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Thread: Review: Leho LHUS-ASM All Solid Mahogany Soprano

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2021

    Default Review: Leho LHUS-ASM All Solid Mahogany Soprano

    In my quest for a soprano in the $200 CAD range I initially bought a Leho soprano from the local Long and McQuade, "Canada's Music Store." I wanted an all solid for various reasons, realizing that solid wood doesn't automatically = quality, but I wanted to see if it could be done in that price range.

    The Leho soprano was out of stock in store, so I ordered it online and had it delivered to my home. Spoiler alert: I have since returned it, and ordered an Ohana SK-25 instead, but there is so little information on Leho ukes online I thought I'd share my experiences with it.

    Leho is a Chinese-made offshoot of the well-respected Canadian guitar brand L'Arrivee. It is a very pretty uke to my eyes, a lovely light mahogany color, the photos really don't do it justice. It has a wonderful feel in the hands, smooth and tactile.

    Some details: this soprano measures an inch larger than most at 22 inches tall with a slightly larger body and flat-bottomed lower bout. It features a Graphtec NuBone 35mm nut and saddle and a walnut fretboard and bridge. There are fret markers at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th, the latter being a pretty little wooden shell inlay (Leho means "shell" in Hawaiian). There are 12 frets to the body and a generous 17 in total. It is fitted with Aquila SuperNylguts. The bridge is one of those odd 8 hole tie bar jobs that Lanikai also uses, which looks messy to me. The back mahogany is bookfaced in two pieces, the sides in two pieces with a wooden joint at the bottom, and the top actually appears to be a whopping four pieces, although it's not obvious. I could be wrong. The headstock is a more novel shape than the usual Martin-style crown and feels nice, with a laser etched logo that is rather well done. The neck profile is the fullest and roundest I've come across, which some may dislike but I don't. Inside we see notched kerfing and all is extremely clean with no glue seepage. Finally this little uke features wood binding on the body and fretboard, thin black purfling and a nicely inlaid rosette.

    What's great: there has been a bit more put into aesthetic and tactile details than usual at this price point. The open gear tuners are very nice unbranded chrome and work like butter. The wood binding is a nice touch, particularly at the fretboard which has also been rolled. I love the feel of the satin finish over the closed pore grain. The little extra touches like the wooden inlaid shell at the 12th make for an overall lovely looking, and feeling, instrument. The action is perfect to me. The sound is clear, round and cheerful, a huge improvement to my cheap Hilo. The sustain is surprisingly good for a soprano as well.

    What's not great: quite a few things actually, some minor and some fairly major. Minor issues include a very dry fretboard, but that's fixable. One of the tuners was installed on a slant. The string spacing could be improved; the A string is too close to the edge of the fretboard for my liking and has slipped off when fretted, although this could be my lack of skill. The fretboard itself is not level when you peer down the neck from the headstock, and dips downward where it meets the body. Despite lowish action, the intonation is oddly sharp all over the neck. It is also "twangy" when fretted: I am unsure what causes this, perhaps the fretwires are too high, but fretting causes a noticeable bend in the note, particularly on the C and E strings at the lower frets. This happens even when you fret lightly. Last but not least, the frets have all been installed on a slight slant to the left.

    This was a difficult instrument to review in some ways. On the one hand, it looks and feels lovely, has nice features and a good sound when it doesn't twang or pitch sharp. On the other hand, there are a few fairly major problems in the build quality. I was hoping some of these issues were only a problem with this particular unit and was tempted to try another one, until the satin finish cracked at the upper bout purfling. I then remembered the concert version in the shop had a similar crack. That was the sad nail in the coffin of my three weeks with Leho.

    I rate it 3/5 for the price range.
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    Last edited by Farkvam; 04-16-2021 at 12:35 PM.

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