4.5.10

Flea Ukulele - from the Magic Fluke Company

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.
flea ukulele body

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".

flea ukulele headstock



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.

Enjoy!

SCORES

Looks - 8
Fit and finish - 10
Sound - 8
Value for money - 7.5

OVERALL - 8.4

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Own one, love it, play it daily. Like how it stands alone without a stand. Folks are in awe of the sound it produces. Depending on player you make it loud or soft sounding. Like wider neck for fat fingers. Aquilas string are the way to go, no Hilo for me.

zensinger said...

Love my flea!!! agree with avery word, except for the finger board.

if you can get the rosewood and metal bars. the plastic cast, though very accurate, tends to rub away with extensive playing, especially banding.
after 4 years i've owned mine there are places on the fret board that are virtually fretless.
still love it though its days are numbered.

Barry Maz said...

What strings did you mainly use as mine about same age and hardly worn? Btw - you can order replacement fingerboards from Magic Fluke Co!

Richard Clements said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Clements said...

Thanks for the review, I love my flea. Never fails to put a smile on my face.

Anonymous said...

I have a Flea.its brilliant,lovely tone and great playability with its slightly wider fingerboard,they are amongst some of the finest soprano Ukes on the market and they dont break the bank to buy one..

Anonymous said...

I have a flea and I can't believe anyone raving about the sound. It must be my individual flea. It is effected by the temperature in my house and is almost impossible to keep in tune. I also found the lack of demarkcation of the frets very difficult to deal with and the wider neck is an adjustment as well. My 38 dollar dolphin sounds much better, richer and nicer than my flea.

Barry Maz said...

The Flea has a far richer tone than the Dolphin. If you can't keep it in tune - have you tightened the tuning pegs? Agree on the black frets!

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