It had been a while since I featured a Flight brand ukulele on the reviews page, but pleased to do so again with this rather pretty example. The DUC460 Amara Concert Ukulele.
Previous Flight ukuleles featured here include both the the DUS320 Soprano and the NUS310 Soprano ukuleles, and whilst neither set the page alight, they both scored respectable marks and represent good value, well made beginners instruments. We move up a bit of a grade with this Amara model though.
Some background reminders first of all. Flight make a range of beginners instruments in China, but are actually a Slovenian based brand. Once again it's nice to feature a Chinese made ukulele that is actually available in places other than just Amazon.. Nope, you will find these in actual stores too.
This is a standard shaped concert model and is very attractive to look at on account of that wood choice. The instrument is actually all laminate, but that outer veneer is what is giving it the striking look. The wood is one that I have never featured before, but it is called 'Amara' a south and central American and south asian wood. And it's striking for that rich chocolate / orange brown stripe that really works well I think. There seems to be something about stripy wood that attracts people, and I for one think this is a far nicer alternative to the massively overused zebrawood which flooded they market recently. This is more like a rosewood to look at and something I am quite taken with. That top, back and sides are all two pieces each and the back is very slightly arched.
And I guess with attractive wood you don't need a lot of other body decoration, so we have very little save for some subtle black top and back edge binding that works well against the dark stripes of the Amara. Interestingly, on press pictures of this one I see some sound hole decoration, but this one, as you can see is dead plain. I actually prefer it for that than seeing yet another engraved laurel leaf or similar..
Bridge wise, we have a rosewood tie bar with pearloid dots holding the screws that keep it down. The saddle material is not specified, but I am guessing at bone. It's also dead straight.
The whole thing is finished in a satin which is pretty well done, although I do spy a couple of minor bare patches and scuffs. Thankfully though it's very tidy inside, with no mess. The braces are not overly done and the kerfing linings are neatly notched. Looking at the edge of the soundhole too and this shows the wood to be nice and thin. Thick plywood this is not.
Up to the neck and this is made of Okoume and in three pieces with joints at the heel and headstock. it's stained very dark to fit in more with the dark body, but that does give it a kind of artificial look I'm not totally taken with. It's a fairly round chunky profile too and about 35mm at the nut, so a reasonable width.
Topping this is a rosewood fingerboard, which also shows one or two minor rough spots. It is however fitted with rather attractive shaped pearloid and abalone position markers facing out at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 14th and these are repeated with dots on the side. Frets wise we have 18 nickel silver frets with 14 to the body joint. They are dressed very well, and the edges of the board are also bound which helps here and hides them. Nice.
Past the nut we have a Martin-esque headstock with the Flight logo inlaid in a pale wood which looks nice. There is also in inlaid wooden decoration that matches the shapes on the fingerboard which is nice.
Turning it over and we have gold, unbranded sealed geared tuners which work ok. They are however fitted with cheap looking plastic black buttons which I think let it down.
You also get a set of Aquila strings and a decent quality, branded padded gig bag with pockets and a shoulder strap. And that is at an RRP of €179 (about £160) although I am seeing it a bit less if you shop around.
As I say, aside from one or two finishing marks, the construction on this one is good with nothing that is concerning me in the build. It feels solid, yet is also nice and light and well balanced in the hands. It also feels resonant on account of those thin woods. No complaints whatsoever with the setup on this review model either, and I would change nothing at all at either the saddle or the nut. And that setup means it plays accurately and in tune up and down the neck. Good stuff.
And that resonance is making itself known in both the volume and sustain this one has to offer. It's really no slouch and the sustain in particular is really impressive for an all laminate instrument. And that sustain makes for a very pleasurable playing experience. It rings and rings.
And whilst the tone itself is not super high end and typically laminate, it does have quite a range to it that is pleasant and lifts it above the more one dimensional boxy laminates out there. It's got a very pretty chime to it and doesn't sound confused or muddy when played hard either. In fact, for me, the tone is right up there with and old favourite of mine in the Baton Rouge Sun Concert. And that's good praise. I'm really rather taken with the tone and it's a very playable instrument that now will sit firmly in the examples I give to loonies that claim that solid wood is always better than laminate..
In fact I think it's doing all it needs to do very well indeed, and my only slight reservation is the price. Yes, I know this has extras going on here - the striking wood, the edge binding, the gold tuners, the bound fingerboard, the gig bag etc, but none of those things make tone. And whilst comparing to to something like the BR Sun it compares admirably on tone, it doesn't compare admirably on price. Still, I know some people love a bit of bling and are prepared to pay for it so this isn't a huge critisism.
And as such it gets a good score and a Got A Ukulele recommendation. If looks and bling dont matter to you though and tone is all you are after, I think you can do as well for a bit less money. Still, you shouldn't regret getting one of these I don't think.
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!
Very attractive looks and decoration
Good volume, sustain and chimey tone
Good general build quality
Might be slightly expensive in view of plainer competition
Ugly tuner buttons
Some finishing marks on satin and fingerboard
Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish 8 out of 10
Sound - 8 out of 10
Value for money 8 out of 10
OVERALL UKULELE SCORE 8.3 out of 10
UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW
© Barry Maz
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