Price paid: £ 22
Purchased from: www.amazon.co.uk
Features — 5
This is one of the most popular ukuleles on amazon.co.uk. It is a soprano ukulele with a plywood body and maple neck (at least it was when I got it three years ago, the ukulele is now sold made of "nato" from a Mora tree) with twelve frets. It has geared mechanical tuning pegs and three dot markers in the form of stickers on the fifth, seventh and tenth frets. The bridge is arranged much like a classical guitar bridge where the strings are knotted through holes drilled in the bridge. Overall, very few features. It is a basic instrument and this reflects in the price.
Sound — 4
The body wood is thicker than most ukuleles allowing less resonance. Soprano ukuleles generally don't resonate that well anyway, the classic ukulele sound is only heard in tenor and concert ukuleles. despite its size, it is quite loud which reduces the need for amplification. It gives a warm but dull ton on most on the notes when played above the sound hole but the tone is brighter played below the sound hole. I don't know the physics behind this, it just happens. The intonation is not great as the bridge is straight and intonation is important in ukuleles because of the vast difference in tension of each of the strings.
Action, Fit & Finish — 4
Ukulele strings are nylon and don't have much tension, so it is not surprising that the neck is perfectly straight. The action is perfect but the second and third frets were mis-aligned by a large margin of error. This may have been a one off stock error but it shows the lack of quality control in the manufacturing. The finish was very good when I got it with only one minor flaw in the headstock (the same can't be said three years later). Overall, I was not impressed by the quality of the instrument but for something that is mass produced, it doesn't surprise me.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Due to the thick plywood construction and the bracings across the inside of the body make it very strong indeed. The only other hardware on it is the tuning pegs and they should last as there is very little stress from the nylon strings. You could perform live with this ukulele (best in a group, not solo) and not worry about a backup or spare strings. the strings are surprisingly hard to break but do not stay in tune for any more than ten minutes of playing. This can be a problem when playing a set as you would have to re-tune after every performance.
Overall Impression — 6
This was my first instrument (if you don't count my grandmas ukulele from the '80s) and was the basis for eventually learning the guitar, bass and mandolin. It is an ideal beginner instrument to learn the basics of how music works and how to play chords and strum. If I knew more about music at the time, I would have got something better like my current Mahalo ukulele (Mahalo U320T) which I have also reviewed on this site. I was reluctant to get rid of it to make space due to its sentimental value but I recently sold it to a friend as I don't use it anymore.