27.7.15

Win a Makala Waterman - THE RESULT!

Well this one proved to be one of my most popular competitions with hundreds of entries from all around the globe. The names have gone into the hat, and as in previous draws one lucky winner has been drawn by my five year old daughter!





This shiny, brand new Makala Waterman is winging it's way to..

Karl Catteeeuw from Bruges, Belgium.

Congratulations Karl, and everyone else - thanks for entering - there will be another giveaway soon!

Oh - and the answers to the questions were...

1. Which Acacia Wood ukulele did I review and what was the score - the answer was the Kala KA-ASAC/TE/C - and I gave it 8.9 out of 10

2. Who was the uke designer who made the original plastic uke the Waterman is based on - Mario Maccaferri

3. What is the name of the new Kala US Koa series of instruments? They are called the 'Elite'.





19.7.15

Ukulele Album Roundup

With life getting in the way of this ukulele blog, I have been finding it hard to get reviews done as quickly as I would like. And as part of that I have a stack of ukulele albums that I have been listening to that I haven't got around to reviewing on this site as yet. Feeling guilty about that, I figured I would give them a shout out in a combined roundup of what I have been playing in the last few months.



Manitoba Hal - Dancing In The Moonlight


Manitoba Hal Dancing In The Moonlight


I adored Hals 'Flirting With Mermaids' album, and have seen him perform live a couple of times since then, so have really been enjoying this one. The Canadian bluesman really shines on this short album in what sees his blues show of more of their country side (which is a real love of mine). A mix of originals and covers (including a sublime take on Wayfaring Stranger) I thoroughly enjoyed this one and it cements his position as being one of this bloggers favourite ukulele artists.

Available from http://www.manitobahal.com/#!music/c1erv


Ben Rouse -  Love Of Rin


Ben Rouse Love Of Rin

If you have not been wowed by one of Bens stage performances lately, then you have missed a treat. But for those that struggle to get to shows, you can now hear what all the fuss is about with this 12 track recording of total wizardry on the strings. For anyone who thinks Ben is 'that guy who plays rock tunes' on the ukulele then this album really shows that the breadth of his tastes go way beyond that. Whilst we have rock in covers of Zeppelins Immigrant Song and a sublime medley of Thunderstruck and Highway To Hell we also have the likes of tango in Por Una Cabeza, classical music, folk and an inspired choice of 'Baby Now That I Found You'. If you like your solo ukulele you will love this. Something for everyone really. Another performer in the 'how does he do that' category.

Available from - http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/benrouse2


Ric McCormick - Pies, Love and Ukulele EP


Ric McCormick Pies Love and Ukulele


I first saw Ric perform at the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival but had been hearing good things about him for a while. Really enjoyed listening to his new EP selection of self penned witty tunes. If you are compelled by song titles such as 'Bunny Stew' and 'Who The Hell's George Formby?' or subject matter including Ethel Austin knickers you will like this. It's all very tongue in cheek, but well performed. In addition, Ric is making this available in return for a charitable donation to The Christie hospital.

Available from - https://www.justgiving.com/ricmacfeegle/


Jono and The Uke Dealers


Jono And The Uke Dealers


I had no idea what to expect with this one. I have been in touch with Jono Bell, lead singer and uke player with this Northampton four piece for some time,  but I have to admit that I had not heard his music before this EP arrived. It's really nice when something new arrives that is just up your street and this certainly is. Six self penned tunes and one of those records that, whilst clearly having a ukulele in their, is more of a full band sound. Kind of a punk / mod / grebo / groove sound to it which I am really enjoying. Includes a guest performer in the form of Rev D Wayne Love from Alabama3 just to add to the cool factor. I'd recommend you give this a listen. It's my pick of the bunch.


Available from http://grassrootsrecords.bigcartel.com/product/jono-the-uke-dealers-ep


More reviews coming soon!


13.7.15

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

Catching up with the ukulele review schedule and a new brand for me that I have had on loan for some time now from Southern Ukulele Store. PSI Ukuleles and their PSI-S-LEO II Tenor uke from their Standard Series range.


PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele


The first thing that grabs you about this instrument is bling bling BLING! Regular readers will know that I prefer plainer instruments, but it is worth pointing out that I don't down score any instruments I review just because they have bling. I will down score if there are issues with how it is applied, but let's carry on.

So yes, a glossy glitzy instrument all round. It's made of solid Acacia in the far east and finished in gloss.

On the top that acacia has a really nice stripe to it that I think looks wonderful and the two piece sides have the same. Would have been nice for their grain to run parallel to the ukulele but they look well made.

On to the back though and that stripe has more curl to it and some really nice flame under the gloss. Would have been nice to see that on the back but I suppose we can't have everything..

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele back


That gloss finish is very nicely done, with no gaps, flaws or pooling of the finish that I could spot.

Back to the top and the bling screams out at you. Firstly we have a mother of pearl / abalone ring around the sound hole which is nicely applied. But my gripe comes with the edge binding. The Leo II uses wooden rope inlays in brown / white / brown around the edges which I think looks great, but then it is topped off with an extra inlay of abalone next to it. I think it's over the top and unnecessary. To see what I mean, the back and sides are joined with just the rope inlay and I think it looks just fine like that. Adding in the abalone seems to me to be overkill and almost as if they went through the parts bin at the factory and threw both on.

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele binding


The bridge is a tie bar style, screwed down with an uncompensated plastic saddle. The bridge mounting has been glossed, something I have seen on a couple of other ukuleles and not something I think looks that great.

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele bridge

Looking inside the sound hole and we have a wooden makers label with the PSI logo in pyrographic inlay, rather like those on Snail instruments.

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele sound hole


But the LEO has another sound hole in the form of a personal side port cut in an oval on the side of the instrument. I like these and you don't see many of them in the uke world. Basically as well as projecting sound out front they project sound up to the players ear. A nice touch.

A side hole like this also allows for a closer inspection to the inside of the instrument and the first thing I noticed was notched edge kerfing on the joints and a fan bracing pattern on the lower half of the top. Unlike the more common simple two parallel braces to strengthen the top, this employs several braces laid out in a fan pattern. It's a technique from classical guitar design and interesting to see here.

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele side port


The downside to a side hole is that it also allows you to see all the parts that are usually hidden. Unfortunately things are pretty messy inside this instrument. Stains on the wood, glue seepage, wood shavings and a ton of dust all on show to the owner. Does this affect the sound? Probably not, but it does give an indication as to the care than went into the build. Really very messy indeed.

Moving on, we have a hard wood neck with a joint in the heel and at the headstock. It's got a nice chunky C shaped profiled which I found very comfortable. The width at the nut though is fairly standard far eastern style and I would have preferred it a touch wider.

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele neck heel


The fingerboard is rosewood and edge bound in cream which is the sort of bling I can live with. We have 14 nickel silver frets to the body and 19 in total and all are dressed really well with no sharp edges. The rosewood though shows some marks that look like glue spots and has also taken on the polish applied to the instrument in the grain giving it a speckled look.

More bling in the position markers which use an inlaid PSI logo at the 5th, 7th and 10th, then a different double marker at the 12th, before reverting to the PSI logo at the 15th and 17th. I would have preferred dots, or at least that the PSI logo was used throughout. Incidentally we have inlays in here from white mother of pearl, so yet another choice of bling from the parts bin. Thankfully we have position markers in the same places on the side of the neck with small dots.

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele fingerboard


Past the plastic nut we have a slotted headstock that I really like. It is let down for me by the rope and abalone edging once again, but the shape is very nice. The PSI logo is inlaid in white mother of pearl.

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele headstock


Tuning is provided by gold rear facing geared tuners which both look wonderful and work just fine.

PSI-S-LEO II Tenor ukulele tuners


The package is completed with Aquila Super Nylguts, gold strap buttons on the butt and neck heel,  and comes in at £280 RRP in the UK which is a pretty good deal for a tenor of this specification.

To hold it isn't overly heavy and feels nicely balanced in the hands. I love the feel of the neck in the hands and it just kind of feels 'right' to hold and play. Set up was perfectly acceptable for me at both the nut and the saddle.

Sound wise, that side port does it's job very well and the projection straight up the ear is noticeable and welcomed. I say welcomed, because it isn't the loudest instrument I have every played.

Loudness is of course subjective and tone is also important, but this just didn't seem to project enough for my liking even if I strummed it hard. Don't get me wrong, the tone is good, and very bell like. In fact a bit too bright for my tastes, but certainly very clear across the strings. More delicate than punchy and I prefer punchy.

Some will love it, and it makes for a very nice 'players' ukulele for those who play alone for personal pleasure. Played in a jam or club scenario though I think I would find it slightly lacking.

In short an instrument of contradictions for me. Well made, but a little messy under the hood. Looks great, but with a confusing choice of decoration. Nice bell like tones, but lacking projection. So it left me with mixed views. The price is right through, and overall it's not a bad instrument by any means.

http://www.psiukulele.com


UKULELE PROS

Looks of the wood
General build
Side port
Headstock

UKULELE CONS

Untidy inside
Lacking volume
Confused decoration

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 8
Fit and Finish - 7.5
Sound - 8
Value For Money - 9

OVERALL UKUELE SCORE - 8.1 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW








29.6.15

Win a Makala Waterman Ukulele - GOT A UKULELE COMPETITION

COMPETITION CLOSED! RESULT COMING SOON!!


Would you like to be in with a chance of winning a fabulous Makala Waterman ukulele? Of course you would. So with thanks to the kind folks at Kala UK, I am giving one away in this free to enter competition!


Makala Waterman orange ukulele


You may have read my review of the Waterman and seen that I quite like it. The model on offer is brand new and in the orange swirl pattern, complete with Makala Waterman box and gig bag. All you have to do is a bit of snooping on this website to answer the following easy questions:

1. Which model of Kala Acacia wood ukulele did I review on this site and what score did I give it?

2. Which ukulele designer was responsible for the original plastic ukulele that inspired the development of the Waterman?

3. What is the name of the new series of instruments released by Kala, made in California from Hawaiian Koa?

To enter, email your answers to the above questions to bazmaz@gotaukulele.com and include the words MAKALA WATERMAN COMPETITION in the subject line (important - if you don't, the entry won't count). Also, you must send me your postal address for a valid entry!

Competition closes at midnight GMT on 24 July 2015. 

Please read the rules below and good luck!!


Makala Waterman orange swirl

Kala Ukulele logo




1. Competition  ends at midnight GMT on 24 July 2015
2. To be eligible for the draw you must enter by email with MAKALA WATERMAN COMPETITION in the subject line, providing correct answers to the three questions, AND provide a working email address and postal address by which I can contact you for  if you win.
3. I reserve the right to reject entries that are duplicates, offensive or anything else unsavoury!  My decision on this is final.
4. After the draw day, a name will be drawn from a hat (or hat shaped receptacle) to determine the winner.  My decision on the winnersis final and no correspondence will be entered into.
5. The winner will be selected within 7 days of the draw day, and will be announced on this site.  I will also contact the winner by email.
6. This prize has no alternative cash value.
7. No purchase necessary
8.  Emailing your entry is not proof that I have received your entry. No responsibility can be accepted for entries that are lost or delayed, or which are not received for any reason
9. The prize is not transferable to another person
10. The prize  will be shipped to the winner direct. Got A Ukulele, Kala or Barry Maz are not responsible for carriage of the prize and cannot be held responsible for problems with delivery. Your shipping address is critical as this is where the prize will be sent!
11. Got A Ukulele will NOT use any personal data submitted by you in entering this competition except as required under the terms of this competition
12. Got A Ukulele reserves the right to substitute, in their reasonable discretion, the prize with a prize of equal value
13. The competition is not open to employees or family of Kala Brand Music Co.

23.6.15

Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee - Come Back Home Video

Well this is rather nice. During their recent tour of the UK and Europe, Craig Chee documented their time over this side of the atlantic with photographs. Add in to that some video from Jim Colvin and a delightful tune from their latest album and you have this treat.

And the extra treat is seeing so many friends faces in the photographs. Oh, that and the fact I have never been in a music video before! I'm honoured!



( DIRECT LINK )

And, if you like the music - the album is now available for download at the link below (and a review of it is coming on this site soon!!)

http://www.cheemaisel.com/digital-albums/scene-1-take-1-digital-download


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