Review time, and a ukulele brand that is completely new to me in Aiersi. This instrument came winging its way to me on loan all the way from China and I have been enjoying it for a month or two. The SU-044T model.
Despite the 'T' in the name, this is actually a concert scale ukulele, made in China and with some rather nice features. It's actually what I would call a 'budget' ukulele on account of the price point (about $150 or so), but there are some nice surprises with this one as you will see.
The ukulele is traditionally double bout shaped and benefits from a solid spruce top that is really quite a nice piece of wood. The grain is uniform and looking at the edge of the sound hole, the wood is not too thick. It's finished in a satin coat and decorated with inlaid abalone edge binding and sound hole
rosette. I'm not a huge fan of spruce tops on ukuleles myself as I think they can look a bit anaemic, but that is just me.
Elsewhere on the top we have a very standard looking tie bar bridge with plastic saddle, not much to say about that. I will say though, there are no flaws on the top that I can see.
The back and sides contrast the pale top very nicely and are made of laminate zebra wood. This too is finished in satin, but the pores of the zebra wood show through the coat giving it a more organic feel to some of the other overly glossy or overly coated instruments that are around at this price. The back is slightly arched and also has cream edge binding where it meets the sides. I think the contrast is great and am a fan of this wood finish on ukuleles.
A look inside the instrument shows a tidy build with notched kerfing and braces that are not over done. There is no mess and the brand logo inside is engraved on a piece of wood. No complaints here really.
The neck is fairly standard in width and profile and is made from an unspecified hardwood. It's made of three pieces with a joint at the heel and one at the headstock. It too is satin coated, but it feels natural and isn't sticky in the hands.
Topping the neck is a rosewood fingerboard with a very nice even colour and one that appears to be in good condition. The edges are unbound and stained meaning you can see the fret edges. We have 18 nickel silver frets in total with 14 to the body. They are all dressed well, with no sharp edges and they are quite low profile which I like. Position markers are facing outward in mother of pearly, but sadly there are no side markers. A fairly unremarkable neck, but one that I really don't have many complaints about either.
Past the plastic nut we have a fairly generic headstock shape, spruced up by a veneer of the stripy zebra wood on the face. The Aiersi logo is engraved in the wood which I rather like.
Tuners are unbranded silver geared tuners, but they are functional and not overly large. They work well enough.
Completing the deal is a rather gaudy bright gig bag which aside from the looks, is pretty decent quality with good zips and straps. Strings are Aquila SuperNylguts.
All in all then, a rather nice looking and nicely made instrument for a superb price. I really like what is starting to come over from China. Years back the majority of instruments from over there left a lot to be desired with thick woods, thick finishes and generally bad builds. Of course some of those still exist, but there are more and more who seem to be getting it right. I think this one fits that category.
I must admit though, when I saw the price I WAS expecting a couple of things - either a bad build or that it would be over built and heavy (killing the tone).
First of all, it's not over built. It's not heavy to hold and you can see that the woods are not over done. It's nicely balanced and the finish is thin such that it feels nice in the hands without being over bearing. Construction too seems to be decent, with intonation close to spot on and nothing out of place or splitting and failing.
The sound surprised me actually. It's not a high end instrument tone, but it doesn't pretend to be, but the usual problems with instruments of this sort of price are really not there. First of all, it is not lacking volume. Sure, it's not the loudest I have played, but it's certainly no slouch. It projects well to my ears.
It's also got a chime to the tone, probably helped by the spruce top, but reminiscent to me of what I felt about the Moselele Bambookulele instruments the first time I played them (similarly priced too). If anything I find it a little too bright and think it would benefit from a touch more bottom end, but it's not offensive in any way and very 'ukulele' sounding. It's not going to win awards for delicate clarity of tone and dynamic range, but it does what it does competently enough and I quite liked it.
The constructions doesn't seem to be affecting the tone or accuracy in any way and I think it stands out as a good choice for an absolute beginner wanting something that beats the usual cheap badly made stuff on the market. I'd certainly take this over an overly finished brightly coloured acrylic coated monstrosity or a ukulele billed as 'solid' but made from thick woods - ANY day.
So, sound wise and construction wise, for the price I am finding this to be quite a safe bet.
My main gripe though - I don't think they are easy to find and certainly are not yet in the main dealers I recommend. Yes they can be found on eBay or Amazon sellers shops, but that leaves me with a dilemma because I don't like to recommend those places for buying. Saying all that, the price is an absolute steal, so might be worth a shot?
Be sure to read all my other ukulele reviews here
General build quality
Nice gig bag
UKULELE CONSNo side fret markers
Not sure where to buy them reliably
UKULELE SCORESLooks - 8.5 out of 10
Fit and Finish - 8.5 out of 10
Sound - 8 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10
OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.5 out of 10
UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW
© Barry Maz