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Thread: Romero Creations ST Concert laminate (Solid Spruce top /Mahogany laminate body)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, CA
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    Default Romero Creations ST Concert laminate (Solid Spruce top /Mahogany laminate body)

    Finally got ahold of a Romero Creations ST Concert ukulele, aka the STC. This is the “budget” model with sitka spruce top, and mahogany laminate sides and back). As someone who loves the Tiny Tenor, I was excited to try out this new, smaller version.

    A few words about the uke, for those who don’t know. The ST Concert is a really interesting hybrid instrument. It melds a tenor bout "paddle" body and a full 15”concert scale, but the overall size of the instrument is a soprano. Basically, it’s a concert uke with the overall size of a soprano, but with a full tenor body. Perfect for travel.

    As for the sound, as far as I can tell, it’s identical to that of the Tiny Tenor. So if you’re a concert scale player who’s been holding off on the TT because of the scale size, this is your instrument. Since the body is the same size and material as the TT, it sounds the same, but in a significantly shorter overall package. Of course, the concert scale reduces the string tension a bit, which some players appreciate.

    As with the Tiny Tenor, the sound is superb--well balanced, with perfect intonation across the entire fretboard (I was told that Pepe Romero—or someone in his shop—inspects and set sup each of these instruments when they arrive from Vietnam). The C and E strings are nice and full with no “boominess” or “thuddiness",” and the G and A strings are chimey and very clear and bright. Strung with low G, the instrument transforms. The low G is full and clear, and sets the entire body vibrating under your arm. The uke comes set up with Low G, so the nut is already prepped to take the thicker string. Switching to high G is effortless, and there is no issue with vibration at the nut. The bridge features a compensated bone saddle, which accounts for the spot-on intonation.

    Fit and finish is superb for a production instrument. My example had no cosmetic flaws. Although the fret ends are files to an angle, they could use a bit of polishing to smooth out the edges. The fretboard is lovely, as is the neck (a nice shallow C shape, finished in a satin polyurethane). 12 frets to the body (15.5 frets total), and really great black 16:1 closed geared tuners.

    I was surprised to see that they have widened the neck a bit since the first gen tiny tenors (which I found to be a bit narrow at the nut). Now it feels perfect and is sublime for fingerstyle or clawhammer.

    The spruce top is lovely and thin, providing clear, bright high notes. As with the TT, the soundhole is oversize compared to other ukes, which allows for a very open sound. It’s surrounded by a lovely and simple mother of pearl ring that looks great.

    The finish is a very thin and very hard satin polysomething – it hold up superbly over time, and you won’t have to worry about dings or scratches (since I play clawhammer, this is a real benefit, as fingernail strikes do nothing to this finish!). It’s also thin enough for easy phantom hammer-ons and pull-offs that can actually be heard (often a problem on ukes with heavier builds, or thick gloss tops). The body of the laminate production models is also deeper than the solid wood models, which seems to produce greater volume and tonal complexity. I really like this feature, and for this reason alone prefer the “cheaper” solid/laminate over the solid models. The solid wood models are tonally sublime, but for my style of playing I find them to be either too quiet or too warm – the spruce top on this model, combined with the deeper body, solves all these problems.

    On a few models I looks at, the bridge was canted at a bit of an angle (presumably so improve intonation on the C string). This varies a bit by instrument – I selected one with almost no angle to the bridge, but the intonation was perfect.

    So, although I was skeptical at first (and hadn’t really considered buying the ST Concert), I’m really happy with the purchase. It’s largely displaced the Tiny Tenor in my stable, and seems to sound identical (but with the advantage of the concert scale, which I prefer).

    Unfortunately, I’ve heard Pepe Romero has stopped production on all the “economy” Spruce/Laminate models. Apparently, the production time on these was too unpredictable, so they decided to cut them from the product lineup, going with all solid wood for now. If you’ve been thinking about buying a laminate Tiny Tenor or ST Concert, now is the time. Once the current models are gone, there will be no more.

    They’re already tough to find (sold out at most vendors), but U-Space Ukuleles in Los Angeles still has a few for $289 with custom hard foam “flight” case. Jason Arimoto is a great guy, and does a superb job setting these up. The action on mine was a tad high for my tastes, but after 10 minutes of setup work, Jason had dialed it right in! Give them a call if interested.

    Tone: 9.5
    Fit & Finish: 8.5
    Intonation: 10
    Volume: 10
    Price: 7
    Playability: 10
    _____________________________________________

    Current Stable:

    Soprano:
    Kala travel uke (spruce & mahogany) (KA-SSTU)
    Concert:
    Romero Creations ST Concert (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Gold Tone Banjo Ukulele (BU-1) - Open Back
    Tenor:
    Romero Creations Tiny Tenor (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Kala Spruce-Ovangkol (KA-ASOV-T)
    Blackbird Farallon (Tobacco Sunburst)

    Banjos:
    Pisgah Dobson Rambler 12" pot

    PM me if you'd like to be in touch...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
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    Nice, sounds like a wonderful little instrument. And, yes, any of the Tiny Tenor body styles are hard to come by. I always seem to be a day late in ordering. The spruce and mahogany versions I've tried have more volume and dynamic range than the all mahogany or koa versions, albeit I wouldn't mind owning any of them. This week I briefly had a Tiny Tenor 6 in spruce and mahogany and it was a screamer with a fat beautiful tone. I had to return it because there was a 3.5" crack in the side and a 2.5" crack in the top. USPS squeezed the box like an accordion...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    1,154

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    Congratulations. I have a TT solid top. Too bad they are stopping production. Great value, great sound. I do want a all solid TT now because I just love the shape and sound. Hopefully, more
    all solid TT will show up at dealers. It would also, be nice to see more wood combinations. I will keep mine TT solid top/laminate. Great take anywhere Uke and I do take if. I want to try the all solid. I like wha TC are doing. I really like the string thru bridge.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, CA
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    I was ready to fork out for a beautifully spalted solid mango TT, but after playing it for a while, I found I liked the sound on the laminate more. Mango was beautiful, but too soft for the clawhammer stuff I play. Plus, the shallower body reduces the volume, and I wanted something that was bright and punchy.
    _____________________________________________

    Current Stable:

    Soprano:
    Kala travel uke (spruce & mahogany) (KA-SSTU)
    Concert:
    Romero Creations ST Concert (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Gold Tone Banjo Ukulele (BU-1) - Open Back
    Tenor:
    Romero Creations Tiny Tenor (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Kala Spruce-Ovangkol (KA-ASOV-T)
    Blackbird Farallon (Tobacco Sunburst)

    Banjos:
    Pisgah Dobson Rambler 12" pot

    PM me if you'd like to be in touch...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
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    673

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    Quote Originally Posted by neo1022 View Post

    Unfortunately, I’ve heard Pepe Romero has stopped production on all the “economy” Spruce/Laminate models. Apparently, the production time on these was too unpredictable, so they decided to cut them from the product lineup, going with all solid wood for now. If you’ve been thinking about buying a laminate Tiny Tenor or ST Concert, now is the time. Once the current models are gone, there will be no more.
    The QC appears to be the same on the all solid and laminate models so I suspect the building costs in terms of labor are exactly the same with only a tiny savings in cheaper heads and laminate. Probably more cost effective and profitable to build and sell only all solid models since they command a higher price.

    After playing the koa, mahogany, mango and the spruce/mahogany TT variants in the HMS shop, I thought the spruce/mahogany version sounded the best and was noticeably louder than the other woods as well.
    Last edited by gochugogi; 04-28-2019 at 08:33 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    1,154

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    Interesting comments on all solid.. I like spruce tops for clarity. I think cedar would be nice also.
    I’ve seen mango and spruce on HMS a few times. It would be cool to see spruce and cedar matched with more solid back and sides woods. I’ve read the laminate version body is deeper than the all solid bodies. I assumed that had to do with projection.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by M3Ukulele View Post
    Interesting comments on all solid.. I like spruce tops for clarity. I think cedar would be nice also.
    I’ve seen mango and spruce on HMS a few times. It would be cool to see spruce and cedar matched with more solid back and sides woods. I’ve read the laminate version body is deeper than the all solid bodies. I assumed that had to do with projection.
    A cedar topped TT or STC would be Dubliner!
    _____________________________________________

    Current Stable:

    Soprano:
    Kala travel uke (spruce & mahogany) (KA-SSTU)
    Concert:
    Romero Creations ST Concert (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Gold Tone Banjo Ukulele (BU-1) - Open Back
    Tenor:
    Romero Creations Tiny Tenor (Spruce & Mahogany)
    Kala Spruce-Ovangkol (KA-ASOV-T)
    Blackbird Farallon (Tobacco Sunburst)

    Banjos:
    Pisgah Dobson Rambler 12" pot

    PM me if you'd like to be in touch...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    CH
    Posts
    1,906

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    Thanks for your great review. I would love to see some pictures, as I haven't seen this model in the solid/laminate version before.

    How sure are you about this budget line not being produced any longer? I heard that Pepe had some issues with quality control he was trying to solve. By the way, from what I know, unlike the all solid models, this budget line from Romero Creations is not made in Vietnam, but China. This may explain some of the differences.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    29

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    Uke Republic still has them available on their website. Mike announced awhile ago that they were discontinuing production of the solid/laminate TT, I hadn't heard that about the Concert model, but it doesn't surprise me. I have both laminate models, and the sound is nearly identical. I switched the tenor to re-entrant and it still sounded great, but switched it back because none of my tenors could match its sound with low g. I have a solid body mahogany ST concert on order, and will debate whether to keep the laminate as a beater (goodbye Flea). My cheapest ukes sound and play the best and get played the most.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2013
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    I just received an Instagram post from Pepe Last night and in it he said the solid top/laminate versions of TT, GRAND, ST Concert are being discontinued. I have a TT solid top/ laminate and I love it. I'd like to try the ST Concert for travel - sold/laminate or all solid. I think the size would be perfect and if it sound like you say above... WOW.

    I hope now that they have only gone to solid wood, that they start to mix up things with a few new wood combinations. I want to try the Spruce/Mahogany solid to see if its much different to my TT solid/laminate. Otherwise, I'd love to get a spruce/Koa or spruce/acacia or cedar/something to tryin in all solid.

    I get that they make more on solid instruments. I bought my TT/Laminate as a take anywhere travel, not worry about uke. Kinda like my Fluke but nicer plays. Now Flukes have solid top but price is high. These were a really good price point. Anyways, I will watch and see what comes down the pike...…….. I like what RC is doing so anytime I can play one... I will.

    Now watching for ST Concern to try. Thanks

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