Concert Fluke, Tenor Fluke, or Outdoor Carbon Tenor?

westcoast

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I was trying to find some sound comparisons between these three ukes but I thought perhaps folks here might have more direct experience! Can anyone comment on the sound differences between the Concert Fluke, Tenor Fluke, or Outdoor Carbon Tenor? I'm looking for a new ukulele and considering one of those 3. I'm interested in playing both low G and high G.

Some background:

I've had a first-generation Outdoor Soprano which I remember sounding ok. It was very tough - I took it without a gig bag in my backpack on planes internationally and was totally fine. It had the frets that were a little too high so it was easy to press too hard and make it go sharp. I haven't been able to play any of the 2nd generation Outdoor ukes.

I later got a Magic Fluke Flea Soprano with a laminate top that I really liked. It was still pretty tough but I did get a gig bag for it, primarily to protect the bridge and the tuners. I was able to travel with it in my backpack on a plane. I thought the Flea sounded better / warmer / fuller than the first-gen Outdoor Soprano but the soprano size is a little smaller than I prefer.

One cool thing I noticed about the Tenor Fluke is that it's shorter compared to a regular tenor. A Magic Fluke Tenor is 24.25 inches; and Outdoor Tenor is 26.5 inches, a Kamaka Tenor is 27 1/8 inches, a Kamaka Concert is 23.5 inches, and a Kamaka Soprano is 20 1/8 inches). I feel like the smaller the instrument length-wise, the easier it is to keep in a backpack as a carryon. :)
 
I have not tried an Outdoor uke, but my Magic Fluke Concert Fluke has traveled far and wide with a sound that I like. Only reason I might get an Outdoor Uke would be for trips to the wilderness, it can do double duty as a back up paddle.

If you want an acceptable sound/tone to you in a durable package your gonna have to choose.

I like my Fluke for it's sound, durability, and would likely take it along anywhere I'm likely to go most of the time. I do have a solid spruce top.
 
I have not tried an Outdoor uke, but my Magic Fluke Concert Fluke has traveled far and wide with a sound that I like. Only reason I might get an Outdoor Uke would be for trips to the wilderness, it can do double duty as a back up paddle.

If you want an acceptable sound/tone to you in a durable package your gonna have to choose.

I like my Fluke for it's sound, durability, and would likely take it along anywhere I'm likely to go most of the time. I do have a solid spruce top.

Thanks for sharing your experience! Do you worry about the humidity or strength of the solid top (as compared to a laminate?)
 
My tenor Fluke fits in a Kala Transit concert gig bag. It sounds good with low G. Others can verify, but I suspect there is very little difference in sound between the concert and tenor, as they have the same body. I’d take any size Magic Fluke ukulele over any size Outdoor—they sound better. You can keep the MF instruments in the trunk of your car year round, you can let kids handle them without fear and they travel well on airplanes. Those are the only things I need a durable uke to do. I don’t ride motorcycles and I wouldn’t carry any uke backpacking because there are other ways I’d rather spend the weight. If I did need it for that, I think MF weigh less, though.

All that aside, I think the Outdoor ukes are attractive and they are cheaper and made in the PNW, so for some they are a better choice. Either is good for what they are. Neither will replace a solid wood instrument for most, but the MF could work very well for some. I like taking the Fluke to uke group because it strikes a great balance between sound, durability, and convenience. I like that it doesn’t need a stand.
 
My tenor Fluke fits in a Kala Transit concert gig bag. It sounds good with low G. Others can verify, but I suspect there is very little difference in sound between the concert and tenor, as they have the same body. I’d take any size Magic Fluke ukulele over any size Outdoor—they sound better. You can keep the MF instruments in the trunk of your car year round, you can let kids handle them without fear and they travel well on airplanes. Those are the only things I need a durable uke to do. I don’t ride motorcycles and I wouldn’t carry any uke backpacking because there are other ways I’d rather spend the weight. If I did need it for that, I think MF weigh less, though.

All that aside, I think the Outdoor ukes are attractive and they are cheaper and made in the PNW, so for some they are a better choice. Either is good for what they are. Neither will replace a solid wood instrument for most, but the MF could work very well for some. I like taking the Fluke to uke group because it strikes a great balance between sound, durability, and convenience. I like that it doesn’t need a stand.

Thank you, knowing that it fits in the Kala Concert Transit bag is great information! Is it a laminate top or is it a koa / spruce one?

I also like the look of the Outdoor Uke and the fact that it is cheaper doesn't hurt! I do like the look of the Fluke / Flea even though it's not traditional and I like the fact it doesn't need a stand.
 
I was wanting a Magic Flea originally, although a Flight soprano travel uke caught my eye, and for the price it was worth a try. I kinda fell in love with the sound, I wasn't expecting to. Afterward I got a chance to try a Magic Flea again and the Flea doesn't draw my eye/ear anymore.

I know I'll have to check out the tenor later. Still will probably get a Magic Fluke tenor.
 
Thank you, knowing that it fits in the Kala Concert Transit bag is great information! Is it a laminate top or is it a koa / spruce one?

I also like the look of the Outdoor Uke and the fact that it is cheaper doesn't hurt! I do like the look of the Fluke / Flea even though it's not traditional and I like the fact it doesn't need a stand.
Mine is the solid koa. I get a lot of comments on its looks—good comments, that is.
 
I was wanting a Magic Flea originally, although a Flight soprano travel uke caught my eye, and for the price it was worth a try. I kinda fell in love with the sound, I wasn't expecting to. Afterward I got a chance to try a Magic Flea again and the Flea doesn't draw my eye/ear anymore.

I know I'll have to check out the tenor later. Still will probably get a Magic Fluke tenor.
I like the Flight travel uke, too. It’s not quite as nicely made as the Flea, but I think it sounds great and it’s easy to play.
 
My experience mimics yours, somewhat. I've had 2 outdoor sopranos...the sound is just ok. and have a soprano and had a concert flea. No doubt, the fleas sound better. The scales are a bit longer on the fleas (and fluke concert), at 14" for sopranos and 15.5" for concerts. Once I realized I didn't really need the indestructibility of the outdoor (and didn't prefer the sound), the choice was easy.
 
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Mine is the solid koa. I get a lot of comments on its looks—good comments, that is.
It sounds like you don't have to worry too much about the humidity or dryness? I was wondering if the upgrade from laminate was worth it and if I'd need to be more careful in dry or damp situations.
 
It sounds like you don't have to worry too much about the humidity or dryness? I was wondering if the upgrade from laminate was worth it and if I'd need to be more careful in dry or damp situations.
I recently had a conversation with Phyllis at MFC about this. I bought a flea with a wood fretboard and Pegheds and was trying to decide between a laminate top and solid top. Part of me figured since I was spending all that money on the other upgrades I should get a solid but the whole point of the purchase was to have a uke that was very nice but that I would not have to worry about leaving out in the winter or getting broken by my young children.

Basically, Phyllis’s take was that the solid top ones are still pretty tough and as long as you don’t leave them sitting out next to a heat vent in the winter they would probably okay even in cold dry climates (key word being here is “probably”) BUT if I really didn’t want to worry laminate was of course the safest bet. In terms of being worth it she said the solid top has a “sweeter” tone but I didn’t get the impression that it was a massive difference. I wouldn't worry too much about too much humidity but if you have cold dry winters and forced air heat that’s a bit more of a risk.

Ultimately, I stuck with a laminate top, not because I thought the solid top was likely to break, but simply because I new I would worry that it might and I didn’t want that worry to spoil my enjoyment of the instrument.

I’m glad did. I leave it out on the shelf in my living room, I don’t humidify it at all, it gets knocked around by my kids, but when I pick it up to play the fretboard and tuners make it feel a bit higher end and it still sounds great.

I will add the deciding factor for me was asking Phyllis if the tops could be replaced. Apparently repairs are much harder on the ones with wood fretboards just because they are harder to remove. Something about the way they are made makes it easier for them to remove the plastic fretboards to do repairs but very difficult and expensive to do repairs in the wood fretboard ones. If she had said the tops were easily replaced for $X, I probably would have gotten a solid top but since that’s not the case laminate made the most sense to me. That said, I love my flea enough that I may still get a solid top flea or fluke someday.
 
I recently had a conversation with Phyllis at MFC about this. I bought a flea with a wood fretboard and Pegheds and was trying to decide between a laminate top and solid top. Part of me figured since I was spending all that money on the other upgrades I should get a solid but the whole point of the purchase was to have a uke that was very nice but that I would not have to worry about leaving out in the winter or getting broken by my young children.

Basically, Phyllis’s take was that the solid top ones are still pretty tough and as long as you don’t leave them sitting out next to a heat vent in the winter they would probably okay even in cold dry climates (key word being here is “probably”) BUT if I really didn’t want to worry laminate was of course the safest bet. In terms of being worth it she said the solid top has a “sweeter” tone but I didn’t get the impression that it was a massive difference. I wouldn't worry too much about too much humidity but if you have cold dry winters and forced air heat that’s a bit more of a risk.

Ultimately, I stuck with a laminate top, not because I thought the solid top was likely to break, but simply because I new I would worry that it might and I didn’t want that worry to spoil my enjoyment of the instrument.

I’m glad did. I leave it out on the shelf in my living room, I don’t humidify it at all, it gets knocked around by my kids, but when I pick it up to play the fretboard and tuners make it feel a bit higher end and it still sounds great.

I will add the deciding factor for me was asking Phyllis if the tops could be replaced. Apparently repairs are much harder on the ones with wood fretboards just because they are harder to remove. Something about the way they are made makes it easier for them to remove the plastic fretboards to do repairs but very difficult and expensive to do repairs in the wood fretboard ones. If she had said the tops were easily replaced for $X, I probably would have gotten a solid top but since that’s not the case laminate made the most sense to me. That said, I love my flea enough that I may still get a solid top flea or fluke someday.

Oh, thank you for describing your thought process and what you ultimately chose! Very interesting that a wood fretboard can affect what can be replaced.

I did like having my Flea soprano around, but now I'm interested in trying out the Fluke sound.
 
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It sounds like you don't have to worry too much about the humidity or dryness? I was wondering if the upgrade from laminate was worth it and if I'd need to be more careful in dry or damp situations.
Maybe I should, but I don’t. I never worry about it at all. I haven’t heard of any Fluke or Flea being damaged by humidity or lack thereof. Maybe it’s happened. I’m just willing to take that minuscule risk. But if you’re not, they both sound and look good, get the laminate top. I don’t know how much different they sound, but I suspect it’s not huge. I do like one-piece tops, and their solid tops are one piece, as are the laminates, I believe. I take a small amount of pride in having a one-piece koa top, at the price of koa they are rare; but it’s also a relatively small top.
 
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Thanks for sharing your experience! Do you worry about the humidity or strength of the solid top (as compared to a laminate?)
I do not worry about the strength of the spruce top. It has a couple of small dings in it thanks to family members, but really the uke gets a lot of love and use. I don't worry too much about heat and humidity. I do use a humidifier from October to about May. I do have a wooden fretboard. I don't leave the uke in the car in the warmer months. I have a TKL case and have only traveled by car with it, but across country 1/2 dozen times or so. My Fluke also goes to events, up north to the woods and anywhere I care to take it any time of year. I do watch the amount of time it's in the car when hot out. If I need to, I take the instrument out of car and into where ever I'm going. Not a hassle to me. My Fluke was my first uke. My spouse an experienced musician, multi-instrumentalist, suggested I get a solid top instrument, so I did.


My friend has a Flea with laminate and plastic fretboard. It seen a lot of miles and hard fun playing. Still going strong. When I asked him why he bought a Flea he said, "Because it fit in the saddle bags on his Harley." Good enough for me.
 
I also have a Fluke tenor... it's an older one I bought used with the molded fretboard and laminate top. It sounds really nice, unless I play is hard, and then the tone breaks down a bit. It's set up with the low G, and I like how the intonation is really solid in that set up...

One thing no one has mentioned is the tuners... they take some getting used to, and I would classify them as being somewhat hard to use.

Sometimes, my tuning is a bit off and I just say to myself "to hell with it... close enough" and quit trying to get it right because I'm tired of messing with them.

Some people find them hard to hold, but I've never had that problem.

Another issue is that the fretboard is wearing out! The "frets" are becoming grooved, and some of them up in the first position are down to about 60%... as I say, it was used and clearly well loved before I got it...

But I love how I can forget about it in my trunk and it's fine when I finally remember to retrieve it.

BTW: I reviewed it in the Reviews section when I first bought it... take a look if you want a more detailed description!
 
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My experience mimics yours, somewhat. I've had 2 outdoor sopranos...the sound is just ok. and have a soprano and had a concert flea. No doubt, the fleas sound better. The scales are a bit longer on the fleas (and fluke concert), at 14" and 15.5". Once I realized I didn't really need the indestructibility of the outdoor (and didn't prefer the sound), the choice was easy.

Was that the 1st generation soprano or the 2nd generation?
 
Maybe I should, but I don’t. I never worry about it at all. I haven’t heard of any Fluke or Flea being damaged by humidity or lack thereof. Maybe it’s happened. I’m just willing to take that minuscule risk. But if you’re not, they both sound and look good, get the laminate top. I don’t know how much different they sound, but I suspect it’s not huge. I do like one-piece tops, and their solid tops are one piece, as are the laminates, I believe. I take a small amount of pride in having a one-piece koa top, at the price of koa they are rare; but it’s also a relatively small top.

Thank you, that's great to hear that you don't worry about it. The koa definitely looks very nice!
 
I do not worry about the strength of the spruce top. It has a couple of small dings in it thanks to family members, but really the uke gets a lot of love and use. I don't worry too much about heat and humidity. I do use a humidifier from October to about May. I do have a wooden fretboard. I don't leave the uke in the car in the warmer months. I have a TKL case and have only traveled by car with it, but across country 1/2 dozen times or so. My Fluke also goes to events, up north to the woods and anywhere I care to take it any time of year. I do watch the amount of time it's in the car when hot out. If I need to, I take the instrument out of car and into where ever I'm going. Not a hassle to me. My Fluke was my first uke. My spouse an experienced musician, multi-instrumentalist, suggested I get a solid top instrument, so I did.


My friend has a Flea with laminate and plastic fretboard. It seen a lot of miles and hard fun playing. Still going strong. When I asked him why he bought a Flea he said, "Because it fit in the saddle bags on his Harley." Good enough for me.

Thank you, very helpful to hear the details about when you humidify and when you don't (and also in what situations you're ok with leaving the Fluke in the car)

That's a great story about the Flea and the Harley :)
 
I also have a Fluke tenor... it's an older one I bought used with the molded fretboard and laminate top. It sounds really nice, unless I play is hard, and then the tone breaks down a bit. It's set up with the low G, and I like how the intonation is really solid in that set up...

One thing no one has mentioned is the tuners... they take some getting used to, and I would classify them as being somewhat hard to use.

Sometimes, my tuning is a bit off and I just say to myself "to hell with it... close enough" and quit trying to get it right because I'm tired of messing with them.

Some people find them hard to hold, but I've never had that problem.

Another issue is that the fretboard is wearing out! The "frets" are becoming grooved, and some of them up in the first position are down to about 60%... as I say, it was used and clearly well loved before I got it...

But I love how I can forget about it in my trunk and it's fine when I finally remember to retrieve it.

BTW: I reviewed it in the Reviews section when I first bought it... take a look if you want a more detailed description!
Thanks, pretty cool to hear that the laminate is very durable. I'll take a look at the reviews section.
 
I’ve owned a tenor fluke for about 13 years. laminate top, plastic fretboard. It came with friction tuners to keep cost down……..in first month, I purchased the Pegheds and installed them myself , no problem. Doing it again, I’d order pegheds and wooden fretboard from factory. It’s sounds great with Aquila Reds , low G. I may drop off for wooden fretboard upgrade on way to Florida this year.

I’ve played outdoor tenor. It plays nice, but Fluke is louder. I found outdoor a little quiet. It is a nice tenor for what it’s intended purpose is. I like the robustness of my Fluke. I’ve left it out for 13 years. No issue. In fact, it just seems to sound better each year and I’ve read that is because the laminate hoop pine top keeps drying out??

There is a big difference in price. Both are worth their asking price. I’d love to play a solid top Koa and Spruce. I’m looking for a used Fluke now with Wooden fretboard and pegheds.……..solid top would be nice but would not hesitate for another laminate.

Good Luck.
 
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