Price paid: £ 55
Purchased from: www.amazon.co.uk
Features — 7
This is a tenor ukulele with 18 frets and a solid mahogany body and neck. It has a rosewood fingerboard and bridge with inlays on the 5th 7th and 10th frets. It is considerably larger than a standard soprano ukulele with a longer scale. This allows fatter man fingers to fit in the usually tiny frets. The tuning pegs are mechanical, gold plated and shaped like dolphins. The saddle and nut are made from black plastic. The instrument came with a heavily padded gig bag decorated with palm trees with a front pouch and Chrome plated turtles for the zips.
Sound — 10
A tenor ukulele is usually tuned either like a standard ukulele (gCEA), a standard ukulele with a lower G string (GCEA) or a full step down from a standard ukulele (fBbDG). I use the latter tuning and position a capo on the 2nd fret for standard tuning (logical). This ukulele has a curved back on the body allowing the sound to resonate throughout the base of the ukulele. This gives it that warm "ukulele sound" that you simply cannot get with a cheap soprano. It does not have a preamp because this would ruin the way the body resonates. It generally doesn't need amplification because it is very loud anyway especially when played with felt or leather plectrums (I strongly recommend Jumping Cow plectrums). I don't often give a rating of 10, but this is the most flawless sounding instrument I've ever owned, so it deserves it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The ukulele has a perfectly straight neck which should not warp due to the low tension nylon strings. The action is perfect for me but the intonation on the low Bb is slightly off but not by much. It only seems to come into noticeable effect below the 12th fret. The body is not varnished or waxed, it is oiled. this keeps the texture of the grain and shows off the woods natural beauty. However there were a few dents on the edge of the body near where my arm rests and I was quite disappointed, but for mahogany at this price, that didn't seem to matter.
Reliability & Durability — 4
The mahogany used in the body is very thin and grainy. Looks fantastic but is very weak. Because of this, I don't think its designed for live playing and road trips, its more of a studio instrument. Even so, I still use it for busking from time to time because it comes with a very well made case. The bridge is glued on to the weak body so I don't trust high tension in the strings (hence the lower tuning). It didn't come with strap buttons attached but the ones I have fitted may not last long as the mahogany may split. If I was foolishly using it at a gig I would need a backup.
Overall Impression — 9
I got this ukulele to replace the electro-soprano that my little brother broke. The ukulele and bag look so good that I keep it on display. The impressive volume of the sound inspired me to do more charity busking and the public seem to be more interested in the ukulele too. The ukulele was my first instrument so ukulele music has had a strong link with me for a long time. I chose this ukulele because my friend in our ukulele group has the baritone version of it (longer scale, 21 frets and DGBE tuning) and I wanted to match. I have no regrets buying this, it was definitely worth the money. If my brother broke it again, I would buy another because the sound is phenomenal. I only wish it came with strap buttons so I don't have to risk damaging the wood while fitting my own.