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spookelele
12-01-2015, 05:30 PM
Happy HMS box arrived today with a new uke.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/rebel-alchemist-custom-tenor-3.html
** linking to HMS cuz frankly.. Andrew is a better photographer than me.

Some of you may remember that I was quite enamored with the Rebel mahogany uke from winter NAM. Through some weird twist of fate I was able to buy it after it was returned. I didn't do a NUD on that uke because it was a one off, and I didn't think it would be useful to review unobtanium.

But Rebel has made a limited run of 6 of these alchemists, which are a repro of the original custom that sold over the summer. Mine is 5 of 6. #4 already sold as well. Not sure where #6 went as I bought #5 within a couple hours of being notified by Rebel that HMS got them in and listed. Anway, number 3 is currently listed on HMS, so you can still get them at the time of this posting.

The NAM mahogany one had a couple issues. The frets were a little sloppy on the ends, where you could see the T of the wire even though the edges were bound and the ends were a little rough. They were level though so part of that might have been shrinkage which never re-swelled even with humidity control. It came with a stiff #2 tuner, which I've had to fiddle alot with to get it to turn smoothly. Also over the last year it developed slight taco at the saddle. It's not really deep, but if you look at the gloss in a light, you can definitely see it.

So.. you might be wondering.. why the heck would I buy another one. Well.. cuz it sounds really good, and is a joy to play, and that's what I'm looking for in an uke.

The Alchemist though... is a different story. It's immaculately constructed. There is a little bit of white residue inside the side ports, which I think is polish. I can't say if its from HMS cleaning/set up, or if it came from Rebel that way. But that's about the only nit I can find to pick. Tuners are smooth, frets are super cleanly done and finished. The joins, everywhere are very clean and precise. I had to look twice at the butt, cuz at first, I thought the side was one continuous piece. The finish is nicely applied and even, without being very thick, and the polish is very good. Action is perfect. Also.. the ebony in the arm bevel... is an amazing shade of purple in the light, and otherwise black.

The stock strings are an interesting kludge. There's a round wound low G, the C and A are some kinda clear flourocarbon, while the E is a black nylon, I think it's a aquila lava, but I'm not 100%. It's got a slight texture to it, not quite as much as a red, but definitely not a glossy nylon.

Anyway, being a kludge of mystery strings, I don't think I'll be reproducing it on the next string change as I'm not really sure what they are. I'm going to wing these strings for a little while to see what Rebel was trying to voice with the odd, but deliberate set, and then I'm planning to replace them with south coast medium linear 1.5's.

So.. sound wise.. It's surprisingly loud. I was not expecting that kind of volume. At first I thought it was because of all the sound ports. But I asked the significant other.. and it's really just all around loud. Especially that wound G. I'm hoping the string change might tone the low G down, or at least bring up the C for a bit more balance.

I don't mean that to say it's just loud. It's has a very warm full tone to it, with lots of overtones that come in and out. It's one of those.. where you can hold a chord, and stop and listen to it do something interesting kinda on its own. I'm not sure if that's what people mean by sparkle, but the tone is a complex thing. Also the sustain is pretty long, which to me is weird because the headstock is pretty thin. The uke as a whole is pretty light, which might be why its so loud.

I kinda thought loud would be a great thing, but after playing a couple hours tonight.. I find that its alot more demanding in terms of control because the delta between soft and loud is so large. I find myself really thinking alot more about control, or rather my lack of control and how it really becomes obvious when I'm thinking too much about the notes and timing and not enough about the sound. And with those side ports shooting straight up.. the feed back on what I'm playing is literally in my face.

If anything I'm writing sounds negative.. its more that I'm noticing where I lack than the instruments. I'm pretty sure playing this uke in the long run will make me a better player, because it really helps me hear my own flaws, and seems to offer alot in terms of sounds you can get out of it.

Anyway, it seems to be pretty good, and should make tone questers and princess seekers happy. Also, it looks pretty snazzy. Rebel does a really good job in overall design cohesiveness. Motif's and angles repeat where they should. They really think about that stuff and how it all comes together.

Oh... and this isn't a review... cuz apparently you shouldn't trust those anyway. Just take it as an opinion.

Recstar24
12-01-2015, 05:52 PM
NOT OBJECTIVE ENOUGH.

kidding. Congrats! Definitely a cool looking uke for sure, gotta love sound cannons.

Ukulele Eddie
12-01-2015, 06:35 PM
Nice! Congratulations on the new addition.

Camsuke
12-01-2015, 06:56 PM
Congratulations Spookelele!

Luke El U
12-01-2015, 07:12 PM
Dude, you got THAT uke. I tried that one at the KoAloha/Rebel kiosk at the Expo in Shanghai in October.

IT'S F***ING AWESOME!

Sorry, I know that isn't objective, . . . . but it's true.

You must be in seventh heaven.

hawaii 50
12-01-2015, 07:38 PM
one of the best sounding ukes from HMS...Corey loved the tone....
btw I did get to try it out..congrats...:)

Doc_J
12-01-2015, 07:51 PM
Enjoyed your description of the Alchemist. Congrats!

Very interesting about the stock strings.

igorthebarbarian
12-01-2015, 07:59 PM
Wow. Stunning. Awesome. Congrats!

Kiwiohana
12-01-2015, 10:01 PM
Ok, that is gorgeous, and the sound is out of this world. I am resisting the urge to snap this one up!

I am sure no. 5 will give you many, many happy hours.

bonesoup
12-02-2015, 12:02 AM
Congrats and thanks for the balanced review, er I mean opinion! The Alchemists look amazing. I love their design. And their sound on HMS. I think you make a good point and taming this instrument will improve your playing. Conga rats!

DownUpDave
12-02-2015, 01:01 AM
I remember when I first listened to this uke............captivated. That is a sound a lot of other ukes wish they had. Congratulations on the purchase of an outstanding instrument.

Thanks for the......um review.......um NUD.....um opinion.....whatever we call it now. Very honest and informative.

wayfarer75
12-02-2015, 03:28 AM
Yay for new Rebel! Thanks for giving us your first impressions of it.

Interesting about the strings; Aquila Lavas are glossy nylon strings. Actually looks like polished graphite, IMO, and not at all the same texture as the reds. I wonder what your E string is.

spookelele
12-02-2015, 04:39 AM
You must be in seventh heaven.

I picked it up this morning 6am, and ended up late for work :)

hollisdwyer
12-02-2015, 04:44 AM
Congratulations on what sounds like a wonderful instrument. I can understand why you were late for work.

Dejekt
12-02-2015, 04:47 AM
Very beautiful instrument!

spookelele
12-02-2015, 05:07 AM
Yay for new Rebel! Thanks for giving us your first impressions of it.

Interesting about the strings; Aquila Lavas are glossy nylon strings. Actually looks like polished graphite, IMO, and not at all the same texture as the reds. I wonder what your E string is.

hmm.. maybe it's not lava then, cuz it's definitely black,a nd not a graphite color.

Kiwiohana
12-02-2015, 09:55 AM
Ok, that is gorgeous, and the sound is out of this world. I am resisting the urge to snap this one up!

It appears I resisted my urge for too long, and now it's sold. :(

Oh well, I hope it went to someone here.

spookelele
12-02-2015, 10:27 AM
It appears I resisted my urge for too long, and now it's sold. :(

Oh well, I hope it went to someone here.

I bet there's 2-3 more. They've been listing them backward order starting from 5. I didn't see 6 go for sale, and 3-5 got sold. So 1,2,and 6 are missing from the sequence.

If you're still interested, give HMS a call and see if they've got the others. If you're truly interested don't wait too long either cuz you never know how fast it will sell once listed and it could be that they just don't make any more of them.

I asked rebel what the strings were.
If/when I get a response, I'll post. The clears could be pro arte. They're just slightly cloudy.

Dan Uke
12-02-2015, 11:23 AM
Congrats!! I played one earlier in the year and it was awesome. I also tried the Rebels from NAMM and they were really good.

ukuleleden
12-02-2015, 01:15 PM
Very nice ukulele! Here's to many years of enjoyment with your new Rebel !!

spookelele
12-03-2015, 03:17 PM
I got a response from Bird at Rebel.

The G is a Ko'olau gold.
The C/A are Rebel house brand flourocarbon.
The E is D'addario black nylon.

They say they record everything on every custom they make and are able to look up all the specs.
Nice folks too.

CdnSouthpaw
12-03-2015, 03:57 PM
That's a sweet uke...great score.

gvalg
12-29-2015, 12:42 PM
Just bought no III. It is a fantastic instrument. Beautifully made and has an even more beautiful sound. The videos on the internet are a good representation of how it sounds.
Aloha from Iceland

Ukejenny
12-29-2015, 12:47 PM
Wow, a stunner, and the sound sample was gorgeous.

Kiwiohana
12-29-2015, 04:42 PM
Just bought no III. It is a fantastic instrument. Beautifully made and has an even more beautiful sound. The videos on the internet are a good representation of how it sounds.
Aloha from Iceland

Congratulations and welcome!

spookelele
12-29-2015, 05:00 PM
Just bought no III. It is a fantastic instrument. Beautifully made and has an even more beautiful sound. The videos on the internet are a good representation of how it sounds.
Aloha from Iceland

Congrats.

Youre going to love it!

Nickie
12-30-2015, 05:28 PM
Coingratulations! I'm surprised you made it to work at all that day.
That is one fine lookin uke. Interesting the way they strung it.
I'm fed up with dead sounding C strings on my ukes. The Lava C string is bright and responsive on my loud brash Ohana, I wanna see how a set sounds on my quieter, mellower Mahog Kala.

spookelele
03-23-2016, 12:51 PM
number 1 went up for sale.

Might be the last one.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/rebel-alchemist-custom-tenor-1.html

Nickie
03-23-2016, 01:38 PM
Wow, I want it:iwant: and I don't even play tenor ukes. What a cool uke. How are you getting along with yours, spook?

spookelele
03-23-2016, 01:53 PM
Wow, I want it:iwant: and I don't even play tenor ukes. What a cool uke. How are you getting along with yours, spook?

I love it.

Part of me wants to buy another every time I see it listed... and then I remember the pricetag... and consider it just a little more.
I admit part of the reason I post them for sale, is I'm hoping someone buys it so I can stop thinking about buying another one :)

Nickie
03-23-2016, 02:09 PM
Haha spook, I started to ask why you'd buy two of the same uke, then I recalled, I want another Cocobolo, next time a tenor though.

wildfire070
03-23-2016, 02:40 PM
I really wanted #7 but someone beat me to it.

OhioBelle
03-23-2016, 04:10 PM
Haha spook, I started to ask why you'd buy two of the same uke, then I recalled, I want another Cocobolo, next time a tenor though.

I want another Cocobolo too! And I've had mine less than a week!

But now, thanks to Spook, and Corey's amazing sound sample, I want that Rebel! Wow! Those are fabulous!

wildfire070
03-23-2016, 05:00 PM
These guys are killing me! Rebel has new ukes out...baritone this time. And at 19" scale length.... :drool:

Martynas
03-23-2016, 09:31 PM
Oh my god this uke is so beautiful, i recently bought ukulele worth 300$ but how you can afford ukes with price like that?! From where you get that money?! I mean its 2k dollars :D

spookelele
03-24-2016, 02:22 AM
Oh my god this uke is so beautiful, i recently bought ukulele worth 300$ but how you can afford ukes with price like that?! From where you get that money?! I mean its 2k dollars :D

I was saving for a Moore Bettah, when this came along.
It is a lot of money. There's no way around that.

But in a world of customs, I think it's quite a bargain for the level/quality of sound and build.
If more people recognized the label/builder, I think the price would be quite a bit higher.
There was no cutting corners on design, material, or build on these.

In the end it's an instrument, and it must play. And I think it really does.

NatalieS
03-24-2016, 02:28 AM
These guys are killing me! Rebel has new ukes out...baritone this time. And at 19" scale length.... :drool:

I just listened to that one on HMS. It sounds out of this world!

Jayfuzi
03-25-2016, 09:30 PM
It looks and sounds great! I was really tempted by this! I love how Rebel is willing to try unique designs. I can't wait to see what they come up with next!