NUD: Flight Carabao Concert (SUS exclusive)

Dohle

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Preamble time. During almost the whole year, I've been looking for a new exciting concert uke with a softwood top, something different to what I already have in my collection. I've also been a fan of Flight ukuleles for some time now. I've owned a few of their laminate / solid top ukes but I've ended up selling them because either I wasn't that inspired by them or I found some other uke that filled that niche. Then last week, I noticed that Southern Ukulele Store had listed some new exclusive Flight models on their site. Initially, I only saw tenor models and thought to myself "these seem quite nice, I wish they had some concert models". Then, I noticed the concert models and immediately ordered one.

I mean where to start with this thing. The concert goes for £339 which is cheaper than many (possibly all) of Flight's other all solid models. It's a spruce top with mango back and sides, a combination I've never seen before so something original definitely. The name Carabao comes from the same name of mango that is found in the Philippines, a place I've had one of my most memorable trips in my life, so that was another really nice detail for me. It just seemed to tick every box for me.

When it arrived, I was really impressed. Flight ukes are known for sometimes having some minor finishing flaws on them and I've experienced this as well but this one is almost pristine. The only thing I could find was that a few of the frets are either cut or set just a bit unevenly. Doesn't affect playability but might set off someone's OCD. Speaking of the frets, this one has those semi-hemispherical frets that the Flight anniversary models had. I was really surprised to see that, very impressive. There's quite a few decent features as well. The pin bridge is nice even though I'd probably preferred the string through bridge they normally use on their ukes. I like the off-set fret markers and I absolutely adore the quirky headstock. I don't know if the slotted headstock (which it essentially is) somehow affects string tension or tightness but the strings do feel a bit tighter than on many of my other ukes with normal headstocks. That being said, the uke is incredibly responsive when playing. No doubt the spruce top has an effect on that but maybe the headstock as well. The tone is what you'd expect from the wood combination. The spruce top brings in some brightness while the mango really mellows out the tone. Overall, I'd say it's more on the mellow side which is what I often prefer for concert ukes. The strings might have something to do with the tone however. Despite what the listing at SUS claims (they say this one comes with fluorocarbon strings) I'm positive that the strings are D'Addario Titaniums judging by the colour, gauge, feel and sound. As with all my ukes, I'll experiment with different strings but I'll probably stick with thicker strings like nylon.

The only negative in terms of playability is the neck. It's fairly thick and rounded, quite similar to Pono or most of those Chinese-manufactured ukes. I don't mind that much since I'm used to that kind of neck profile anyway but it might be something to consider for others. The Carabao also lacks some of the nice features on Flight's other solid wood models like the side soundport, cutaway, and comfort edge. I would've really wanted the comfort edge since none of my ukes have that but I know the lack of those features is there to keep the cost down and I can commend them for that. The uke also lacks the pickup most mid-range Flight models have but that's positive for me since I wouldn't use it anyway. I think there are some models available with a pickup however. Flight also seem to have upgraded their already excellent gigbag which now has a really sturdy handle and really strong looking zippers.

I think I've rambled enough already. The uke's great, excellent even.

Sound sample (sorry for the low volume):
https://soundcloud.com/user-628658662%2Fflight-carabao-concert-ukulele%2Fs-4DKmdljcI6T

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Veritas99

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Congrats, and thanks for the detailed write up!

Would love to hear a sound sample when you get a chance. The tenor model was noticeably better sounding than the other Flight tenors in Alex's comparison video. Also, I agree with you on the gig bag. It's the same as what they give you with the anniversary model (except the extra SUS logo). It's not Kanile'a gig bag good, but was definitely better than several other gig bags I've seen (e.g., Romero Creations, Blackbird).
 

rafter

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Nice uke, nice write up. That is a nice headstock. And I'm unreasonably picky about headstocks.
 

Nickie

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Congratulations! I can tell that the people at Flight know what they're doing.
 

Dohle

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Congrats, and thanks for the detailed write up!

Would love to hear a sound sample when you get a chance. The tenor model was noticeably better sounding than the other Flight tenors in Alex's comparison video. Also, I agree with you on the gig bag. It's the same as what they give you with the anniversary model (except the extra SUS logo). It's not Kanile'a gig bag good, but was definitely better than several other gig bags I've seen (e.g., Romero Creations, Blackbird).
Here you go:
https://soundcloud.com/user-628658662%2Fflight-carabao-concert-ukulele%2Fs-4DKmdljcI6T
Sorry for the low volume. I have a new phone which apparently doesn't record as well as my old one but I think you can get some idea of the sound quality of the Carabao.
 

M3Ukulele

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It looks and sounds great. I liked the SUS video comparing Flight ukes and the tenor and concert version of this. For me, the way it comes is perfect. I’d get a tenor. I agree the side sound port would be nice to have but the other stuff I’m ok without. If I wanted a pick up, I could get one installed . Congratulations. Have fun experimenting with strings.
 

Veritas99

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Thanks for the sound sample! It has a really nice balance.

BTW.... If you're considering a string change, I really liked the Uke Logic soft tension on the anniversary model in the brief time I had it.
 
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Dohle

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Thanks for the sound sample! It has a really nice balance.

BTW.... If you're considering a string change, I really liked the Uke Logic soft tension on the anniversary model in the brief time I had it.
I'm probably going to go with clear nylons next. I don't really fancy fluorocarbon strings on my concert ukes with spruce or other softwood tops. Makes them sound a bit too bright for my tastes.
 

TimWilson

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This one's a serious temptation for me! Thanks for sharing in so much detail!
 

Dohle

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This one's a serious temptation for me! Thanks for sharing in so much detail!
No worries. I really like to give my opinion on new ukes I've gotten, especially if I think they're great value such as this one. I regard this as on-par with the couple of Millar ukes I've posted about regarding value for money.

Granted, these posts are almost more like reviews rather than NUD posts but what can I say, I love to assess and ramble. Sue me. 😄