PDA

View Full Version : Eleuke jazz concert - first impressions



OldePhart
08-08-2011, 03:30 PM
I recieved the jazz concert Eleuke that I ordered from Mim this afternoon. After spending a couple hours with it I thought I'd upload my first impressions. This isn't a full review, and there aren't any pictures but we all know what they look like, right? :)

This one is in metallic black and the finish is pretty good. There are one or two imperfections but nothing that shows unless you're looking for them.

Overall I'm pretty happy with it though there are a couple of areas I believe could stand some improvement. So, lets get those things out of the way first...

I am a little disappointed in one area - there isn't much leeway to adjust the saddle height. I intentionally asked Mim not to lower the saddle because I might need to file the top of the saddle to compensate it. So, the action was kind of high as I fully expected and wanted it to be. What is a bit disconcerting is that there is less than an eighth of an inch of saddle showing above the top of the bridge - less than one sixteenth if one measures to where the rounded top of the saddle meets the straight sides. In short, there isn't much room to compensate the saddle or lower the action. Now, understand, the action is not terrible. I don't want to leave the wrong impression. The action height is about where both of my KoAlohas were before I lowered them - but the KoAlohas had higher actions than any other uke I've purchased, including the "cheapies."

The big difference here is that on the KoAlohas there was plenty of exposed saddle to work with so you could adjust the action from high to "dangerously low" (how MGM described the way I like my ukes) to anywhere in between. That just can't happen on the eleuke unless when I pop the saddle out it turns out that there is a lot of excess down inside the bridge and I can file the top of the bridge down by 1/16 to 3/32 of an inch to expose more saddle. Again, just about everybody in the world likes their actions higher than I do so this isn't a "defect" so much as a "pet peeve." That said, if you also like "dangerously low" action you might want to pass on Eleuke or ask Mim if she sometimes gets some in that have a lower action or more of the saddle exposed. Being as how these are factory made in China I suspect there is probably a fair amount of variation across the line.

The second area of concern is in the electronics - there is quite a bit of coupling between the tone and volume controls. This makes it challenging to find a plugged in tone that is anywhere near natural. It took me about 45 minutes of fiddling with the controls on the uke and my guitar amp and I was about to give up when I finally dialed in something that is actually quite tasty. I found that rolling the volume on the uke back to just above the dead spot at the bottom of the pot (pretty common on inexpensive chinese electronics, BTW) and setting the tone about to the middle, then rolling off the bass on my guitar amp with treble and mid centered I could get a very pleasing, natural tone while completely eliminating the "thuddiness" so often encountered with USTs. Your mileage may vary depending on what amp you're using and what tone you find pleasing. :)

It came with Aquila NylGuts and I haven't decided whether to keep them or not. I'm pretty sure I'd like the plugged in tone much better with some fluorocarbon strings, but the main reason I bought this was to play almost "silently" in the office and I've found that I don't even need headphones with the NylGut strings. So, I suspect it will keep the NylGuts at least until this big project is over and I start working full time from home again. Then, it will probably get fluorocarbon strings.

Speaking of plugged in tone - the headphone output is crazy loud! Anything more than just above the dead spot at the bottom of the volume pot was almost painful (I'm using some very good earbuds, BTW). That was with the tone control rolled almost all the way back. Because of the coupling, turning the tone control up very much makes the output way too loud when using efficient headphones. Because of the coupling between tone and volume controls this makes it difficult to get a pleasing (to me) tone at a reasonable volume level. I guess headphones with their own volume control might be the answer to that problem.

As for the intonation - Mim did a good job of adjusting the nut (I'm assuming the uke didn't come from Eleuke with the nut properly set up, though I could be wrong). According to my strobe tuner two of the slots are still just a tad high but nothing that you would notice unless you have a strobe tuner or a very good ear. (I have the strobe tuner, not the ear.) Basically, it's good enough that I won't bother to get the files out unless I change to wider strings and need to touch up the slots for them anyway. [Edited to add: I had told Mim she didn't need to set this up at all - that she could send it "raw" - so it might be that she didn't adjust the nut - in which case this is a surprsingly good setup from the factory.]

Intonation at the twelfth fret is better than I've seen on many ukes, which kind of illustrates that high action is not the primary cause of poor intonation up the fretboard! The C string is spot-on and the others are off by + or - a few cents. I suspect that this fairly even intonation is as much thanks to the NylGut strings as anything, and may go a ways towards explaining their popularity.

So, there you have it. A fun little uke that will never replace my KoAloha or even my Kiwaya longneck sopranos, but it fills a need for silent plinking and I might even use it plugged in occasionally.

John

Mim
08-09-2011, 07:04 AM
Yes, I adjusted the nut, but not as much as I usually do because I knew you wanted to fool with it :)

You are right about the saddles and bridges being variable among the different models and production runs. Some have more wiggle room than others. So if anyone has a preference I can pull a few models, sometimes of the same model different production run, and see which match the preferred specs best.

Very good review! Enjoyed reading it a lot!

OldePhart
08-09-2011, 01:48 PM
Thanks Mim. It's a good little uke. I tend to fiddle with the electronics on most instruments I buy and I suspect I'll probably pull the circuit board out of this one when I have a little time and see if I can't tame the headphone volume a bit and maybe even solve the coupling between the tone and volume. I was a little surprised about the latter because generally volume/tone coupling tends to be more of a problem with passive instrument circuits than amplified ones. I design and build tube guitar amps as a hobby - well, I guess I should say that I used to do that since my near vision is getting poor enough that I haven't done any building in the last couple of years - so I can usually fiddle the electronics to match my tastes. When I finally found the "sweet spot" using the uke with one of my homebuilt tube amps I was quite pleased with the result. It's a more natural "acoustic" tone than I really expected to be able to get from a solid-body.

Now I just have to decide on the important stuff...whether to slap silly stickers on it or leave it all black. LOL

John

Mim
08-09-2011, 03:33 PM
Thanks Mim. It's a good little uke. I tend to fiddle with the electronics on most instruments I buy and I suspect I'll probably pull the circuit board out of this one when I have a little time and see if I can't tame the headphone volume a bit and maybe even solve the coupling between the tone and volume. I was a little surprised about the latter because generally volume/tone coupling tends to be more of a problem with passive instrument circuits than amplified ones. I design and build tube guitar amps as a hobby - well, I guess I should say that I used to do that since my near vision is getting poor enough that I haven't done any building in the last couple of years - so I can usually fiddle the electronics to match my tastes. When I finally found the "sweet spot" using the uke with one of my homebuilt tube amps I was quite pleased with the result. It's a more natural "acoustic" tone than I really expected to be able to get from a solid-body.

Now I just have to decide on the important stuff...whether to slap silly stickers on it or leave it all black. LOL

John

Or you could put silly stickers just on the back! If you choose to do so, let me know... and one day I will commit to Mim stickers and send ya one!

OldePhart
08-10-2011, 01:10 PM
Or you could put silly stickers just on the back! If you choose to do so, let me know... and one day I will commit to Mim stickers and send ya one!

I'm gonna hold you to that - I got a sticker from Uncle E at UWC this year - next year you better have stickers! LOL

John

poppy
08-10-2011, 04:21 PM
John. you could get one a mims pretty flowery bags!!!

OldePhart
08-11-2011, 12:46 PM
John. you could get one a mims pretty flowery bags!!!

Probably not...I already get enough strange looks since I've been going back to the office with my long (on my right hand) polished nails and all the hawaiian shirts I wear... LOL

John