The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

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28 Apr 2019

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

It's a first for this ukulele brand on the reviews pages, and one I have been excited to feature since I saw so many dealers enthusing about them at NAMM 2019. This is the Cheesecake Super Concert from 'The Rebel' Guitars

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele

The Rebel are a small team of builders and luthiers who have been together since about 2011 in Bangkok, with a range of high end, intriguing looking instruments. And that intrigue also goes with the names too, suggesting to me that someone on the team has a sweet tooth. With this one we have Cheesecake, but you can also get things like Tiramisu and Creme Brulee too. Their naming is equally bonkers with their more limited models such as 'Quark', 'Particle' and 'Elysium'. Do names matter? Not really, but there is something in me that loves the idea of calling a ukulele 'Cheesecake'..

Mmmm Cheesecake..

And as for the intriguing looks.. well, at first glance this looks like a regular double bout ukulele, but a closer look will suggest otherwise. It's a double bout shape with that swoopy curvy base that I like so much. It's a lovely shape to look at, pleasing on the eye and one that makes me want to pick it up and just hold it. Turning it on it's side though and you notice that this differs from most ukuleles on account of it's narrow thickness front to back. In fact it's only 46 mm thick, so very much a thinline. That's something else I am a sucker for if I am honest. Not sure why. Just different I guess.

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele body

Woods wise, this is made from all solid tone woods. We have two pieces of solid spruce on the top which is pale, simple and reminds me a lot of the spruce topped Koaloha Opio. That should come as no surprise as The Rebel are the team that made the Opio for Koaloha! In fact the luthiers at The Rebel were trained by Koaloha. I digress... Contrasting this on the back and sides is all solid mahogany which is a deep rich brown red colour and works brilliantly against the spruce. And it does give it the look of a layered cake! Of course, spruce top, mahogany back is a classic combination in all sorts of stringed instruments that works very well, so I expect nice things on tone here with the mahogany balancing the brighter spruce. The back is dead flat and is in two pieces. The sides are a pair also.

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele sides

There is no other decoration on the body and I rather like it for that. It is finished in what they call 'high gloss', but it's not artificial feeling or looking. It's supremely shiny but certainly not over thick or 'plasticy'. It's been done extremely well.

The bridge is a tie bar style with a straight topped saddle that 'looks' like TUSQ or NuBone. It's made from ebony and has both a pleasing shape and diminutive size. Nice.

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele bridge

Looking inside and it is simple but very tidy. The braces are extremely thin and shaped and the linings are not notched but bent and stuck in place. Not much more to say here, but certainly no complaints.

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele sound hole

The neck is made of mahogany with a joint at the heel. If there is a joint at the headstock I can't spot it. It's covered in gloss but doesn't feel grippy. I really like the swooping curve of the heel shape, and whilst the profile is typically rounded as a lot of far eastern instruments are, the nut width is a comfortable 37mm, though only with 27mm from G to A.  It's comfortable enough, but when we come on to to looking at the fingerboard construction you will see why it's narrower than the nut would suggest. Of course, in this long neck / super concer flavour it's all about the scale length and this one comes with a tenor scale neck on the concert body. This does raise an interesting debate, as long necks are usually named after the body size (long neck soprano, long neck tenor etc). In reality though, the naming convention of a ukulele should be dictated by the scale length so this is actually a tenor instrument with a small body. Much like long neck sopranos are actually concerts with small bodies. Oh well, it doesn't really matter!

Topping this is an ebony fingerboard which is in great condition and looks almost black along it's length. The edges are bound in thick strips of ebony, a technique you find on Koaloha instruments. It's a nice feature and means the frets can never be sharp as they don't reach anywhere near the edge of the fingerboard. This is why it has a wide nut but the string spacing is not so wide. If it were wider the G and A strings would slip off the frets. Being a tenor scale you get lots of those, with 19 in total and 14 to the body. They are finished beautifully. Fret markers appear facing out at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th in intriguing geometric shapes inlaid in paler wood. I like those. Thankfully you also get pale side dots in the same positions. These inlays are the first nod to decoration and look great.

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele neck

Beyond the nut is a beauifully shaped headstock faced in ebony in a plate that doesn't quite go to the edges giving a layered effect assisted by the edge chamfer. It looks good enough to eat. Inlaid here is The Rebel logo in pieces of differing colour woods. The logo is, I think, an origami bird, but I am not sure what the connection is.

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele headstock

Turning it over and... oh boy... Gotoh UPT tuners. The planetary tuners that look like friction pegs but work like gears. The are sublime and these ones come with gold metal work and the keystone shaped buttons in black. Just divine and i'm so pleased to see these.

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele tuners

Completing your deal are as set of un-named strings that look like clear fluorocarbon to me and a rather garish plastic coated soft gig bag. It's functional I guess, but the looks are not for me, reminding me of a pencil case I had in primary school. And to purchase, this is in stores at £749. So a serious price whilst not quite at the full on Hawaiian prices.

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele bag

Though when looking at that price,  I stress, this clearly is a very serious build. I can't find any flaws here... anywhere. The construction is tip top as is the finishing and it's a joy to hold. It's also extremely light and balanced and there is something about the mix of that long neck and shallow body that makes it very comfortable to cradle and hold. Excellent so far..

The Rebel Cheesecake Super Concert Ukulele back

And that build comes together into a ukulele that I think, personally, is beautiful in it's simplicity. If you like more decoration, they make those too, but this is just right for me. It's also tactile and wonderful to hold because of the non sticky gloss and nicely dressed edges to the top and back.

I do sometimes worry about the tone when it comes to thinlines though. Whilst some brands get them right, some can turn out rather thin and brittle sounding. When you consider all that bright spruce wood too you will forgive me for worrying about this one! I need not have done so. It's utterly superb.

First up we have absolutely top notch volume and great sustain with even minimal effort from the playing hand. This projects, barks, sings, whatever you want from it. Absolutely no complaints on this score. It's a rocket when it needs to be, but is just as nice and clear played softly.

And tone wise this equally left a huge smile on my face. For a small thin body with all that spruce I am absolutely staggered by the range this ukulele has. Sure you get the bell like chimes from the higher notes, but the whole mix is there, a touch of bass, great mids and all extremely balanced. It's remarkable. The smaller concert body gives it a touch of the staccato that smaller instruments bring, but there is still sustain there too where you need it. It makes for a bouncy, jangly sounding ukulele that urges you to strum faster.

The notes each sit in the mix clearly defined, and where appropriate harmonise into a shimmer that is extremely pretty. What an achievement.  Fingerpicking is also an absolute delight, putting out a really nice music box sound with ringing sustain too. I'm honestly really struggling with this one to critisise the tone as you can tell!

Sure, it is a fair bit of money though for something very plain. Yes I like plain myself, but if you want a decorated one you are going even higher in price. But I cannot stress enough how well this has been put together and how the build lets the tone and volume breathe and sing out. And yes, that bag is just weird, but I really am nitpicking now.

Superb build, superb looks, superb playability and wonderful tone. This is an absolute cracker and deserves a very high score. I'm in love with it!

Mmmmm...... cheesecake!

http://therebelguitars.com
https://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk

SPECS ROUNDUP

Scale: Long neck Concert
Body: Solid spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides
Bridge: Ebony
Saddle: Tusq
Neck: Mahogany
Nut Width: 37mm (27mm G to A)
Fingerboard: Ebony
Tuners: Gotoh UPT
Extras: Padded gigbag included
Price: £749


UKULELE PROS

Great simple looks
Excellent build and finishing
Excellent volume and sustain
Superb tuners
Incredible range of tone for such a small bodied instrument
Wonderful playability

UKULELE CONS

The gig bag!!

UKULELE SCORES

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

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9.4 out of 10

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2 comments :

  1. At least the gig bag can be replaced easily enough!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Better shops would shure upgrade the gig bag for a reasonable price.
      Still the uke is a great choise, even if you just throw the gig bag away.

      Delete

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