Fender Tenor Ukulele "Nohea" - All Koa
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- Koa top with fan bracing
- Koa back and sides
- Mahogany neck with 19 frets, bone nut and Telecaster headstock shape
- Rosewood bridge with bone saddle
- Acrylic abalone rosette and body binding
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|Sold By||—||Ukulele Seller||Precision Audio||Springdale Music||Amazon.com||Amazon.com|
|Item Dimensions||6 x 30 x 15 in||9.06 x 26.57 x 3.15 in||12.5 x 28.1 x 6.6 in||29.53 x 29.13 x 11.02 in||15 x 30 x 6 in||9 x 29 x 17 in|
Fender brings you the authentic sound of the Hawaiian Islands with its first-ever series of ukulele models. Ukuleles are enjoying renewed popularity, with exquisite sounds and designs that are a far cry from mere musical toys. Originally built by Portuguese immigrants to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1880s, the small guitar-like instruments produced a lilting sound that instantly evoked the lush South Pacific atmosphere of their island homeland. Fender’s three new tenor-style ukulele models offer finely crafted sound and construction; they too instantly evoke the sound and spirit of Hawaii, with a dash of traditional Fender mojo for good measure—each one features the distinctive Fender Telecaster® guitar headstock shape, unique body shapes and bracing patterns designed exclusively for Fender and a Fender ukulele gig bag to get you started. Mahalo! This one is the Fender Ukulele Nohea. In Hawaiian, this name translates directly into the English lovely, which this model certainly is—built of laminated koa (a native Hawaiian ardwood used by ancient Hawaiians to build dugout canoes), with a gloss finish and aged abalone acrylic binding.
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I spent the extra money to get the Nohea All Koa uke. Afterwards I found out that the "All Koa" is a bit misleading. I've been told, and pro reviews say that it isn't all Koa wood body construction, rather it is a veneer of Koa wood over a composite. So you are probably going to get virtually the same sound from the cheaper mahogany tenor.
In my opinion it doesn't matter a lot about the wood, the polyurethane coating finish (at least that's what it feels like) is so heavy that I doubt there is much resonance from the wood affecting the sound.
The Fender does not produce a loud or particularly rich sound compared to other ukuleles in its price range. The body isn't very deep (front to back dimension) as a result, the sound is thinner than other tenors. I bought this sight unseen because I had $200 in gift cards. I should have gone to a music store to try out a few different brands before making a decision.
I love the head design. Just like the signature Fender guitars. I like having the tuner keys all on the side and that all turn the same direction to tighten the strings. And it looks great.
The neck is narrower than what's on many tenor ukes. I have somewhat short fingers for my height, so this makes reaching some of the chords easier, if somewhat crowded on a few. The smooth finish makes moving up and down the neck a breeze. However, the fret bars are VERY ROUGH on the ends and can scratch your fingers if you are a little over the side when you hammer a string. (As I said: I'm new at this and I am not very accurate yet with placing my fingers. I'm hesitant about filing the burrs off myself, because of the possibility of scratching the finish. But I suppose I'll have to do it. That's a BIG "con" in my book.
The strings seem to be about the right height above the fretboard & fretbars. They seem to uniform in height. But the action on the first fret is difficult for all of the strings. So I may see if I can find someone willing to adjust the action. Since I didn't buy it locally, I may not be able to find anyone willing to do it.
Asthetically, the workmanship is good, but not great. The join between the neck and the body looks like a filler was used. The thick gloss finish hides any mistakes pretty well. I'm not a fan of the plastic mother of pearl inlay decoration, but many other people have complimented me on its looks. So, a matter of personal taste.
The Koa wood is handsome looking.
All in all, I think this sounds more like a travel uke. A nice sound, but not a particularly rich sound for a tenor. So I can't give it more than 4 stars. In fact, I was considering only 3. Maybe 3.5?
UPDATE: I took my Fender Uke to a music shop and asked them to adjust the action. The owner/repair tech played it and said: "You're right the action is terrible!" When I picked the instrument up three days later, he said he lowered both the bridge and the nut. What a difference! Played much better. A few days ago I removed the Aquila nylon strings, which are close to the strings that came with the Fender, and replaced them with thinner Martin fluorocarbon ones. Wow! Big change in tone! The Aquilas made the uke play dull and muddy. The Martins are louder and have a much brighter sound. (I'll also try the D'Addario bright strings.) The first fret is now far easier to barre chords due to the thinner strings. (Though harder on my fingers.) The sound is also much better. I give the uke a solid 4 now.
My advice is to try different strings to find the sound you like best.
It's impressively loud for such a small instrument. We've hooked it up to an amp, but for everyday use, it is loud enough for entertaining a small crowd or at a campfire. Ukes are becoming popular for their portability, and the quality of sound the mid-priced to more expensive ones gives makes it a good alternative to guitars. This one fit into a concert size case and is suitable for taking as an airline carryon.
We've enjoyed our kids playing it on long car rides. Skillfully played, a good uke is as good as your favorite guitar when traveling.
It isn't that I play up there much at all, but it made me believe that the instrument was used rather than new. I returned it. I would have accepted a replacement, but none was offered. Shopping for a replacement, though, I found better values. Funny how a bad experience turns you off to the brand.
We love this thing. My wife and son and I can't keep our hands off it. Looks cool (if you like the Fender Telecaster look) and sounds great. Sounds good through an amplifier, too. The tuner takes "button" batteries (rather than a 9V or AAAs or something I might actually have around the house, though it came loaded), and the tuner is a little sloppy (ie, it lights up green even when you're just close to the right note), but it's still very handy having it built-in. And it's great having all the tuning pegs all on top (in the usual Fender style) so you don't have to wrench your hand around to tune the bottom two strings. I wish the head was at a slightly different angle so I could set it on a table without the end tuning peg hitting the surface, though. And it's a little pricey at $200. But if you can afford it, it's a very nice instrument.
This uke is gorgeous. It has a golden finish and an abalone inlay around the body. Really looks nice. It plays great right out of the box. Took a couple days to get the strings broke in during which time, it had to be re-tuned often. Don't despair. This uke's tuners are great and once the strings are broken in, it barely requires readjustment.
The action was just right straight from the factory. Also the frets are great. I've seen some really bad fret jobs on some of the ukes I was looking at before deciding on the Fender. These are well set and finished. The neck is straight and intonation is quite accurate across the fretboard from nut to body. Obviously Fender has really good quality control on the manufacturing of this instrument.
The uke came with white Aquila brand nylagut strings. This was a little disappointing to me. Sure they are good strings and a quality brand, but the uke was advertised to ship with black strings and a wound "C" string. One I played at the local music store with those strings had a bit warmer and mellower tone that appealed to me. The white Aquila with nylagut "C" strings are a bit brighter than I hoped for but very acceptable and really just a personal preference.
Over all I'm really happy with the purchase.