Here is a ukulele name that I have heard of over the last year, but not actually played until now. They have a pretty massive range of instruments, but this one comes from their lower end. The Lani LC-55MOCEQ Electro Concert Uke
Lani sounds suitably Hawaiian, and tries to look that way too with their logo of a lady with an exotic flower in her hair, but these are actually made in China and the range is developed by a company from Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire. Quite a mix! But that Chinese origin means the price can be very low and this is available for about £105.
Let's start with that complex model name. I presume the L is for Lani and the C is for Concert. The 55 is the model series (i.e. what bells and whistles it has), the MO is for the fact that this is made from laminated quilted mango. The next C is for the cutaway on the body and the EQ signifies that it has an active pickup system... and breathe... Couldn't they have just given it a name rather than making it sound like a Star Wars droid?
It's a fairly standard sized concert uke with a double bout and the addition of a cutaway. Never really understood the need for cutaways on ukuleles BUT I do like them! Think they just add a bit of something to the looks. As I say above it's made from laminate wood and inspecting the sound hole edge, it's fairly thick laminate too (compared to say the Baton Rouge Sun Concert). The Quilted Mango veneer is incredibly yellow, but I like the colour and it stands out. The Quilting is not as strong as you would expect, but there is an amount of shimmer and flame in it in the right light. In other lighting it looks flat yellow. In fact- that is what these photos portray. The video shows the flame off a little more. Construction is good all over the body with no gaps or major finish flaws. It is finished in a satin coating which is nice on the hands.
The bridge is a standard rosewood plate tie bar with a plastic saddle. Around the sound hole we have an inlaid abalone type ring which has been nicely done. A peep inside shows a pretty tidy construction on the whole and nothing too over braced.
The back is completely flat (a shame) and the sides are made of one piece which is not unheard of with Concert scale ukes, but more uncommon.
Up to the neck and this is finished really well. It's a hard wood neck with a joint at the headstock and the heel, but feels great in the hands and has a nice comfortable depth to it. The nut width is about average, but it feels good. The fingerboard is rosewood and is very smooth and inform in colour. The edges are not bound, but the fret ends appear to be stained to hide them.
We have 19 nickel silver frets in total with 14 to the body. Of course that cutaway means access to the upper frets is much easier, if you ever venture down to what we call the dusty end of the neck. We have pearloid fret markers inlaid at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th, but shamefully no side markers for the player.
Past the plastic nut we have a fairly plain shaped headstock. I think it would have been nice if this was faced in the same Mango, but it isn't. The Lani logo is screen printed on, and again it would have been nice for this to be inlaid like the sound hole, but it is still done tidily and looks ok.
The tuners, sadly, are about as cheap as you will find. They are open gears very much akin to those on a Makala Dolphin. They work ok, but I have used smoother tuners. My biggest gripe is the size of the plastic buttons. Understated they are not!
And now for that pickup system. Regular readers will know that I am never a huge fan of these in built systems for the simple reason that you can get better results with a passive strip and an 'off uke' pre amp. That said, for a beginner instrument they can be worry free, and this model from Belcat gives you all you need (tone control, volume, tuner button). It's also the sort that runs on cell batteries meaning no heavy lump of a 9V battery inside the instrument. It has also been fitted properly too and plugged in the volume is equal across the strings.
Completing the package are a set of the new Super Nylguts from Aquila and a gig bag so thin it's next to pointless (although better than nothing I guess).
To hold, the Lani is nice in the hands, not overly heavy and feels well made and put together. It's a 'nice' thing to cradle and doesn't feel flimsy or cheap.
Volume is a bit of a letdown though as it really doesn't have that much power, even with those Aquila strings. I've heard quieter, sure, but there is more bang for your buck on the volume front elsewhere.
Setup was just about ok. Perfect at the nut and the saddle acceptable (though I would take it down a little, but that is just preference). Intonation is close but not quite the full cigar. Tested down the neck by the 12th fret things are going off a little. Nothing to make it unplayable and just right at the lower frets though. Worth mentioning.
It has a nice enough sound, and is quite chimey too, just not enough of it for my liking. Hey ho, suppose you can plug it in.
It's priced well and is a bit more than the electro concert offerings from the likes of Makala and Brunswick (of which I think it is better) and less than the likes of the golden acacia laminate from Kala (of which it comes close). But a few niggles stop me giving it top billing. That isn't to say it's a dog though. Not at all. Certainly an instrument to take off the wall in the shop and try if you can.
Be sure to check out all my other ukulele reviews HERE
Ready to go ukulele
Well finished, particularly the neck
Intonation needs work
Off centre jack socket
Looks - 8.5
Fit and Finish - 8
Sound - 7
Value For Money -8
OVERALL - 7.9 out of 10
To understand my review scoring and see this result in context - visit my review page at
© Barry Maz