which is not useful when playing certain chords.
Action, Fit & Finish — 1
I didn't expect much for such a ridiculously low price and, unsurprisingly, the construction and finish was shocking. The black paint is nice but when it also covers part of the fingerboard, it seems as if they didn't use any masking at all. The frets are quite sharp along the edges and not fully hammered in in some places. The manufacturers didn't even measure the fret positioning properly. All frets relative to each other are good enough but the gap between the nut and the first fret is 3mm too long. This isn't just a one off defect as one of my fiends has the same ukulele (in purple) and the nut on that wasn't set straight. I fixed the fretting problem myself and now the intonation is much better, but when some people are paying £30 for these ukes, it makes me wonder, why?
Reliability & Durability — 5
The ukulele may have a bad finish but due to its small size it is pretty tough. As with all ukuleles or instruments with nylon strings, it takes a while to tune up for the first time as the strings have to be stretched. It will withstand live playing and it looks like it will be fun to smash it around someone's head (which would totally be worth it for £12.50), but it just wouldn't sound good enough or loud enough. It will be more worthwhile to get a Mahalo or Kala ukulele for better sound quality when playing live.
Overall Impression — 7
I've played many different body styles of ukulele over the past 4 years and this one is certainly the coolest of the bunch, it's just a big shame that the manufacturer didn't care about the end quality of the instrument. Even so, this unique body shape produces a unique sound. If it was stolen or damaged, I would probably invest money into the plastic version of this (Bugs Gear Aqualele) as that is said to have a unique sound as well. As the plastic version is moulded in one piece, there should be little to no manufacturing defects than with the wooden one. As I have now fixed it, it is suitable for purpose but it is still not my favourite uke.