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Valerie
01-10-2010, 02:05 PM
Corn Fed Groove Oliva Cigar Box Ukulele (I have named it "Ollie" and I normally don't name inanimate objects- I don't even name my fish. But I just love this thing...)
Best $100 I ever spent Details below:

Features: 8- the only thing it doesn't have that I like in a uke is a tie-through bridge.

* What year was it made? Where was is made?
Made in the USA, made in 2009 (I think...)
* How many frets?
15
* Solid-Top? Laminated top?
Laminate- it's a cigar box. So I guess if you were to order one, you could ask for a solid wood cigar box.
* Any pickups or electronics?
-Yes. It has a pickup that works fine.
* Body and neck woods? ( Koa, Plywood, etc...)
-No idea
* Finish (Satin, transparent, quilted top, flamed top, etc...)
-It has a very thin finish. Not sure what, but it's definetly thing and even- no really thick spots or really thin spots.
* Body style (Soprano, Tenor, Concert, Cutaway, etc...)
-Concert scale- box shaped
* Bridge style ( String-thru body, stop tailpiece, etc...)
-the kind where you knot the string and slip it into a slot
* Tuners (Locking? Non-locking? brand of tuners - Sperzel, Gotoh, Grover, Schaller, etc...)
-Not sure on the brand- but I love that they are all metal (no cheap plastic knobs). They don't slip and turn like a dime.
* Neck/Scale (Fat, Thin, Jumbo Frets, Rosewood, Maple, etc...)
-Hand made neck. It's much thicker than a normal neck- but I find this is actually helpful as it makes holding much easier. This neck doesn't slip around in my hands like the necks on my other ukes do. The only bad thing I can say about the neck is that the fretboard is the same width all the way down to the 15th fret. Therefore, at the higher frets (above the 10th)when you fret the outer strings (G and A) the strings end up really close to the edge of the fretboard. This took a bit of getting use to, as if I were not careful at first, I'd go to fret a string and it would roll off of the fretboard. Now, I've gotten use to it, and it rarely happens. Not sure what changed, but it's a non-issue now.
* Any included accessories? (Case, gig bag, strap, cable, tools, humidifier, etc...)
Nope.

Sound: 8- not traditional sounding, but I like it.

* How does it suit your music style (and what is that style)?
I play finger-style. So I like roomy fingerboards. The room on this one is great (except above the 10th fret where things get a little cramped, and has taken getting use to.)
* What amps and effects are you using it with?
I have an amp... It's called a "Studio Mini" by Epiphone. The uke sounds fine with the amp. Not excellent- but nothing sounds excellent with my amp.
* Is it noisy? On what settings?
This uke doesn't have as much projection as my other (traditional) ukes. But it's not muted, either. I've hooked it up to an amp, but for playing in my bedroom... it's not needed.
* Rich/Full sound? Bright sound?
-I'm horrible at describing sounds... I'd call it plucky. But with some neat, twangy over-tones that give it character that my other ukes don't have.
* What kind of sounds can the uke make? How much variety?
-Has very good, playable harmonics at the 12th, 7th and 5th frets. I'm not a good enough player to be able to be very dynamic in my playing. But there is a definite difference in sound when played near the bridge, or up the fretboard. Also able to do soft-loud very easily.
* Likes and dislikes?
-I like that it doesn't sound like any old uke. It's definitely got some character. Currently I've had it strung with Worth Brown Medium tension but I think Aquilla's will sound great on it, too.

Action, Fit & Finish- 7- Had to break out some sand paper to get it to my liking.

* How well was the ukulele set-up at the factory? (How was the action?)
-Excellent action. Nice and low, and with absolutely ZERO wolf notes or other buzzes all the way up the fretboard
* Did the ukulele contain any flaws?
-The neck had some spots on it where the wood wasn't sanded down to my liking (where the neck met the heel and where the neck met the peg head.) But I was able to sand these spots down in under a minute and was good to go.


Reliability/Durability 7

* Will this ukulele withstand live playing?
-Definitely. As long as one didn't intentionally try to smash it or some such.
* Does the hardware seem like it will last?
-Yes. It is very sturdy.
* Is the finish good enough to last, or does it seem thin and easy to wear off with lots of playing?
-Haven't played it long enough to tell. But after a month of playing it's held up perfect.
* Can you depend on it?
-Yes. With the dry winter air my other ukes are living in their cases and this is my go-to uke.
* Would you use it on a gig without a backup?
-Sure.

Customer Support 10

* If you've dealt with the company, how helpful/friendly were they?
-Incredibly friendly, prompt and helpful.
* Ever try and get it repaired?
-No, but I am considering it (see below)
* Was it under warranty?
-Yes
* How long is the warranty
-For shipping.

Overall Rating

* How long have you been playing?
-Had it for a couple months. Been playing it exclusively for the past month.
* What other gear do you own?
-A concert all solid Koa Pili Koko, and a concert solid top, laminate body Lanikai. Have owned a Fluke and a LU-21 soprano.
* Is there something you wish you had asked before buying this ukulele?
-Nope
* If it were stolen or lost, would you buy it again or get something else?
-DEFINITELY!
* What do you love about it?
-The look, the sound, and the playability
* What do you hate?
-The warping is bothersome. But, again, I'm planing on putting on some really low tension strings.
* What is your favorite feature?
-The action is great
* Did you compare it to other ukuleles? Which ones?
-Not as loud as my traditional construct ukes, and sustain isn't as long. Good intonation, good harmonics- a much better uke than my old LU-21 (which I bought for ~50 bucks). Sustain is about that of my old Fluke.
* Why did you choose this one?
-Because of the twangy sound and good looks
* Anything you wish it had?
-I thought the peg head a little plain. It was marked with CFG for "Corn Fed Groove" but I wanted something that stood out a bit more. So I burned on a corn husk
* Anything else you'd like to share?
-Everyone should get one for their collection! Especially since they are only $100.

Pic's:
Peg Head design I added (the initials were what was originally there):
http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj89/ValerieValirah/PegHead.jpg

Tension Warping:
http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj89/ValerieValirah/Tensionwarping.jpg

The really neat hand made neck:
http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj89/ValerieValirah/handmadeneck.jpg

Full body shot:
http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj89/ValerieValirah/Ollie.jpg

~Valerie

escee
01-11-2010, 02:30 AM
Great review! I've been thinking of one of these myself ... :drool:

The warped base looks scary though! :eek:

cornfedgroove
01-21-2010, 06:51 PM
great review, Valerie. It is much appreciated. I will definitely keep some of the lesser marks in mind.

The warping is not from tension...its been like that since before I made it. As you can tell there's nothing to push the back side out like that. Not all cigar boxes are pristine...hmm, in fact I dont think I've ever seen one w/o some little quark. You're right though,it is not exactly "eye candy." The strings higher up the neck and rolling off is because I purchased a bridge from LMI and the string spacings on it werent quite what I wished they were. I dont buy them anymore, and just make my own now.

My goal is to be comparable to the $150 ukes...mind you, that's overall appeal between both look, sound and playability. Do I expect them to have the volume of a manufactured uke? NO, but I'll try. Do I expect them to play as well as a $150 uke? Absolutely, in fact, I hope they play better. Do I expect them to look as good as a manufactured uke? Apples and Oranges: that's part of the appeal. I'm a player, and a country boy (despite popular opinion)...put em together and you get functional simplicity, and that's all I want. I aint trying to add a spruce or mahogany soundboard, or shave down the top or back...if I wanted to do all that, I'd buy a pipe and form, and just make a traditional uke LOL.

I'm glad you like it, and I loooooooooove the cornhusk, but I dont think I have the artistry to pull that off.

Valerie
01-30-2010, 05:17 PM
The warping is not from tension...

Actually... I'd not call it tension warping in a review if I were not sure it was. I know it's tension warping because when I took the strings off in order to burn the corn husk design on the peg head the space between the top of the box and the side shrunk down so that they were nearly flush. When I restrung, the gap re-opened.

Perhaps the box never matched up perfectly flush, and the tension took advantage of that, but tension is definitely contributing to part of that gapping.

Paul December
01-30-2010, 08:05 PM
Actually... I'd not call it tension warping in a review if I were not sure it was. I know it's tension warping because when I took the strings off in order to burn the corn husk design on the peg head the space between the top of the box and the side shrunk down so that they were nearly flush. When I restrung, the gap re-opened.

Perhaps the box never matched up perfectly flush, and the tension took advantage of that, but tension is definitely contributing to part of that gapping.

Makes sense... I can see the (neck) bracing through the gap. The entire body is being pulled up toward the headstock by the strings.
Did you consider removing the strings, letting it relax, and gluing the entire gap closed?

Valerie
01-31-2010, 05:55 AM
Yes, actually, I have.

I'm just not sure exactly how to go about doing it. I'm considering bringing it to a luther.

Paul December
01-31-2010, 06:11 AM
Yes, actually, I have.

I'm just not sure exactly how to go about doing it. I'm considering bringing it to a luther.

Try posting it in the "Ukulele Building / Luthier's Lounge".
It may be as easy as applying some Gorilla Glue the length of the seam (lightly sanding 1st), then putting it in a couple of wood clamps (I just got some at Menards for $5).
If there isnt enogh surface area, then you'll most likely need to run a small strip of wood on the inside, down the leght of the seam.
As handy as you are with the wood burner, it shouldn't be too difficult...and cheap.
http://s.sears.com/is/image/Sears/00917641000?hei=248&wid=248&op_sharpen=1&resMode=sharp&op_usm=0.9,0.5,0,0

cornfedgroove
02-08-2010, 03:21 PM
hmm, I didnt realize that Valerie...I really thought it was the box. Sorry bout that. If you want to go through and glue it, it would be really easy to get some red cap Tight Bond and just glue it. let it set for a day and then tune it up.

Valerie
02-08-2010, 04:09 PM
Not to worry! I took off the strings, let the box settle for a day. Then glued that sucker like crazy! When I restrung, I still got a bit of warping, but nothing like what is shown in the picture.