Another new brand name for the Got A Ukulele Reviews pageThis time with an entry level offering from the Slovenian Uke brand called Flight. Their NUS310 Soprano Uke.
This is one of their best selling models, perhaps unsurprising considering it has an RRP price tag of 77 Euros (or about £65 at the time of writing). Is cheap only cheerful though or is there something worth looking at here?
The NUS310 is standard soprano in scale and shape. It's a laminate wood instrument, unsurprisingly for it's price, made of laminate African Sapele in the body. It's actually very nicely finished in an open grain satin that reminds me very much of the models from Baton Rouge in feel. In fact the Baton Rouge similarities go further as you will see.
This one is flawlessly finished, and there is something I quite like about this thin satin when you touch it. It feels finished, but not overly done, and there are certainly no pools of lacquer anywhere to be seen.
The top and back are clean and stripy and the back has a very slight (only very very!) arch to it. The sides are in two pieces with a joint at the butt.
Like the Baton Rouge and also instruments like the Ohana SK10S, it's unbound on the edges, but the fact that you can see the edge of the laminate gives it an unintended contrasting edge detail that I find quite pleasing. Generally speaking the body is nicely finished for the price and the wood grain is clear and fairly stripy. On the sides in fact it is even slightly shimmery.
There is little else in way of decoration save for a subtle laser engraved soundhole rosette which is kind of 'just enough, but not too much' and I think works well. Flight explain that the design is hand drawn first, and that all the rosettes are different. I think that's a nice idea.
The bridge is a standard rosewood tie bar design which appears to be screwed in place complete with pearloid screw covers. The saddle is dead straight, but actually made of bone which is surprising for this sort of money.
A look inside shows a fairly plain Flight label, but actually a rather tidy build. There are one or two glue spots, but nothing major and it's quite pleasing. The kerfing is notched and it is braced on the back and under the top. The back bracing does look a little overly heavy to me, so we shall see how it sounds.
Up to the neck and this is extremely standard in width and shape. It's made from three pieces (joint at heel and one at the headstock) of Okoume wood, which is a central African hardwood. To me it looks like very pale mahogany. It's finished well.
Topping the neck is a rosewood fingerboard with some shaping at the end. It is generally even in colour and dark with some lighter central patches. The edges are unbound but don't look messy.
It's fitted with a very standard 12 nickel silver frets to the body and I did note that the fret edges on this one were feeling a little sharp. Looking more closely, the end dressing seems to be minimal and they need filing back quite a bit. It's the sort of sharpness that can very quickly be sorted by a good dealer, but I'd beware buying direct if you are not comfortable in getting a file out yourself. It is something that is easily fixable, but still not something that should be in evidence when an instrument reaches the customer.
Fret markers are provided on the fretboard in pearloid dots at the 5th, 7th and 10th, but sadly these are not repeated on the side.
Past the bone nut we have a generic crown shaped headstock finsished in the same wood as the body. Engraved into this is the Flight logo which I also think is subtle and nicely done.
Tuning is provided from open gears with small black buttons. They are not the best tuners I have seen to be honest, and suffer from that play in the tuning post such as I reported on the Luna Tattoo ukulele. They work, but the movement annoys me.
Completing the deal is a set of what look like Aquila strings and a rather decent padded gig bag with a shoulder strap, front pocket and screen printed Flight logo. All in all it appears to be pretty well made with only minor grumbles and comes at a great price. In fact, a bit of searching will show you that these can be picked up between £45 and £50 online.
Playing wise, as I say above it's a nice ukulele to hold. It's also light and well balanced so no issues for me there. A good instrument to have in the hands. The setup also, with the exception of those fret edges is perfectly acceptable and needs no adjustment.
Sound wise, it's a little on the thin side, but far from the worst instrument I have ever reviewed. It doesn't have the warmth that the comparably priced instruments from Baton Rouge have, but it really isn't wholly bad. Sustain is surprisingly good, but overall it can sound a bit 'plinky' when strummed. My biggest issue is actually a small one - it just doesn't have the volume, bite and bark that I like in sopranos. Sopranos are rhythmical instruments and I do like them to have a punch.
Fingerpicked it seems much more pleasing and it has a kind of chimey sound to it that is helped by the sustain.
Don't get me wrong - this is not a bad instrument and if you were to buy one as a beginner it's nice to see these days that things are appearing in much better quality. I just personally think there are some options out there at similar prices that have a nicer tone - the Baton Rouge models for one but also the Kala KA-S. Still, I'd quite happily sit and strum this and it's a far better choice than some of the ultra cheap stuff that is still out there.
STOP PRESS! I have been advised by Flight that they have now changed the fingerboards on these to Walnut. That change together with a change in QC has led to smoother edges - apparently some people (including me) complained about sharp frets. Good to hear.
STOP PRESS - I am advised that since writing this review, Flight took note of the lack of side makers I mentioned - and they now have them as standard!
And Flight have very kindly offered my readers a 20% discount if you use the code GOTAUKULELE at the checkout of their site below! Can't say fairer than that!
Nice gig bag included
Well finished on the body and generally well built
Balanced and light
Bone nut and saddle
UKULELE CONSVery cheap tuners with too much play
Sharp fret edges
No side fret markers
Slightly underwhelming projection and volume
UKULELE SCORESLooks - 8.5 out of 10
Fit and Finish - 7.5 out of 10
Sound - 7 out of 10
Value for money - 8.5 out of 10
OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 7.9 out of 10
UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW
© Barry Maz