It's always a pleasure to get a musical instrument brand back on Got A Ukulele that has impressed me before, and I'm pleased to be doing that this week. This one though is something of a step up from what I have previously looked at. It's the SUC-M3 Concert from Snail Ukuleles.
I say a 'step up' because up til now I have only reviewed Snail ukuleles that are made from all laminate woods. Of course, there is nothing wrong with laminate woods on a ukulele and in both of the cases of previous Snail reviews, that brand showed why. They sounded terrific, looked great and were superb value for money. The market though does have a thing for solid wood instruments, and with their popularity I think it's only to be expected that Snail would put out some solid wood ukes. And that's what we have here. The SUC-M3 is made from all solid mahogany. Just a note about the naming convention on these..
We have a very attractive traditionally shaped concert ukulele with swooping bouts and a very pleasing overall 'look'. Sure, it's pale mahogany and I do prefer darker, but it immediately reminded me of the mahogany ukuleles from Pono. That's some comparison right there as I think Pono are quite superb. The grain in the pieces is nicely lined up and matched and it all looks well done.
It is otherwise relatively undecorated save for an abalone soundhole rosette and a very attractive wooden inlay strip between the two pieces of the arched back and one on the tail. There is no other binding or bling and I really like it for that myself. Add in the fact that it is completed in a really nice gloss finish and it really sets the whole thing off as a very classy looking ukulele. It's also pretty flawless in build with no issues I can spy.
We have a kind of Taylor-esque shaped bridge plate made from ebony, a change for Snail who moved over to this wood following the introduction of CITES restrictions on rosewood. It looks superb and as you can see is a through body style which I am seeing more and more of. The saddle material isn't specified, but could be bone and is compensated.
A glance inside shows me that the build quality of the interior is very good, no mess and carefully notched linings. The top is also pleasingly thin which bodes well for resonance.
Up to the neck and this is far eastern in design - round in profile and narrower at the nut than I would personally like at 34mm. It's made from three pieces with joints at the heel and headstock and is finished well though. Topping this is an ebony fingerboard which is uniform in colour and in good condition. It's also edge bound in a paler wood which not only looks terrific but hides the fret ends. It also means no sharp ends on the 18 nickel silver frets. We have dot markers inlaid at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th (a double) and 15th and thankfully these are repeated on the side.
The heastock on this is pleasingly shaped with a darker wood facing which looks wonderful and reminds me of the heastock on the Godin Multiuke. The snail logo is inlaid in pale wood which really sets it off. I really like the look of this headstock and think it works well with the paler body. Once again it reminds me very much of a Pono.
Tuning wise we have sealed chrome gears with Snail logos and small buttons. They are pretty decent and I have no complaints but yes, i'd prefer pegs..
The package is completed by strings which are not named, but look and feel like clear fluorocarbon to me. It also comes with a decent quality padded bag with the Snail logo embroidered into the pocket. And all that has an RRP of a penny under £250 which I think is a pretty keen price for this sort of build and finish.
I think you can tell that I am liking it so far, and I really do. I think it's built well, finished very well and that it looks very classy without looking too over the top.
It helps that it's also light and balanced when you hold it and the gloss isn't 'sticky' but very tactile and feels nice. Setup on this is also excellent with nothing I would personally want to adjust. None of these things mean anything without a good tone though.
First up we have decent volume and sustain here. Sure, it's not 'wake the dead' volume but still very very good and a pleasing long sustain. But it's the character of the tone that shines for me as this does not display any of the boxiness and one dimensional tone that laminates can produce. This on the other hand has a richness and roundness to the tone which I find really pretty. I'm personally drawn more to fingerpicking on this because it has a really nice chime quality to individual notes, but that isn't to say it's a slouch when strummed. It's has a lovely jangle when you do that.
Coming on the back of a review last week of one of the worst I have ever seen this package really pleased me. It really shows me that there are some true gems out there for not a huge amount of money and for me Snail as a brand have done it again. This is a terrific ukulele that easily gives Kala and Ohana a very hard run for their money on equivalent ukuleles. But as I say above, I think this is up there as a value alternative to a Pono. It certainly looks as good as their gloss mahogany equivalents. Snail have once again reminded me why I like them as a brand and I genuinely think they should be considered by anyone buying a reasonably priced ukulele.
I don't hesitate to mark this one as highly recommended, and many thanks to Red Chilli Audio, the UK Snail distributor for the loan.
Great build quality
Classy looks without being over the top
Good volume, sustain and rounded tone with some bell like highs
Would prefer a wider neck width
Some may find the mahogany a bit too plain
Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 9 out of 10
Sound - 9 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10
OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9 out of 10
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© Barry Maz
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