- May 20, 2022
I gave it quite a lot of thought before finally pulling the trigger on the Rebel Double Creme soprano. With a KoAloha KSM-10C and Kiwaya Luna LS-4 (a brilliant Martin Style O copy) in my collection, I wanted a soprano that offers something different from the classic Hawaiian or Martin sound.
The Rebel team originally learned how to make ukes from KoAloha, one of the best in the business, so I have no doubt they know how to make a good ukulele, as evident from the excellent Opio line they produced over the years. Rebel was started with the vision of creating ukuleles that are uniquely their own, which is something that appeals to me greatly.
TUS’s interview with Peng, the founder of Rebel was very illuminating in helping me know more about their philosophy and approach to making ukes. I love the idea that Rebel is continuously making improvements under the hood for their production models, so although they might look the same, a 2019 Double Creme could sound quite different from the latest 2022 model. It was also great to know that Rebel tries to use locally sourced wood and materials whenever possible, and I have to say the Thai mango wood on my Double Creme looks absolutely divine!
The first thing I noticed when picking up the Double Creme is the amazing attention to detail and simple elegance of the design. From the beautiful ebony faceplate with the origami crane logo and the exquisite Gotoh UPT tuners with gold hardware and Pearloid buttons, to the lovely geometrical maple inlay fret markers, the entire instrument is a sheer aesthetic delight.
The uke is also excellent sound-wise. I’ve compared my Double Creme Mango soprano with a Double Cheese soprano (spruce top with mahogany back and sides), and I have to say, the mango sounds better. The sound is full and balanced, with a generous chunk of mid and low notes plus nice sparkling treble on top. Mango has a reputable of sounding muted, and although it’s not my loudest uke, I find the volume of the Double Creme more than adequate.
What I find really interesting is that there’s a dreamy, watery liquid quality to the sound that I’ve not experienced before with any other ukes including the similarly build Double Cheese. I wonder if this is an attribute of mango as a tone-wood, or it is unique to this particular uke. This is my first and only mango uke (so far) so I don’t have the chance to compare it to other mango ukes.
I’ve also heard mango being described as sounding like koa. Comparing my Rebel with my KoAloha KSM-10C Koa soprano, the way each uke sound and feel in hand is strikingly different. Although there’s some history and connection between the two companies and Rebel learnt uke making from KoAloha and produces their Opio line, in my opinion, Rebel and KoAloha ukes feel very different from one another.
Overall I’m really happy with my Rebel Double Creme soprano, both looks and sound-wise. If I have to really nitpick, there is one minor detail I feel would improve an already excellent uke even more if done differently. The gloss finish on the neck and the back of the headstock is slightly thicker than necessary and has a slight “orange peel” quality to it that's different from nice glass smooth gloss of the ukulele body. I wonder why is there this inconsistency with the finish.
I bought my uke directly from Baan Ukulele from Thailand and they are excellent to deal with. My order was shipped quickly and they even included a really nice Rebel T-shirt as a gift. Orders over $500 gets free worldwide shipping. I’m not sure if they setup the ukes they sell, but the action and playability on mine feels perfect.
I’ll post a sound sample in my next post that hopefully will illustrate what I meant by the interesting sound of this uke. Thanks for reading this rather lengthy and longwinded NUD post, hope it’s useful for those who are considering Rebel ukuleles!