Aria ACU-1?

Io Sapsai

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I got it in 2020 or 2021 blindly (guess why). I wanted something cheap to dip my toes but not the cheapest thing I could find. It's my first and only ukulele I've ever played. It comes in concert size. I couldn't see any info or reviews about it other than the general opinion of the brand.

I personally don't have major gripes with it, I love that the pegs "lock" the string when I insert it during change. The nylgut strings that came with it are amazing - I stand even firmer by this opinion after I changed them for a different brand, using low G nylguts now, following UU's advice. It also holds its tune really well after the new strings settle down. It was bit more than half a tone flat months of gathering dust.

Interestingly enough, there is a fret marker on the 10th fret rather than the 9th, which I found odd. The action on the higher positions seems a bit high but I'm not sure if it's my modest electric axe background, being used to super low action, or the uke itself. I don't think I'm going to use that part of the fingerboard any time soon anyway. It's definitely playable though. Probably fixable too!

I'm curious if any of you have played this model and what you think of it.
 
If this is modern/new then its a laminate instrument, but their older models of the same serial might be much higher spec. I have a Concert ACU250 (probably 20 years old) and its a very competent solid tonewood ukulele, if untrendy looking. Southern Ukulele Store badged that model as their own for a while for that reason.
 
If this is modern/new then its a laminate instrument
I bought it new. Here are the specs from their website:

  • Top:Mahogany
  • Back & Sides: Mahogany
  • Neck: Okume
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 18F
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Nut & Saddle: Bone
  • Nut width: 35 mm
  • Finish: Matt
  • Strings: Aquila Nylgut
Doesn't say anything about laminate but I'm not exactly competent.


pic(s)? all my ukes have markers on 10 rather than 9
Coming from bass and guitar I thought it was a quirk of this one brand/model rather than standard for ukes. My bad! I'm at work so I'll post pics when I get home if I don't forget.
 
price could give an indication of laminate vs. solid, along with peeking at the top in the soundhole. Some mfgers are intentionally vague about this... specs look fine.
 
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if people can get away with it
"Mahogany" = generic plywood with thin surface layer of mahogany
"solid mahogany" = mahogany
until the advertising standards authority does something about...
 
I got it in 2020 or 2021 blindly (guess why). I wanted something cheap to dip my toes but not the cheapest thing I could find. It's my first and only ukulele I've ever played. It comes in concert size. I couldn't see any info or reviews about it other than the general opinion of the brand.

I personally don't have major gripes with it, I love that the pegs "lock" the string when I insert it during change. The nylgut strings that came with it are amazing - I stand even firmer by this opinion after I changed them for a different brand, using low G nylguts now, following UU's advice. It also holds its tune really well after the new strings settle down. It was bit more than half a tone flat months of gathering dust.

Interestingly enough, there is a fret marker on the 10th fret rather than the 9th, which I found odd. The action on the higher positions seems a bit high but I'm not sure if it's my modest electric axe background, being used to super low action, or the uke itself. I don't think I'm going to use that part of the fingerboard any time soon anyway. It's definitely playable though. Probably fixable too!

I'm curious if any of you have played this model and what you think of it.
I think that this is the model: https://www.ariauk.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=13680

An old friend of mine had one but I haven’t seen her since before Covid … hope she made it through. Hers sounded OK as supplied but noticeably better after I set it up, I also replaced the strings with Martin M600’s and that seemed to be a plus too. It’s all laminate and plain but that’s fine, hers had no block inside the lower boute so I couldn’t fit a conventional strap pin for her.

On Ukes it’s normal to have a marker at the tenth rather than the ninth fret.
 
hers had no block inside the lower boute so I couldn’t fit a conventional strap pin for her.
Interesting. Mine had a strap button by default. I just got a strap for classical guitar that has a shoelace thing that I tie up above the nut. Works like a charm. But yeah that's the model you linked. It really is plywood with probably just a bit of mahogany in it. Still, I'm glad I didn't buy some utter garbage like it happened with my Squier electric guitar.

I'm curious, what kind of a set up do you do on a ukulele? I've done it myself successfully on my electrics but I'm really afraid to do anything on the uke... and the closest luthier that works with ukuleles is about 5 hours away but in another country...
 
Interesting. Mine had a strap button by default. I just got a strap for classical guitar that has a shoelace thing that I tie up above the nut. Works like a charm. But yeah that's the model you linked. It really is plywood with probably just a bit of mahogany in it. Still, I'm glad I didn't buy some utter garbage like it happened with my Squier electric guitar.

I'm curious, what kind of a set up do you do on a ukulele? I've done it myself successfully on my electrics but I'm really afraid to do anything on the uke... and the closest luthier that works with ukuleles is about 5 hours away but in another country...
The set-up was the usual things of filing the string slots for fit and low string height over the first fret and saddle height reduction for appropriate string height over the twelfth fret. Maybe research set-up on UU for further details of what folk do and how.

Yes, plywood with a mahogany veneer in it.
 
I've tried and owned several Aria instruments, ukulele, guitalele and classical guitar.
All have been great and punch well above its price.

With action, you'll have to do some measurements.
Do you have a string action height ruler? The ones you would use on guitars works on ukuleles.
Measure the distance between the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the string(s).

For example, this diagram shows that the action at the 12th fret is 1.5mm
20240104_164830-jpg.163882


Ideally the action (depending on preferences) should be around 2.0mm plus or minus 0.5mm.
If you like your action low (I do too as an electric guitar player), 1.5mm action is not unreasonable though some people would consider it too low. Some people prefer high action, especially if they come from a classical guitar background (high action is typically 2.5-3.5mm).

1.5-2.0mm is the sweetspot for me on most ukes.

If you go too low, you risk losing expressiveness/volume/tone and might experience buzz if the string starts hitting the frets while vibrating.

You can lower saddle action by pulling the thing out (loosen/remove strings first) and sanding the bottom down using sandpaper (coarse works best for efficiency).

If you accidentally go too low, buy a replacement saddle off ebay (TUSQ/Nubone, bone and ebony are popular materials) and sand it into shape.
Some people insert shims made of some thin material (cut up plastic cards, paper/cardboard, brass shims, etc) but I don't like the idea of adding another layer of material between the saddle and the instrument's top.
 
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