I have been looking forward to taking a look at one of these homegrown ukes from Omega Music - part of their Zedro series of ukuleles and built to their own specs based on customer feedback.
The Zedro II in this case is a classic concert shaped ukulele made from solid cedar and zebra wood and I had heard good things about them.
Omega are a ukulele store in the north of England who wanted to bring to the market their own brand of uke, taking on board feedback from players and reviewers on the elements that people really wanted to see on a uke.
In this case we have a solid cedar topped uke in traditional figure of 8 style complete with back and sides made from laminate zebra wood.
The cedar top first - its a very nice piece of wood with nice straight grain and absolutely flawless on the version I got to look at. It's plain looking, but in a good way. I am a fan of cedar, and not just for the way it sounds but I think it looks classy. There is no other decoration on the top, and nor does it need it in my opinion.
The saddle mount at the bridge is made from rosewood and is a traditional tie bar design that fits nicely on the top. The saddle itself appears to be plastic (but do correct me if I am wrong). We have no sound hole rosette - just wood wood wood (though I think I would have preferred some form of rosette myself)
A concession to 'bling' appears in the edge binding between top and back and the sides in a dark wood which I think looks very nice.
Looking inside - all is very neat and tidy with no glue seepage and delicate looking bracing. The edge kerfing is notched and well applied.
More on the back and sides though. I often see people now getting quite sniffy about laminate wood on ukuleles as the myth seems to have perpetuated that nothing else 'will do'. Firstly, there are good laminates and I personally would rather have a good laminate uke than some of the massively overbuilt solid instruments on the market that trade on that word 'solid' and not much else. Secondly, the impact on tone from the back and sides is hardly as important as from the top. I suppose a third point from me is that as much as I like zebra wood, it can be over done, and I am glad they didn't put it on the top. But that is just me.
It's also a fairly understated zebra wood - the wood is certainly stripy (hence the name) but I think a lot of examples are overly so and gaudy. This isn't and I think it works with the top nicely.
The sides are in two pieces with a join at the base, and the back has a slight arch to it, to help with sound projection.
The whole body is finished in a satin coating which leaves the instrument with a very nice 'feel'. On the zebra wood I can see some wood pores through the finish which tells me that the outer veneer of the laminate is not paper thin. The top is completely smooth and looks superb. One thing I will say about cedar is it is not the hardest wood around and can easily pickup knocks and scratches. This can be countered with a gloss finish, but I think that would stand out like a sore thumb on this uke. Besides, cedar is a great tone wood and it would be wrong of me to mark this instrument down on account of using it. Ukes to me are meant to be played and should not be museum pieces, so if the cedar picks up a scratch it just tells me it has been played and loved.
Up to the neck of hardwood, this is built from three pieces with a joint at the heel and one at the headstock. Its a fairly chunky profile which suits me perfectly and feels great in the hands. The nut is on the wide side, but not overly so. The neck heel is definitely on the large side, but I didn't find it obstructed my playing at all.
The neck is topped with a nice uniform top of rosewood with no colour variation. This is unbound so you can see the fret edges, but those frets are very nicely finished and such things don't bother me. There are 18 frets in total with 14 to the body (pretty standard for this scale of uke). We have pearloid inlay fret markers at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th, and pleasingly these are repeated on the side. The 12th fret is a double marker and also included an inlaid Greek Omega symbol which I think is a really nice.
Up to the headstock this is a plain design, but I always quite like those - and far better to me than another Martin crown knock off. It's kind of elongated and faced in a darker wood / stain. Into this is engraved the name Omega and I also think that looks far better than a transfer.
Tuning is provided by unbranded sealed geared tuners which work nice and smoothly. They are finished with small kind of rubberised black buttons which are nice to hold. No complaints there.
The package is finished with (hooray!!) Worth Brown strings and not the 'to be expected' Aquila brand which still tend to adorn most new ukes. I won't get in to the whole string debate, but Worths are a brand I like and its nice to see them here. I would still experiment, but perhaps will leave these on much longer than I would with Aquilas.
As for the playability - well it came pretty much perfectly setup as I would expect from Omega. I would perhaps drop the saddle a minor amount, but this is perfectly acceptable, as is the nut. As such it is accurate all over the neck. It feels good to hold and is far from heavy and certainly not over built. It feels great in the hands.
But the sound was the most pleasant surprise - it has a ton of volume and clarity across the neck which I found really pleasant. Separation across the strings is impressive and for a cedar soundboard I found the sound had much more bite and brightness than I expected though it does mellow in the sustain. Just as a concert should sound in my book. It doesnt have a boutique or high end Island sound, but nor does it try to pretend it does. It's just a great all round concert uke.
I think Omega are on to a good thing here, and at only £180 (ish) I think they are definite addition to the wish list for anyone wanting to move on from a beginner uke to more professional sounding woods and build. Very much recommended by this blog.
And..STOP PRESS - this very uke is coming up soon on a competition on this site - so it could be yours!
Be sure to check out my other ukulele reviews here!
None that I have found for the money
Looks - 9
Fit and Finish - 8.5
Sound - 9
Value For Money 9
OVERALL - 8.9 out of 10
To understand my review scoring and see this result in context - visit my review page at