Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele REVIEW

25 May 2020

Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele REVIEW

Another at the value end of the scale this week and, i'm afraid to say, an Amazon only deal. This is the Lohanu LU-C Concert.

Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele

Why feature it at all then? Well,  because a number of readers contacted me asking me to look at it. And that's probably because it's one of those with impossibly high numbers of 5 star reviews and earned that 'Amazon Choice' moniker so they are very visible. So it's only right that an independent reviewer takes a look... so I bought it!

Lohanu ukuleles, and that typically twee 'Hawaiian' name, won't surprise you to be made in China. They are not, however a fully Chinese operation that ship direct from the far east, rather are a company based in Canada that import Chinese made instruments with their branding.  Whether that gives them a touch more credibility or, you the buyer a touch more reliability I don't know. They certainly do have a lot of five star reviews. But... dig a bit deeper into the more negative ones... There really are some howlers out there and some terrible quality control on show. That's a worry. Sit tight!

This one is a very traditional looking concert with a design style that is totally over done in the uke world. It's used by Kala, Ohana, Lanikai and many countless others. That is to say it's a plain brown uke with cream edge binding. It's totally generic and, well, totally boring to me. It's a double bout and the woods are, of course, laminates. They specify this as 'sapele mahogany' which is a term sometimes used for sapele, but it's a bit naughty to do so in my book. Sapele is not the same family as mahogany, and using the term smacks of trying to 'big up' your wood into something it's not. (See also: brands that use terms like Acacia Koa or European Koa). Anyway, it's sapele laminate and extremely uninteresting to look at. It looks like it might be two pieces on the top back and sides, but the grain is so samey and simple it's hard to see.  And, in a piece of marketing speak that genuinely made me laugh out loud, Lohanu claim it has an 'Exclusive arched back'. Exclusive???? What??? Yes it's arched. Lots of ukuleles are. Groan...

Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele body

The bridge is a tie bar style, screwed in place and made from 'technical wood'. That term means one of two things - either laminate wood strips glued into a block and then cut to a bridge shape, or a ebonized pale wood. I take no issue with either and it's pretty tidy too. The saddle is unspecified, and looks like plastic. It is straight topped.

Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele bridge

The decoration here is mainly catered for by the generic cream edge binding to the top and back, with black and white purfling strips to the top edge.  It's neatly done to be fair and hardly offensive, if very commmon. You also get some very simplistic soundhole etching which I am less of a fan of, as it looks cheap. The body is then finished in a very thin, simple open pore satin. On this example the body and finish is very tidy.

Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele decor

That largely extends to the inside too which is neat enough with only minor glue seepages. The kerfing is notched and the braces don't look overly large. Incidentally, the top is braced from soundhole down to tail vertically as you can see.

Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele inside

The neck is also made of Sapele with fairly well hidden joints at  the heel and headstock. It's far too 'broom handle' rounded in profile for me which, coupled with a very average 34.5mm (28mm G to A) at the nut, is not my sort of neck at all. I just know this will be uncomfortable for me personally.

It's topped in more of the 'technical wood' and also comes with cream edge binding down the sides. Thankfully that isn't just a case of decor because on this example the fret ends are not sharp anywhwere. I'm impressed. Of those you get a very standard 18 and it's joined at the 14th. Outward dots face out at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 15th and 17th and they are repeated with black dots on the side.

Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele neck

Beyond the nut is a headstock with an attractive curve shaped top edge. It's faced in slightly darker sapele and the Lohanu logo is laser etched into the top face. Not much more to say here!


Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele headstock

The tuners are extremely generic chrome sealed gears.. They don't set my world alight, but I have seen and felt much worse.

Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele tuners

And it's also one of those that throw the kitchen sink at your bundle as you get Aquila strings, two strap buttons, a gig bag, spare Aquila strings, a tuner, a strap, a pick, a uke hanger and a voucher for some online ukulele lessons. And the price - well, it's one of those which seem to vary each day I look at it. It's around £70 - £80 in the UK and similar in dollar price. That throws it bang in the mix of so many other instruments with almost identical specs. Incidentally they also do that thing where they list it with a much higher RRP (£130 in this case), but i've honestly never seen it sold at that price!

And fair play to Lohanu as on this example at least the build and finish are good all over. I really can find no flaws in how it's glued together or finished off. It's also light, and well balanced and feels secure to hold.

Volume here is reasonably good, but not off the charts. Still, a quiet ukulele this is not. Sustain is also only average. Not terrible, but achingly long either. Neither are major negatives to be honest, but equally, neither put a smile on my face either.

The positive I take from the tone is that it has some breadth to it. That is to say it's not ALL bright or ALL bass, but actually pulls tone out of the strings across the range. There is a touch of boxiness to the tone, but not as bad as some I have looked at and it comes across quite well rounded in sound.

Unfortunately it does have the issue of losing it's footing when strummed and sounding a bit muddy. At first I thought I was sensing buzz, but there is no setup issue here. What I am getting though is strings not harmonising together that nicely and it can sound confused in faster strums and a bit lost and confused. That's a shame.

Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele back

You don't get the same thing when fingerpicked, but it does sound somewhat one dimensional to me when played that way regardless. Just a bit uninspring really, and that is partly down to the only average sustain. You just don't hear it ringing all that much.

I stress, this is not a terrible sounding instrument, but just a too 'middle of the road' for me. Likewise its certainly not a badly made instrument either, but certainly middle of the road on looks.  As such it was a tough one to summarise. It's  NOT bad, and I don't think you would be wrong to look at one, but... there are SO many others out there at the same sort of price that I think you don't have to look too far to find something more interesting or nicer sounding (or both).

And as a final, important point with  review like this. It's Amazon only. Reviewing instruments that don't go through dealer checks leaves me damned one way and the other. When I review bad ones (of which there are many) I say so, and the comments go into overdrive suggesting they got a good one, or worse, that I am deliberately being harsh. On the other end of the scale, when I get one that is not too shabby (like this one) those same people ignore that. And this IS not too shabby and as I say you would not be wrong to look at one.

However, that statement comes with a huge dose of caution based on experience of reviewing for over ten years. These do NOT get checked in the way a good ukulele store will check a uke before sale. I HAVE seen reports of absolute shockers reaching buyers. There is EVERY chance I got lucky here. I still give it the score below though, because I can ONLY review what is in front of me.  As you know though, I still recommend you go carefully with any ukulele that does not go though a specialist dealer first. Trust me.

http://www.lohanu.com






UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Name: Lohanu LU-C
Scale: Concert
Body: Laminate sapele
Bridge: Technical wood
Saddle: Plastic
Decor: Cream binding
Neck: Sapele
Fingerboard: Technical wood, edge bound
Frets: 18 (14 to body)
Nut: Plastic
Nut width: 34.5mm (28mm G to A)
Tuners: Sealed chrome gears
Strings: Aquila
Extras: Gig bag, spare strings, strap, tuner, pick, lessons voucher, uke hanger
Price: Around £80

UKULELE PROS

Generally well built and finished
Reasonable volume and sustain
Good range to the tone
Good price

UKULELE CONS

Generic looks to the point of boredom
Sound a touch one dimensional
Muddy and loses footing when strummed
Neck too narrow and rounded


UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 7.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 9 out of 10
Sound - 7.5 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.3 out of 10

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2 comments :

  1. Thanks for the review of a "Canadian" brand. Interstingly, I can't find these on amazon.ca. Two Canadian brands that aren't on amazon are Twisted Wood and Honolua (both built off-shore). We carry them in our shop. Nicely put together including the entry point models at around $79CDN for a mahogany laminate soprano. Ranging up to solid/laminate acacia combo from one manufacturer and solid/solid koa from the other. I'm definitely happier with one brand over the other but these aren't big K ukes and they fill a place in the market. Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Baz, I wouldn't mind this uke as just another low entry uke, but they're right on the verge of telling lies!
    An arched back isn't exclusive, is it? Saying it's mahogany, when it clearly isn't, is lying.
    And failing to note that it's a laminate body, well, that's pretty common, but it's a lie of omission.
    And Amazon only, that's just a deal breaker, and it should be, for any musical instrument. It's not that hard to find a good deal from a good dealer!
    Good review!

    ReplyDelete

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