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View Full Version : Disappointed by the sound of the Flea and Fluke



heymelbs
03-03-2010, 01:29 PM
I know that I'll get hate mail over this, but I tried out a Flea and Fluke for the first time this week and wasn't very impressed with the tone. The action was great, intonation spot on, tuners a little tricky, but the tone didn't impress me. Perhaps I'm more of a wood guy since I am also an acoustic guitar player.

heymelbs
03-03-2010, 01:30 PM
Course I am comparing the tone to a solid body, well made Mainland.

luvdat
03-03-2010, 01:32 PM
It's whatever you like, whatever does it for you.

gallimander
03-03-2010, 01:47 PM
i've been debating on a fluke. i heard that they're pretty much the sturdiest ukes out there, but i'll be sure to be a good boy and try one before i buy one

Tigeralum2001
03-03-2010, 01:56 PM
You shouldn't get flamed for an opinion! I'm glad that there is such a diversity of ukes to pick from. I'm sure the K brands have people who don't care for their tone, and we know many people like the Makala Dolphin.

To each there own, just keep making them! :)

fhorndog
03-03-2010, 03:03 PM
I like the fluke sound. Not too found of the flea... I played a concert fluke today. THe only complaint I have is that on the neck ( plastic) the frets seemed low. It made some chords harder to get a good sound.

Skottoman
03-03-2010, 03:23 PM
I have a concert with rosewood fretboard, and a basic plastic fretboard soprano flea. Strings really make a difference on these. I put some Fremont Blacklines on my concert and it's much brighter.
I have 8 ukes, and I'd say the flea is a very mellow, deeper tone.

All depends on what you like. I played my Pineapple sunday for my parents, and then the others I have and they liked the Flea sound the best!

The great thing about ukes is they all have their own sound. The Flea sounds like no other.... as do the rest of my ukes. Hahaaa..

If it's not your cup of tea, then so be it, but it is a nice sound to hear compared to other ukes.
Cheers,
Skottoman

pdxuke
03-03-2010, 03:49 PM
I know that I'll get hate mail over this, but I tried out a Flea and Fluke for the first time this week and wasn't very impressed with the tone. The action was great, intonation spot on, tuners a little tricky, but the tone didn't impress me. Perhaps I'm more of a wood guy since I am also an acoustic guitar player.

It's ok. I respect The Flea and Fluke lovers out there, the world is a big place and there's room for all of us--but I agree with you. I traded mine for a mahogany uke and I instantly felt better.

Thumper
03-03-2010, 03:52 PM
What kind of strings did they have? I find the stock black strings (Hilo, I think) sound pretty weak and unimpressive - if that's what you were playing, I'd give them a second chance with different strings. But if they had Aquilas or Worths on them, and you still didn't dig them, then you've made a good discovery: they're not the right ukes for you.

Fortunately, they are the right ukes for me! :)

leftovermagic84
03-03-2010, 04:02 PM
As much as I love my fluke, I admit my mainland sounds better. That being said, my fluke is my go to for travel because it can take a beating my mainland can't

heymelbs
03-03-2010, 04:33 PM
The Flukes and Fleas that I tried had the black stock strings, perhaps I should try one with Aquilas, yes! I love the look, the uniqueness.

Jason Paul
03-03-2010, 04:35 PM
I've got both a Mainland concert and a Flea concert. I do like the Mainland quite a bit more. But, it's nice to know that I've got the sturdy Flea as a backup or a travel uke.

One difference I hadn't counted on though, is the fret spacing. The frets on the Flea are noticeably farther apart than those on the Mainland. The Flea feels "bigger". I like the Mainland better in this regard too.

But again, I'm still glad I have the Flea, and have thought about getting a soprano.

Jason

puremarkska
03-03-2010, 05:17 PM
Pretty much in the same boat as most people here. I've had my Fluke for seven years, and side-by-side it is definitely not as bright or loud as a Mainland or Ohana ukulele. But the truth is, I play my Fluke a lot more often than anything else just because it is always there. It's standing up right next to my computer as I type this. If I knock it over, I don't even blink and I don't have to worry about dinging it or scratching the finish. If you like the brighter sound, I've found that Aquilas produced the loudest and brightest tone out of my Fluke. But if by chance you like your ukes to be even brighter than that, you'd most likely be better off with something else (but be sure to buy a stand or wall hanger if you plan to play it a lot!).

Overall, Flukes are reliable, durable, stay in tune, and well intonated all the way up. They're reasonably priced and made in the USA. There are a lot of ukes that sound better than the Fluke, but as long as you're having fun, it's all good.

luvdat
03-03-2010, 10:37 PM
One thing people are free to notice or not: that on websites/dealers which feature vintage and high-end stuff for some reason the Flea and Flukes are there among the Kamakas and the Vintage Martins.

BTW, what matters more is high-end playing. Over the years what has impressed me more than gear is high-end playing. "How we play" is what we bring with us whether we use a gigbag, a hardshell case or a cardboard box.

I think it's great when people connect with whatever ukulele inspires them.

buddhuu
03-03-2010, 10:49 PM
[...]BTW, what matters more is high-end playing. Over the years what has impressed me more than gear is high-end playing.[...]
Aw, rats. I can't do high-end playing, and I can't afford high-end gear. Some days you just can't win... LOLz :D

luvdat
03-03-2010, 10:52 PM
Aw, rats. I can't do high-end playing, and I can't afford high-end gear. Some days you just can't win... LOLz :D

And "high-end" playing is relative...doing what you do well or if not "well" (as in technically advanced) than real, immediate...BTW, not a huge fan of simply "virtuosity": that tends to bore me...fatigue me...

fivetide
03-03-2010, 10:53 PM
I had a really nice looking Fluke which I loved for its character, volume, durability and its standup base but I sold it because I just didn't enjoy the tone compared to a solid koa or mahogany concert. That said, I will definitely get one again in the future (but with a rosewood fretboard this time) because I loved having it next to my desk, and it held it's value so well I only lost about 30 on it from new, including restringing it.

Flukes and Fleas provide an invaluable dash of contemporary flair and fun to the uke scene in my opinion. The tone is different from solid wood though its true - not worse, but different. It's all subjective.

Ahnko Honu
03-03-2010, 10:54 PM
I recently took the time to compare my Mainland Cedar Pineapple to my Standard FLEA. Since getting the FLEA I leave it out so always handy and easily accessible so hadn't touched my Mainland in several months. I played both side by side and I was surprised at how much nicer my Mainland sounded than my FLEA even though I know the Mainland Cedar is all solid wood. I was used to the sound of my FLEA and thought it very decent which it is but when I bought out my Mainland from the first strum it blew the FLEA away right out of the water. I didn't think it possible especially since my FLEA is strung with Worth clears (low g) while my Mainland has the Aquilas which it came with and which I'm totally fine with. Mainland has a cleaner. clearer tone as well as more volume and sustain. If I had a gun to my head and had to choose just one I'd pick the Mainland, but she is so pretty I hate to take it outdoors especially hiking or camping for fear of damaging her. That's the roll my FLEA plays my truck/boat/hiking/camping 'ukulele. I love owning both, they are keepers.

heymelbs
03-04-2010, 01:33 PM
Sounds like it could be a match made in heaven - Flea/Fluke AND a Mainland! I have a Concert Mainland, which fretboard would be closer in size, feel, etc?

BrotherUke
03-04-2010, 02:12 PM
Aquilla's really improved the sound of my Fluke. All of the higher end Flukes and Fleas will come with them. Give one a try with Aquilla's I think you will get a different impression of the instrument.

It seems to me that the uke is much more sensitive to string selection. To my ear D'Adarios sound best on my Kamaka but the didn't do anything for the Fluke. The most dramatic difference I've experienced was putting Martin Clears on a Mitchell that I used to own. I couldn't believe the difference.

You will find a lot of great info on this site about personal string preferences. I'm really not promoting the brand but just the idea that the match seems to be much more important on the uke than any guitar I've owned.

beeejums
03-04-2010, 02:31 PM
I don't know if I'd like another uke better than my flea or not.

I had my concert flea, and traded it for a Cordoba, and ended up trading back because the Cordoba was a traitor, and now I pretty much only play the Flea. I've talked about getting a Mainland, but I may as well have been talking about getting a Moore Bettah since I have no money to spend on a new uke either way.

It would be nice to have something else to pick up, but I've decided to just learn to be a one-uke guy for now--and that one uke is my flea. So I think what I'm going to do (probably won't last, I have the attention span of a goldfish) is put a pickup in the flea and some geared tuners a la stewmac.com and save up for a KoAloha.

I also just realized I've added nothing to this conversation...

Umm...

Strings do make a difference, I like J71's on mine (which sound clear and mellow, my opinion. Aquilas were nice too. Worth CMs were nice, but I don't like the gauges). I didn't like the Hilos.

NatalieS
03-04-2010, 02:56 PM
I have a Fluke (and used to have a Flea). When I first started out playing uke, I loved the sound of these ukes. But I have to admit, I now prefer the sound of my solid wood ukes. I like the complexity of the tones that you get with a wood instrument. My soprano uke has seemed to evolve over the year and a half that I've had it, whereas my Fluke's tone (while pretty) is always the same.

haole
03-04-2010, 02:59 PM
I don't like Martins and I haven't been flamed to death yet. ;)

If Fleas/Flukes aren't your thing, that's totally cool. They're not for everyone. The sound isn't exactly traditional. But I will say that the stock strings aren't great. You might like one with Aquilas on it a lot better! But don't feel obligated to like something just because everyone else does. :3

SweetWaterBlue
03-04-2010, 03:57 PM
The Fleas and Flukes are not for everyone, but I don't think anyone will flame you if you don't like the way they sound. Everyone has different tastes. You will probably just be whisked off to a work camp some night for re-education. I can't hear the individual notes on my Flea as well when I strum it, as on my wooden ukes, but its easier to play and sometimes when I am playing chord solos I really like the perfect intonation, and I don't have to worry about leaving it out where I want to. Its sort of the SUV of ukes, but I also like the Mercedes.

Jason Paul
03-04-2010, 04:22 PM
True about the strings too. I forget about that because my concert Flea came with Aquilas on it, so that's what I'm used to hearing. But, I played a friend's soprano Flea with the stock black strings (Hilo?) and it was noticeably more subdued, quiet, less bright - almost muddy. Still sounded pretty good, but I could tell that Aquilas would make a difference.

Jason

William L
03-04-2010, 04:39 PM
It's ok. I respect The Flea and Fluke lovers out there, the world is a big place and there's room for all of us--but I agree with you. I traded mine for a mahogany uke and I instantly felt better.

Big place it is. I'm the recipient of pdxuke's Flea. I put some Worth BM's on it and it sings like an angel. Just sent it to Majic Fluke for a rosewood fretboard upgrade and can't wait to get it back.

Christie
03-04-2010, 05:54 PM
Strings make a huge difference on the Flea. The other thing that is surprising is that it sounds totally different (I think better) to the audience than it does to the player. I am fortunate to have a mate who also plays. I am constantly amazed at how good the Flea sounds when he plays it compared to how it sounds when I am playing it. And, no, it's not because I am worse at playing it. If you can, try recording the Flea and experience for yourself the difference I am talking about. My uke is a mahogany Bushman Jenny soprano--it has a decent reputation. But that Flea is definitely equal but different and much easier to play -- action is perfect and I love a 14 inch scale. Wish it had 15 frets. And the Flea is pretty much a no worry uke. I am more and more impressed with the Flea the more I play it.

luvdat
03-04-2010, 11:46 PM
Strings make a huge difference on the Flea. The other thing that is surprising is that it sounds totally different (I think better) to the audience than it does to the player. I am fortunate to have a mate who also plays. I am constantly amazed at how good the Flea sounds when he plays it compared to how it sounds when I am playing it. And, no, it's not because I am worse at playing it. If you can, try recording the Flea and experience for yourself the difference I am talking about. My uke is a mahogany Bushman Jenny soprano--it has a decent reputation. But that Flea is definitely equal but different and much easier to play -- action is perfect and I love a 14 inch scale. Wish it had 15 frets. And the Flea is pretty much a no worry uke. I am more and more impressed with the Flea the more I play it.

You're making a point here that does not get enough mention on the forum: the best way to really know how it sounds is to have someone else play it and listen. For one thing, projection means exactly that: the sound is going in front of you, out.

I think not a few would be suprised if they listened to what they thought sounded "better" to them. It might be just so-so to someone else vs. the sounds great to them, mostly "inside" the instrument they are playing.

For starters, a standard soprano that projects requires a relatively thin top with minimal bracing...esp. if the top is mahogany...

Other concerns that don't get enough airplay IMO: playability, specifically neck width, neck thin or thicker...they are mostly passing comments...

William L
03-05-2010, 04:15 AM
You're making a point here that does not get enough mention on the forum: the best way to really know how it sounds is to have someone else play it and listen. For one thing, projection means exactly that: the sound is going in front of you, out.

I think not a few would be suprised if they listened to what they thought sounded "better" to them. It might be just so-so to someone else vs. the sounds great to them, mostly "inside" the instrument they are playing.

For starters, a standard soprano that projects requires a relatively thin top with minimal bracing...esp. if the top is mahogany...

Other concerns that don't get enough airplay IMO: playability, specifically neck width, neck thin or thicker...they are mostly passing comments...

Stand close to and facing a wall while playing your uke to get an idea of what others are hearing.

sukie
03-05-2010, 04:24 AM
No need to feel bad. No ukulele is for everybody. For me the beauty of a flea is the portability and ability to do battle on an airplane. etc. I think they are indestructible.