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View Full Version : Played two fender ukes today....disappointed



bornagainjeeper
01-15-2010, 11:47 AM
Today i went to a music shop i had never been to in Anna Illinois, and was suprised to see the only two ukes they had were both fenders. I was really excited at first since i had yet to get my hands on one. I tuned them up and started with the mid ranged model (of three i believe) the Nohea model. It was obviously koa wood, but when i looked inside i could see it was laminate (for 199.99 thats pretty expected) It looked beautiful with faux abalone accents and all. I was suprised to see a tenor uke with a wound C string (all three do). The finish was poorly applied as around the sound hole you could see unfinished wood, and the bridge was pretty ugly as well. When i played it i was shocked at how terrible it sounded. At another music store i've played 60 dollar lanikai laminate mahogany ukes that sounded easily 4 times better. It was quiet and tinny sounding, probably a function of the sound board being about twice as thick as my Mainland tenor. the intonation was spot on but other than that sounded horrible. It sounded much like i was playing a true fender telecaster, unplugged. The tuners were off fairly low quality as well, stamped out metal parts rather than the nice solid ones found on my mainland and kala.
though 200 dollars is certainly within the entry level of ukes, it was worth much less than that.fender fans may love the classic fender shaped head stock , though I, a fender player my whole life, find it awkward looking on an acoustic instrument. After playing both the laminate koa and laminate mahogany models, i couldn't recommend these ukes to anyone except for a wall piece or collectors item. Save your pennies and go for a different brand as kala, ohana and lanikai all make far superior instruments at a lower price.

i give it a 2/10 for sound 8/10 for feel in the hands and 3/10 for value
http://www.fender.com/myspace/fenderukes/uke_one_sheet.jpg

whetu
01-15-2010, 11:58 AM
I agree with everything you've said, but I'll add that I found the action to be quite low for straight-from-the-factory.

BUGOY
01-15-2010, 12:36 PM
Interesting. I have the Nohea model and I'm very pleased with it. I believe its my best sounding uke so far. Although i did change the strings to D'addarios which made THE difference in the sound. but i do agree that it didnt sound good with the factory strings, especially with that wound string. I'm actually surprised that the Nohea is the mid-level of the 3 because its looks AND sounds better than the Hau'oli version. the first time i picked up the Hau'oli i thought i was the lower model until i looked at the price tag and confirmed that it wasn't a mistake. I guess its a hit or miss when it comes to these ukes. luckily i got a winner.

deach
01-15-2010, 12:43 PM
The stock strings really make these ukes sound like crap. I really enjoyed mine once I changed the strings.

buddhuu
01-15-2010, 02:36 PM
Good point.

I know people say that you're best advised to try an instrument before buying. That works well for guitars, fiddles, mandolins... but I've never known an instrument where a change of strings can so transform it as an ukulele.

Why do manufacturers get cheap when fitting strings? If you make a good instrument, why make it sound less than its best by saving pennies on strings?

Might make superficial sense for your manufacturing costs. Makes no sense at all from a marketing POV.

ukulelearp
01-15-2010, 03:11 PM
I own one, and while I've definitely played better, I still think it's a really nice instrument. I've got it strung up with Worth browns and I actually think it sounds really nice, if lacking a bit in sustain. But I wouldn't say awful by any means.

jerickson
01-15-2010, 03:24 PM
The stock strings really make these ukes sound like crap. I really enjoyed mine once I changed the strings.

I had the solid mahogany model..Like Deach, when I changed the strings it sounded fine. I gifted it to my brother when I bought my 1st KoAloha and he also enjoys playing it. The stock strings are GHS I believe, but when I put D'Addarios on it was like a totally different instrument.

wickedwahine11
01-15-2010, 03:47 PM
i give it a 2/10 for sound 8/10 for feel in the hands and 3/10 for value

I'm sorry to hear that, I thought those looked kind of cool. Too bad the sound doesn't measure up to the looks.

vermontcathy
02-12-2010, 05:48 AM
My first uke, which I've had for about 9 months, is a Fender Nohea, and I love it. Of all the ukes I was able to play around here (which isn't a lot, I'm in Vermont), the Fender Nohea sounded the best. My husband is in a band (played in the Marine Band) and thinks it sounds great. He's a bass player, mostly, but also plays acoustic guitar. One thing I'm confused about - you all talk about changing out the strings, and someone said they changed the strings to D'Addario, but on the Fender website, under specs, it says the uke comes with "D'AddarioŽ J54 Hawaiian Ukulele Tenor (1-A, 2-E, 3 Wound-C, 4-G)"

jerickson
02-12-2010, 07:36 AM
My first uke, which I've had for about 9 months, is a Fender Nohea, and I love it. Of all the ukes I was able to play around here (which isn't a lot, I'm in Vermont), the Fender Nohea sounded the best. My husband is in a band (played in the Marine Band) and thinks it sounds great. He's a bass player, mostly, but also plays acoustic guitar. One thing I'm confused about - you all talk about changing out the strings, and someone said they changed the strings to D'Addario, but on the Fender website, under specs, it says the uke comes with "D'AddarioŽ J54 Hawaiian Ukulele Tenor (1-A, 2-E, 3 Wound-C, 4-G)"

Fender may have have changed the specs because mine came with GHS strings and they were horrible!!!! I changed to the D'Addario Pro Arte J-71 strings and it sounded like a completely different instrument...in a good way. :-)

vermontcathy
02-12-2010, 07:43 AM
How do you know what strings it came with? Mine only came with the gig bag - no manual or anything. I bought it from a local music store.

On another note, I bought a set of replacement strings just in case, and got aquila because I'd heard good things, but I got them and they are white and my fender came with black. I'm used to black.... I assume if I buy D'Addario, the exact same "model" or whatever (J54), they'll be black?

Yeah, I like the overall sound so much I'm thinking I want the exact same strings.

jerickson
02-12-2010, 11:41 AM
If memory serves correctly there was a card in my gig bag or box. (I bought it from musiciansfriend.com) It was my first uke....I have since gifted it to my brother since I upgraded. I'm not sure about the color of the J54 strings...The J71 strings are clear AND the C string isn't wound! (less string noise) Aquila strings are good and will be an improvement, but I like the J71 D'Addarios and the Worth strings on my ukes now. Good luck with your string search! It truly is a personal search. Everyone has an opinion on strings....and they are all different.

Jon

ukulelearp
02-12-2010, 12:19 PM
I didn't like Aquilas at all on my Nohea, though they sound great on my others. I'd suggest Kala Reds or Fremont Blacks. They sounded best to me.

Nuprin
02-14-2010, 07:10 PM
How do you know what strings it came with? Mine only came with the gig bag - no manual or anything. I bought it from a local music store.

On another note, I bought a set of replacement strings just in case, and got aquila because I'd heard good things, but I got them and they are white and my fender came with black. I'm used to black.... I assume if I buy D'Addario, the exact same "model" or whatever (J54), they'll be black?

Yeah, I like the overall sound so much I'm thinking I want the exact same strings.

I work at Advance Music in Burlington, VT and we have some of these Fender ukes. The ones we have came from the factory with GHS strings (wound C). There's a card around a tuning peg on each of these ukes stating as much. I had a Fender Nohea (2nd uke I bought) and thought it was okay. Never tried switching out the strings though. I ended up gifting it the friend that initially got me interested in uke (he had an Applause soprano and a Mahalo flying V).

bigdog
02-20-2010, 10:48 AM
I have found that in areas where the Uke is less popular, strings get changed and unless the shop owner makes note of what strings are on the Uke..., well??? Case in point, I bought a Big Island all solid koa Concert. When the clerk brought out three concert size cases, he did not know which case belonged to what Ukes and no paperwork was included. The cases were dusty and had been around awhile. In two cases were Worth string cards, and the third had Aquila. I guess half the fun is the 'right' string journey but, I would have liked to know. I really don't think the Concert I selected had either and guessed they were very cheap strings. To date so far, the D'ads seem to complement the BI in this example.