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View Full Version : Got my new Flea today!!! First impressions.....



steelarts
06-12-2012, 05:25 AM
I finally decided on my "travel uke" and took the plunge and bought myself a soprano Flea with a natural top. It arrived today and I thought (fwiw) I'd give you my first impressions of it. I've been reading the other threads on Fleas/Flukes/plastic fretboards and was starting to wonder if I'd done the right thing in ordering one.

My very first impression was what a super little instrument the Flea is. It's not the cheapest uke out there by far and I can see that it is built in a way that can enable a US company to take on the far east. That said, this thing is not luthier built and is made in such a way that it doesn't need one, just a 'fitter'. The design of the neck is such that they can be pantographed and made in their hundreds. It's dead straight from where it joins the body right through the headstock relying on the tuning peg position to give the necessary string break angle. That makes it very cheap to make but a little chunky in the hand.

Of course the plastic fretboard is just stuck on in the right position to give the correct intonation and this also saves heaps of money. As does the moulded back. In fact, given a kit of parts, you could get anyone with half a brain to put one together in less than an hour I reckon and, judging by the amount of glue slurping out from the neck join (it actually looks like someone's gobbed into the instrument - disgusting I know, sorry but that's how it looks) someone with half a brain did glue this one together!

My Ohana CK35 is (despite also being overloaded with glue…..what is it with ukes and glue???) a much better built instrument for only £20 more than the Flea. But there's the rub, the US couldn't hope to compete with the Chinese on price and would have to charge 2X or 3X as much to make a solid wood uke in the conventional manner I reckon. But what the Magic Fluke Co have come up with is brilliant in it's own right, a great sounding, easy playing, hardy uke with it's own personality. Heaven forbid that the market is flooded with makers doing a similar thing as it's not the most refined of ukuleles but in the Flea's case it works.

For it's size it is incredibly loud but also has a really nice tone. The plastic moulded fretboard is absolutely fine. I was a bit worried about how it would feel but to be honest (in my opinion) I don't find a lot of difference in feel compared to a wooden one. The neck shape affects the feel of the instrument far more than the fretboard I find but I'm sure I'll get used to it. Overall, I'm really happy with my new Flea, it really is a great package for what it is. Would I bother with the optional upgrades? No, it is what it is and dressing it up with a wooden fretboard a) isn't worth the extra money I feel and, b) makes it lose it's integrity (the Flea is a hardy little beast in standard format. Add wood where there should be plastic and you take away from what it is and try to make it something it isn't).

This is just my opinion and first impressions of this instrument. We all know there are a myriad of differing opinions on this forum, that's what makes it such a fun place. Please feel free to agree or disagree with me and my opinion of this fun uke. Personally, I love my new Flea!

Hippie Dribble
06-12-2012, 10:20 AM
nice overview steelarts, thanks. Agree with you on all counts, except the fretboard. Certainly it's a smoother feel on the fleas and flukes than other plastic fretboards I've played, but I still don't like em much...would prefer the the rosewood but, at an extra $70 bucks is it really worth it? Hmmm... :confused:

Shazzbot
06-12-2012, 11:19 AM
Sorry to hear about the excess glue. Is it bad enough to send back? I am sure they will fix it.
I quickly got used to, and now prefer, the flatness on the back of the neck.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned much, the fret spacing for the FMM soprano seems more like a "traditional" concert.
I find "traditional" sopranos to be tighter between the frets.

ksiegel
06-12-2012, 02:38 PM
Sorry to hear about the excess glue. Is it bad enough to send back? I am sure they will fix it.
I quickly got used to, and now prefer, the flatness on the back of the neck.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned much, the fret spacing for the FMM soprano seems more like a "traditional" concert.
I find "traditional" sopranos to be tighter between the frets.

The Flea sopranos and firefly banjo ukes are a bit longer scale than a traditional soprano neck - between a half and 3/4 inch longer.

Which for someone like me with short, stubby fingers, makes it sooooo much easier to play!



-Kurt

connor013
06-12-2012, 03:27 PM
Thanks for the review/impressions, steelarts.

I've (somehow!) not got my hands on a Flea yet, but it sounds like a pretty good example of form following function. Beat it like a mule and let us know how it holds up!