A New Weapon in the Got A Ukulele Reviews Armoury!

14 Oct 2019

A New Weapon in the Got A Ukulele Reviews Armoury!

Here's a little ukulele interlude for you, to show you a new toy that I may be using to help the uke reviews in future.

In each of my reviews I usually provide readers with a short statement about what is going on inside the ukulele. You know the kind of thing by now - how tidy it is, how it is braced, lined, that kind of thing. It's only a small part of the review, and in many cases can be irrelevant as an 'untidy' build can still be a great sounding instrument. Still, I do mention these things because:

a) Untidy builds inside are usually an indicator that I should look more closely at other , more visible build elements. Ultimately, if a brand is too lazy to keep things tidy inside, or such mess has passed their quality control inspections unchallenged, it makes you wonder what else has gone unnoticed;

b) That it can be useful to know how an instrument is braced, and whether it is too heavily braced as such things have a bearing on resonance, tone and sound projection;

c) It can be helpful to know if there is a tail block fitted if you are considering fitting a pickup or strap button. Most ukuleles have them, but some, particularly cheaper sopranos may not.

Using my eyes to peer into a dark soundhole though can mean making comment on points b) and c) quite difficult or even impossible. Take the aNueNue MoonBird series of ukuleles. Those are listed as using a 'special' bracing pattern in their specs (the Mount Fuji System), but.. what that bracing pattern actually is I have no idea. And that's because I can't see it without taking the instrument apart. And I really don't think a dealer who has loaned me a £1,000 plus instrument will be happy with me ripping the top off it! So such things stay hidden.

Then, recently, a friend suggested using an endoscope (or, more accurately, a borescope) to take a look inside the review ukes. So that's exactly what I grabbed!

Now.. this ISN'T a review of this particular model - there are hundreds of the things on eBay and Amazon as part of their Chinese tech floods.. but they all essentially do the same thing. They have a tiny camera with integral LED lighting fitted to the end of a long semi flexible cable that is attached to a battery box and transmitter. That box then connects to your smartphone or tablet, either by WiFi or by a direct cable allowing you to take and view photos and videos on your device. They are really sold for people like plumbers to take a look inside drains and pipework.  This model (for those interested) is made by 'Depstech' (who are they??) and seemed to be a nice balance between battery life, image resolution and price. In reality most are similar on those fronts too and cost about £30 or so. This connects to my iPhone (or iPad) by it's own WiFi network link and the photos and videos show up on the device. It's pretty simple to use and works as intended.

So, assuming this one keeps working (not something I find is guaranteed with Chinese tech imports!), I hope to be bringing you more shots inside the ukuleles I review going forward. Here's a few of instruments in Got A Ukulele towers at the moment to give you an idea.

Inside Enya Nova Ukulele
Inside the Nova U Carbon uke - light is tricky in a dark body like this but this shows the top bracing pattern
inside kanile'a ukulele
Inside a 2011 Kanile'a K1 Tenor - showing the transverse brace strips that the X braces sit aross. Interesting to see no bridge plate. The wiring is the Fishman Pickup I fitted myself. Obviously this is a bridge pin uke! Also - the kerfing here doesn't look notched, but it is - Kanile'a attach the kerfing with the notcehs facing outwards.
Inside Bonanza Saguaro ukulele
Inside the Bonanza Saguaro. I had hoped to show the routed braces better. But it does show that Pete ties his strings off with beads!

They are clearly not high end photographs and I have to do a bit of work finding out best light level and orientation, but you get the idea. These were a first 'go'!  It's incredibly fiddly and getting a shot pointing up seems hard, though it comes with a right angled mirror attachment that might help with that. It will certainly allow me to tell you more about the ukes innards! Whether I use them for every review or not... We shall see.

And of course, that means brands now have nowhere left to hide on quality control either! Watch out! If nothing else, I suppose the insides of ukuleles are not seen very often, so they should provide some general interest too.

For now, no jokes about 'medical' procedures please...




  1. Great addition, Baz! I hadn't thought about this but it will indeed be very interesting. It will add a lot to your reviews, which are already very good.

  2. Great idea, and not overly pricey option. I believe I'll invest in one!


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