View Full Version : Black Bear Koa Concert Review

05-22-2011, 08:30 AM
Thought I'd put a review together on this uke, I've had for about about 3 weeks. As you might expect the review is very similar to the BB Soprano I reviewed. While the uke is pretty good looking it's all about the sound. So here is a sound sample http://www.box.net/shared/kt1bau81o6

Review of Black Bear Koa Concert ukulele
This is one of a batch of handmade koa concert ukuleles sold in April 2011 from Duane Heilman of Black Bear Guitars and Ukuleles. I liked a BB soprano so much I wanted to try a concert. Then 5 came up for sale so…..here’s my review. This one is very similarly constructed to the soprano.

•Finished in April 2011, USA made.
•Solid Koa wood for body
•Macadamia wood neck neck with a graphite truss rod. Beautiful wood.
•Rosewood fingerboard and bridge.
•Bridge style ( String-thru body)
•15" scale concert, nice spherically arched back .
•White fret markers, with white side dots at 5,7,10
•Bone nut and saddle
•Friction Grover tuning pegs
•Lacquer satin finish
•Excellent rich sound, accurate intonation.
•How many frets? 15 overall 12 to the body
•Currently strung with Worth Clears

• This is a great playing concert uke. It has taken a bit longer for the concert to open up as compared to the BB soprano (whick was great out of the shipping box).
• Great tone and intonation, I think is sounds better than my Kamaka or KoAloha concert uke...really. In fact, I sold the KoAloha and it was a great sounding instrument.
• Good for strumming or picking
• It has Rich/Full sound. There is clarity on each note (no dead notes). Resonance and sustain are my ideal.
It is really opened up nicely in the last 3 weeks.
Here is a new sound sample (again): http://www.box.net/shared/kt1bau81o6

Action, Fit & Finish
•The set-up is great, action is low, but not too low
•Again this Black Bear ukulele did contain what I would call some small finish flaws. A little wood compression on a side, finish is not 100% perfect, slight neck gap at body (actually less on the concert as opposed to the soprano), the 14th &13th fret ends required filing (luckily I have the tools and practice to do that). The alignment of everything is perfect. The instrument has a great feel to it. Easy to play.

•Will this ukulele withstand live playing? As good as any.
•Does the hardware seem like it will last? Yes.
•Is the finish good enough to last, or does it seem thin and easy to wear off with lots of playing? Satin nitro-lacquer finish. Painted Black Bear logo on the head plate. Finish seems somewhat thin, but maybe that is why it sounds so good.

Customer Support
•How long is the warranty?
Duane says complete satisfaction is guaranteed.

Overall Rating 9/10 (Cuz of the finish flaws).

•How long have you been playing? 1.5 years
•What other gear do you own? Too many ukes to list.
•Is there something you wish you had asked before buying this ukulele? Not really
•If it were stolen or lost, would you buy it again or get something else? Absolutely
•What do you love about it? The sound, how light it is.
•What do you hate? Nothing really. It would have been nicer to not have any finish imperfections. But I expected a few little flaws, and what do you want for this price?
•What is your favorite feature? aside from the sound, the Macadamia nut neck, really cool looking
•Did you compare it to other ukuleles? Which ones? (Kamaka, KoAloha Pohaku, Timms, Boat Paddle, G-string, Kanilea, Earnest)
•Why did you choose this one? Needed to try a Black Bear concert after getting a BB soprano.
•Anything else you'd like to share? I am very satisfied with this uke, and don't miss the KoAloha (OK, I miss the KoAloha a little :) ).

Oh yeah pics (sorry, if you have seen these before, on an earlier post):

mm stan
05-22-2011, 12:15 PM
Aloha docJ,
Thank you for the in depth review...MM Stan

Hippie Dribble
05-22-2011, 12:33 PM
Thanks Doc, great review mate. I love Duane Heilman's ukes. That one of yours sounds fantastic.