Clearwater ABS Concert Ukulele First Impressions

kaizersoza

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Hi Guys the Clearwater ABS Concert Uke arrived today,

My first impressions about this uke are:-

Build Quality

The build quality of this plastic go anywhere uke is very good, I bought the black one coz that is my favourite colour, there is also orange, which in hindsight I should have bought because it would have looked, well........ orange lol, black does tend to show up marks quite easily, but I cannot fault the build quality for such a cheap ukulele, the uke is heavier than I thought it would be as well, the head stock is surprisingly small, but it is neat and not overloaded, it is all ABS plastic, except for the tuners they are open geared tuners, because the uke is black and quite shiny it is showing small scratches on the back already hence my decision that I should have bought the orange colour, not that it makes any difference in the long run coz this uke is going to get a hammering in my backpack/car and at work, the nut is plastic and looks to be separate but not sure, the bridge is also plastic and so is the saddle, the fret markers are at 5, 7, 10 and 12 and are inlaid, there are 18 frets and 14 to the body, so far so good

Intonation

The intonation on this ukulele is surprisingly very good, it comes fitted with Aquila strings as standard, I will probably use these on this uke till they wear out and then experiment with other strings, but for the time being they will be fine, the action is a bit high for my liking but it stays in tune quite well going slightly sharp and I mean only very slightly as you go up the fretboard, but again much better than some far more expensive ukes I own, this may settle down when the strings are stretched out properly, still good

Sound

Now for the sound, I must admit I am well pleased with the sound of this uke for the price it is far louder than say a dolphin, I know its a concert and should be but price wise they are about the same, it projects very well for a plastic sound board and also finger picking it has a nice clear tone, there is a bit of a percussive thump when strumming chords heavily but it doesn't feel out of place and actually adds to the overall sound of the uke, but when I back off a little the strings ring very nicely, the sound resonates well for a plastic and projects far more than I was expecting, so still good

Tuners

The tuners are quite cheap they are not very smooth when tuning the uke, but again they do their job very well, they are easy to tune and they hold a tune, they look very similar to the tuners that also adorn the Makala Dolphin, they are precise though with no slippage, being geared tuners they shouldn't slip anyways, so an adequate set of tuners, so I am still smiling

Finally

I bought this uke from Really Useful Music Company in the UK, it cost £24.99 with free P+P and to be honest I think I had a bargain when you weigh it up to the cost of The Outdoor Ukulele that everyone was raving about a few months ago on UU, plus points compared to The Outdoor Uke for me are its a Concert size for those fat fingered players (like me), its cheaper by a country mile, it has better tuners and it comes with Aquilas as standard, the only minus point up to now is that The Outdoor Uke is a soprano and will fit in backpacks/suitcases etc better, I cannot compare sound quality other than what I have heard on You Tube so it would be unfair to comment on that.
Plus points for the uke in general
because of its competitive price you would not be afraid to play it in the bath, up a mountain, hell even underwater, if it gets damaged it cost the same as a Mahalo to replace, I have owned some really cheap ukes in my time, they have been great fun, but they have lacked good quality sound, intonation and build quality, this is by far THE best cheap uke I have ever invested in to date and I won't be afraid to take it anywhere with me, I am very, very happy with this ukuele and would recommend it to anyone,

but a word of warning this plastic not wood so don't expect it to resonate like a solid wood uke, it doesn't.............

If you are looking for a cheapie beater, check one of these out you will be pleasantly surprised guys, 'SO ENDETH MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS REVIEW'

Thanx for reading guys

kaizer :cool:
 
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Uncle Rod Higuchi

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Thanks for the review.

Very interesting.

I wish it were less expensive... shipping, I mean :)

keep uke'in',
 

kaizersoza

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I have had it a few days now and its great for the price, but comparing it to some of my other ukes and it is quite thunky due to the ABS soundboard, it a good beater, that is cheap
 

Contrails

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Can we please have a video to listen to how it sounds like? Thank you

Ryan
 

ecki

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Would definitly buy one.... If shipping to germany would not double its price.
 

sonomajazz

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Thanks, K for the great review here. Can you do a sound or video sample.

I have one coming next week or two. Just rec'd an OU but may send it back...a little too plinky for me. But isn't that to be expected?
I'll try to post audio when I get the "orange plinker". What's the easiest way to post audio sample?
 

sirwhale

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I've had one for a couple of days too and I really like it for its price. It's perfect for taking around and not worrying. As said above, it's plastic and its sustain is very little plus thunky when strumming but for its price the sound it is not bad at all. I think I'll keep the aquilas on for a while despite living waters and worths being my favourites.
 

bnolsen

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please keep an eye on the fret wear on these over time. I believe the ODU is quite good in this regard.
 

Lardy Fatboy

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I got one of these in red partly on the strength of this review and as I do try and do (long rambling) reviews of the Ukuleles that live at Ukulele Corner and having brought it I thought I should add my two penny worth to the debate here is my (long rambling) review

It has a red all plastic body with a red plastic neck and headstock, a black plastic bridge with a white plastic saddle and a black plastic fretboard. The neck meets the body at the 14th fret and the fret board continues over the body to 18 frets, the frets themselves are plastic and moulded into the board, but there are 4 white markers on the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th frets that are inlaid separately. The tuners are open geared, 14-1 (or there about) and have cream plastic buttons, (a different kind of plastic). It has a scale length of 37½cm (13¾ in), so a Concert with a fairly traditional figure 8 bodyshape, moulded plastic fan bracing under the sound board and quite a narrow headstock with a Clearwater decal logo in it. Finally as the advert for it promised it came with Aquila Nygut strings - so it looks like a Ukulele, but smells like a washing up bowl, and here's where it all starts to go wrong, sounds like a washing up bowl too!

Up close the build, though very solid feeling, is not great, there are noticeable ridges where the soundboard is not glued exactly onto the back and sides body shell. The tuners are not very smooth either and give those experiences where you turn and turn with nothing happening then you turn a little more and it goes up half a tone. The biggest issue though, because after all it was very cheap and manufacturing flaws like that are to be expected, is the neck is not straight. There is a noticeable bowing when you look at it side on and this leads to a very high action from about the 4th fret onward making it a very awkward and unforgiving player. It also puts the intonation out as you go up the fretboard, not that you would want to much as the action is so high. And then you come back to that other BIG issue the sound.
IMG_0393.jpg
Despite the effort made putting fan bracing in on the sound board it still sounds like someone has put rubber bands around a washing up bowl. There is no treble, very little bass and no sustain, (probably a good thing, you wouldn't want to torture the notes any more by dragging them out for to long). This leads to a very muddy, percussive thunk when you play it. Its sound is also not well balanced, the C string for example comes across much louder than the A string (probably not helping with the tone) and this gives a real lack of chord definition.

Given its plastic nature I do fear this Ukulele will last... Forever! In millennia to come when the human race is all but forgotten and the dominant species on the planet is the super intelligent, highly evolved descendants of the Humbolt Squid, who are making their first exploratory forays onto land. They won't find the Taj Mahal, the Mona Lisa or even a copy of Photographers Monthly from 1993, but they will find one of these Ukuleles, string it up, strum it and think "Blimey those monkeys were cloth eared! and we don't even have auditory organs!"

That said I think if you left it in the back of a car it would melt and if you got it wet the tuners would rust. All in all this is pretty horrible Its an awful choice as a first Uke given its tone and unpleasantness to play and I don't think it would be a particularly good take anywhere beater. Sad really I have a couple of other Clearwater Ukuleles and I think they are really good. I was hoping for more. The new Maccaferri Islander this isn't. Would I buy one again if I lost this one? pretty obviously no. The Aiersi Demon I reviewed a little while ago is the same price and a much better Ukulele in every regard

For those that want it There are more photos and a sound sample at Ukulele Corner
 

Contrails

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Oh dear, I read your review 12 hours too late and have already ordered one.
 

kaizersoza

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good reviews on Cosmos, as I stated for £25 they are great, if you compare it to a wooden uke even a laminate you will see the difference because its plastic guys, love the idea of the flashing light in an orange one lol
 

Contrails

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Just got mine. Concert size. I really like the sound that it makes. Its not as 'clunky' as describe by some. Definately not a 'toy' sounding uke. I used my electronic tuner to check the intonation. Its not perfect but very consistent all the way up to the 12th fret on all 4 strings. I really cant fault it much here. Sound wise i would give it a 4.5 out of 5 for its price.

The bridge seems to have a bit of 'lifting' at the corners. I wonder if over time it will rip off. Action is a little high for my liking. Upon further investigation, i noticed the neck has a bit of bow, which does explain the high action. Will send down the saddle a bit to see if it improves. Otherwise it is very easy to play, no buzzing at all.

The only thing I have to fault are the tuners. Whilst it does the job, it somehow gives a feeling of 'slipping' when you wind them. It just doesnt give you the confidence when you are tuning it.

Otherwise it is a very nice budget uke. I would say it is more than value for money for £25.
 

realscottylad

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please keep an eye on the fret wear on these over time. I believe the ODU is quite good in this regard.

Hi, I'm new to the forums, registered to post this & seek comments.
This is a long time after the original thread I know but thought I'd post my experience of fret wear:
Having purchased my orange Clearwater ABS uke in September 2013 I noticed a few months ago that the fret 'wires' show wear signs. I find this odd as it is still on the original strings which show no wear. I'd have expected the ABS to be tougher than the nylgut strings. I played it exclusively for a number of weeks when first purchased, but sporadically, and relatively little after that as I've a nice little growing collection of 10+ ukes.
I've recently inspected a pal's identical orange uke, of roughly same age but played more regularly, it shows no such wear.
I've put a photo on my google drive at the following link to show the problem and would appreciate any opinions or comments...
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9hNnJwXS6rNdU9EbjZKWkR3QlE/view?

Thanks
Scotty
 
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