aNueNue UT140 Light Bird Tenor Ukulele - World Of Ukes Exclusive - REVIEW

28 Oct 2018

aNueNue UT140 Light Bird Tenor Ukulele - World Of Ukes Exclusive - REVIEW

A little while back I reviewed a ukulele which went on to be one of the highest scored instruments on this site. It really was a marvel and was called the 'Moon Bird' from aNueNue. A very serious ukulele in every single department, including of course, the price. So it was with huge anticipation that I learned about an exclusive stripped down version that will be exclusive to World Of Ukes in Carlisle. So here is a pre-look at the forthcoming 'Light Bird' Tenor from aNueNue.

aNueNue Light Bird Tenor Ukulele


As I say, that Moon Bird ukulele really did blow me away - there was literally nothing at all wrong with it. It also amused me greatly to see one or two people get quite animated that I had 'dared' to give such a high score to a ukulele made in the Far East... I personally don't give a damn where they are made, only how they are built and sound - and this one ticked every box for me. And I wasn't alone in that view either as you will see those ukuleles in the hands of some of the most gifted ukulele professionals on the planet. The price though was indeed something to consider carefully with the tenor version coming in just shy of £1,200. If only there was a less blinged up, cheaper version with the same sort of build an credentials! Step up Matt Warnes of World Of Ukes who, through his contacts at aNueNue has developed just that in a new World Of Ukes exclusive model called the Light Bird.

It's an all solid wood ukulele with the same curvy and swoopy double bout shape as the Moon Bird, but with one or two differences to keep the price down and set it apart. First up, whilst the back and sides on the Moon Bird are solid rosewood, on the Light Bird they move to two pieces of solid African mahogany for each. Likewise, it's out with the solid spruce top and in comes a solid high grade cedar top. It's a change that is not for the worse to my eyes as I do like the warm colour of cedar. The back is just as striking as rosewood too with some deep grain colouring and a gorgeous rich and warm look to it.  It's also a real classic combination of woods in stringed instruments so you know they will work together well. You will also spy the offeset shoulder heights giving the ukulele a 'cutaway' without anything really being 'cut away' as it were. I like that a lot too and particularly like the stepped effect it creates on the back.

aNueNue Light Bird Tenor Ukulele body

The other obvious difference is you lose the swirly edge binding and half moon style sound hole rosette of its big brother, replaced with a more standard even dark edge binding strip around the top and back and nothing at all around the sound hole. The inlay designs were a big part of what I liked about the Moon Bird looks, but they do add to the price, so out they go. It makes the Light Bird a much plainer beast.

The bridge looks idential and is made of ebony fitted with a compensated bone saddle. I do like the curvy shape of these bridges and they remain 'just different enough' from the majority to stand out. There is a touch of colour variation in the wood though on this one that is standing out to me. More on that later.

aNueNue Light Bird Tenor Ukulele bridge

The whole body is then finished in a gloss which is typical of aNueNue quality in that it is wonderully well applied. A real mirror look that not only enhances the back colour, but of course protects that softer wood in the top, as cedar can be prone to fingernail marks if unfinished.

Inside is extremely tidy with thin braces and seriously neat notched kerfing. I can also spy that the top wood is nice and thin rather than chunky.

Up to the neck and this is made of what looks like mahogany in three pieces with really well hidden joints at the heel and headstock. It's a curvy backed profile which I would prefer a touch flatter, but I have no complaints with the 37mm at the nut and roomy almost 29mm spacing from G to A strings. What I also like is the fact that the neck back isn't finished in gloss, but rather a satin. This means it's less grippy or sticky on the fretting hand. A nice touch. You will also note the nicely shaped flattened neck heel. Again, it's just a heel, but different enough to make it distinctive.

aNueNue Light Bird Tenor Ukulele neck heel

It's topped with an ebony fingerboard with some shaping to match the top edge of the soundhole it adjoins. Like the bridge I am seeing some colour variation in this too. Whilst that isn't a 'complaint' as such, I suspect it's part of the cost cutting over the Moon Bird, such that you don't get 'quite' the same grade of wood in certain places. You get a generous 20 frets (14 to the body top) which are all dressed brilliantly. Fret markers are in plain dots (as opposed to the moon phase motifs on the Moon Bird) at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th spaces and these are repeated on the side. Nothing over the top here.

aNueNue Light Bird Tenor Ukulele fingerboard

Beyond the bone nut we have another difference from the Moon Bird in the headstock shape, but strangely for a lower priced instrument it's a change I much prefer. This one is a slotted headstock model, faced in glossy ebony housing the aNueNue logo inlaid in pearly. I think it looks wonderful.

aNueNue Light Bird Tenor Ukulele headstock

Being a slot head means you get regular aNueNue branded geared tuners facing backwards in the normal slot style. It's a shame I supppose as this one misses out on the glorious Gotoh UPT's of the Moon Bird. Still, I don't see how you could use those on a slot head, so it's rough with the smooth I guess. They are good quality tuners though.  On the back of the headstock you also get the World Of Ukes logo laser etched into the mahogany showing you that this is purely exclusive to them.

aNueNue Light Bird Tenor Ukulele tuners

It's fitted with aNueNue Black Water strings (meh... strings....) and comes with the same superb quality blue hard case branded with the aNueNue logo. These cases really are a step up from the norm and it shows in the quality of the clasps and handle. And whilst the Moon Bird comes in at nearly £1,200, in tenor form the Light Bird will set you back £749. That's a large saving over the big brother, although still a serious price of course. (Concert fans, they are also making a Concert version of this that will set you back £699). No soprano or baritone as yet though.

aNueNue Light Bird Tenor Ukulele sound hole

The build is excellent in every department and it's a light and well balanced instrument too. It's one of those instruments that you know is well made when you pick it up. Solid and secure, but not chunky or heavy. Just well done. I have no complaints with the setup either making this a very comfortable ukulele to play. In one or two areas, like the end of the fretboard the finishing isn't quite as tidy as the flawless Moon Bird, and that colour variation in the woods on this model is noticeable, but I am really looking for things to complain about here. This is a VERY well made ukulele.

When playing it the first thing that strikes me is the resonance and the volume. It's one of those ukuleles which, with very little effort in playing you can feel vibrating back into your chest and in fact throughout the whole instrument. And that comes with absolutely terrific volume and projection too. This is quite the powerhouse.

Tone wise, the cedar is making this much warmer sounding than the spruce Moon Bird, but it's not overly so and has a pretty chime to the tone too. 'Rich' is what I would call it, warm and rounded, but in no way muddy or overly dark. Even when strummed hard the notes are all perfectly clear in the mix and work together well. A very clear voice and a pleasing one too.

Fingerpicking seems to trim the warmness and shows more bell like clarity that really sings and shimmers. Quite the difference in sound and it shows that the instrument has more in its arsenal than you might think. It has a real character to the tone that is anything but generic or 'factory'. A really nice distinctive voice, very much as the Moon Bird has.

All in all, I think that aNueNue have done it again and it's great to see their high quality shows no signs of dipping. This is a marvellous ukulele and I strongly suspect if you were lusting after a Moon Bird but struggling to meet the cost that this will now feature firmly on your wish list.  Nice looking, nice sounding, and nicely made. This comes very highly recommended indeed.

aNueNue Light Bird Tenor Ukulele back

World Of Ukes who are currently offering pre-orders on these and the concerts for an expected arrival of end of January 2019. Oh and you get fifty quid off if you order now.  I suspect many will be finding the wait difficult to handle! I'd say it will be worth it though!

http://worldofukes.co.uk/tenor-ukuleles/world-of-ukes-anuenue-exclusive-light-bird-concert-and-tenor-ukuleles?fbclid=IwAR09_Br-gMYWIwPMWSE2m-p91CLx8qmvqYJ34fDZnx9Xt0dKtM97gV5_tbk


UKULELE PROS

Great understated looks
Terrific build quality throughout
Good price
Excellent case
Warm but not muddy tone
Excellent volume, sustain and resonance
Versatile strummed or picked

UKULELE CONS

Really nothing unless you like more bling

UKULELE SCORES

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

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9.3 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW



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