Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

29 Dec 2018

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

Here we are with the last ukulele review of 2018 on Got A Ukulele, and it's nice to see a return to a brand that caused quite a bit of a buzz when I first featured them. This is the Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele.

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele

Enya is a Chinese brand that created quite a stir with a range of HPL (high pressure laminate) ukuleles, built in a very similar fashion to the HPL Martin ukuleles, but for a lot less money. I previously looked at their round 'camp style' EUR model ukulele and their more standard soprano uke and both were extremely well made if a little quiet on the volume. Still they were at great prices and people flocked to grab them as inexpenisve, reliable practice instruments. They were not, however, traditional ukuleles in the normal sense. I have however been keeping an eye on more traditionally built instruments from Enya and was delighted when they asked me to look at their 2018 release MUT-M6 Tenor ukulele. And from first glance it really is quite the looker.

This M6 model is made of all solid mahogany in the tenor scale. Not a bit of HPL in the body here, rather two pieces of solid mahogany on the top, back and sides. Whilst mahogany isn't the most striking wood to look at this is attractive enough in a deep reddish brown finish and straight shimmery grain that matches well.  They call it a 'AAA grade mahogany', but to be honest with you, when it comes to mahogany I couldn't tell the difference between an A grade, and AA grade and an AAA grade myself. It's hardly like Koa differences which can vary dramatically. Still, it IS attractive for what it is and I am not complaining about the looks.

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele body

And like the other Enya ukuleles I looked at, it's also put together very well with no issues I can spot. This one is finished with a gloss coating which, whilst it's not perfectly mirror finished, is really rather good and comparable to many gloss finishes in the mid priced world of ukuleles. Also setting off the striking look is the cutaway on the upper shoulder to allow easier access to the upper frets. In the world of musical instruments there are 'cutaways' and there are 'cutaways'. Some, I find, can look like a bit of an afterthought and a little out of place, but I really like the swoop of this one and the sharp angle where the cutaway returns to the body which is kind of Florentine in design. Its bold and clearly is 'meant to be there'. I love it. There is no other decoration on the body save for a gold pearly type inlay for the sound hole rosette which is nicely done.

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele cutaway

The bridge on this is a through the body style (strings go in the holes, pulled out of sound hole, knots tied, then pulled back.. easy). with a plate made from Richlite, the paper based composite which is being used increasingly as a substitute for ebony. If it is good enough for Martin, Gibson and Blackbird (amongst others) then it is good enough for me... I like how flat and smooth it sits on the body, rising up in a gentle curve to hold the saddle. The beauty of Richlite is that it can easily be moulded to whatever shape you want as is evident in the shaped bridges of the Blackbird Clara and Farallon ukuleles. It is fitted with a compensated bone saddle with a radiused top for reasons we come on to below. The whole thing is very tidy too, though I do find with Richlite that it very easily picks up greasy finger marks.

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele bridge

A look inside shows both a nicely thin soundboard top and a tidy internal build. Notched linings which are nicely applied and nicely shaped braces. Like other Enyas the logo is stamped on the neck block and rather than a makers label in the usual place, the Enya name and model number is embossed on the central back strip that holds the two back sides together. It's the same construction style as on their HPL ukuleles, only in wood.

Up to the neck, and this is made of mahogany with a joint at the heel and headstock. It appears to be joined to the body in the same way as the HPL Enyas by way of an external bolt that doubles as a strap button. This allows you take the neck off if you wanted to - a feature I used to take a soprano Enya on holiday inside a cabin bag for which it would otherwise have been too big. Not sure I'd do it with a solid wood tenor though!! Incidentally, that strap button bolt is twinned with a regular strap button on the base too - both in gold finish. The neck profile is typically 'far-eastern' in that it is a rounded back profile. The nut width though is about 37mm with just under 30mm fro G to A. That's reasonable enough on the spacing but I would like it a tiny bit wider on the overall width. Another thing that is pleasing here though is that the coating on the back of the neck is more satin in feel than the gloss of the body. I like that touch as it means it's less grippy on the hand.

Topping that is what I guess you could say is the 'main event'. This is a Richlite fingerboard that is inlaid with a flowery design in a mix of a reddish wood and pearloid flowers. Regular readers of mine know that I don't go in for such decoration myself, but I do try to keep these reviews as impartial as I can and know that some people will absolutely love it. More importanly, perhaps, is the fact that it has clearly been well done. Often when I see inlays like this on cheaper instruments they are plagued with flaws and large unfilled patches. Not here though as this is very tidy.  There is a bit of open grain in the red wooden inlay, but it's nothing ugly or that you can feel.

Otherwise on the neck we have 18 frets with 14 to the body. Whilst the outward inlay design precludes the use of outward fret markers, you do, thankfully get them on the side at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th. The edges of the frets are hidden too. Oh, and you know that radius top to the bridge saddle I mentioned above? That's to match the radius on the fingerboard. Yes, it has a radiused board for comfort, meaning a very slight curve over the face of the fingerboard. Nice! All in all, I really liked the necks on the HPL Enya ukuleles and this feels no different.

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele fingerboard

Beyond the bone nut is an inline headstock, very reminiscent of the style on the Steve Vai Ibanez signature guitars. As this review is hot on the heels of my recent Fender reviews you will be forgiven for thinking I dislike all inline headstocks. I don't actually and that wasn't my point. I disliked the Fender ones because their overall design is just too big for a ukulele in my opinion. As for this one? Well, no, I don't like the shape and think it's a bit too 'rock and metal' for a ukulele, but it isn't too big for the ukulele. As such it looks in proportion to the body here I could live with it. It's faced with a glossy black faceplate holding the Enya logo inlaid in pearloid. So whilst the shape isn't to my personal taste it is very well finished and looks classy. What I also like about the shape though are the pronounced curves at the base which give excellent hand space for first position chords. Very nice and comfortable.

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele headstock

Tuning is provided by Enya branded sealed gears with faux amber coloured buttons and gold hardware. They look nice enough, but I did find they were somewhat diferent tensions to use, with the G tuner in particular feeling a touch sticky. I suspect they are generic and fairly cheap tuners that Enya paid to have their logo embossed on to. Still, they work once they are in tune and don't have dreaded 'play and slop'.

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele tuners

Finising this off are set of D'Addario strings which, whilst they don't specify the set, look like Titaniums to me. You also get a REALLY nice quality padded bag with shoulder straps. The original Enya bags were always decent quality but this is the next level. And the price - well in the UK you can pick these up at the time of writing for about £200 ex delivery, and in the US for about $250. A word of warning on that though - Enya are notorious for their prices shifting around dramatically so I would keep a close eye on what they are doing to avoid disappointment. And yes, these are principally on Amazon - a trait I try to avoid in uke brands since certain companies started gaming the reviews system, but it's pleasing to note the Enya are also now starting to appear in physical stores too. Fair play.

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele inlay

So all in all a very nice looking ukulele. Sure it has one or two design cues that are not to my taste, but they may be to yours and there is no arguing with how they have been applied. Overall the build is very good and I am struggling to find any issues. It's not heavy either and nicely balanced to hold so a couple more ticks in the box there too. And of course that price, for a solid wood, decorated uke - that's REALLY very good!

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele soundhole

Dealing with the funcional parts of the sound first, I have to consider the volume first, as that was something that let down the earlier Enya HPL models I looked at. Whilst I would not say this was the loudest tenor ukulele I have ever played it's certainly not a slouch either. That is to say, it doesn't have the real dramatic punch of something like more higher end tenor, but you will not be lost with it either. Above average really. Sustain is more average though and I would really like it to have a bit more. It doesn't make it unplayable in any sense, but I do like longer sustain in a tenor myself.

Enya EUT-M6 Tenor Ukulele back

But maybe that sustain is linked to the tone which is also quite surprising for a tenor scale ukulele, and particularly one made of mahogany. This is a far brighter and staccato sound than I would expect from a darker sounding wood like mahogany in this sort of size. If anything I find that this ukulele sounds more like a concert to my ears. Chimey and bouncy. And of course, that is no bad thing if you know what you are getting. In fact, it's a character I found myself rather enjoying and makes it a lot of fun to play. With that chime comes a bit more brightness than I would personally like from a mahogany tenor though, but the tone might be right up your alley. I found myself preferring it picked to strummed but I often find that with tenors. All in all, this is a decent sounding and playing ukulele.

What this model really demonstrates to me is that the tide is well and truly turning when it comes to instruments made from China and the perception that they are all sub-standard. Sure there is still a lot of utter junk out there and brands fiddling the reviews system to get noticed, but more and more often  I am seeing instruments coming across which really do punch at a higher level than they ever used to. Sure, this isn't a Moon Bird, but it's certainly on a par with the more ubiquitous brand names that also base their manufacturing in China. It's very well made, looks great (if you like the bling) and, whilst it doesn't sound like my idea of a mahogany tenor, certainly holds it's own an has a characterful voice. which I enjoyed. And for £200? That HAS to get a Got A Ukulele recommendation.

http://www.enyamusical.com
https://fantasiemusic.com/our-instruments/#enya









UKULELE PROS

Nice build throughout
Good finish and inlay work done well
Good volume
Great price

UKULELE CONS

Looks may divide buyers, but if they are your bag, then cool.
Tuners a little cheap feeling
Would like a touch more sustain
A little overly bright on tone for a tenor

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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