Donner DUC-1 Concert - REVIEW

bazmaz

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After your Donner DUC-3 review I reckoned it would be an acceptable risk for a first ukulele to get the tenor seeing that I had an Amazon voucher. I immediately bonded with it and played it daily. I could feel myself progress, especially thanks to the wider neck (38 mm on the tenor). The decorations on the neck never bothered me, but I can see why they might throw people off. So, after 6 weeks the bridge came off and I got my money back. But they didn't want the uke back, and two months later somebody repaired it for me. It is still my favourite beater uke.

I was rooting for this one. But I was nervous because maybe I just got lucky in getting a good one. It's true, it is a bit plain, but I like it for that. And although you weren't impressed with the mahogany laminate, it actually looked very nice on camera. My DUT-3 even has some shimmer and flame on the sides.

Yes, you're never sure what you'r gonna get buying from Amazon. But I think they are a lot better than say the prettier Kmises (with lots of different decorations or flower petal soundholes).
The boring Kmises that look exactly like this Donner DUC-1 on the other hand also seem to be acceptable. I bought their cheap baritone DGBE tuning, with the truss rod. It's got the identical headstock (except the pearl inlay reads Kmise) and the see-through sealed tuners.

Thanks for covering the cheaper end ukes again. I'm sure that this one will become a nice new addition to a school or maybe a nice price in a raffle.
 
It's a tough one for me. I've been reviewing for years and seen many that are clearly from same lines. It stands to reason - there are far more brands in China than there are factories!

But it leaves me abundantly aware that I may have a good one or a bad one and that may not be representative. However... I have, over time, started to sense a pattern and know a few brand makers personally who use these building channels -and that is that the final QC level is hugely variable. I've played many Kmise and Caramels and found them all a bit rough. I've reviewed two Donners and found them not bad at all. Is that representative? Perhaps not, but maybe so. I suspect that Donner have a better final QC level that costs them. Some brands dont bother so much.
 
Good review BAZ. I half tempted to buy one $89 Canadian, free delivery to my door and do practise set up on. I have files so if fret ends we’re sticking out I could knock them down. I’ve sanded down saddles on guitars before. I don’t have nut slots but likely could get by with what I have for tools if I had too. I would think a dealer with a good set up department, could buy a bunch of these direct purchase from factory , do their set up, and get a low cost, usable ukulele, to a lot of new players as a starter Uke.

Do you think changing to Flurocarbon string or Aquila would help improve sound. You rated it pretty good for sound for a generic laminate anyways.

Always look forward to your reviews
Cheers
 
I think that's right - because the core things that matter are ok here - the wood is not overly thick, and it has good volume. It's a good starter.

Strings - depends on your tastes in strings! I actually quite like the ones on it
 
I haven't - but happy to put it on my reserve list. I wouldnt want to assume as, when it comes to cheaper Amazon ukes, Donner I have found to be rather decent. More than I can say for many. But this DOES seem too good to be true.

I would, however, posit another point here. I have never really understood the drive / desire for solid wood for the sake of it. It 'might' be a solid top, but so what? I would buy a good all laminate over a poor solid wood every day of the week. Solid wood ukes really have developed an almost mystical aura that it, at the cheaper end, nonsense.
 
I haven't - but happy to put it on my reserve list. I wouldnt want to assume as, when it comes to cheaper Amazon ukes, Donner I have found to be rather decent. More than I can say for many. But this DOES seem too good to be true.

I would, however, posit another point here. I have never really understood the drive / desire for solid wood for the sake of it. It 'might' be a solid top, but so what? I would buy a good all laminate over a poor solid wood every day of the week. Solid wood ukes really have developed an almost mystical aura that it, at the cheaper end, nonsense.

I read your article on laminate vs solid. Have a cheap kala 15s that's laminate and plays fine.
Was just wondering if you'd tried the one I posted
For $54 I might give it a shot just to get another tonewood. I'll let you know.
Would have liked to try the Aklot bamboo but it doesn't come in soprano. They told me it's too hard to bend into soprano.
 
I read your article on laminate vs solid. Have a cheap kala 15s that's laminate and plays fine.
Was just wondering if you'd tried the one I posted
For $54 I might give it a shot just to get another tonewood. I'll let you know.
Would have liked to try the Aklot bamboo but it doesn't come in soprano. They told me it's too hard to bend into soprano.

It will be interesting to hear your take on it. It's very attractive. Lanikai makes a solid spruce top soprano that I've heard good things about from people whose opinion I respect, but it's about twice that price.
 
I'm chatty tonight I guess. I had the identical Kmise model in soprano (twice!) and it's a value player. I've found Kmise quality control to be good. They arrived set up perfectly, and they were well made and sounded great. It is a good starter ukulele and I passed on both to people who were starting. I would never give a bad player to a beginner, I don't want to discourage them.
 
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Oops. Just reread your review. Seems like they have really big nuts at 38 mm. The Kala 15S feels good in my hand with a 35mm nut and a rounder neck.

Guess I could buy a blank nut and cut the gaps closer. A metal nail file and misc size welder brushes cuts at least halfway decent ones if you can't afford the expensive fret/nut files.

Thanks for the helpful review
 
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I read your article on laminate vs solid. Have a cheap kala 15s that's laminate and plays fine.
Was just wondering if you'd tried the one I posted
For $54 I might give it a shot just to get another tonewood. I'll let you know.
Would have liked to try the Aklot bamboo but it doesn't come in soprano. They told me it's too hard to bend into soprano.

Nope - as I said - will put it on the list though.
 
Oops. Just reread your review. Seems like they have really big nuts at 38 mm. The Kala 15S feels good in my hand with a 35mm nut and a rounder neck.

Guess I could buy a blank nut and cut the gaps closer. A metal nail file and misc size welder brushes cuts at least halfway decent ones if you can't afford the expensive fret/nut files.

Thanks for the helpful review

This set works fairly well for my ukuleles:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/202767504836
 
Necroing this thread just because this was my first uke several years ago and it is still my most common play. The neck is incredibly comfortable - wide and much flatter than the Flights, Enyas, Kalas that I've played. Honestly my biggest gripe has been the fact that the gig bag doesn't open all the way.

Anyway, I figure most people on the UU are probably looking further up the hierarchy, but if you're looking for a an inexpensive wooden instrument for the couch or as a gift to a beginner, I heartily recommend this one.
 
Necroing this thread just because this was my first uke several years ago and it is still my most common play. The neck is incredibly comfortable - wide and much flatter than the Flights, Enyas, Kalas that I've played. Honestly my biggest gripe has been the fact that the gig bag doesn't open all the way.

Anyway, I figure most people on the UU are probably looking further up the hierarchy, but if you're looking for a an inexpensive wooden instrument for the couch or as a gift to a beginner, I heartily recommend this one.
I borrowed that exact model from our local lending library on at least 3 occasions & found no glaring flaws, including neck width and profile. That said, neither of us are questioning Barry’s excellent review, just confirming that it’s possible to get a decent instrument for a very low price.
 
Lots of people must have gotten these and many must not have stuck with it...quite a few have shown up on GW 😛
Yeah, the "sold on Amazon" part definitely ups your chances of getting a dud.

I'm just impressed with how well mine has held up as being comfortable and sounding great as I've tried and bought new ukes.
 
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