View Full Version : Cheap Fender Electric Uke vs. Ovation Applause - which should I buy ?

05-19-2013, 05:55 AM
I want to buy an electric Uke without mortgaging my house. I'm an accomplished harmonica player in the genres of blues, rock, country, rockabilly and jazz and I intend to play same with my ukes. I've been re learning uke for a few months on a low G tenor strung baritone size uke that I've restored and a crappy cheap soprano that my parents picked up in a tourist joint in Hawaii years ago. I've seen positive reviews on both the Fender and the Applause, usually on one of the online stores. I played an Applause yesterday and it was quite fun. I did not play the Fender and I regret that. I am a bit infatuated with the Applause, in part because I lusted after Ovation guitars when I was playing six strings many years ago. I like the look of the Applause and the fact that it has volume and tone controls. I did not try the Fender because I saw that it only has a plug in and no controls. I realize that is not an indication that it is inferior.

Based on what I've written thus far, is there a consensus on this forum about which of these two axes is preferred?

I will go a step further and welcome suggestions of other acoustic electric ukes that list for less than $200.

Mahalo !

The Big Kahuna
05-19-2013, 06:23 AM
The Fender Pa'ina is overpriced junk.

The Big Kahuna
05-19-2013, 06:24 AM
And the last time I looked, it retailed at $ 299

Jim Hanks
05-19-2013, 06:28 AM
My Ohana in my signature was $199 from Mim but I don't know if she has any more at the moment

05-19-2013, 06:47 AM
I'm an Ovation/Applause fan, too. In the guitar world.

If you like the line, and you tried and liked the uke, why not just go with it?

05-19-2013, 06:59 AM
I'm pretty new to this uke thing, but I have owned 2 Ovation guitars and have played a couple of Ovation mandolins. In addition, I have played the Fender uke you are referring to.

Here is my take. When all is said and done, the most important feedback (aural and tactile) anyone will get when it comes to stringed instruments boils down to tone quality and how the instruments treats your left hand. If the sound does not appeal to you, then factor #2 is irrelevant. If it sounds good but the neck does not feel right (or can't be reasonably fixed), then you will not be happy.

Unless the body shape somehow feels odd or uncomfortable, most of the rest of the instrument can be easily adapted to. Although, I have a solid body electric mandolin that feels and sounds great, but because of the height of the neck pickup, I have to constantly be attentive to avoiding hitting the pickup with the pick.

If any of this sounds reaonable, then I would suggest to you that if you like the sound of the Ovation, then I would focus on the neck feel. In my experience, Ovation necks have always been well designed and well made. OTOH, the Fender uke that I played had a neck that seemed to have been fashioned and finished by someone who wanted to be someplace else on that particular day.

The next to last thing I would add is that the Ovation bodies can be an aquired taste. Some folk don't like the sense that the instrument might feel like it wants to roll against your body when you would prefer for it to stay put. In my experience, this can be more of an issue with the large guitar bodies. I did not see it as an issue with the Ovation Mandolins I have played.

Lastly, Ovation quality at this price point seems to be higher and more consistent than Fender's.

05-19-2013, 07:02 AM
I have an Applause soprano as my D-tuned uke. My husband's daily player is an Applause tenor. They're great ukes. Built like beaters, they sound like players, and look good, too.

05-19-2013, 09:05 AM
I have two Ovation ukuleles: a UA10 made in China and an older UAE20 (red) made in Korea. I think the Korean made ukuleles were a little better in quality but the UA10 is still very nice. The UA10 has a slimmer neck. I don't play plugged in so the extra weight of the elctronics makes the UAE20 less fun to play, but still a good little uke. You'll find, like their larger brothers and sisters, people either love them or hate them. I love them but I have an Ovation guitar that I am trying to play, too. If you order them from Japan or Europe they come in more colors besides what is on the Ovation site.

I have a friend and she purchased a Fender brand ukulele. One of the Tenors (not sure which one, I think the cheapest). Anyway, she hated it and returned it. She is really stuck on her Epiphone Les Paul ukulele strung with med Worths brown.

The Big Kahuna
05-19-2013, 10:01 AM
The Fender NoHea is a great Uke if you get a good one, which I believe I did. The "top of the range" model, however, has been almost universally panned.

05-19-2013, 10:23 AM
I played an Applause yesterday and it was quite fun. I am a bit infatuated with the Applause, in part because I lusted after Ovation guitars when I was playing six strings many years ago. I like the look of the Applause and the fact that it has volume and tone controls.

You seem pleased with the Applause~perhaps you should get it!


05-19-2013, 10:24 AM
For what it's worth, I've seen a surprising number of people performing with the Applause sopranos/concerts, so they must have a pretty acceptable sound. Heard lots of good things about the Epiphone Les Paul model (a great value at $100).

05-19-2013, 01:11 PM
I've owned the Applause Tenor (I believe it was the UAE 148) and it was a great instrument. Sounded okay acoustically with Aquila strings, or your choice of "loud" strings. And plugged in, it sounded as good as you could ask for from a uke in that price range. Considering that the installation of a good pickup costs $200, the tenor ovation uke with the full range of on-board pre-amp controls was excellent value.

05-19-2013, 01:29 PM
I'm pretty sure that Hester of UOGB plays an Applause sometimes on stage. I'd certainly take one of those over the Fender - though I'd really want to play even the Applause, first. Still, I think you're likely to get a better one than a Fender unless you get very lucky with the Fender.


05-19-2013, 01:31 PM
I like the electronics on the applause and ovation tenors but i don't really like the passive system on the sopranos...If you get one stick with the tenor size..

05-20-2013, 03:45 AM
I love my Applause Soprano! Haven't tried the tenor but have heard good things about the uke and electronics. The passive pickup on the soprano is fine, however, and when combined with an outboard preamp sounds killer. And, honestly, it sounds pretty darn good even without the use of a preamp, although there is no question the preamp helps. I've used mine up to eight shows a week for the past four years in an outdoor theatre gig in all kinds of heat, humidity, and generally non-instrument friendly conditions (which is why I don't use my KoAloha there ;) ) and it has performed consistently and admirably.

05-20-2013, 04:14 AM
I had an Applause tenor U148 . I liked it very much. It played well unplugged, but quiet. Plugged in, it was a beast. Nice tone, clear as a bell.

Couple things to know. It's exceedingly heavy. It must weigh 3 lbs (I think I weighed mine). 36 ounces is a heavy uke!

It has a baritone body on a tenor scale. of that I'm sure--as a guitarist, you might like that. I think it'll take a baritone case. check on that.

The tuners keep in tune and all, but they're pretty cheap, if you ask me. Stamped metal "box" over geared tuners. Not great.

changing the battery is a--speaking of beasts--beastly bear! It's unnecessarily difficult.

MGM at HMS has a neat koa topped one with Ovation sticker.

05-20-2013, 07:52 PM
This is a no brainer... http://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=AgrrepG72aSWvgSaGKO8UnmbvZx4?p=brian+va squez+ukulele&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-900

05-25-2013, 06:07 AM
Perfectly put..... That dude rocks..

Paul December
05-25-2013, 09:56 AM
Check out the Kala Arch top. I had a couple in the past and they sounded really nice and looked even better.
I noticed HMS has a new version of it. I wonder what the changes on it are.

Paul December
05-25-2013, 10:07 AM
Here is a link to it:

05-26-2013, 02:05 AM
Here is a link to it:

I have one of those coming my way, and I had previously owned the older Kala Archtop that isn't made anymore (the mahogany gloss finish).
Back when I was a beginner, I sold it thinking that I *must* get solid wood instruments.. but now I'm coming back to it because I feel that it was actually a very pleasant sounding instrument with good electronic capabilities to boot.

My main nitpick is that Kala doesn't make any new models in gloss anymore. I felt that gloss worked well on a Jazz archtop-guitar themed ukulele.. but perhaps the satin makes it sound a bit more open (?). Maybe satin looks better in person, so I'm eagerly waiting for it to arrive.

I just gave away (today!) my Applause Soprano ukulele to my church's trash n treasure market fundraiser.
It's well built, but as stated by MGM above, the electronics were quite disappointing. In my particular case the C string was vastly overpowering and the A string was barely audible through several amplifiers. Clearly a balance issue in the pickup, at least on mine.

This isn't the first one I've owned. I actually had bought one a year ago, but that one came with electronics that didn't work at all (I think the internal wires were broken).
Had to return that.

Thinking that I had just been "unlucky", I bought another one this year, but like I said, the electronics were shoddy.
So I'll probably never get an Applause Soprano again.

I lusted after the Applause/Ovation tenor, since it is said to have much better electronics and it has been used by several notable professionals on stage.
However, I didn't get it (yet) because I don't like the fact that the battery is so difficult to change. That's the main reason I'm reluctant to get it.
If it's an electronic instrument, I'm going to be plugging it in heaps.. why have a battery compartment so difficult to access?

That being said, there are a LOT of great acoustic-electric ukes that will sound great plugged in.

One of my most rewarding ukulele purchases is the Gretsch acoustic-electric tenor:
It sounds absolutely amazing, both acoustically and plugged in.
The pickup is a Fishman active with built in tuner. It is absolutely stunning.
Cannot beat it at its price point, and I daresay it outdoes many other options that cost more.

06-12-2013, 06:05 PM
I bought the fender Pa'ina at guitar center because it was the only place nearby that had a selection of Ukes to try. After having it for about a month, I am very surprised by all the bad reviews. I think they must have worked out the quality control issues, cause this is an excellent instrument. The neck feels great and the passive pickup sounds amazing even through my cheap PA. Plus if I'm not mistaken it is one of the cheapest solid mahogany Ukes with a pickup available. I got it at a discount of $250, which is definitely more reasonable than the standard $300. Now if only I could find a case for it.