Woodi (Rocket) Soprano Ukulele REVIEW | GOT A UKULELE - Learn Ukulele, beginners tips and reviews

9 Jun 2014

Woodi (Rocket) Soprano Ukulele REVIEW

Plastic plastic plastic everywhere.  Another non wood ukulele review for you now, with a name that would suggest otherwise - the Woodi Soprano.


woodi plastic soprano ukulele


The Woodi brand is actually just the name of the USA company that developed these instruments and in reality the uke is almost totally made of plastic. The reference to 'Rocket' in the review title above comes from the fact that the UK dealer who is considering importing these for sale on this side of the Atlantic is likely to sell them under their 'Rocket' brand name. Otherwise though, this is a Woodi uke as you would find for sale in the USA.

It's a soprano scale uke, of traditional double bout shape and made from a kind of satin soft feel plastic which is quite satisfying to hold. The back, sides, back of the neck and back of the headstock is all one piece of plastic, with the top, fingerboard, and headstock face (also all plastic) attached as separate pieces.

It feels more solid, strong and nice to the touch than other plastic ukes I have reviewed, such as the Korala and the BugsGear, and also feels a little heavier. This is a good thing as it really doesn't feel like cheap plastic at all. The whole instrument with the exception of the fingerboard is screen printed, in this case with a gaudy elephant and rabbit design that is really not to my taste. But I will not let that affect the review as they come in a dizzying array of colours, patterns, finishes and there is bound to be something you will like. Perhaps you DO like this one? Who knows!

But in summary - the build feels great. There are no rough edges like I have found on other plastic ukes and the finish is really rather nice.

woodi plastic soprano ukulele bridge


The bridge piece is a slotted style with a kind of unique design look to it that I like. The saddle is moulded into the bridge and sadly there really isn't much of it at all. If you wanted to take the action down, I think you would really struggle. Thankfully, the action on this review model is just fine. I am not sure how it is attached, whether screwed or glued (or both) but at the base of the saddle it appears to be fitted into notches cut into the top of the instrument to keep it in one place. It certainly doesnt feel like it is going anywhere and as with the rest of the instrument it feels very solid and well put together.

The sound hole is not decorated with a design or rosette but employs a kind of rim that has been fitted into the instrument which I think looks very odd. Perhaps it is there to strengthen the top (as I can't feel any bracing otherwise) but it seems overkill to me and I am not a fan.

woodi plastic soprano ukulele sound hole


Up to that plastic fingerboard, we have 12 plastic frets to the body, each of which are painted gold which I suspect will wear off pretty quickly. Like the Fluke and Flea, the Woodi employs a 'zero fret' just inside of the nut to ensure accurate string height. That is quite nice to see on what is, essentially, a beginners or fun uke as you should have no issues with tuning at the lower frets on account of this.

Strangely, for a uke that is low priced and perhaps aimed at beginners (or children, considering this design), there are no fret markers at all on the uke, not on the fingerboard or the side. I find this a very strange omission considering how cheap they would be to include them. Also a little odd to me is the profile of the neck. It is satiny smooth and comfortable but it really is quite chunky all over it. The nut is wider than many ukes, which I like, but that coupled with a deep almost squarish neck, means it really does fill my hands. I mention that as if you are buying one for a child I think they really might struggle to stretch their fingers around it.

woodi plastic soprano ukulele neck


The headstock shaping is in a kind of funky design unique to Woodi which I rather like, and tuning is provided by cheap geared tuners in silver. They are pretty entry level and the black plastic buttons feel cheap, but they do the job and don't stick or grind.

woodi plastic soprano ukulele headstock


Finishing off the package are white nylon strings which feel horrible to my fingers and took an absolute age to stretch out. I would certainly recommend trying some other strings on this uke.

As for pricing, I am not sure what UK RRP will be yet as they are not being sold over hear. The full RRP in the USA is about $100 or about £60 which I think is crazy for a plastic uke. Thankfully it would appear dealers over there are seeing that and they can be found on the likes of Amazon for about $50 at the date of writing this review. If they come over to the UK at that sort of price (i.e. £30) then  I think that is about right for them. Any more than that and I would recommend caution.

woodi plastic soprano ukulele tuners

So, on to the play test. As I said above, the Woodi feels great in the hands and the perception of extra weight is kind of re-assuring. Certainly not what I expected from a plastic instrument.  It is comfortable to hold and with large hands like mine that chunky neck feels ok to play, but I suspect some may find it off putting.

Sound though is a mixed bag. It seems to pack more volume when fingerpicked but strummed can sound quite muted and one dimensional. Sustain is lacking too which is something I expected to be honest.  I certainly think the Korala and the BugsGear sound better than the Woodi despite their flaws.

Accuracy is also something that has me raising an eyebrow too. With that zero fret I expected better intonation, but it does sound, kind of 'off' to my ears on certain strings. That may of course be the strings but it is only right for me to mention it. In time I will see if a string change makes much of a difference.

It is all certainly passable and I have played a LOT worse for £30 but left me feeling a little flat sound wise.

woodi plastic soprano ukulele back


So a uke with a tone I am not in love with and some build quirks that have me scratching my head. And guess what? I really rather like it! I actually do. Its not the best uke on the block, and I think there are better plastic ones out there in terms of tone, but there is something about this little one that really appeals to me. I think it doesn't take itself seriously, was made to be a fun statement and is very nicely and strongly built. I am left in two minds and if the price is right on these I would happily have one in the collection. Just be wary of some of the issues I guess. Video review follows, but first, what are the scores?

woodi plastic soprano ukulele body

PROS

Fun factor
Strong build quality
Unique design features
Very tactile to hold and play

CONS

Woeful strings
Flat, muted sound
Lack of fret markers
Chunky neck for small hands


SCORES

Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and Finish - 8 out of 10
Sound - 6 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10 (if sold for $50!)

OVERALL - 8 out of 10

To understand my review scoring and see this result in context - visit my review page at

VIDEO REVIEW

4 comments :

  1. I bought one of these when they were blowing them out on eBay for $25. For $25, I was satisfied, although I don't think I would have paid a lot more. Visually, very striking (I got the black-and-white one), and build quality very solid. The biggest issue was that it had a lot of playability issues; high action, wonky intonation. Since the saddle is molded in, I was nervous about trying to lower it, not knowing what was underneath! Nice idea, but if these aren't really playable out of the box, I think they will miss their target market.

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  2. It is a great little uke! Try to change a new string, you will get surprise! I am using Martin M600 Standard Ukulele Strings on my Woodi uke and it sounds great!

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  3. from an e-bay ad ......$55. · Strings: Upgraded White Nylon Strings

    · Silver Geared Tuners

    · 12 Golden Nickel Brass Frets


    notice description of the frets!

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  4. I bought a Woodi when they first came out on eBay for $25. I found it to be disappointing over all with ridiculously high action. I took a peek inside with my dental mirror and saw that the bridge is attached with plastic clips that appear to be molded to the underside of the bridge. I tried to make it playable by working on the saddle and too high zero fret. Nothing really helped. I the long run I took the tuners off and put them in my parts drawer. The rest of the uke is in a box waiting for the day I get ambitious and turn it into a clock or something.

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