Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

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29 Jun 2019

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

A welcome return to Flight Ukuleles on the site, a ukulele brand I have reviewed several times before and not been let down. In fact with each model I review they seem get better. I will come on to why I think that is in the review, but this is the Victoria CEQ Tenor.

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele


Flight are a Slovenian based brand that produce a wide range of far-eastern made ukuleles which, as I say, are always reliable. This is not a faceless Chinese factory brand, rather a small husband and wife team (Primo┼ż and Juliana) that always seem to be striving to improve their offerings. They must be one of the hardest working brands I know and if you follow them on social media you will see that they are forever on the move globally talking to makers, factories, festivals and players looking to innovate. Trust me, a brand that actually listens to their market is a very good thing indeed. Many don't. And that listening shows in their constant improvement and adjustment to models as time moves on. It's the case with this Victoria model which I will come on to later.

The Victora CEQ is an electro acoustic tenor, first launched by Flight in 2018. Unlike the other entry level Flight ukes I have reviewed in the past this one goes with a solid top made of Sitka spruce with laminate acacia back and sides. It's a classic stringed instrument combination that just works very well both in looks and tone. The spruce here is nicely tight and straight grained and made from two pieces on the top. The back and sides are pairs also and whilst not the most striking acacia I have seen are still pretty enough. The back is also very slightly arched.

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele body

The bridge is a tie bar style made of ebony in a kind of 'reverse moustache' shape reminiscent of Taylor. It's very tidy and pleasingly dark in colour. It's fitted with a bone saddle with a compensated top.

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele bridge

Decor is provided in several departments. We have dark wood (possibly ebony) binding strips around the top and back edges which works nicely against the pale spruce. They also add a comfort edge on the top top lower bout to remove that sharp edge feel on the inside of the forearm. I see a few comfort edges and some can be scruffy or stark looking. This is nicely finished and works well with the rest of the instrument. On the upper shoulder we have a bowl cutaway shaped into the acacia.  I see a few of these and some of them are, frankly, shocking. Not here - this is nicely finished.  Finally we have an assymmetric wooden inlay  soundhole rosette which, again, is really tidy, simple but classy. It's the sort of rosette which wouldn't look out of place on an aNueNue model. The whole body is then finished in a satin on which I can find no flaws, drips or pooling. All very good so far.

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele cutaway


You may have spotted in the pictures a strap button on the base. That actually also houses a pickup jack which is nice to see. I talked above about constant development, and the Victoria ukulele previously came with an EQ sytem with a battery pack and control panel in the side. You know I don't like those as they simply add a load of weight and unncessary wiring in the chain that you simply don't need. Flight talked to people in the market (myself included!!) and have switched over to a pure passive Artec saddle strip. That is great news. I can vouch for the Artec because not only do I fit them and use them (as in my Rob Collins tenor), they are also used by people like Marco Todeschini in the UFOS. No, they are not high end MiSi pickups , but they are extremely decent passive pickups with little that can go wrong. Bear in mind you will likely need to run through a pre-amp before going straight to a desk, but into an amplifier with an acoustic stage you will be just fine as is.  They will need a bit of EQ tweaking too, but I don't consider that a negative as most pickups do. Full marks here as I KNOW these work well. There is another advantage here as well I suppose. If you really did want to change the pickup to something high end like a MiSi, swapping this out would be an absolute breeze with no extra wiring or control panels to worry about.

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele pickup jack

Inside is very tidy with thin braces and notched linings. No mess, and of course no mass of extra wiring to buzz and rattle!

Up to the neck and this is made of African mahogany with a joint at the heel and a very well hidden one at the headstock end. It too is finished in satin. The profile is typically Chinese in it's rounded shape, but that only tends to bother me when the string spacing is too narrow. Thankfully this has an extremely roomy 38mm nut with around 30mm from G to A. Excellent.

The fingerboard is made of ebony and is completely dark and uniform along its length. It's not edge bound, but edge stained meaning you can see the fret ends, but only if you look closely. We have 18 of those in total with 14 to the body and they are all dressed nicely. Position markers are inlaid in pale wood pieces which look kind of like flames, but could be an extract from the Flight logo. They look nice and sit at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th. Thanfully you also get dots on the side.

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele fingerboard

Beyond the bone nut is something else that always woos me - a slotted headstock with rear facing tuners on the side. I just find they look so classy on a larger scale ukulele. This one comes with the Flight logo in black on the face. I will say this would have looked classier if they faced the headstock with more ebony to match the arm rest but I am nitpicking here.

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele headstock

Tuners are unbranded open gears in chrome fitted, naturally, to the sides and facing backwards. Looking at the metal mounting plates and buttons I can see they are of decent quality too. In other words these are not cheap, soft metal.

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele tuners

Finishing it off are what they describe as 'Japanese Fluorocaron strings' (Fishing line? I do hope so, as it's what I use!!) and a Flight padded gig bag. And all of that is available from Flight or their dealers for €339 RRP. In the UK I am seeing these for about £279 which is not a bad price really for this level of decor complete with a pickup.

When it comes to the build, I am struggling to find anything much wrong here. It's put together extremely well and feels great in the hands. It's not too heavy either and nicely balanced. Setup is also just right. Most of all though I am really taken with the looks of this one. It's not ostentatious, but not plain either. A classy combination of woods and decor elements that don't go over the top but give you just enough. Plus it's not spoiled by an ugly control panel in the side. Some funkier grain on the back and a dark face on the headstock would set it off even more nicely, but like I say, I am being picky here.

To play, the first thing I notice is how roomy and comfortable the neck is. For someone as ham fisted as I am it's really nice to play, particularly for picking. Volume is also very good and it has some nice sustain going on too with a pleasing resonance working back into your chest as you strum.

The tone is also good as, despite that naturally bright spruce, you get a nice blend of highs with lows here. Don't worry about too much spruce 'zing' as whilst you are getting the typical spruce snappiness it is being mellowed out by the rest of the instrument. Just what you want really - balance. Strumming is jangly and I don't hear that it misses a step, with each of the strings coming through in the mix. Fingerpicking is where I prefer this one though. Maybe it's that fingerboard comfort twisting my opinion, but it really does have some nice chimes to the sound which, with the sustain, create a really pretty, melodious tone.

I don't want to wax TOO lyrical here, and sure, we are not talking a Kamaka or Koaloha dynamic range here , but then it's under £300 not over £1,000. And for that sort of money I am hearing much more going on here with the tone than with other solid top only instruments I come across. It certainly matches anything else I can think of at this sort of money (Snail, Kala, Ohana) and probably exceeds them. It certainly exceeds them based on looks and build too as I find a lot of the competition at this price have thrown the parts bin at the decoration (i'm looking at you here Snail!). This keeps it simpler and classier.  Really not much to dislike here if anything.

Flight Victoria CEQ Tenor Ukulele back

Once again, a review weekend with a ukulele that doens't put me in a bad mood. I genuinely think Flight's personal approach to product development and actually listening to people is paying dividends now as I do find them getting better and better and becoming a go too choice at this crowded price point. As such I am more than happy to highly recommend this one to you. A really great instrument!


https://flightmusic.com

And I believe you will get 10% off at MusicRoom if you use the code GOTAUKULELE on the checkout.

https://www.musicroom.com/product/almvicteq/flight-victeq-victoria-tenor-electro-ukulele.aspx

SPECS ROUNDUP

Scale: Tenor with cutaway
Body: Solid spruce top, laminate acacia back and sides
Bridge: Ebony
Saddle: Bone
Neck: African maghogany
Nut: 38mm (30mm G to A)
Fingerboard: Ebony
Headstock: Slotted style
Tuners: Unbranded reverse open gears
Strings: Fluorocarbon
Extras: Gig bag, Artec passive pickup

UKULELE PROS

Classy looks which are not over the top
Superb build and flawless finish throughout
Dark even ebony in bridge and fingerboard
Roomy comfortable neck
Great volume
Good sustain
Nice blend of highs and lows in tone
Yay! Passive pickup!


UKULELE CONS

Back woods could make use of more striking acacia
Headstock could be faced in a contrasting wood

UKULELE SCORES

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

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9.1 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW




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4 comments :

  1. Thanks for the review, Baz. Very nice uke.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really classy looking uke! Nice sound too. Would like to hear some machine gun staccato Formby tunes just to hear the response from the instrument. Seems like an outstanding value.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Baz,

    Thank you for another comprehensive and helpful review. This sounds very tempting - and it looks a beaut - but as someone who has never owned or played an electro-uke, I have a couple of questions, if I may?

    What is the anticipated extra cost of completing the amplification, along the lines you suggest, and would this have any detrimental impact on the quality of sound when the uke in in pure acoustic mode with no amplification switched on?

    Many thanks.

    Andy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is an electro acoustic so can be played either way. As an acoustic this is a great uke in itself. If you want to plug it in, then amplifier reviews would be as extensive as ukes? You’d be spending anywhere between about 50 to ‘where do you want to stop!’

      Delete

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