Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele - REVIEW

15 Mar 2020

Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele - REVIEW

The ukulele reviews return to Got A Ukulele, and it's a brand I've always enjoyed featuring. This is the Noah Ukuleles Pineapple Soprano.

Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele

Noah are the brainchild of UK based Matt Cohen of Saigon Guitars. They are luthier made in Vietnam and developed by Matt when he used to live over there. I've always liked several things about them. Firstly, as anyone who has spoken to him on his stall at a ukulele festival, Matt is a really nice guy and it shows in the way he runs his business. Second the ukes are rather good - not factory perfect but, that's the thing.. they are NOT factory ukes, rather are built for him by a luthier. Oh, and they are always very good value too. I've reviewed too many to list them here for you to back to, so either go to the full ukulele reviews page or type 'Noah' in the search box at the top to have a look.

This one is a new offering from Noah and comes in both my favourite scale (soprano) as well as a shape I am always a sucker for - the pineapple. Pineapple shaped ukes are as old as the hills and were in fact the first shape Kamaka ever made over 150 years ago. I like them for their different looks, but also because that lack of a waist does, to my ears, work wonders on filling out the mid range tones of the sound. And with a soprano in particular I think they work best, often turning an instrument that can be a little overly bright or thin into something with a bit more meat on the bones!

Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele body

This pineapple is made of all solid woods, and uses a classic mix of contrasting colours which I think looks  great. The top here is made from a couple of pieces of solid spruce and the two piece sides and back are made from mahogany.  The top looks really creamy and a great mix with the mahogany. I think that look is enhanced by the maple binding and black and white purfling that encircles the top and back edges. On the top edge in particular it makes it look like an extension of the top wood into the sides which I find very attractive.

The bridge is a tie bar style made from a Vietnamese wood Noah have used before called Gõ gõ mật (and no, I don't try to pronounce that in the video!). It's a hardwood very similar to rosewood in looks. There is less gloss covering this than I have seen on some other Noah ukes, but it still looks more 'polished'. I'd still prefer bare or oiled wood here, but I guess this is just a thing this luthier does and it has no impact on the uke playability. The saddle is made from bone.

Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele bridge

Aside from the binding the other decoration here is an abalone soundhole ring and a maple tail strip. The whole body is then finished in a semi gloss. I do have to say (because you can see it in the photos) there is a bit of excess finish in places, particularly around the soundhole, bridge plate and the neck heel. Yet in a mark of the honesty of Noah, they actually told me about this BEFORE they sent it, but wanted me to look and write about it anyway. If that doesn't thumb the nose to those who think I ONLY get sent perfect examples, I don't know what will. Very honest indeed! Still, I don't actually think it's that bad at all myself. And I say that because you have to bear in mind this is not a factory production line instrument. It's made by a luthier. And I see plenty of finish marks and issues on a lot of luthier builds because, quite simply, they are working in sheds and their hands and not with robots and endless machines for buffing and polishing. I have to mention it though as some people like flawless factory instruments. Me personally, I care more about how they sound.

Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele decoration

Inside is very tidy with no mess I can see, notched linings and shaped thin braces running top to tail below the sound hole. You also get the usual Noah label hand numbered and signed by the luthier, TT Anh. No complaints here.

noah pineapple soprano ukulele inside


The neck is made from maple in three pieces. The joint at the heel is well hidden and the one at the headstock is almost invisble which leads me to wonder if there is actually a joint up there! Maybe not.. It has a pleasing flattened back profile and a 'roomy for a soprano' nut width of 36mm and just under 30mm from G to A. Great.

Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele fingerboard

The fingerboard is also made of Gõ gõ mật and is dark and uniform. It does show one or few tooling marks in the finish, but again, I refer back to my comments above on luthier builds.  The edges seem to be bound and they hide the ends of the 16 nickel silver frets joined at the 12th. This has outward facing dots at the 5th, 7th, and 10th. Sadly there are no side dots on this example, but once again, Noah were open about this and disappointed themselves. Matt advises that (I think) these without dots will be available at a slightly lower price on his website and future models will have the side dots added. Can't say fairer than that I suppose.

Beyond the bone nut is a skinny headstock I really like the look of, faced in mahogany and holding the Noah logo in pearl inlay. Something about it really appeals to me.

Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele headstock


Tuners on these come with a choice of either gears or friction pegs (top marks for choice Noah!), with this on being my favourite of the latter. I am not sure what the brand is as they look slightly different to Gotoh and Grover, but I think they work just fine. In fact, speaking of choice, because you are working with a luthier (albeit  through the UK channel), Matt can accomodate a lot of changes to instruments and can work on custom models with you too. Nice.

Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele tuners


Other than that, you get a strap button in the base, a set of Aquila strings and a decent padded bag. And that all comes in for the extremely reasonable £179.99 INCLUDING delivery. That's a great price, especially when you remember that this is all solid wood and NOT made in a bulk factory.

So all in all, this is a uke I like the look of, at a good price. There are some finish issues that I mention, but I don't think they are major. It's all about the playing though. To hold, the instrument is comfortable, light weight and also perfectly balanced. A tap of the top tells me it's extremely resonant too. Good news so far!

Noah Pineapple Soprano Ukulele back

And it doesn't fail to disappoint in the sound either. Firstly, the volume here is excellent. It's got a terrific soprano punch that really barks out of the instrument if you give it a firm strum. It's remarkable. And with it comes some decent sustain too. These add up well as I mention below.

The tone is balanced, probably because of the wood choices, but probably also due to the shape. There are highs, mids and lows throughout on this which leads to a rich sound that shimmers. It has obvious soprano notes meaning it's huge fun to play rhythmically creating a very nice jangle when strummed and the volume really helps there too. You will not be lost in a crowd here. As a bonus, that good sustain also means that notes really ring out when played fingerpicked. That means melody lines don't sound strangled or cut off. A best of both worlds really. I think it sounds terrific and exactly what I would want from a soprano.

As such, this one scores well. It's only fair to keep the reviews comparable that the score for the fit and finish is nudged down a little, but remember - fit and finish don't affect sound. I think this is a cracker. Recommended!


https://www.noahukuleles.com/product/noah-pineapple-soprano

UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Name: Noah Pineapple
Scale: Soprano
Body: Solid Spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides
Bridge: Gõ gõ mật tie bar
Saddle: Bone
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Gõ gõ mật
Frets: 16, 12 to body joint
Nut: Bone
Nut Width: 36mm, 30mm G to A
Strings: Aquila
Tuners: Friction pegs or gears
Extras: Tail strap button, gig bag
Price: £179.99


UKULELE PROS

Great classic looks
Good nut width
Light weight and extremely resonant
Terrific volume
Great sustain
Rich balanced tone covering all bases
Good price

UKULELE CONS

Some finish flaws
No side markers (though they are coming!)

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8 out of 10
Sound - 9.5 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.9 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW



 
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1 comments :

  1. Great review as usual Baz, thanks very much and yes, they DO help these troubled times by bringing a little normality, cheers Ted

    ReplyDelete

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