Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

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13 Apr 2019

Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

It's been quite some time since I featured a model from this brand and it's long overdue. This week I am looking at the brand new Classic Sunburst Tenor from Noah Ukuleles.

Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele

A quick recap - Noah ukes are put out by a company called Saigon Guitars, the brainchild of a Brit called Matt Cohen who used to live in Vietnam and built contacts with luthiers over there. Since returning to the UK he launched Noah Ukuleles (named after his son Noah!) and they have proved to be extremely popular. I've reviewed a few of them and all have impressed me. None have moved into the giddy heights on my scores, but they have always played and sounded great for not a huge amount of money. They are made over in Vietnam by a small luthier especially for Matt and to his specs, so pretty much a hand made ukulele as opposed to a factory line. This one is a brand new addition to their lines which is about to be launched and he sent one over to me to take a look at.

First impressions made me genuinely say 'cor' when I opened the box. This is an extremely pretty and classy looking ukulele that is quite different to anything else in the Noah line up. Matt explains that he made a number of changes to this one based on feedback he requested from various players and reviewers. I like that, as I like a brand that actually listens to customers.

First up, aside from it being a standard double bout tenor like the other Noah models, this one has a much more curvy swoopy body which I think is gorgeous. I'm always a sucker for the curvy wider base, reminiscent of the grand auditorium guitar shape so this one immediately won me over. It's all solid wood with a two piece spruce top and two pieces on the mahogany sides and flat back. It's a classic wood combination for stringed instruments, and especially one with a sunburst finish.

Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele body

Sunbursts tend to be spruce in the top as this allows the maker to create that distinctive two tone colour effect. It's created by colouring the top with a darker finish (a dark brown with a hint of cherry in this case) which is then polished out in the centre to reveal the paler spruce.  It's a great looking technique and has been done very well here too. Extremely well  And looking at the middle of the top on this one you see touches of flaming in the spruce which really adds to the beauty. Really nice. The back too is pretty with a mahogany on the pale side, but with plenty of grain interest to stop it looking boring. I'd probably like it a touch darker, but that is me being overly picky.

At the bridge we have a tie bar mount made from something I have not heard of before. A Vietnamese wood called Gõ gõ mật, something I can assure you I will not try to pronounce on the video review! Anyway, it's very similar to rosewood (and looks it), but is not on the restricted CITES list. Previously on Noah ukes they had glossed these bridge mounts and I always called them out on it  in my reviews for looking really odd. I'm pleased to see that they have reverted to plain oiled wood here and think it looks far better. Fitted in this is a flat topped bone saddle.

Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele bridge

Other than that sunburst we do have other decoration in the form of maple edge binding to the top and back with some black thin purfling detail. There is also a tail stripe where the sides meet intow which is fitted a bottom strap button. This works really well with the sunburst. Around the sounhole is an inlaid abalone ring which add as bit more sophistication.

Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele decor

The finish is a gloss which is pretty good all over and better than others I have seen on Noah ukes. There are one or two blemishes and tooling marks and a touch of polish left over, but remember that this is not a factory line instrument and it gives it a hand made finish. The gloss serves to make the colours on the sunburst really shine. I think it looks great, but if you can't abide gloss the good news is that you can specify this one in satin too.

Inside is tidy without being overly braced. The linings are notched and neat. There is a touch of glue here and there, but nothing major or what I would call messy. You also get the signed and hand numbered makers label, with this one being serial number 001. Cool to get to look at the very first!

Up to the neck, and this is made from maple, stained a little to darken it. It's in three pieces with an obvious joint at the heel and a well hidden one at the headstock.. The neck is kind of a squashed but rounded profiled, but I was delighted to note that Matt has now specified a wider nut width on this model, coming in at 38mm and about 30mm from G to A. Extremely comfortable and roomy. That really is excellent.

Topping this is more of the Gõ gõ mật wood which is nicely end shaped and looks to be in great condition.  It has 18 frets with 14 to the body that are all dressed well. That dressing is helped by the fact the sides are bound in dark wood too. Position markers are at 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th and i'm pleased to see side dots too. I don't personally need a 3rd fret marker, but there you are!

Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele neck

The headstock is another design that I fall for every time as it's a slot head, faced in mahogany into which the Noah logo is inlaid in pearl. It's a bit chunky looking, but hardly unattractive. There is a fair bit of tooling work in the slots though and the gloss pools a bit here if you look closely.

Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele headstock

Tuning is provided by unbranded chrome open gears that face backwards. Naturally. They are decent quality though.

Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele tuners

The package completes with a set of Aquila strings and a padded gig bag. And price wise, well, these have just launched on the Noah site at £249. I think that is excellent value for money for this range of appointments.

So all in all a well put together instrument with looks that are right up my street. A standard looking ukulele this is not, and instead it is one which will certainly turn heads. It's not over heavy too and nicely balanced in the hands. Setup on this review model is also spot on. There is much to like here.

And thankfully the sound isn't a let down either. That's something I am not too surprised about as Noah ukuleles have usually impressed me on that score, but it's great to hear it here too. Volume and projection are excellent making this an instrument that will not fail to be heard in any circumstances. Sustain is good, although I have heard longer. But then, you know, this is a £249 instrument and it's still hardly a slouch in that department.

The tone is extremely pretty and, with a combination of the bright spruce and darker mahogany tones it presents a really nice mix between warm and chiming bright higher ends. A r'eal best of both worlds' I think. When strummed it gives off a really attractive shimmer and warble in the sound. There is a clear brightness going on but it's not strident and is complimented well by the mid and lower ranges that also come through. Well balanced is the thing here.

Noah Classic Sunburst Tenor Ukulele back

Fingerpicking is a joy, not only because of a really roomy and comfortable neck, but for the bell like notes you can coax out of the higher strings. But again, the mids and lower end are keeping the sound in check and rounding it out. It really put a smile on my face to play.

Clarity too is excellent with all notes finding their place in the mix and nothing coming across as muddy or lost. I'm very impressed with this one.

There's not much to dislike here and this is without a doubt the best Noah ukulele I have come across. The looks stole my heart from the off, but thankfully the playability and tone are also excellent. And all this from a home grown brand rather than a faceless factory production line. Very highly recommended!

Noah ukes are available direct from Noah, but also from respected dealers like Eagle Music and Duke of Uke.

https://www.noahukuleles.com


UKULELE PROS

Great looks with beautiful sunburst
Good construction throughout and not over built
Extremely comfortable neck
Excellent volume and projection
Great clarity in sound
Balanced tone with a mix of bright and warm
Very good price

UKULELE CONS

Some minor tooling and finish marks here and there
That I can't pronounce Gõ gõ mật...

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8.5 out of 10
Sound - 9 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW




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1 comments :

  1. Hello Bazz.
    Thanks for sharing this one, actualy this is the first sunburst model Ukelele i like.
    And totaly not expensive .
    Have a Nice weekend.

    ReplyDelete

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