View Full Version : Fluke or Flea? I'm a bit confused.

10-24-2014, 02:59 PM
Hey, UUers.
I put up a thread a bit ago about looking for a travel uke. Many of you responded with great recommendations. The top "vote getter" was a Flea or Fluke.

So which is it? I haven't been able to see either one in person, and I'm a bit confused on the sizes. I'm reading about one size body with a larger size fret board. And is the soprano fret spacing "larger" than the usual soprano?

And how much of a difference do the different body shapes make in terms of holding them? (A bit of a personal preference there, I realize, but the Flea looks like it would roll right off my belly!:)

I would like to get a concert size, but if the soprano is actually bigger in the fret area, that would probably work. Again, I'd like this to be good for traveling with. (Oh, and do the friction tuners actually work well?)

Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

10-24-2014, 03:30 PM
IMHO, the soprano Flea. It travels well, seems a bit bigger than the average soprano, makes a great shillelagh (if needed), sounds pretty good, and in a Flea-factory case (called a "Flea-Bag") is thin and a decent luggage fit. If I ever decide to sell off all my ukes, the Flea would be the last to go.

10-24-2014, 03:37 PM
A typical soprano has a scale length of 13". A concert is 15". The flea has a 14" soprano and 15.5" concert.
The fluke has a larger body and a fuller sound than the flea. It's also slightly more stable standing on its own than the flea.

But a flea will travel better.

I had both a concert flea and concert fluke for a little while. My wife said she preferred the fuller sound of the fluke to the brighter flea.

For me I grabbed one of those rubin sopraninos and will use that for travel. I tried with a solid body eleuke pineapple but it didn't fit in my carryon luggage which the rubin will very easily do. And playing the sopranino seems to help me with getting chord changes down easier on my sopranos.

10-24-2014, 03:58 PM
Hi Preacher,
I got a concert fluke for exactly the same reason - traveling! As far as the different scales go, the body itself is the same between the concert & soprano in each model. The difference is the neck length. I believe that the neck width is also the same regardless of scale length.

When I bought mine, I actually wanted a flea, but all they had were flukes, so that's what I got. The back of both models are hard abs plastic and are slippery no matter how much belly you have. The Magic Flea Company sells grip strips (http://www.magicfluke.com/product-p/gripstrips.htm) that you can put on the back of their instruments to relieve that particular issue.

And I concur with SteveZ. My Fluke would be one of the last to go if I had to get rid of them all.

10-24-2014, 04:31 PM
My understanding is the bodies are one size. The Flea is a flattened oval and the Fluke is an elongated triangle a bit larger in mass than the Flea. Then you have the option of different length necks and plastic vs. wooden necks, etc.

As a disclaimer, I'm mostly a tenor person and still play my classical guitar sometimes. :)

My only soprano is a Flea, it's too small for my comfort.

My only concert is a Fluke, it's fun and I can handle the size well.

The Fluke and my Kala thinline tenor fit into my totebag, so those are what I usually take to meetups.

10-24-2014, 05:26 PM
spacing "larger" than the usual soprano?
but if the soprano is actually bigger in the fret area

This has not really been addressed in previous replies...the NUT WIDTH is a bit more on all Magic Fluke ukuleles, compared to say Kala.

Fluke/Flea Soprano/Concert nut width is 1.4".

Fluke/Flea Tenor nut width is 1.45"/1.4" respectively.

This means that you have more space to stack your fingers if you play a DMaj chord in first position as 2220 (Since I do not have double-jointed fingers and cannot press down 3 strings with one finger and then have the A string ring out, I play a DMaj chord as 2225, actually barre across all 4 strings at the 2nd fret, and then pinky on A string at 5th fret).

Also, I find the neck profile very comfortable -- it's not perfectly round or C-shaped, the edges from the fretboard are rounded but then the middle area down the center of the back of the neck is flat, this flat area is about 3/4" wide, and I find it helps to support your thumb, and give you a good target to place your thumb for good fretting-hand posture.

As others have said the instrument scale, i.e. from NUT to BRIDGE, going from soprano, concert and tenor is INCREMENTALLY LONGER as you increase scale length, and as such there is a bit more fret-to-fret spacing in the longer scale length than the shorter. If you have giant sausage fingers, many have found it easier to play on Magic Fluke ukuleles.

You will also have a few more frets with the longer scale instruments.

All scale lengths of the Flea have the same BODY size, and all scale lengths of the Fluke have the same BODY size.

I own one of each (Fluke and Flea) (see my signature below).

See here for the official instrument measurements:

(Oh, and do the friction tuners actually work well?)

If you can get used to friction tuners, they work just like any that I have tried.

I cannot get used to the herky-jerky imprecision (coming from a lifetime of geared tuners), even spent for the $40 Grover friction tuners as an upgrade from the Grover 2B's that come with these ukuleles, and even so, either the tuner was too tight and impossible to turn without overshooting the pitch, or it was too loose and would slip from string tension. I have given up on friction tuners.

I want to PLAY the instrument, and not play fiddly-games with the tuners, so I had replaced/upgraded the friction tuners on my concert Flea with Gotoh UPT-L planetary tuners, and my tenor Fluke came with PEGHEDS when I bought it used.

I think that the Gotoh UPT tuners are much better and much smoother than the PEGHEDS. The Gotoh can also be installed without a tapered reamer, you just need to enlarge the hole to about 8mm, and I did this by using a T-handle and hand turning a unibit drill bit very slowly - took all of 20mins.

As far as the slipping on the belly area when holding one of these ukes, you can have them install the grip strips if you buy direct (it's easier to play from the start), or go to Walmart/hardware-store and get some of the anti-slip rubber strips (or starfish-shapes) that you stick to the bottom of the bathtub, and fix them across the back of the instrument horizontallly (as you hold it).

My Fluke, which I had bought used, already had grip-strips installed, but for my Flea, I already had some 6x8 adhesive-backed foam sheets (they come in a 100 pack for like $8 from Amazon) and cut one into 3 strips and stuck 2 of them on the back of my Flea, and both kinds of strips hold the uke from slipping equally well.

Another solution is to use a strap and tie it around the headstock with a shoelace, and then stick some velcro to the back and have the butt-end of the strap also fixed with velcro. I have this setup also on my Fluke and Flea, but I am finding that I do not always use the strap now, and for that the grip-strips really help.


10-25-2014, 06:30 AM
If you order directly from flea market music http://www.magicfluke.com/Default.asp you can choose your neck length. I have a concert neck Flea I like a lot. A Flea will sound more like a typical uke, and has a smaller body than the Fluke. The Fluke has a more guitar-like tone. I think they offer a lanyard loop you can fit on the back of the ukes at the base of the neck. A strap of some kind (see below in my signature) will help with the slippery nature. You will need either a lanyard type, which will hold it on your chest, but might not stabilize the neck, or a Uke Leash, which attaches at the headstock to stabilize the neck, but still requires a little cradling in the strumming arm. A strap button would be a little tricky to install on the molded plastic, and you don't want to mess up the nice flat bottom that serves as a uke stand. My concert travel Kala uke probably takes up less room than the Flea (and it has a nicer gig bag), but the Flea would be a little more durable to rough treatment.


10-25-2014, 01:07 PM
Soprano Flea for me. I took mine to Holland recently - a short hop across the North Sea. Then I went and won a uke in the prize draw at the uke festival I'd gone to. So how to get two ukes home with one gig bag and no hold baggage? The Flea I was able to fit diagonally across my suitcase and the new uke went into my (well padded) gig bag and both came home fine. I couldn't have fitted a concert scale Flea (or a Fluke) in my case. The gig bag has 25mm padding. Not as good as a hard shell case but the next best thing.

I think the Flea has great tone too. I've not tried a Fluke but I'm curious. I looked into the possibility of a Tenor Fluke with under saddle pickup but the cost is too great just now as I've just had to spend a substantial sum of money on repairs to my roof.

LM in Kentucky
10-25-2014, 01:37 PM
If you order directly from flea market music http://www.magicfluke.com/Default.asp you can choose your neck length. I have a concert neck Flea I like a lot. . . . .


Hmmmm . . . I wonder if that would work in reverse?

If I could get a triangular body with a Flea length neck:confused:
I cant see why this would be an issue. I think Ill write and see!

I would like a Flea just because I want a nice Soprano. But, I love my Fluke. I haven't found anything I like to play more.

10-25-2014, 03:23 PM
Hey LM in Kentucky - Please post or PM their response. I'd also be interested in the Fluke body with a soprano scale neck. :cool:

LM in Kentucky
10-25-2014, 04:23 PM
Hey LM in Kentucky - Please post or PM their response. I'd also be interested in the Fluke body with a soprano scale neck. :cool:

On it!