NAMM is a playground for maniacs. It can be quite a fun spectacle seeing so much leather and enhanced body parts, but this year I had no time to appreciate such novelties. I was on a mission; To see the latest and greatest in ukulele! In part one of these Highlights we went over some of the local Hawaiian makers and a few of the imports we will be carrying. With Part 2 we are gonna start by hitting two of our biggest companies putting out awesome and affordable ukes – Kala and Luna.
Kala’s Mike Upton is such a cool guy. He’s got a musical ear and an open mind that is always pioneering new directions. Mike and his gang have been up to some good stuff, like sponsoring uke circles around the country and getting the ukulele into Public School programs. Every year they come to the NAMM with new models and this year was no exception. One of the new lines is a Spruce top/Rosewood sides and back with a satin finish. This is a classic look and tone. It’ll be in the $200 range for the tenor so quite the good deal. This is the new SR series.
The SR series is just a touch above the price of their S seies or Spruce/Mahogany which will start showing up in a smooth satin finish, as opposed to the gloss we have know for the SC and ST.
Also arriving is the much anticipated satin Golden Acacia series. These feature an Acacia wood very similar in color to the Koa from our islands. These have a solid top, laminate side and back construction with rosewood binding and a satin finish for a simple, but elegant look. The one shown in the picture is the Golden Acacia Travel Concert. Also available in soprano and tenor for Travel- thin body series.
A few new lines will be added in the exotic mahogany price range (under 200). This here on the left is the Padauk and below is the Splalted Maple. These are laminate instruments but look great, sound nice, and just need a little love from our setup department and they will play like a breeze.
Luna has only been making ukuleles for a few years but have already made their way to many a players hearts. They have a sweet sound and an ultra cool look. Well this year they totally came with it! Awesome solid wood ukes and killer new designs. Here is a sneak peak on some of the models to come.- (All of these are under 350, even the ones that are all solid wood and with a pickup!)
- MOP egret on ebony headstock
- Ebony fingerboard & bridge
- Onboard preamp
- Grover tuners
- Aquilla Strings
- w/Gig bag – $299
And after that….
- Concert- MO CDR “Laser etched leaf & lizard Design
- Top: solid cedar
- Back & sides: mahogany
- Fretboard: rosewood
- On board preamp
- w/ Gig Bag – $199!
- wait..solid cedar top w/custom look & pickup system for $199!!!
High Tide Baritone! — $299
- “28”” Baritone Size – Select Zebrawood
- On-Board Preamp – Rosewood Binding & Fingerboard
- Satin Finish – Aquila Strings — Grover Open Style Tuner – Gig bag included
Concert ALL SOLID KOA!
Orchid Inlayed with real MOTHER OF PEARL
Concert SOLID Koa – $349
- Abalone and MOP orchid on ebony headstock
- All solid koa body
- 23″” full concert
- Ebony fingerboard & bridge Onboard preamp
- Grover tuners
- Aquilla Strings
- Satin finish
- Gig bag included”
- UKE MO MAH “Lizard and Leaf laser etch – $99!!
- Body: Concert
- Top: Select Mahogany
- Back/Sides: Mahogany
- Fretboard/ Bridge: Rosewood
- Finish: Satin w/ Gig bag !!
Plus luna is coming out with a tenor Tattoo model and a few others that will be popping up on the ukulele site.
We also visited the Cordoba company and they continue to refine their already fantastic ukulele line. One model we will have coming in is the Guilele with a cutaway and pickup.
One other ukulele worth noting is the Blackbird tenor. We have put one on order and they are an all carbon fiber ukulele with and impressive tone.
Here is a few uke lines I think are not quite “there”. Need to work on the sound a bit – Kumalae – Oscar Schmidt – Mahalo – Eddie Finn (sorry folks, it is my job to be honest, But of course, it’s only my opinion)
Also, I didn’t think the Taylor Ukulele sounded that good, a little compressed for what I expected. But wow was it gorgeous. Anyways, that’s about it for TheUkuleleReview from NAMM 2012. (we’ll shoot video again next year) For a bunch of ukulele videos from NAMM 2011 check out last years NAMM post–
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