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Thread: Western Maple and Port Orford Cedar Tenor uke

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Western Maple and Port Orford Cedar Tenor uke

    Well, I promised Perry Bullinger I'd review his ukulele and I am finally getting around to it.

    Here is a clip of it on Youtube being played by Perry.

    Long story short, I had originally bought a Lanakai tenor and sold it and tried other sizes but finally decided I am really a tenor guy. I had some extra money to buy something nice so i decided I'd go higher end than I have so far. I considered Collings, Lo Prinzi, or something similar used in the 600 to 1200 dollar range.

    But when I saw this come up for sale I decided to take a shot and hope for the best. I paid under 4 bills, which was a lot to risk.

    When I first got it the thing that struck me was the thicker neck. I didn't think I'd like it at first, but I have grown to LOVE it. It is about a 1/4 inch wider and thicker than my wife's Kala Acacia tenor. For me it makes playing more complicated passages much easier and more mistake free. The Ebony fretboard is almost a 1/4 inch thick versus the kala at 1/8 inch. However, I think that it will be more stable as a result, two thicker pieces of wood glued together, the neck should hold very well.

    The woods are very pretty as you can see from the video. The Port Orford Cedar top has a subtle striping which I like, and the Western maple back and sides is very stunning. The neck is a flamed Mahogany with lots of grain action going on and is great looking too. It was all finished in a rubbed oil with no color enhancements that I am aware of. I like the bright color of it.

    Soundwise, it is brighter sounding (which I could tell from the video before I bought, another factor on why I did purchase it) than my wife's Kala. We both actually prefer the sound of mine. I wanted something that would get me closer to a hint of soprano sound. This does that excellently.

    There were a few quirks in it, to be honest. The waist on the lower side is pinched a bit towards the front (you can see that on the video). The finish isn't perfectly applied (I think though he'd have to have buffed it to a gloss to fix that, which I am glad he didn't, I like satin finishes). But it is not bad in that regard, really. The headstock is also not the exact dimensions of the usual style. But that is only because I am used to seeing them in the standard style.

    But these are very minor issues. I personally like the quirkiness of it all, it makes it very unique and very me. (I like patina on antiques and instruments, so this is already got mojo in my book!).

    Another thing is that when it came there was some buzzing when I played it. Perry was more than gracious to not only give me some hints on what to do but offered to have me ship it both ways fix to it at his expense. Very nice of him. In the end I decided to have my local luthier friend do it and also to clean up the fret ends a bit (I am very picky about that). So, it ended up being a couple of high frets, it didn't cost me much to have fixed and I know that for the over all cost of the uke, Perry did not make hardly anything on his labor anyway. I was happy with the outcome.

    This uke has quickly become my favorite (and my wife's, too!) I am very happy about the purchase. I had an old gig bag but will be looking to add a case closer to winter so I can keep it humidified, but for now it sits out all the time to be played daily. I also plan to put a pickup in it one day, since I use it to play live. (It does very well in that environment).

    I have taken it to our Uke club and they passed it around and were very impressed. It had to compete against some high end expensive ukes. They all felt that this one held up well in comparison for ease of playablity and sound.

    So, thanks Perry (and your brother Terry) for getting into the Uke building business! If anyone sees one of their ukes for sale either here or at Fleamarket, don't hesitate to buy it, I've been very honest about the quality and sound and you won't be disappointed.

    For the ratings:
    Features: 9 (as near perfect as I can imagine)
    Sound: 9 - I really do like it a lot
    Action fit/finish - 7 based on the above but very happy now. This one isn't perfect in that regard but I like it as is.
    Reliablity - No way to know this early, but so far it hasn't given me any trouble. It holds it tuning very well now that the Aquilas have settled in.
    Customer support: 10 - I couldn't have asked for better!
    Over all rating: Still an 8 or 9. Very, very good. Especially for the money.
    Again, no case provided with the purchase.

    Last edited by icuker; 06-04-2011 at 05:23 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Honolulu, Hawaii 5min away from waikiki


    Aloha Rus,
    I'd say you got a good deal and it sounds awesome....while I noticed the thick neck too...I played some reallyn high end ones with them, and if they sound really good, you can over look that flaw..
    but usually I prefer thin comfortable necks..It sounds awe though and you got a good deal and it looks great too...thanks for sharing..and the review.Happy strummings..Just noticed you have a nice
    collection of ukes MM Stan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010


    In this case, Stan, I actually found the thicker neck not to be a flaw but something to my liking. But I know what you mean about thinner necks. I had played a Mya Moe Tenor once that had the thin profile but wide neck. I also liked it very well. Reminded me of playing a Taylor guitar only in miniature. Of course I do like variety. Thanks for reading the review.

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