For this review, the ukulele was provided free of charge by Strong Wind. My impressions are based on an “out of the box” ukulele with no tweaks or adjustments of any kind. No form of payment was given in exchange for a positive review. All views and statements are honest and stem from my experience with the ukulele over several weeks. All pictures are of the actual Strong Wind ukulele I’ve received for this review.
The ukulele is soprano sized and the whole body is built out of solid A-grade mahogany which should give it a nice voluminous sound. The fretboard is made from blackwood. According to the spec sheet it should offer a full, warm, bright sound with excellent resonance. While it might be correct regarding the resonance, it will hardly affect the sound quality, that’s all body and bridge. The saddle appears to be made from the same blackwood, while the headstock and neck are made from mahogany is well.
Being priced at $100+ I would not consider this a budget ukulele anymore, definitely for a soprano size ukulele. There is however quite some glue residue squeezed out at the saddle and the abalone inlay in the saddle is not properly finished. To be clear, this is the only flaw that I could find on this ukulele. The edges on the body are very well constructed.
While I would expect closed back tuners, Strong Wind went with open back ones. While it might reduce potential ukulele buzzing as you can easily adjust the tuners, I am having some issues with the lower two strings not staying in tune properly. The strings might need some more time to break in though, so I am quite sure this will fix itself over time when it gets played more.
Tone & Playing
There are three primary ukuleles sizes: soprano, concert, and tenor. This particular Strong Wind ukulele is a soprano-sized ukulele, which is the smallest of the three sizes with 12 frets. If you need something bigger, Strong Wind offers lots of alternatives, although not in this exact variation.
Compared to the other Strong Wind ukuleles I’ve had the chance to review, the difference in tone is day and night thanks to the use of solid mahogany instead of laminated wood. This soprano sized ukulele sounds bright which is typical for mahogany. It has a very decent volume, sounding even louder than some concert ukuleles I’ve had in my collection. When it stays in tune, I genuinely like the tone of this ukulele. Soprano sized ukuleles sometimes have the risk to sound muffled and toy-like. This is definitely not the case with this one.
Regarding the playing, I have found no issues. For both (heavy) strumming as fingerpicking you can use this ukulele and its very playable. The action could be lower, but no dealbreaker for me. There was some fret buzz on the C string at the first two frets when I did some heavy picking.
This is the “abalone edition”, meaning it is inlaid with natural abalone shell for the fret markers, rosette and saddle. It’s a bit minimal in my opinion to call it the abalone edition, but it does look nice on this otherwise more toned-down ukulele. It comes in a matte finish, which I prefer to be honest as it doesn’t attract as much fingerprints as a glossy one, but it might look a bit “cheaper”.
At a $109 price point I can’t really consider this a budget ukulele anymore. This is definitely a step from the previous Strong Wind ukuleles I’ve had the opportunity to review. It sounds much richer and fuller, not only compared to Strong Wind ukuleles, but also to soprano ukuleles from other name brands. In the end, there’s not much you can do with a solid mahogany body ukulele. The abalone touches are nice and the build quality is good. It does not come with any accessories, but if you’re buying a $100+ ukulele, it might be better to invest in some separate good ones yourself.
It’s a typical looking, standard soprano sized ukulele with a better than average tone quality and volume.
WHERE TO BUY?
This ukulele can be bought directly from the Strong Wind store through this link.