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View Full Version : NUD: Beltona Tenor Resonator



besley
11-23-2018, 04:30 PM
I've been lusting after a Beltona Resonator uke ever since I read Barry's review three years ago. Well a few weeks ago the leader of my Twin Cities uke club showed up at a jam with his brand new Beltona Concert uke in the cutaway design. I'd been reluctant to order one without at least seeing it in person, and it was all that one could hope for. He said that he'd ordered after seeing it available on Steve Evan's web site, and that there was a tenor there too. After some email problems I finally got through to Steve and placed the order. Steve was able to quickly switch to low G, add two strap buttons, and six days later the uke arrived in Minneapolis.

Mine is the traditional double shape which I prefer. It also came with regular geared tuners, and side dots. The graphite silver color of the uke Steve had on hand is just stunning, and turns out to be quite evocative of the silver you see on National resonators. As everyone else has said the craftsmanship is superb. The fretwork was perfect, as was the action at the nut. The action at the 12th fret was, at 3 mm, a bit higher than the 2.3 mm I prefer, but is still very playable, and no doubt contributes to the volume and tone. (I may get the action lowered in the future, but given the complexities of resonators and biscuits I will probably let a professional do the work.)

The tone is not harsh at all, and is definitely somewhere between a banjolele and a wood uke. At today's club jam there was someone trying out a Kala wood bodied tenor resonator, and the difference between it and the Beltona was remarkable. Not only was the Beltona louder, but the Kala was harsh and hollow sounding by comparison. Of course the Beltona was 3X the cost too. But the final result is a world class instrument that will be a joy to own and play.

If anyone gets one of these and needs a case, the UkeCrazy Polyfoam case fits the Beltona traditional design like a glove.

besley
11-24-2018, 03:25 PM
I bought my Beltona new from NZ in 2006. It came with a soft case and I asked Steve about hard cases, he advised that his custom made soft case would do the job in cars, trains aeroplanes. He said he based the advice on feedback from his other customers and the fact that the uke is made of fibreglass and resin and not wood. 12 years later, after air trips, 20,000km car trips, trains, buses and so on, I am still using the custom soft case, and have never thought about a hard case.
I was lucky to attend a presentation by Steve on how he builds the ukes, the presentation included several other resophonic instrument makers, as well as some world famous reso players. Also when I was naive and stupid I pulled it apart. The inside of my Beltona has some components which Steve actually tuned, it looks like pine kindling because of the tuning process and it is spruce. I once read a post where an idiot pulled it out and threw it away because it looked like a piece of kindling and the uke was louder without it. Steve called it a tone bar, which also does not fit into the normal definition of a tone bar in a ukulele. After getting a new cone fitted by Steve in NZ (2012?), I don't open it up anymore and I only use the strings recommended by Steve in the tuning it was designed and set up for. So now I recommend just playing your Beltona as it arrived and just keep using the same strings, Steve puts in a lot of work to get the smooth tone with those strings and set-up.

Thanks for the input. I also own composite Farallon and Klos carbon fiber ukes, so I'm used to pretty rugged instruments. Even so I still like the idea of something more substantial than a padded gig bag to protect the sound board (on the Farallon or Klos) or the cover plate on the Beltona. I've seen photos of resonator ukes that had the cover plates caved in, and while I'm sure Steve's aluminum plates are stronger, a Polyfoam case isn't heavy at all and feels like pretty cheap insurance. (I did get a fancy fiberglass case for the Farallon and sort of regret it, as it weighs a LOT.)

I also wrote to Steve asking about adjusting the action, and quickly got a reply. He said he leaves the action a bit high because the cones can settle a bit (lowering the action) after the first few weeks. The action can also vary with string tension. So he recommended changing the strings to my brand (Living Waters in my case) and using it for awhile to let everything settle. After that he said if I still want to lower the action to loosen the strings and unscrew and remove the cover plate (leaving the strings attached). Then lift out the saddle-biscuit-cone assembly and lay in on something flat. Finally gently file down the slots a little at a time, avoiding any downwards pressure that could damage the cone. Definitely more involved than my usual setups, but it does sound doable. I've already changed the strings (doing one at a time of course) and will follow his advice and let things settle for a month or so.

DownUpDave
11-25-2018, 12:45 AM
Oh Besley, you have scratched an itch I have had for a while now. I think those Beltona resonators are as good as they get, espiecally considering they come in tenor scale length. The action being on the higher side works well for playing with a slide if you are into that.

Congratulations and thanks for a good informative review, seems I have another uke on my "lust list".

Doc_J
11-25-2018, 02:59 AM
Congratulations Besley! Enjoyed your review. I’ve got a Beltona “baritone” (19” neck on a tenor cutaway body, slotted headstock) on order, due in February. Steve also offers a 20.5” scale, steel-string baritone resonator with a bigger body.

besley
11-25-2018, 06:55 AM
Congratulations Besley! Enjoyed your review. I’ve got a Beltona “baritone” (19” neck on a tenor cutaway body, slotted headstock) on order, due in February. Steve also offers a 20.5” scale, steel-string baritone resonator with a bigger body.

Steve mentioned that the current wait for one of his builds is 3 to 4 months. So when I found exactly what I would have chosen to order for a custom build, available right now on his web site, I knew resistance was futile.

igorthebarbarian
11-25-2018, 08:02 AM
I had been looking at these too, after seeing Baz’s. Lovely looking uke. I prefer the traditional shape you got. Is it lightweight? I had a Gold Tone brass(?) one that was pretty but a bit heavy. I’m jonesing after this one (in Concert though).
Congratulations! Thanks for posting a review

besley
11-25-2018, 12:08 PM
I had been looking at these too, after seeing Baz’s. Lovely looking uke. I prefer the traditional shape you got. Is it lightweight?

Mine weighs 1.05 kg (2.3 lbs). Definitely more hefty than a typical wood uke, but it doesn't feel heavy at all. About the same as my Magic Fluke Banjo Uke.

Nickie
11-25-2018, 04:04 PM
Congratulations!
It is very light weight....I thought it would weigh a lot more....