Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele - REVIEW

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23 Dec 2018

Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele - REVIEW

Regular readers of Got A Ukulele will know I am passionate about steering shoppers towards true specialist ukulele dealers. And it's always nice when one of those dealers chooses to put out their own model of ukulele. Say hello to the Duke DUBVB Vintage Burst Baritone.

Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele

The Duke range of ukuleles are a fairly new addition to the ukulele world and are the brainchild of the team at the famous Duke Of Uke ukulele store in London. That's one of those specialists I mention above and is a hugely popular shop known around the world. In designing their Duke range of instruments they wanted to bring quality at the 'entry level' price point, and did so with a range of ukuleles in all scales, from the simpler laminate mahogany models through to solid tops and now this newest part of the range - the Vintage Burst series.

This one is the baritone, but it is also available in all other scales giving full choice to the buyer. And it's a really classy looking thing. This is an all laminate mahogany instrument set off, rather well I think, by a sunburst antique style finish. That sort of finish, where the wood is stained dark and then the central area is buffed out to create the 'burst' is instantly recognisable on stringed instruments and appears on some of the worlds greatest guitars. It's a look I really like and is far classier than plain mahogany which is, otherwise, rather boring. It looks like the sunburst top is a single sheet of laminate whereas the sides and the flat back are in pairs.

Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele body

Other decoration is subtle but effective, using a simple cream binding around the top edge and a cream and black sound hole rosette. It works well with the dark of the sunburst and adds to the 'old-timey' look. In baritone scale in particular this is really reminiscent of a vintage parlour guitar - a look that very much ticks my boxes!

Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele sound hole

The bridge is made of walnut and is a tie bar style holding a straight topped NuBone saddle. All very standard and no complaints here and not much more to say.

Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele bridge

Peeping in the sound hole shows off a very tidy build with absolutely no mess. The braces are not overly large and the linings are notched and tidy. You can also spy the edge of the sound hole showing that this is not overly thick.  And that shows with a tap of the top that this is a resonant insrument. This bodes very well!

The whole body is then finished in an open pore satin, helping with both the vintage look and the vintage feel. It's all extremely tidy and well applied too. Flawless in fact.

Up to the neck, and being a baritone you can expect more than the normal amount of pieces here. This one has three pieces stacked at the heel and another joint at the headstock. It's made of mahogany and finished in the same satin antique stain. It's more rounded than I like, but that's kind of to be expected on a baritone and less of an issue for the ham fisted like me. At the nut it is just over 38mm across and just over 30mm between the outer strings. Comfortable.

Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele fingerboard

Topping that is a walnut fingerboard that is end shaped and looks to be in excellent condition. You get  18 frets with 14 to the body join. The edges are bound with black strips and I cannot feel a sharp edge anywhere here. Simple outward dots are fitted at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th, and yes, these are repeated on the side too. Good job!

Beyond the NuBone nut we have a curvy topped headstock complete with the 'Duke Ukulele Co' logo in a gold screen print. Despite the brand not being old at all, the logo works with the vintage feel of the instrument I think and fits right in.

Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele headstock

Tuners are unbranded open gears that are pretty generic, but at least you get small black rubberised buttons which are nice to use. Nothing remarkable I guess in this department.

Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele tuners

Finally, the range comes fitted with Aquila brand strings, though because this is a baritone, you get a wound D and G string here as you may expect. And the price... ah yes.. the price. I actually thought there was an error on the Duke Of Uke website when I saw it, but you can currently grab one of these for just £99.95. Yeah, I know it's a laminate ukulele, but still... That is an extremely good price for any baritone, and when you factor in this has more than just a plain finish, it's a terrific price. Also on offer are gig bags which you can also get as part of a bundle with this baritone if you buy their 'starter pack' which also thows in Snark tuner and a chord chart. Whichever way you go it's a great price I think.

And as you can tell, I am rather taken with the looks of this one. Thankfully the build doesn't let it down either, whether that be in core construction or the finish, I really can't find any flaws on this. The weight is not too heavy, yet it feels reliably sturdy and is balanced too. Setup is just as I would want it too.

Duke DUBVB Baritone Ukulele back

Being a baritone, things like volume and sustain are easier to achieve, but this really does have those in spades. At times I really DID think I was playing a parlour guitar, as this little thing can really make itself heard. Sure, it's a laminate tone and doesn't have a character that you would say was 'classy', but it's no slouch either and still great fund to play. I consider it to be a sofa / porch picker and had much more fun with it fingerpicked than strummed, but then that may be down to the twin wound strings which I would personally tone down with a string change if this were mine. They can give it a bit of boom when strummed, but like I say.. wound strings..  So tone and play wise this isn't the top ukulele on the block, but it's perfectly respectable. And remember - it is under £100.

So a very playable instrument that is well made and looks absolutely terrific for a price that really isn't going to break the bank. If Duke Of Uke set out to deliver an instrument that plays well at an entry level price I would say they have more than surpassed their aim with this one. They could have gone full on generic in build and looks, but instead decided to thrown a bit of vintage bling at this one, and it really works for me. At under £100, why WOULDN'T YOU be placing an order? This is a steal and I have loved playing it.

Highly recommended.

https://www.dukeofuke.co.uk

UKULELE PROS

Great classy looks
Good build
Great volume and sustain
Very playable neck
Killer price

UKULELE CONS

Would personally change the strings
Slightly generic tone, but still perfectly passable

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 9 out of 10
Sound - 8 out of 10
Value for money - 9.5 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.9 out of 10

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4 comments :

  1. added bonus - "vintage" baritone scale of 19-ish inches instead of "modern" baritone scale of 20+ inches.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great review Barry and a nice looking ukulele. My only niggle with Duke is on their website they do not specify that these uke's are laminate wood rather than solid. As you often say, laminate's can sound better than solids sometimes but I would rather know the specifics.

    ReplyDelete
  3. To be fair though, they kind of do. When they use solid wood, they say so. The old rule of thumb applies, if a brand doesn't use the word 'solid' then assume it's laminate

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really should stop watching your reviews. I get UAS every time! However, I shall limit myself to the Bonanza Oreo for now which I have changed to a baritone with MiSi pick up. Should be amazing!..... But I did get the Clearwater LP which is on its way..... Sigh!

    ReplyDelete

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