This ukulele can be purchased directly using this link. As of writing it is listed at $149.98.
For this review, the ukulele was provided free of charge by UkuTune. 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 UKE1 ukulele I’ve received for this review.
The UKE1 ukulele by UkuTune has quite some impressive specifications for its price point. It is a 23″ concert sized ukulele with a solid spruce top and laminated ebony back and sides. While a solid wood back and side definitely has the potential to bring out the tone of the ukulele even more, no complaining at all on the build quality. The seams are carried out well without any leftover glue residue in the laminated wood, apart from a few very small chips under the finish (mm-size) where the neck joins the body at the back.
The headstock is also laminated ebony while the 18-fretted-fretboard and bridge are constructed from walnut. The frets are well aligned with none of the frets sticking out more than the other. They are filed away nicely at the edges so there are no sharp edges, unlike some other ukuleles in its price range.
The tuners are open back with sealed chrome pegs and are mounted on the side of the headstock. This is my preferred way of positioning the pegs. Tension is decent and accurate, which is all you really need from a tuning machine. I’m quite confident that it will keep its tuning for several hours of ukulele playing fun. Only had to retune it once during the several weeks of testing. The Aquila Nylgut strings it comes with are of course the standard these days. If your ukulele comes with anything less than these strings, replace them now. The UKE1 ukulele even comes with a spare set of Aquila Nylgut strings.
The saddle material is Ox bone, which is a natural material. While I prefer a tusq (or other synthetic material) saddle due to its higher uniformity and thus transferring the string energy better to the body, it performs quite well.
Tone & Playing
There are three primary ukuleles sizes: soprano, concert, and tenor. The UKE1 is a concert-sized ukulele, which is the second smallest of the three sizes at 23″ in length. Concert ukuleles are still compact compared to tenor sized ones and a bit more affordable than the larger sizes.
One of the videos over on the UkuTabs YouTube channel was shot using this ukulele. In this video you can evaluate the size of the ukulele and judge for yourself if you like the produced sound through some single strums as well as more heavy strumming further on in the video.
If I didn’t like playing the ukulele, I would never have used in a video. So that on itself says a lot about the instrument already. From the moment I’ve packed it out if its bag (yes, it comes with a gigbag), I’ve liked holding it. It’s balanced very well at the 12th fret and the satin finish on the neck feels very smooth. Action on the ukulele I’ve received can be lower (and I do plan to lower it a bit), but for the average player it’s more than OK.
The UKE1 ukulele by UkuTune produces that typical ukulele sound although not being “too much” as in toy-like. It has a warm and well pronounced tone, typical for a concert sized ukulele. I do prefer its sound a tad more for fingerpicking than for strumming due to its nice sustain. It works just fine for strumming as well of course, although I find it to become just a bit too bright losing some depth. A solid wood back and sides would definitely aid in producing a fuller tone, but the price tag would also be “fuller”. It packs a decent volume for a concert sized ukulele, so no complaining there.
Oh boy, this ukulele is a looker! It has a subtle but unique inlay in the fretboard with stars and a cute whale at the 12th fret. It features beautiful abalone inlay around the solid spruce top as well as the soundhole. A nice white line trim around the sides and the laminated wood grain is stunning. It complements the spruce top and walnut neck very nicely.
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” and “raw” because of that. It does give the ukulele a very natural look and allows you to see the texture of the wood.
The UKE1 ukulele by UkuTune is a well balanced ukulele which ticks all the right boxes in its price range. Solid wood top, accurate tuning pegs, nice fretboard, looks good, comes with a gigbag and even has the option to be played easily with a strap due to the integrated strap pegs.
It produces a warm tone with a good volume, especially when used for fingerpicking. If you’re looking for a decent concert sized ukulele, but don’t want to break the bank, this is the one to get.
Where to buy?
This ukulele can be bought directly from the UkuTune store through this link.