I do get asked a lot on the Uke Underground forum for my views on my Flea by the Fluke Co, so thought i should probably type out a proper review.
I've had my Flea now for about 2 years, and adore it. It cost me a little over £100 back then, and they seem to be available in the basic form for about £120 now over here.
By way of background, the Flea is a USA made instrument, and is the little brother (or sister) to the Fluke Ukulele. What sets these ukes apart is their design. The back of the instrument is plastic / polycarbonate, and the top is a laminated australian hoop pine. The neck is a nice smooth maple finish with a distinctive headstock, and it is fitted with quality friction tuners.
The fingerboard is a one piece moulded piece of plastic, with integral frets. This seems to be the biggest point of concern with those people considering buying a Flea, but I really dont know why. If you are really fussed, the Company do make a rosewood fingerboard model with metal frets, but why would you bother? This plastic fingerboard is comfortable to play, light, and most importantly of all, its intonation is absolutely spot on - there is no way a fret can be mis-seated on this instrument - it is just naturally accurate.
There are also similar concerns raised by some over the plastic back - to them I would just point them in the direction of the superb Ovation Balladeer guitars - really really nice pro-instruments with, yes, you guessed it, a man made curved back.
So, back to mine - it is finished in a painted purple colour (called Poi-ple by the Fluke Co), and arrived with shiny black hilo strings which I really didnt get on with. Tuners needed a tighten but since that first tighten I have had no problems with them whatsover - i have read that they are made by Gotoh, which may explain it.
I changed the strings for Aquilas, but have since also played around with Martins and Worths - all good - and all better than the Hilos it arrived with.
My model is soprano scale, but you can get them with concert scale necks. The sound for such a small, simple, laminated instrument really is extraordinary - it is loud - certainly as loud as any other uke in my collection, and bright and bouncy. There are zero issues with intonation and action (as I say above), and plays beautifully.
The are also really really tough - I have knocked mine over and dropped it - not a mark and still bang in tune. These are therefore highly recommended for gigging or camping etc.
Slight gripes - the wooden top is actually slightly recessed into plastic body, so where I rest my arm on the top when playing it leaves a red line on my arm. Also, with two years play now, the reslilence of the top finish leaves a little to be desired, and it has polished up in places where my arm has rubbed - oh well, some would call that "patina".
Comes with a zippered padded gig bag and small booklet of uke chords.
I can honestly say, would never change my Flea, and am on the lookout for a Fluke. It just plays so well, is always in tune, and is dead reliable. Would I buy one again - yes I would. Should you buy one - well, if the Flea is in your price range, I would strongly recommend it.
Looks - 8
Fit and finish - 10
Sound - 8
Value for money - 7.5
OVERALL - 8.4
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