Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

7 Jul 2018

Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

This week we have ukulele brand I have been longing to feature on Got A Ukulele for quite some time. It's a first for them on the site, and it's also the first instrument from Italy to feature. This is the Moderno Tenor from Antica Ukuleleria.

Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele

Antica Ukuleleria is the brainchild of Marco Todeschini from Verona who may well be the only full time professional luthier in Italy who focussed solely on ukulele building. He trained in stringed instrument building in Milan and his craft has certainly had my mouth watering several times when I see images of the instruments he has posted online. His aim seems to be to use a traditional or classical style of building coupled with more stylish and modern aesthetics. Thats Italy for you! They do love their style! And a nod to the traditional is in the name too, as 'Antica' translates to 'ancient' in English. Incidentally, the 'Ukuleleria' part is an invented word that uses the Italian suffix 'ria' meaning ' a place where you make....'. So rather like 'pizzeria', the place you make ukes is a 'ukuleleria'. Cool.

The Moderno forms part of a range of acoustic ukuleles made by Marco including others called 'Antico', 'Libero', 'Elettrico' and 'Allegro'. The Moderno, as indicated by the name, aims to apply a fresher look to a traditional instrument.

It's a double bout shaped tenor with a really pleasing curve to the shape that gives it a slight yet sexy look. Naturally it's made of all solid woods and rather than just naming them, the types of wood are worthy of a review in themselves. The top is made from red spruce that comes from a Forest in Val di Fiemme. That might not mean anything to you but it's apparently the same location that Antonio Stradivari went to choose spruce for his violins. The forest creates a light and stiff wood (good for a soundboard), but due to environmental conditions, the trees grow slowly, which means narrow growth rings and a tight grain. Sounds great.

Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele body

The back and sides are maple that Marco sources from the Balkans that come from blocks destined to go into making the sides of cellos. It's in two pieces has a beautiful curve to the shape that isn't just an arch, more that the whole back curves like a wave as you can see on the sides. It's radiused in two directions and is absolutely stunning. It also has an extremely attractive freckled look to the grain which is nicely bookmatched too. What you also see by examining this is that the body is pretty thin for a tenor.  I adore this back and could spend ages just looking at that!

Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele back

But perhaps it's the decoration that really stands out on these models against the pale of the spruce and maple. We have stained edge binding that matches the stained soundhole rosette and chamfer on the cutaway. All of the detailing is in figured maple with vulcanised fibre black edging. Marco offers these in blue, green or red, and all the colours are mixed by hand using alcohol dyes. He uses two methods to stain the wood, either staining the wood directly then applying a clear finish, or mixing the dye with some finish and colouring over the top. Either way, the effect is striking and really brings out the grain in the woods used. The blue is not personally for me, but you do get a choice of colours at least. I'd take the dark red! The rest of the body is finished in a satin nitro coat which gives it a nice feel on the hands, a level of protection, but no sticky gloss feel.

The bridge is made of a material called 'Blackwood Tek' on top of what looks like mahogany in a very attractive two tone style. Blackwood Tek is a proprietary wood material made from chemically altering pine to make it black and extremely hard. It's an eco friendly alternative to ebony that works in the same way. I like the diminutive size and shape of the bridge and it's fitted with a Corian saddle.

Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele bridge

Inside is extremely tidy. Perhaps it's because of the exaggerated curve in the back but the linings to the back are not notched, though the top linings are. The bracing on the back also looks very chunky, which again may be down to the back shape in order to hold it.

The neck is made of Khaya mahogany, which is not technically a mahogany, but just tends to get called that. It's in three pieces with tidy joints at the heel and halfway up the neck. Khaya is a good wood for necks as it is still extremely strong but light. It's got a very comfortable shallow profile at the nut, which really helps because the nut width is not quite as wide as I would like at 35mm. If this had a more rounded back profile I'd really struggle with it.

Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele fingerboard

The neck is topped with a fingerboard made of more of the Blackwood Tek. This really allows me a better look at the material and I think anyone would be hard pressed to know that it wasn't ebony. Saying that, it is a little uneven in colour, which may be a feature of the product. It is fitted with 18 frets, with 14 to the body joint, all really tidily dressed. They are also really thin and low profile which I always like the feel of. I also really like the way the fingerboard extends above the corian nut and tapers off into the headstock. We have small white outward position dots at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th and these are repeated on the side.

For the headstock we have an attractive thin shape with the Antica Ukuleleria logo inlaid in the face. It looks great I think. Simple, but effective.

Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele headstock

Tuners are open gears with black buttons by Der Jung, which are almost indistinguishable from Grovers. They work great and look good too.

Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele tuners

He sends these out with Aquila Sugar strings, and the stock price comes in at €900. The cutaway though is extra and would take this to €1100 in this specification. Sure that's a very serious price, but I think you can tell that this is also a serious build too.

It's put together extremely carefully in every department, is extremely light to hold and perfectly balanced. You'd expect this from a hand made ukulele of course. But it's the voice that has really put a smile on my face.

Surprisingly it has a ton of volume, but doesn't actually have the longest sustain I have heard on a ukulele. Perhaps it's that fairly narrow body front to back that hinders it. As I say though, it's not impacting volume and it still really punches. It's just not what I was expecting for from a tenor, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just different. And I like different.

Antica Ukuleleria Moderno Tenor Ukulele cutaway

It has a terrific chiming tone that you often fail to get at this scale and I think that is part of the surprise. It's a sweet, bright sounding voice that I am really taken with. The lower sustain gives it a more staccato voice on strums that you normally really only see in smaller scaled ukuleles, but I kind of like it for that too. I prefer it strummed to picked due to the sustain being lower, but really, it's no slouch in that department either and I am picking hairs really. What you get is a ukulele that surprises by it's voice compared to it's size. It's accurate too and all the notes are where they should be in the mix which is the mark of a well made instrument. All in all, it's a very characterful voice that has been extremely enjoyable to play with.

So it turns out that the photos I was drooling over the past few years really don't lie. This is a head turningly beautiful ukulele, with terrific build quality and a great voice. Total Italian style! It's always a joy to feature hand made stuff on the site and this one has pleased me from the day it arrived. This was certainly worth the wait. And, naturally, these come very highly recommended by Got A Ukulele!

http://www.anticaukuleleria.com

UKULELE PROS

Jaw dropping looks
Terrific build quality
Wonderful double radius back
Great volume and character to the voice

UKULELE CONS

The blue is not for me, but you do get a choice!
Would like a slightly wider nut

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 9 out of 10
Sound - 9.5 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9.3 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW





WANT TO LEAVE A TIP?




THANKS!

5 comments :

  1. Thank you Barry!
    I am headed to London, from Asia. Is this available in London?

    Best

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's one gorgeous instrument.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Barry!
    Am now in London - would this instrument be available in London?

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great pieces of perfect workmanship! I had the chance to try all the models in the Antica Ukuleleria range and it's really hard to tell which is the best sounding one. Bravo Marco!

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's not in London Audrey - it's in the North West and will be sent back to Italy soon

    ReplyDelete

Please leave me a comment!

Please Help Keep This Site Going!

If you enjoy this blog, donations are welcomed to allow me to invest more time in bringing you ukulele articles. Aside from the Google ads, I don't get paid to write this blog. Call it a labour of love!